Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin put his Volunteers through their paces during yet another efficient and productive workout Wednesday at Pratt Pavilion. But the big news coming out of Martin’s pre-practice media availability dealt with the health of senior forward Jeronne Maymon, who has been held out of practice thus far in the preseason while rehabbing from offseason knee surgery.
Martin indicated Wednesday that the Big Orange could be without the services of last season’s leading rebounder (8.1 rpg) and second-leading scorer (12.7 ppg) for at least a portion of pre-conference play.
“Jeronne had a minor setback,” Martin said. “It’s just one of those things. We’re trying to see if he can be ready for the start of the season. I don’t know.
“It’s always tough when you lose a leader like (Jeronne). Now, obviously he isn’t lost for the season, but it’s just a case where (we may not have) him at the beginning of the season.”
Tennessee’s regular season tips off Nov. 9 against Kennesaw State in Knoxville (7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports South). The Vols then travel to Bayamon, Puerto Rico, for three games at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Nov. 15-18. A home date with Oakland University on Nov. 26 (7 p.m. ET, SportSouth) and a trip to Big East stalwart Georgetown on Nov. 30 (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) close out UT’s November slate.
While Maymon’s potential absence early in the season is certainly a significant blow, frontcourt depth is fortunately a strength for this Tennessee team. Kenny Hall, Jarnell Stokes and Yemi Makanjuola all possess varying levels of collegiate experience and have faced top-notch competition during their respective UT careers.
Hall, a senior, is the graybeard among the group, boasting 85 games of playing experience and 20 career starts. Stokes and Makanjuola are both sophomores. Stokes, a preseason All-SEC first-team selection, started 14 of the 17 contests in which he appeared last season while averaging 25.6 minutes per game. Makanjuola only started one game as a freshman a year ago, but he saw action in 28 contests and is steadily developing.
Versatile redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous – listed officially as a guard, but has received significant practice reps with the Vols’ post players – has yet to be tested in the collegiate ranks. But his ability to score and mix it up in the paint during workouts has been impactful enough for Martin to have him figured into the team’s projected rotation, regardless of Maymon’s status.
“I feel like Quinton would’ve played anyway,” Martin said when asked if Maymon’s setback magnified Chievous’ value. “He is playing some good basketball right now. I don’t really have a gauge for how many minutes ‘Q’ will play, but I think he has earned some good minutes at the four position. That’s what I thought he would play this year. He is better-suited for the four spot because he can defend big guys, he can knock down 3-point shots, he can move without the ball and it’s tough for bigger guys to defend him.”
Martin also was asked Wednesday about Stokes’ recent inclusion on the media’s preseason All-SEC first team – a selection that further speaks to the team’s frontcourt strength.
“I think it’s a credit to his skill and ability,” Martin said of the Memphis, Tenn., native. “Now he has a lot of work to get done. The first-team selection does put a little personal pressure on him, but for us as a team, it doesn’t change what we’re doing. We expect him to do great things for us anyway.”
Even though Stokes only played half a season after graduating high school early and enrolling at the mid-term last year, he is a force to be reckoned with in the post. This season, he knows he has a target on his back and opponents will be game-planning for his every move. However, after a grueling offseason training program under new strength and conditioning coach Nicodemus Christopher, Stokes is in the best physical shape of his life and ready for the challenge.
EMPHASIS OF THE DAY
Wednesday’s “Emphasis of the Day” – daily midcourt talking points spearheaded by Martin prior to each practice – focused on destiny.
Destiny is not a mystery. For better or for worse, your destiny is the result of your daily decisions and defining decisions.
MURPHY, EDWARDS TO BE HONORED AT MISSOURI FOOTBALL GAME
Senior forward Rob Murphy and junior guard D’Montre Edwards will be among a large group of UT student-athletes who will be honored during an on-field recognition at the Vols’ Nov. 10 home football game against Missouri at Neyland Stadium.
Murphy and Edwards are being recognized for their outstanding efforts in the classroom, as the entire Tennessee contingent joining them on Shields-Watkins Field has maintained a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
A native of Brentwood, Tenn., Murphy is a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection; he also earned a spot on the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Academic Team in back-to-back years during his career at Lipscomb University prior to transferring to UT.
Edwards, who hails from Charleston, S.C., enrolled at Tennessee this past summer after spending two years at Brevard (Fla.) Community College.
Murphy, Edwards and their basketball teammates open the regular season the day before being honored at Neyland Stadium, as the Vols tip off the 2012-13 season against Kennesaw State Friday, Nov. 9 at Thompson-Boling Arena (7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports South).
“TENNESSEE TIPOFF COUNTDOWN” DEBUTS ON UTSPORTS.COM FRIDAY
A special feature on UTsports.com will highlight one member of the Tennessee basketball team every day leading up to the Vols’ Nov. 9 regular-season opener against Kennesaw State. The 15-player countdown begins this Friday with sophomore guard Brandon Lopez.
The “Tennessee Tipoff Countdown” will include a video Q&A with that day’s subject, as well as a brief evaluation from a member of the Tennessee coaching staff, a comparison to a former Vol by former UT point guard and current Vol Network radio analyst guard Bert Bertelkamp, an all-time listing of previous Vols who have worn that jersey number and a photo gallery.