Mike Strange: Jarnell Stokes says no big deal, but he was a big deal

Mike Strange
Kentucky forward Julius Randle (30) and Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes (5), center, struggle for a rebound while Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34), looks on during the first half at University of Kentucky's Rupp Arena in Lexington on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. Tennessee lost 74-66. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Kentucky forward Julius Randle (30) and Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes (5), center, struggle for a rebound while Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon (34), looks on during the first half at University of Kentucky's Rupp Arena in Lexington on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. Tennessee lost 74-66. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — His first shot of the game was stuffed, rejected by a Kentucky 7-footer. Ah, the naysayers were right.

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Comments » 11

oldster writes:

Good for him. I always thought that he lacked the explosiveness necessary to make up for his lack of height (relatively speaking, of course). Hopefully, he will continue to improve in this area and prove me wrong.

OrangePride writes:

It was indeed an impressive performance for Jarnel....one that was unfortunately wasted by poor foul shooting and even worse outside shooting. And if we look at all the loses, it was the same story in each. You know... I will be surprised if this team doesn't end the year with a double digit loss record. Oh we will have a few impressive performances, but there will also be more games with deplorable outside shooting and weak foul shooting..it's just the new normal for Tennessee basketball.

underthehill writes:

Stokes proved what I have said since his first game..he is a great rebounder and he will play in the NBA as a role player..every team can use a great rebounder..the respect for him from Ky players and coach was well deserved..and Maymon also had a great game..I liked the fact that the Vols were not intimidated and competed with a total team effort..there is a reason Ky has lost only 2 of over 70 games on their home floor..and don't play near that way on the road ..

bogey74 writes:

Well done, Mr. Stokes. It was a pleasure to watch..

Plasticman85 writes:

So Jarnell showed he can play with the "big boys" yesterday. Why does he not bring that same type of effort and intensity every game? Hopefully he will and our guards will play better so we can get back to March Madness. Going to take 12 or 13 SEC wins to get there IMO.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

Stokes proved what I have said since his first game..he is a great rebounder and he will play in the NBA as a role player..every team can use a great rebounder..the respect for him from Ky players and coach was well deserved..and Maymon also had a great game..I liked the fact that the Vols were not intimidated and competed with a total team effort..there is a reason Ky has lost only 2 of over 70 games on their home floor..and don't play near that way on the road ..

I predicted a rather short, unproductive, frustrating day for Jarnell; I was glad he proved me wrong. He was all man out there yesterday. He stayed out of foul trouble, largely by moving more economically and not and not reaching or shoving as much. He seems to have learned that if he takes the position he wants first, then he can use his bulk to HOLD that position, which is a whole different thing, ref-wise, than trying to PUSH somebody out of the way. He also doesn't seem nearly as shackled to the low block as he was earlier. I thought I had seen signs that his moves were becoming more varied and assured, but yesterday was the first time he opened up the whole bag. He made a face-up jumper, a turnaround jumper, and a nice hook. I was sorry for him and for the team that he missed two late FTs, but it is clear that he has made great strides as a free-throw shooter. One has to wonder just what is the "magic button" that has to be pressed to get that every night.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Plasticman85:

So Jarnell showed he can play with the "big boys" yesterday. Why does he not bring that same type of effort and intensity every game? Hopefully he will and our guards will play better so we can get back to March Madness. Going to take 12 or 13 SEC wins to get there IMO.

Depending on how everything shakes out in what looks like an extremely turbulent season, 12 SEC wins just might get them on the bubble, especially if they take at least a couple from FU and Mizzou. My thought is that 14 will seal it for them, but they are going to have to play like they did their best 15 minutes yesterday for longer than that in nearly every remaining game to pull it off. I'm just afraid all the "little things" cited in another game article that killed them yesterday will rise up to unexpectedly bite them again a time or three.

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Depending on how everything shakes out in what looks like an extremely turbulent season, 12 SEC wins just might get them on the bubble, especially if they take at least a couple from FU and Mizzou. My thought is that 14 will seal it for them, but they are going to have to play like they did their best 15 minutes yesterday for longer than that in nearly every remaining game to pull it off. I'm just afraid all the "little things" cited in another game article that killed them yesterday will rise up to unexpectedly bite them again a time or three.

Before yesterday..I thought their chances of making the big show was slim and none..I think they are a bit better now..I think it possible now that this team could win the SEC tournament..if Stokes and Maymon continue the way they played yesterday....it is harder to hit the 3's late in the game when you are tired..the Vols did not defend the full court and make the Ky guards work the whole game..Ark did..I thought this might be a part of the Vol game plan..it was not and Ky guards wore UT out the 2nd half..Thompson was better on offense and defense than Barton yesterday and it would be great to see him continue to improve...I'm not overly optimistic..but I think the Vols still have a chance at the big show...

oldster writes:

in response to OrangePride:

It was indeed an impressive performance for Jarnel....one that was unfortunately wasted by poor foul shooting and even worse outside shooting. And if we look at all the loses, it was the same story in each. You know... I will be surprised if this team doesn't end the year with a double digit loss record. Oh we will have a few impressive performances, but there will also be more games with deplorable outside shooting and weak foul shooting..it's just the new normal for Tennessee basketball.

This is the new normal for college basketball in general because coaches recruit "atheletes" instead of basketball players. They want guys who are long and athletic. If they can shoot, that is a bonus - not a prerequisite. Only Duke seems to consciously recruit shooters (e.g.Langdon, Reddick, etc.).

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

Before yesterday..I thought their chances of making the big show was slim and none..I think they are a bit better now..I think it possible now that this team could win the SEC tournament..if Stokes and Maymon continue the way they played yesterday....it is harder to hit the 3's late in the game when you are tired..the Vols did not defend the full court and make the Ky guards work the whole game..Ark did..I thought this might be a part of the Vol game plan..it was not and Ky guards wore UT out the 2nd half..Thompson was better on offense and defense than Barton yesterday and it would be great to see him continue to improve...I'm not overly optimistic..but I think the Vols still have a chance at the big show...

There is no reason for anybody to be overly optimistic, and I'm one of the biggest optimists around! The obstacles are staggering. If the Vols were to sustain a sufficient level of concentration and effort in each game long enough to produce enough conference wins to make up for the non-conference opportunities already squandered, it would be one of the great national basketball stories of the year. But that IS what it would take, and while I am encouraged by some apparent evolution in Martin's approach to the game, I'm not sure he and the team have gotten sufficiently in synch, soon enough, for this team to fulfill what should have been its destiny--not necessarily the national championship, but better than what they are likely to finish with.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to oldster:

This is the new normal for college basketball in general because coaches recruit "atheletes" instead of basketball players. They want guys who are long and athletic. If they can shoot, that is a bonus - not a prerequisite. Only Duke seems to consciously recruit shooters (e.g.Langdon, Reddick, etc.).

I agree. Sloppy play has accumulated steadily in college basketball for decades now. Not many youth coaches take the time to teach fundamentals; they are fixated on winning at the lowest levels, and if a certain kid isn't good enough to play, you replace him with somebody better. But even physically better players don't necessarily have good fundamentals, and players who do not have trained reflexes for all the refined skills of the game fall apart when they get tired, or fall behind, or feel game stress. Of course, good coaching goes far beyond physical fundamentals, it includes educating players about the game. Players who have deeply internalized the values of hard, fundamental play have the spare mental capacity to understand the strategy of the game, so a coach doesn't constantly have to be in a player's ear to remind them of something that should have been rote knowledge for years by this point. When everything is working right for one of these "athletic" teams, they can be wonders to behold, but there are lots of moving parts in such a machine, so there are lots of "failure points".

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