Bad news: due to scheduling conflicts, there will be no UT hoops live chat this week. I know, I know. You’re week is now ruined. I apologize.
But here’s some redemption …
In his daily (and always thorough) Vols report on Tuesday, Tennessee hoops SID Tom Satkowiak dropped some interesting numbers about the Vols’ home floor apropos it’s full installation on Tuesday.
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin reaffirmed that starting forward Jeronne Maymon will miss the Vols’ season opener next week and offered no timetable for his return prior to today’s practice.
Martin said the issue at hand, described last week as “a minor setback,” is not related to any “character issues” or team rules violations.
That narrows it down to Maymon’s knee.
The All-SEC preseason second-team selection underwent microscopic knee surgery following last season and has not partaken in preseason activities after playing in two of the Vols’ four games during a summer tour of Italy.
Martin said he hopes to be able to offer specifics on Maymon’s status in “a week or two.”
The Vols open the season on Nov. 9 against Kennesaw State and travel to Puerto Rico for opening-round play of the Puerto Rico Shootout on Nov. 15.
Without the prying eyes of me and my media brethren, Tennessee met Georgia Tech Sunday for a secret scrimmage in Chattanooga. Due to NCAA rules, Vols coaches and players can’t speak in specifics on what occurred, who produced what stats or, yes, what the final score was.
It’s insanity. That, though, is an issue with the NCAA.
Let’s stay on subject.
I have it on good authority that UT rolled over the Yellow Jackets, winning comfortably by 20-plus points. The Vols played a deep rotation and I’m told the same lineup that coach Cuonzo Martin suggested he’d play last week, indeed started. UT sent Trae Golden, Skylar McBee, Jordan McRae, Jarnell Stokes and Kenny Hall out for opening tip.
Though he was limited to the details he could personally provide, Martin spoke Sunday night and described the game as a “good experience.” Asked if any player in particular stood out and boosted early playing time, Martin said, “Each guy earned minutes. They all went really hard. From the naked eye, they all earned minutes. I’ll have much better idea when I watch the film (Monday) morning.”
Martin said the meeting with Georgia Tech was a good opportunity to identify “shortcomings” before games count as Ws and Ls. One lingering issue from last year is feeding sophomore big man Jarnell Stokes in the post.
“We have to get the ball to Jarnell,” Martin said. “He can’t get the ball enough. We have to overload and let the offense play through him. Really, he can’t get enough touches. We’ve got to get it to him.”
Martin wouldn’t expand on other individual performances until after watching the game tape. He said he used a slew of different rotations and minutes were distributed relatively evenly.
Georgia Tech went 11-20 overall last year in Brian Gregory’s first season as head coach. The Yellow Jackets joined Boston College, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest in the ACC basement with a 4-12 league record.
The Ramblin Wreck returns talented point guard Mfon Udofia and added talented top-50 freshman power forward Robert Carter in the offseason.
Carter tried out for the same FIBA U-18 team that Stokes starred on in the summer.
Tennessee and Georgia Tech agreed to meet in Chattanooga so both could treat the scrimmage as a road affair. UTC falls directly between the schools’ campuses in Knoxville and Atlanta.
Martin said the Vols dealt with all aspects of the game as they would a regular-season matchup. They traveled to Chattanooga Saturday and stayed in a hotel that night.
The NCAA allows teams to play either two closed-door scrimmages against other Division I programs, two exhibitions against non-DI teams that are open to fans and media or a combination of the two.
The Vols will host Victory University from Memphis in an open exhibition a week from today, on Monday, November 5 at Thompson-Boling Arena. Thankfully, a veil of secrecy won’t cloak the game.
Amid the throng of media hanging on the table in front of John Calipari like Christmas ornaments, I had the opportunity to toss the Kentucky coach a question on Cuonzo Martin’s first year as Tennessee head coach.
“He’s a steadying kind of personality. He brings it. He has a toughness to him, a resolve, and his players are taking on that personality.
“That’s what (players) do. They’ll follow the coach. You need to teach leadership and I think he’s done that.
“I’ve said it – the way they play, you have chances to win championships. They defend. They take good shots. They play in a way that you win.”
Calipari trailed off and asked if Kentucky plays Tennessee twice.
He sighed and looked away.
If any SEC coach understands Tennessee’s resurgence over the second half of the 2011-12 season, it’s Florida’s Billy Donovan.
The Vols, after a pothole-filled start to the season, caught some traction in conference play. Along the road, they drove over the Gators, twice, on their way to a 10-6 league record.
Judging by today’s morning session at SEC basketball media day, Tennessee left an impression.
Sipping coffee and batting leadoff at SEC Media Day, new South Carolina coach Frank Martin was quick to heap praise on the league’s most polarizing coach this morning at the Wynfry Hotel.
“I think Cal is one of the great misunderstood people in the profession,” he said of Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
Martin, who came to USC via Kansas State this offseason, said the two programs he’s most familiar with in the league are Kentucky and Florida.
Regarding his claim that Calipari is “misunderstood,” Martin stated that, “He doesn’t get enough credit for coaching.”
Mentioning ESPN’s ongoing All-Access series on UK hoops, Martin said, “(Calipari) has got a 24-hour recruiting cycle going on ESPNU. It’s awesome. More power to him.”
Martin was outgoing during his debut with SEC media. The coach known for his scowl and explosive sideline antics didn’t appear anything like his on-court persona.
Hoover, Ala. – The small ballroom I currently occupy in the Wynfry Hotel is slowly filling with TV talking heads, radio personalities and hack newspaper guys like yours truly. Welcome to SEC Media Day. College basketball is here.
I’ll try to post some brief news and notes from time to time today. Unless something unforeseen occurs — i.e. someone retires, a player suspension is announced, or Mike Slive acknowledges that basketball exists — in which case that story will be posted to the GVX main page. Check back occasionally to see what’s cooking in lovely Hoover.
Just a reminder, this year’s SEC Media Day is without players. Here’s why.
Due to Thursday’s SEC basketball media in Birmingham, my normal time slot on Thursday afternoon’s at 2 p.m. isn’t going to work out this week. As of now, I’m planning to conduct this week’s chat at noon on Friday (subject to change).
Look forward to talking with you then. We’ll have plenty of Tennessee/SEC hoops to discuss.