Dan Fleser: Vol Leader Lamonte Turner Working On His Shot

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - by Dan Fleser

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee’s Lamonte Turner came back from the Vols’ basketball weekend in Florida both buoyed and chastened by the experience.

Given the difference in those two feelings, it’s a wonder the redshirt senior point guard isn’t being treated for whiplash as a result.

On Friday, Turner was apologizing to his teammates after committing eight turnovers in a 60-57 loss to Florida State at the Emerald Coast Classic. Tennessee committed 21 in all and the Seminoles benefitted with 23 corresponding points. Turner committed three of his turnovers early, which helped Florida State build a 10-point lead.

A day later, Turner stood in the middle of the court in Niceville, Fla., with his arms spread wide, acknowledging the cheers of UT fans in attendance. He hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat VCU 72-69.

Through thick and thin, Turner is intent on pushing forward, full steam ahead into the next experience. In this case, it’s a game against Florida A&M on Wednesday at Thompson-Boling Arena (TV: SEC Network, 7 p.m.)

“I’ve been playing this game for a little while now,” Turner said last week, after dishing out 12 assists in a 58-46 home victory over Chattanooga. “I understand that you have to play the next possession. You’re going to have some nights where it doesn’t go in or something doesn’t go your way but you’re just got to continue to grind and grind because at the end of the day a W is better than an L in the record book.”

Despite all of his experience, Turner is making fresh tracks as Tennessee’s leader this season. He said during the team’s preseason media day that he watched podcasts about leadership during the offseason to prepare for his role.

He also used the down time afforded him by offseason arthroscopic shoulder surgery to watch freshman guard Josiah-Jordan James’ offseason workouts and constructively critique his every move. James said that he was impressed and grateful for the tutelage.

Now Turner is wading into the heat-of-battle portion of his role. UT’s season opener against UNC Asheville served as a worthy preview. In the midst of rebuking Turner for taking the “lowest percentage shots in basketball,” UT coach Rick Barnes hailed him for being “as good of a leader, if not the best leader we’ve had since we’ve been here.”

Barnes has said that Turner essentially was the first player that he and his staff recruited at Tennessee. Barnes has watched Turner grow as a player and a man and has been proud of his development. Small wonder then that Barnes alluded to Turner’s shoulder as a possible reason for his 2-for-12 shooting against Murray State last month. No surprise either that Turner refused to entertain questions about such conjecture.

Turner won’t lack for toughness or integrity as a team leader. What he needs more of going forward is trust. For example, more belief in his teammates should result in fewer turnovers. He currently leads the team with 28.

“I’m forcing it, I’m trying to over-compensate,” he said, “and I need to trust my teammates more and give them the ball and get rid of it sometimes when I’m trying to make the play. I think as I continue to learn from Coach Barnes, I’m going to continue to get better in that aspect.”

More belief in UT’s offense also should help in terms of shot selection and accuracy. Although he’s second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game, Turner is shooting just 30.6 percent from the floor and 27 percent on 3-pointers.

“I just need to take the right shots on offense,” he said, “and when we get good shots on offense, I think my 3-pointer will level off.”

In turn, Turner needs some relief from his teammates. He’s averaging nearly 36 minutes of playing time per game. He suffered from cramps in his calves during the last six minutes against Florida State that were so severe he struggled to get up off the court.

While whiplash isn’t a concern, fatigue is.

* * *

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri who covered University of Tennessee athletics for the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1988-2019. He may be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com

 


UTC Women Drop To 1-9 With Road Loss To UT-Martin

Dan Fleser: Texas Fights Back; Lady Vols No Longer Undefeated

Dan Fleser: Vols To Head To Jacksonville For TaxSlayer Gator Bowl


The Chattanooga women’s basketball team got off to a hot start Sunday afternoon, but couldn’t hold off the Skyhawks as UT Martin defeated the Mocs 78-51 at the Elam Center. The Mocs got ... (click for more)

KNOXVILLE – Texas emerged from a timeout early in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon as a women’s basketball team chastened by four losses already this season and determined to avoid No. 5. ... (click for more)

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee will travel 547 miles to Jacksonville, Fla., on its first bowl trip in three years. The Vols were slotted to play in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl when college football’s ... (click for more)


Sports

UTC Women Drop To 1-9 With Road Loss To UT-Martin

The Chattanooga women’s basketball team got off to a hot start Sunday afternoon, but couldn’t hold off the Skyhawks as UT Martin defeated the Mocs 78-51 at the Elam Center. The Mocs got off to a 12-0 start, denying the UTM offense throughout much of the first quarter. Less than four minutes into the game Chattanooga was 4-of-5 from the field with 3-pointers from Bria Dial ... (click for more)

Dan Fleser: Texas Fights Back; Lady Vols No Longer Undefeated

KNOXVILLE – Texas emerged from a timeout early in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon as a women’s basketball team chastened by four losses already this season and determined to avoid No. 5. Down three points to Tennessee, Longhorns guard Sug Sutton described their mind-set as being “Let’s come out and punch back.” What transpired thereafter amounted to one punch too many ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Joint Meeting Of County Commission, School Board Does Not Produce Consensus Sought By County Mayor

Improving reading among K-3 students and bolstering classroom discipline were topics when the County Commission and School Board got together on Monday night. However, County Mayor Jim Coppinger said the joint session at Red Bank Middle School did not produce the consensus he had hoped for on a number of school improvement goals. A school employee was stationed at a blackboard ... (click for more)

Developer To Proceed With Controversial Walden Project After Planning Commission Declines To Intervene; Lee Davis Says Town To Face Traffic, Environmental Woes

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on Monday chose to take no action on the zoning ordinance previously approved last month by the Walden Town Council, clearing the developer to proceed with a controversial Walden Town Center. The development slated for Taft Highway on Signal Mountain will include a full-service grocery store, fuel station, retail, offices ... (click for more)

Opinion

There's Always Been A Rich Abundance Of Wildlife In St. Elmo

It's really not unusual to see coyotes in St. Elmo. They've been venturing down from the mountains and elsewhere for decades and as far back as I can remember. Right along with raccoons and other critters, large and small. In fact this summer, being a very light sleeper, I was awaken by a sudden noise outside only to look outside and see five very large and healthy raccoons in my ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Bless-ed Christmas Gift

It was back in April when I read a wonderful story on one of the websites I scan during My Morning Readings. It had a story that caught my soul. The website is “Little Dumb Man” and, because I am most certainly one of those, it is a continuous joy for me to visit. The story was entitled “15 Signs That Show Someone is a Real, True Friend.” I read it and printed a copy off to save ... (click for more)