Mike Strange: Cuonzo Martin says Vols are finding their way

Mike Strange
Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes (5) tips the shot of Alabama guard Retin Obasohan (32) during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Tennessee won 76-59. (AP Photo/Alabama Media Group, Vasha Hunt) MAGS OUT

Photo by Vasha Hunt

Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes (5) tips the shot of Alabama guard Retin Obasohan (32) during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Tennessee won 76-59. (AP Photo/Alabama Media Group, Vasha Hunt) MAGS OUT

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The week began by putting a dreadful experience at Florida in the mental rearview mirror.

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Comments » 13

johnlg00 writes:

I think the Vols finally have confidence in themselves and what they are trying to do. I am a little surprised that Mike didn't mention that UT played a 1-3-1 zone for most of the second half, and Alabama didn't have a clue how to penetrate it. That, and the disciplined response to Bama's pressure--5 TOs!--shows that this team has the wherewithal to compete strongly for the rest of the season. They may not win them all, and Bama is certainly not Florida or Kentucky, but every game they win gets them closer to the goal. It remains to be seen if they can keep this newfound discipline and energy for every game. They really can't afford more than one more regular-season loss, IMHO, if they want to build a bullet-proof case for inclusion in the NCAAs.

underthehill writes:

Lot of good signs in the last 2 games..Vols chances of making the big show go from slim to 50% or better ..with the remaining schedule ..no reason they can't do it..Stokes playing like a man who won't let no one take his rebounds..Thompson becoming a far better player than I thought he ever could be ..he played 28 min. and made a huge impact on the game..his length as the point defender in the zone gave bama fits..it was obvious Martin has spent more practice time against the press and getting his team ready to play some zone also give them practice time to attack it..if I am going to be critical of Martin when he does not appear to be doing all he can to prepare his team to have their best chance to win..which I have..then I am also going to compliment him when his team is prepared and ready to play up to their talent level..which they have done the last 2 games..good job by Martin..

UT4prez writes:

Very much improved. For the second game in a row they executed very well and the shot selection is vastly improved. They are penetrating the zone and either shooting off that penetration or kicking out for open 3s. Again I say, this team can shoot. They are not at all bad shooters. They just have had a habit of taking bad shots. These last couple of games have been mostly good decisions on offense and when they get good looks these guys are knocking them down.

John, I know you talk about every team having dry spells. To me this team was having way more than the average team. Certainly more than a top-25 team. These last couple games actually have included dry spells but they were normal for the ebb and flow of a game and the team pushed past them. I agree on the new look D. Great move worth mentioning.

These next 2 games are huge. We need 2 wins with Florida heading in after those. Vandy is another tough place to play. No question we have a talent advantage. If they play with the energy, effort, and intelligence of the last couple games then 2-0 will happen. Florida certainly would not be out of reach either with such an all around performance.

cltvol writes:

Stokes free throws big big deal. He needs to be like Moses Malone with his tenacity. Bill Russell called him the train that keeps pulling up to the station. Averaging 10 r/p/g get it up to 12 and keep free throws above 70. Really nice team win McRae, frosh PG, Maymon hustle, J Rich shooting and D.

martinvol34 writes:

in response to cltvol:

Stokes free throws big big deal. He needs to be like Moses Malone with his tenacity. Bill Russell called him the train that keeps pulling up to the station. Averaging 10 r/p/g get it up to 12 and keep free throws above 70. Really nice team win McRae, frosh PG, Maymon hustle, J Rich shooting and D.

Just never satisfied are we? Sad, sad, sad. Go VOLS!

cltvol writes:

Pay attention. Stokes shot 80% from line and had 16 boards. If he maintains the pace he has had past few games we will be a tourney team and he will be a pro. Simple hoops knowledge how important boards and FTs from your bigs is to a team. This is all doable and he is proving he can do it. This is a formula to win.

So I am not a we unless you are a librarian, and I don't know what's sad about any of this

murrayvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I think the Vols finally have confidence in themselves and what they are trying to do. I am a little surprised that Mike didn't mention that UT played a 1-3-1 zone for most of the second half, and Alabama didn't have a clue how to penetrate it. That, and the disciplined response to Bama's pressure--5 TOs!--shows that this team has the wherewithal to compete strongly for the rest of the season. They may not win them all, and Bama is certainly not Florida or Kentucky, but every game they win gets them closer to the goal. It remains to be seen if they can keep this newfound discipline and energy for every game. They really can't afford more than one more regular-season loss, IMHO, if they want to build a bullet-proof case for inclusion in the NCAAs.

And experience tells us the case does indeed need to be "bullet-proof".

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

Lot of good signs in the last 2 games..Vols chances of making the big show go from slim to 50% or better ..with the remaining schedule ..no reason they can't do it..Stokes playing like a man who won't let no one take his rebounds..Thompson becoming a far better player than I thought he ever could be ..he played 28 min. and made a huge impact on the game..his length as the point defender in the zone gave bama fits..it was obvious Martin has spent more practice time against the press and getting his team ready to play some zone also give them practice time to attack it..if I am going to be critical of Martin when he does not appear to be doing all he can to prepare his team to have their best chance to win..which I have..then I am also going to compliment him when his team is prepared and ready to play up to their talent level..which they have done the last 2 games..good job by Martin..

Well said. If Martin gets the blame whenever the team doesn't play well, he should get the credit when it does. Seems fair to me, not that some of Martin's critics seem that interested in being fair to him. It may well be that failing repeatedly against zones in the past, Martin has devoted more practice time to beating them. As the players practice running against a zone, the ones playing it got better at it and thus lost their aversion to using it themselves. It is highly encouraging that Martin is starting to think outside the "Keady box". I never thought all that much of the Keady system, so when it appeared earlier that not only was that the only way Martin knew how to play but the only way any decent team SHOULD play, I began to fear that he didn't even recognize the necessity of being open to other approaches to the game. I thought he would have to grow as a coach to continue to advance in the profession; I'm glad to see that he seems to be doing that.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to cltvol:

Stokes free throws big big deal. He needs to be like Moses Malone with his tenacity. Bill Russell called him the train that keeps pulling up to the station. Averaging 10 r/p/g get it up to 12 and keep free throws above 70. Really nice team win McRae, frosh PG, Maymon hustle, J Rich shooting and D.

Love the reference to Moses Malone. Another NBA star said of him after one of his 30pts-20reb games, "In this league, everybody has second effort; Moses has ninth and tenth effort." Malone would be a great example of hustle and determination to any player at any level in any era.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to UT4prez:

Very much improved. For the second game in a row they executed very well and the shot selection is vastly improved. They are penetrating the zone and either shooting off that penetration or kicking out for open 3s. Again I say, this team can shoot. They are not at all bad shooters. They just have had a habit of taking bad shots. These last couple of games have been mostly good decisions on offense and when they get good looks these guys are knocking them down.

John, I know you talk about every team having dry spells. To me this team was having way more than the average team. Certainly more than a top-25 team. These last couple games actually have included dry spells but they were normal for the ebb and flow of a game and the team pushed past them. I agree on the new look D. Great move worth mentioning.

These next 2 games are huge. We need 2 wins with Florida heading in after those. Vandy is another tough place to play. No question we have a talent advantage. If they play with the energy, effort, and intelligence of the last couple games then 2-0 will happen. Florida certainly would not be out of reach either with such an all around performance.

It is certainly true that the Vols have had more scoring droughts than any of us would like, but I'm not sure I agree that the Vols have all that many more or longer droughts than any other fairly decent team. Four top-10 teams went down Saturday, and I don't think any of them topped 30 points in the first half. Look down the list of the outcomes of all games yesterday; I think you would see any number of games where the score didn't get out of the 50's for either team. You are right; it is my belief that ALL teams have lulls and dry spells. The thing that makes the difference between any two fairly well-matched teams is to limit one's own droughts and extend those of the opponents. Just because a team makes a certain percentage of its shots, that doesn't mean that they do that in mathematical order; a team could shoot 50% for a game, but included in that might be runs of 10 straight misses followed by 10 straight makes.

UT4prez writes:

in response to johnlg00:

It is certainly true that the Vols have had more scoring droughts than any of us would like, but I'm not sure I agree that the Vols have all that many more or longer droughts than any other fairly decent team. Four top-10 teams went down Saturday, and I don't think any of them topped 30 points in the first half. Look down the list of the outcomes of all games yesterday; I think you would see any number of games where the score didn't get out of the 50's for either team. You are right; it is my belief that ALL teams have lulls and dry spells. The thing that makes the difference between any two fairly well-matched teams is to limit one's own droughts and extend those of the opponents. Just because a team makes a certain percentage of its shots, that doesn't mean that they do that in mathematical order; a team could shoot 50% for a game, but included in that might be runs of 10 straight misses followed by 10 straight makes.

True. I agree with the other poster. I haven't been as critical of Martin as some but I have been critical. The game plan has been excellent and executed excellently. Now let's just do it consistently. They are playing better on the road than any of Martin's prior teams. If we can keep it going there's no reason to think we can't make the NCAA tourney.

johndavid writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I think the Vols finally have confidence in themselves and what they are trying to do. I am a little surprised that Mike didn't mention that UT played a 1-3-1 zone for most of the second half, and Alabama didn't have a clue how to penetrate it. That, and the disciplined response to Bama's pressure--5 TOs!--shows that this team has the wherewithal to compete strongly for the rest of the season. They may not win them all, and Bama is certainly not Florida or Kentucky, but every game they win gets them closer to the goal. It remains to be seen if they can keep this newfound discipline and energy for every game. They really can't afford more than one more regular-season loss, IMHO, if they want to build a bullet-proof case for inclusion in the NCAAs.

They can lose 4 more and will be in the dance.
20 wins and they are in with this schedule!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to johndavid:

They can lose 4 more and will be in the dance.
20 wins and they are in with this schedule!

Well, let's just hope they do better than that so we won't have to put your proposition to the test!

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