Scouting Reports Pay Dividends For Tennessee Basketball Team

Vols Face DII Tusculum Saturday After Big Wins over Morehead, Virginia

Friday, January 03, 2014 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com
- photo by Tennessee Athletics

The Tennessee basketball team (8-4) has just one non-conference game left to play before embarking on its grueling, 18-game Southeastern Conference gauntlet next week. The final pre-conference tune-up comes Saturday at 2 p.m. ET when the Volunteers welcome Tusculum College (1-11) to Thompson-Boling Arena.

Saturday’s game matches the programs of the two oldest colleges in the state, as both were founded in 1794. Tusculum, an NCAA Division II institution located in Greeneville, Tenn., was founded just a few weeks prior to UT.

The Volunteers enter Saturday’s clash riding the momentum of consecutive overpowering victories against Morehead State (Dec. 23) and Virginia (Dec. 30). Tennessee outscored those two teams by a combined total of 50 points while boasting an offensive output of 84.5 points per game.

While meeting with local reporters Thursday, senior forward Jeronne Maymon credited the team’s recent efficiency to the effectiveness of the coaching staff’s scouting reports.

“When watch film (of past games, head coach Cuonzo) Martin usually points out ‘You could made this pass,’ or ‘You could have done this,’ even if the shot does go in,” Maymon said. “He’s always bringing things to our attention – the next play, the next pass, look for your teammates, make sure you get them involved. That stuff has really been helping us a lot during games.”

Martin told reporters that while the teaching points are crucial, making sure they are absorbed and understood is just as important.

“Well the first thing is, you have to be locked in,” Martin said. “We spend so many hours doing scout reports and game-planning to give us the best chance to win games. It’s just a matter of (the players) carrying out those assignments. Other teams make adjustments, (too). But when you stick to the script, you give yourself a chance to win the game.”

Tennessee certainly stuck to its scouting script against Virginia Monday, posting the largest margin of victory of Martin’s tenure on Rocky Top (35 points).

“In the two practices leading up to that game, we played really well and brought the intensity,” Maymon said. “We were all locked in and focused on our assignments. We took the scout very serious and ended up in good position. We were clicking on all cylinders.”

After Saturday’s game against Tusculum, the Vols’ scouting reports will take on even higher significance since the SEC schedule presents games at such a fast pace. Teams typically play two games per week, sometimes with just two days of rest in-between.

ASSISTS ARE UP

Tennessee has racked up 38 assists in its last two outings – both convincing wins – and is averaging 12.0 assists per game this year.

Through 12 games last season, the Big Orange were averaging 10.4 assists.

Several players have been playing the role of setup man for the Vols this season, as six different players average more than one assist per game. In addition to leading the team in scoring and blocked shots, senior guard Jordan McRae boasts a team-best 2.7 assists per game.

Martin points to several reasons for the team’s recent rise in assists, but spacing is paramount among them.

“It’s being ready to shoot the ball, being ready to drive the ball, attacking the rim, good post feeds… but it’s our spacing, more than anything,” Martin said. “We spend a lot of time on trying to improve our spacing so guys can either dribble penetrate, feed the post, drive to the rim and keep that spacing. But at the end of the day, you have to make the shot.”

In UT’s eight wins, the team dishes out an average of 13.4 assists. That number dips to 9.3 in Tennessee’s four losses.

Six of the top-eight players in Tennessee’s rotation have more assists than turnovers so far this year.

SCOUTING THE PIONEERS

Tusculum is off to a 1-11 start under third-year head coach Michael Jones. The Pioneers’ lone win was a 110-106 Nov. 15 triumph over Trevecca Nazarene at the Carson-Newman Classic in Jefferson City, Tenn.

The Pioneers returned 83 percent of their scoring and rebounding from last year’s squad, which posted a 6-21 record. But so far this year, Tusculum has seen seven players miss a combined 36 games due to injury.

The Tusculum roster features four East Tennessee natives, including starters Cory Fagan (Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge HS) and Matt Shown (Knoxville, Alcoa HS).

Though the Vols have hosted three exhibition games vs. Tusculum in the last decade (2004, 2006, 2008), UT has not faced the Pioneers in a regular-season game since Dec. 15, 1944.

In regular-season action, Tennessee leads its all-times series with Tusculum 10-2. Those meetings all took place between 1911-44.

TUSCULUM WON’T FACTOR INTO TENNESSEE’S RPI

Monday’s game is an exhibition game for Tusculum, but it is a regular-season contest for Tennessee.

Division II teams are able to schedule a maximum of 28 regular-season games and two exhibition outings. The Pioneers previously played an exhibition against Notre Dame on Nov. 1. Monday’s game will be Tusculum’s second and final exhibition this season.

For Tennessee, while the game’s result and all statistics will count toward its season totals, there is one difference between the Tusculum contest and UT’s 30 other regular-season games – it will not factor into the Vols’ official NCAA RPI.

The RPI – short for Ratings Percentage Index – has been used by the NCAA men’s basketball committee since 1981 as a supplemental set of data to help select at-large teams and seed all teams for the NCAA Tournament. The three primary factors in a team’s RPI are a) the team’s Division I winning percentage; b) a team’s opponents’ Division I winning percentage; and c) a team’s opponents’ opponents’ Division I winning percentage.

So as far as the computation of Tennessee’s official NCAA RPI is concerned, Monday’s game will not be taken into account.

Many Division I programs have begun scheduling one regular-season game against a Division II opponent as a way to avoid the “RPI hit” that is often associated with facing a Division I team with a poor RPI (in many instances, even winning such a game can still have a negative effect on a team’s RPI).

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

 


Dalton State's 1st “Coach K” ID Camp Was Successful

Dalton State soccer coach Kerem Daser says his first “Coach K” Identification Camp was a great first event that included 45 talented and enthusiastic campers. “I was so excited to run my first ID Camp at our new Dalton Soccer Complex at Lakeshore Park,” said Daser. “We had a strong group of players who were here from the local soccer community, other states and countries.” ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Lookouts Promote Andrew Zito To Director Of Group Sales

The Chattanooga Lookouts on Monday named current Group Sales Manager Andrew Zito, its director of Group Sales.  The Florida native began his career in sports as a Food and Beverage Intern with the Lookouts in 2012 and will be entering his fourth season with the team. “Being able to work his way up from an intern to the Director of Group Sales is a testament to Andrew’s ... (click for more)

Woman Says Chattin Killed Deputy Donald Bond, Not Kiser

A woman testified Monday in Hamilton County Criminal Court that it was Mike Chattin - and not his roommate Marlon Duane Kiser - who killed County Deputy Donald Bond at a produce stand in East Brainerd in 2001. Kimberly Annette Bowman called Kiser, who is in the middle of an extended post-conviction hearing, "an innocent man." She said, "I've had this burden on me all these years." ... (click for more)

Legendary Radio Broadcaster Luther Dies At 92 After Record 74 Years On The Air; Funeral Will Be Thursday At 2 PM At Engel Stadium

Legendary radio broadcaster Luther Masingill died early Monday morning at Memorial Hospital surrounded by family and friends. He was 92 and had been on the air for a record 74 years. Funeral services will be held on Thursday at Historic Engel Stadium, 1130 E 3rd St., at 2 p.m. with Pastor Todd McElyea officiating.   Honorary pallbearers will be the staff at ... (click for more)

Republicans And Fox News Are Creating An Ebola Crisis

It seems that the Republicans and Fox News are at it again.  They are calling for “closing the borders” in order to protect us from the Ebola virus.   They are spreading fear and angst among the populous in order to blame the Obama administration with failing to protect the citizenry. Isn’t this the same crowd that claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UT Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet!

Just moments before Florida would seal a football 10-9 victory over Tennessee in early October, the student section in Neyland Stadium stooped to a new low when it vociferously chanted, “F*** you, Florida! F*** you, Florida!” It was shocking, a loud and vulgar display of all that sportsmanship isn’t, and served as a great embarrassment to Knoxville and the university. Jimmy Cheek, ... (click for more)