Head Coach Cuonzo Martin may have found the glue for his Tennessee Volunteers, and he’s not even a scorer.
Power forward Jeronne Maymon, a 6’7”, 265-pound junior transfer out of Marquette, held the Volunteers together in the team’s 73-52 exhibition win over Carson Newman Thursday night.
Maymon scored only 10 points but added 15 rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes for the Vols. He also forced a few charging fouls.
Granted, Carson Newman, a Division II school located 25 miles east of Knoxville, didn’t have a starting player over 6’5”.
But Maymon provided the toughness Martin wants to instill on his young team.
Maymon sat out half the season last year after his transfer from Marquette and didn’t start any of the 14 games he played, averaging only nine minutes per contest.
But Thursday the two-time Wisconsin high school player of the year looked like the only player who had ever started a game for the Vols.
Martin said he was impressed with Maymon’s performance, especially his physical presence and ability to find players with his passing skills off the dribble.
“Sometimes (Maymon) can be a little too unselfish but he can make a lot of things happen,” Martin said after the game. “He’s physical around the basket but he’s more of a passer than a scorer. He’s a tough guy and I’d imagine he’s one of the toughest guys in (the SEC).”
In the first half, Maymon seemed to provide a sense of calm in an offense content on shooting anything that resembled an open shot.
Maymon only scored four points by added nine rebounds and two assists even though he also turned the ball over twice.
Looks like Maymon could be this team’s version of Dane Bradshaw.
What we learned from the first exhibition
UT’s first half offense reminded me a lot of my college intramural basketball team, in that there was one pass and whoever caught it shot it.
Sophomore Jordan McRae definitely proved there isn’t a shot he doesn’t like, taking 14 shots in 23 minutes, finishing with a team high 17 points.
Martin said he was not concerned with shot selection considering the team was facing a zone defense, limiting what a motion offense can do.
"As long as they’re practicing the shots I’m fine with it (because) eventually they’ll fall,” Martin said. “If you’ve got wide open shots you have to shoot the ball. If we defend at the level we’re going to defend, if (our) shots don’t fall we’re still going to be in the ball game,” Martin said. “But if we’re not defending and the shots don’t fall then it’s going to be a long night for us.”
Martin gave his team’s defensive effort a “C+.”
Turnovers may create some long nights as well.
Passing seemed to be an adventure, as the Vols turned the ball over 22 times, a number that will hurt them in non-conference and SEC play.
Combined with a lack of post scoring and shot blocking the team still has a long way to go if it’s to beat media projections of finishing 11th in the SEC.
Luckily the Vols will have a chance to work out the kinks Monday against Lincoln Memorial in the team’s last exhibition game before opening up the year at home against UNC Greensboro Nov. 11.