KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee basketball team took to the court at Pratt Pavilion for its first day of spring individual workouts Tuesday. Three groups of players were put through skill instruction by the Volunteers coaching staff for 30-minute sessions.
“It was good to get back on the court,” head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “The assistant coaches put the guys through the workouts. The guards worked on ball-handling, attacking the rim and scoring off ball screens. The big guys worked on facing up and making post moves.
“The energy level was OK for the first day back. These next two weeks, we need to really focus on skill development on offense and maintaining a high level of focus when rebounding and playing defense.”
Rising junior point guard Trae Golden (left knee), rising senior forward Jeronne Maymon (right knee) and rising senior forward Dwight Miller (right knee) did not take part in Tuesday’s workouts. The groups consisted of Group 1) Galen Campbell, Brandon Lopez, Skylar McBee; Group 2) Quinton Chievous, Jordan McRae, Josh Richardson; Group 3) Kenny Hall, Yemi Makanjuola, Rob Murphy and Jarnell Stokes.
As was the case last spring and fall, the Vols donned 10-pound weight vests for the duration of their workouts. McRae, a rising junior, said the extra weight was easier to tolerate after having experienced it numerous times before.
“I think most guys get used to it,” McRae said. “This being coach Martin’s second year, we know what his workouts are like and we’re used to wearing the vests. We know things can’t be much harder than they were last year when we wore the vests for the first time.”
McRae points to the vests as one of many reasons the team is in such good shape. He also shared his outlook for the offseason.
“I think, as a team, our conditioning level has gotten a lot better across the board,” McRae said. “As for me personally, I’m just looking forward to getting better and seeing my teammates get better as well heading into next season.”
Speaking VOLumes – Quinton Chievous
Rising sophomore guard Quinton Chievous redshirted during the 2011-12 season and is eager to enter offseason workouts knowing he has a chance to contribute in 2012-13.
“When you’re redshirting during the season, you’re only getting so many reps,” Chievous said. “Coach Martin always told me April was going to come fast. Well, it’s here and I’m doing everything now, knowing I have a chance to help the team.
“A lot of people saw what we could do this year. We’re only going to do better next year. With the players we already had, the new guys coming in and me being able to contribute, I feel like we have a lot to look forward to.
Asked to single out one teammate who has made the most strides from January to the present, Chievous needed little time to think.
“I think Jordan McRae has really improved,” Chievous said. “He had a starting position when the season started, then he got moved to the bench. But I think as the season went along, he really bought in and developed into one of the best sixth men in the country. That really helped the team.”
(E-mail Stan Crawley at email@example.com)