Oct. 8, 2013
VOL HOOPS REPORT: Freshmen Finding Their Way
With one week of practice under their belts, the three freshmen on Tennessee's basketball team are adjusting well to the demands - both physical and mental - of a grinding collegiate preseason.
With the Volunteers' regular season still more than a month from tipping off, A.J. Davis, Robert Hubbs III and Darius Thompson are aware of the strides they need to make in order to ensure a smooth transition from high school to Division I.
"The biggest differences (from high school) are the intensity, the physicality and - probably most importantly - the mental aspect of it," Davis said. "If you can stay consistent for a three-hour practice at the level we play on, then that's where you're trying to get. It's so much different from high school where you're the strongest, you're the fastest, you're the best player. But when you come to college and play at a high level, everyone is playing at a high level.
"If you can mentally stay consistent - fight through adversity and fight through how you feel - then you'll play well when the lights come on."
What stands out as the biggest difference for Thompson?
"The details to everything," the 2013 Tennessee Mr. Basketball finalist said. "There are so many little details to everything we do. On defense, you always have to talk and be in a certain spot at all times.
"Another big difference is how much harder everybody goes in college. You're not that much better than everybody else now, like a lot of us were in high school."
Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin expects and accepts the fact that the transition from prep ball to major Division I hoops does not come without struggle. There are certain aspects of the game for which he has more patience than others while allowing young players to grow.
"For me as a coach, the thing I will accept from young guys is struggles offensively," Martin said. "That's just part of it. You have a feel for the game, and you're getting better at it. But I don't think we can have lapses defensively from young guys, because defense is just a mentality.
"There are a lot of things that are scripted on the defensive side of the floor for us. There are certain places you have to be at all times, depending on where the ball is, so there is very little margin for error on the defensive side of the floor because of the things we do in practice.
"But a guy can struggle offensively. That's just a matter of time and growth for a young man."
Hubbs, a national top-25 recruit coming out of Dyer County High School in Newbern, Tenn., said his veteran teammates have done a good job of aiding the newcomers during their transition.
"Those guys really help all of us on the floor," Hubbs said. "They help tell us where to be. They've been through it, so they know it all. So if we have trouble going through something on the court, we just go to them, and they give us the answer."
CONTINUING THE FIGHT
A cancer survivor himself, Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin is involved in a pair of events this month that aim to raise money for the ongoing fight against cancer.
Martin and UT's Director of Broadcasting, Bob Kesling, are co-chairing the Oct. 24 Light The Night Walk on Tennessee's campus. Benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the walk begins at 7:30 p.m. ET in Circle Park on the UT campus. Registration begins at 6 p.m. ET.
To donate in support of Martin and Kesling's team, or to register a team of your own, call 865-250-3587 or visit CLICK HERE
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to fighting blood cancers.
And on Oct. 29, Martin will serve as a panelist at the Coaches vs. Cancer Tip-Off Luncheon at Vanderbilt University's Student Life Center. He will be joined by several other college basketball coaches from throughout the state.
The Coaches vs. Cancer program is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). The initiative leverages the personal experiences, community leadership, and professional excellence of coaches nationwide. The program seeks to increase cancer awareness and promote healthy living among students, faculty and staff, fans, and the community at large.
For details about the Tip-Off Luncheon or to purchase tickets, visit CLICK HERE