Tennessee Searches For "Open Lanes" Against Virginia On Monday

Visiting Cavaliers Present Defensive Challenge For The Vols

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Volunteers (7-4) put the finishing touches on 2013 Monday when it hosts Virginia (9-3) at 7 p.m. ET at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The game - which concludes a two-year, home-and-home contract between the Vols and Cavs - will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and also will be available via mobile devices on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.com.

Vols head coach Cuonzo Martin met with reporters prior to Saturday's practice and spoke about the challenges the Cavaliers present.

"They're physical and they play defense without fouling," Martin said. "But they make you work when they're on offense as well. They move the ball, and they might take 25 seconds of the shot clock. So you're strong-side and your weak-side defense needs to be tough. You need to be locked in.

"When the shot clock runs down, for them that's normal. They still execute their offense. For most teams, when the shot clock runs down, that's panic mode."

Virginia limits its opponents to just 62.7 possessions per game - only six teams in all of Division I allow fewer than that. The Cavs also are giving up only 54.2 points per game.

Through its first 11 contests, Tennessee is averaging 64.5 possessions per game. The Big Orange score 73.8 points per game.

Limiting turnovers and making good decisions in shot selection will be keys for the Volunteers against the Cavs' methodical style of play.

"If you come down on the offensive side of the ball and shoot it quick, they'll grind you out on the offensive end when they get the ball back," Martin said. "So you have to be mentally locked in from start to finish."

Tennessee guard Josh Richardson told reporters Saturday that getting baskets in transition may be an effective way for the Vols to score against a Virginia team that allows fewer than 55 points per game.

"They are a team that tries to make you take a whole lot of time off the shot clock and take contested shots every time down," Richardson said. "If we could get some 5-on-4 (opportunities), that would be to our advantage.

"I like when the court is real spread out, and I have lanes to drive in. I like when we get in transition. It's a lot easier because guys aren't set in their defense, and you have to take advantage."

Richardson also acknowledged, however, that the Vols are prepared to operate against Virginia's set defense in the half court.

"They like to pack the lanes a lot. They play gaps, so it will be kind of hard to penetrate," Richardson said. "We will have to spread the floor. We will have to get it inside to Jeronne (Maymon) and Jarnell (Stokes) to let them do their thing, but if they have to kick it back out, we have to hit shots."

Richardson is coming off a season-high 19-point performance in Tennessee's Dec. 23 home win over Morehead State, during which he shot 8-for-13.

FAMILIAR FOE

In addition to last season's hardwood clash in Charlottesville, Va., in which Virginia prevailed by a score of 46-38, a few members of the Tennessee program share other ties with some of the Cavaliers.

Stokes and UVA big man Mike Tobey were roommates this past summer on the USA Basketball Men's U19 National Team, which won gold at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. The Americans went undefeated at 9-0. Stokes started all nine games and averaged 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds. Tobey appeared in eight games and averaged 4.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.

"(Tobey) is very skilled for his height," Stokes said of his Team USA front-court mate. "We've talked a lot of trash about this upcoming game. I don't think (Tobey) is starting, but I know they have depth on their team. They have about three of four bigs who could come in and start."

Additionally, Cavs senior Akil Mitchell joined Vols senior Jordan McRae at the LeBron James Skills Academy this past summer. Mitchell and McRae were among a small, select group of collegians invited to take part in the event.

Mitchell, who is 6-8, 235 pounds, had 13 points and 12 rebounds against the Vols last season in Charlottesville.

"Virginia has athleticism," Martin said. "They have guys who can score, they have length, they can block shots, they run the floor."

Even Martin and Virginia head coach Tony Bennett have some history together. Martin was an assistant coach for the 2011 USA Basketball Men's World University Games National Team. Bennett was one of three "court coaches" who assisted during that team's training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., before the team departed for the Games in China.

Monday's game features three players who appear on the watch lists for both the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy - Tennessee's Stokes and Jordan McRae and Virginia's Joe Harris.

Harris is UVA's leading scorer this season, averaging 11.4 points per game.

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)



UTC's Henderson Named SoCon Runner Of The Week

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga cross country All-American Teghan Henderson (Pickering, Ontario) was named the Southern Conference Female Runner of the Week for the second straight week the league office announced today. The junior Business Management major claimed her second win this season, and fifth straight regular season victory, with a win at the Vanderbilt Commodore ... (click for more)

Lee Volleyball Outlasts UNA In Five-Set Battle

Battling from a set down the Lee volleyball team (1-3, 1-2) scored its first win of the young season topping North Alabama in a hard-fought five set Gulf South Conference matchup  on Tuesday  evening in Walker Arena. The Lady Flames dropped the opening set 25-20 after the Lions (4-4, 2-2) stormed off the bus from Florence, Ala. and held a commanding lead throughout ... (click for more)

EPB Says "Close To A Wash" On City Street Light Billing

EPB President Harold DePriest denied Wednesday that EPB owes the city over $1 million on street light billing. He stated,  “EPB has never said that we owe the city $1.2 million. When all the facts are taken into account, the financial difference is close to a wash.” Mr. DePriest said, "I regret that this complicated issue has been oversimplified in some reports. As we’ve ... (click for more)

New Red Bank Zoning Ordinance Is Ready For Review

The new Red Bank zoning ordinance is ready for review, City Manager Randall Smith said Tuesday night. It can be seen on www.redbanktn.gov and the link to zoning regulations. The new ordinance will replace one that was created 30 years ago.    The plan will encompass both residential and commercial development and is intended to direct ... (click for more)

Why So Much For A Rail Study?

From the things that make you go hmm department. Ok, so the feds are giving us $400k and the city is kicking in another $300k for a total of $700k to do a study on having in town rail service. Why so much for a study? Don't get me wrong, I'm totally down with Chattanooga having some passenger trains running around. I get that. It's awesome. We've needed it for a long time. I ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: I’m Certainly No Expert

Sometime on Monday night, after I had written a piece on getting swatted with a switch as a kid, I got an email from ESPN Canada asking if I would be a televised guest on “Off the Record,” the most watched daily sports show in Canada. The subject: corporal punishment in America. Are you kidding me? I am hardly an expert. All weekend my world of sports and its excitement was warped ... (click for more)