Monthly Archives: November 2012

What to watch for: Vols vs Oakland

Tennessee vs Oakland
Monday, November 25, 2012
Fox Sports South, 7 p.m.
Thompson-Boling Arena — Knoxville, Tenn.
Line: Tennessee -13.5
*** Scoring machine Reggie Hamilton (26.2 ppg in 2011-12) is gone, but Oakland coach Greg Kampe was quoted in the preseason saying he thought this year’s Grizzlies will be better than last year’s. That team, of course, beat UT 89-81 early last season. So are the Grizzlies, who have won 20-plus games each of the last four years and danced three times, any good? Well they led by 18 at Pittsburgh before losing by 10 in overtime. That’s saying something. Pitt has solid blow out wins over quality mid-majors Lehigh and Delaware on the resume. At the same time, an 11-point loss to Louisiana-Lafayette also says something about Oakland. Kampe heavily relied on three freshman and two sophomores a year ago. They’re all back and a year older. The Grizzlies haven’t returned to the level of two years ago, but are getting there. The talent appears to be place, but it will take a lot for Oakland to unseat South Dakota State and Nate Wolters this year in the Summit League this season.
*** The Vols need to show improvement from the free-throw line. Especially considering that of the 71 teams to play four or fewer games, only five — Colorado, Montana State, UNLV, LSU and San Diego State — have taken more than Tennessee’s 109 free-throw attempts. How reliant is Cuonzo Martin’s team on free throws? Well, 25.1 percent of the Vols’ scoring comes from made free throws, which is higher percentage than 303 programs nationally. It could be significantly higher if the Vols weren’t shooting 64.2 percent from the stripe (11th in SEC).
*** Keep an eye on talented 6-foot-5 guard Travis Bader and remember his name while you’re at it. The Oakland junior made the second-most 3-pointers in Summit history last year with 124 and averaged 15.9 ppg. This year he’s playing an absurd 38.7 minutes per game and has made the third-most 3-pointers nationally (22) on the second-most attempts (88). He led the country in both categories last year, going 124-for-314 (39.5 percent). He made two 3s against UT last year and scored 13 points.
*** The Vols have been relentlessly working on closing out on opposing shooters at practice. Oakland and its dribble-drive offense should present a good test. Against UMass, another dribble-drive team, Tennessee’s defense held the Minutemen to a respectable 9-for-27 shooting from beyond the arc.
*** In Puerto Rico, UT’s Jarnell Stokes was pinned down for three of four quarters in the first two games thanks to 6-foot-10 D.J. Cunningham from UNC Asheville and 7-foot Phillip Jurick of Oklahoma State. The bigger the defender, the more difficulty Stokes had. Could be interesting if Greg Kampe tosses 6-foot-10, 245-pound center/forward Corey Petros at him tonight.
*** Don’t forget about the unexpected benching of juco transfer D’Montre Edwards in the Vols’ final game in Puerto Rico last week. The 6-foot-6 forward’s plus/minus score of -8 over 17 minutes in the loss to Oklahoma State undoubtedly contributed. He didn’t play a minute two days later against UMass. On Friday Cuonzo Martin said Edwards must, “Play harder and execute on both ends of the floor and take it to another level.” He added that there are, “Three or four guys that have been in the system and know what’s at stake.” Essentially, Edwards is behind Josh Richardson, Jordan McRae, Skylar McBee and Quinton Chievous defensively. The struggles were glaring against OSU. Edwards struggled against the Cowboys’ double screens and was beaten backdoor, twice. Martin shifted him to the power forward spot at times in the game and said afterward he liked that look. Will be intriguing to see Edwards’ minutes tonight. He averaged 11.7 mpg in the Vols’ first three games.

Countdown to Tipoff – 3 Days: Non-conference previews (The Puerto Rico Tipoff)

The Vols will leave the fall foliage of East Tennessee next week for the sun of San Juan at the Puerto Rico Tipoff. All games will unfold at Coliseo Ruben Rodriquez (12,000 capacity) and appear on one of ESPN’s networks.
As of now, all signs point to Tennessee being without Jeronne Maymon (knee), a major blow. Nonetheless, the Vols will look to meander a bracket headlined by N.C. State.
Previous Puerto Tipoff champs include Alabama (2011), Minnesota (2010), Villanova (2009), Xavier (2008) and Miami (2007).
Here’s my overview for all you UT fans …

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