Texas A&M, SEC will have to work around Jordan McRae's improved defense

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin talks to Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) on the sideline during the first half against North Carolina State at  Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin talks to Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) on the sideline during the first half against North Carolina State at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Cuonzo Martin used to cringe.

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Comments » 10

TNlogfire writes:

This is the biggest improvement from the Vols..defense...sure, our shooting has been great, but it all starts on defense.

SewaneeVolFan writes:

Absolutely love everything I hear about McRae's development as a b-ball player (both on offense and defense), teammate, student, and most of all as a responsible adult. It's also a great endorsement of Martin as a coach in basketball, but also in life.

johnlg00 writes:

Agree with both of you guys. McRae is becoming a complete player, excelling in every phase of the game. He used to attack the glass like a guy barging into a bar fight, figuratively swinging in every direction. Now he picks his spots and slices in like a ninja, delivering a stinger quicker than you can think. He almost never leaves his feet to pass anymore. His defensive footwork is vastly improved and he doesn't just depend on his length anymore.

It's kind of funny to me to read once more about CCM shouting "hands, hands" to the team in games because I have long thought that UT keeps their hands lower more of the time than any other decent defensive team in college basketball. They tend to reach an arm out to a ball-handler, in the old days a way to "keep in touch" and perhaps subtly redirect a man, but is nowadays often called a foul.

What I see very little of is a guy actively mirroring the ball with one hand and waving the other at least waist-high in the direction of the passing lane behind him to the basktet. They seem not to understand that it is as important to obscure a ball-handler's VISION as much as anything else. Everybody who is one pass away should also step into back side lanes and wave their arms to "hide" potential receivers on the opposite side of the court. Reaching, grabbing, and slapping down for the ball in a clench just invites a foul call, a timeout, or a held ball. Moving in methodically and trapping a guy with superior angles, footwork, and active hands obscuring passes, you have a better chance of a live turnover that can be turned into quick, easy points.

murrayvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Agree with both of you guys. McRae is becoming a complete player, excelling in every phase of the game. He used to attack the glass like a guy barging into a bar fight, figuratively swinging in every direction. Now he picks his spots and slices in like a ninja, delivering a stinger quicker than you can think. He almost never leaves his feet to pass anymore. His defensive footwork is vastly improved and he doesn't just depend on his length anymore.

It's kind of funny to me to read once more about CCM shouting "hands, hands" to the team in games because I have long thought that UT keeps their hands lower more of the time than any other decent defensive team in college basketball. They tend to reach an arm out to a ball-handler, in the old days a way to "keep in touch" and perhaps subtly redirect a man, but is nowadays often called a foul.

What I see very little of is a guy actively mirroring the ball with one hand and waving the other at least waist-high in the direction of the passing lane behind him to the basktet. They seem not to understand that it is as important to obscure a ball-handler's VISION as much as anything else. Everybody who is one pass away should also step into back side lanes and wave their arms to "hide" potential receivers on the opposite side of the court. Reaching, grabbing, and slapping down for the ball in a clench just invites a foul call, a timeout, or a held ball. Moving in methodically and trapping a guy with superior angles, footwork, and active hands obscuring passes, you have a better chance of a live turnover that can be turned into quick, easy points.

Nice work.

murrayvol writes:

Offense is mostly about talent. If you can shoot, you can score. If you can shoot well, you can score a lot.

Defense is more about effort. Every offensive player has somewhere he wants to go. Beat him to that spot and you've won a small battle. Do that often enough and you win a game.

BenFrederickson writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Agree with both of you guys. McRae is becoming a complete player, excelling in every phase of the game. He used to attack the glass like a guy barging into a bar fight, figuratively swinging in every direction. Now he picks his spots and slices in like a ninja, delivering a stinger quicker than you can think. He almost never leaves his feet to pass anymore. His defensive footwork is vastly improved and he doesn't just depend on his length anymore.

It's kind of funny to me to read once more about CCM shouting "hands, hands" to the team in games because I have long thought that UT keeps their hands lower more of the time than any other decent defensive team in college basketball. They tend to reach an arm out to a ball-handler, in the old days a way to "keep in touch" and perhaps subtly redirect a man, but is nowadays often called a foul.

What I see very little of is a guy actively mirroring the ball with one hand and waving the other at least waist-high in the direction of the passing lane behind him to the basktet. They seem not to understand that it is as important to obscure a ball-handler's VISION as much as anything else. Everybody who is one pass away should also step into back side lanes and wave their arms to "hide" potential receivers on the opposite side of the court. Reaching, grabbing, and slapping down for the ball in a clench just invites a foul call, a timeout, or a held ball. Moving in methodically and trapping a guy with superior angles, footwork, and active hands obscuring passes, you have a better chance of a live turnover that can be turned into quick, easy points.

Hey John,

Thanks as always for reading. I might have to borrow that "slices like a ninja" line! Figured I'd pass this along since we were talking about UT's D. The team tracks deflections every game. Headed into Texas A&M it averages 16.4 deflections per game. That's 229 this season. It's had at least 10 deflections in all but one game this season. Enjoy the game, everybody.

robert#1417579 writes:

This is one of the worst losses in Tennessee history. A&M is average at best. To lose a 14 point lead in the second half to an average at best team is just horrible. This Tennessee team has no heart, no determination, no consistency, no drive. I've had my doubts about them since the first loss to Xavier and now I really have doubts that they will make the NCAA Tournament. I just don't think they can win enough games to get it done and I don't think they will win any real meaningful games this year. This is a much worse loss than the LSU game was a win. This is just totally pathetic. Tennessee has much better players, but so often you just can't tell it. Horribly pathetic.

maciste54 writes:

I'm probably done watching. No fun.

Allenfan writes:

What it is about our coaches, both men and women, that they let a lead dwindle to nothing without calling one time out to refocus. They had four timeouts left with ninety seconds to go and Texas A & M ready to pull even. I have always had my doubts about the coaching ability of our staff, but letting this one get a way at home is unheard of. Goodbye NCAA, and after this year we will have no chance. Bruce, Bruce why didn't you just tell the truth the first time.

underthehill writes:

in response to Allenfan:

What it is about our coaches, both men and women, that they let a lead dwindle to nothing without calling one time out to refocus. They had four timeouts left with ninety seconds to go and Texas A & M ready to pull even. I have always had my doubts about the coaching ability of our staff, but letting this one get a way at home is unheard of. Goodbye NCAA, and after this year we will have no chance. Bruce, Bruce why didn't you just tell the truth the first time.

That last line made me chuckle ..thanks ..I needed that..don't think Bruce will be back and I think that is just another mistake by the Ath Dept that has UT last in the SEC in Director Cup Standings..an unbelievable accomplishment for a school with resources and fans among the best in the nation..

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