Oct. 16, 2012
HOOPS REPORT: Martin Gets Offensive
This time of year, basketball coaches around the country talk about the importance of finding shooters. Cuonzo Martin is more concerned with his Tennessee squad identifying "makers."
"Every team in the nation has guys who aren't afraid to take shots," Martin said. "I'm interested in winning ballgames, and teams that are able to compete for championships have multiple guys capable of making shots on a consistent basis. It spreads out defenses, creates more space for your offense and prevents teams from doubling down on your big men."
The Vols enter Martin's second season on Rocky Top boasting a deep and talented stable of big men. Returning All-SEC forward Jeronne Maymon and SEC All-Freshman Team performer Jarnell Stokes receive most of the headlines, but senior forward Kenny Hall has earned praise from Martin for making significant strides in his offensive development during the offseason. And sophomore center Yemi Makanjuola continues to develop his offensive skills set as well.
Versatile redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous adds another wrinkle for the Vols down low. At 6-5, Chievous has shown a propensity in practice to create mismatches on the block.
Nonetheless, whether or not opposing teams choose to clog the paint defensively this year hinges on Tennessee's "shot-makers" keeping them honest.
Senior guard Skylar McBee has improved his 3-point shooting percentage every year - firing at a .391 clip from long range a season ago. And junior point guard Trae Golden shot .388 from beyond the arc while leading the Vols in scoring last year (13.6 ppg).
"All of those guys have it within them, I truly believe that," Martin said. "It's a matter of building confidence. And the only way you can build that confidence is by getting thousands of shots up each week. It's more than just practice; it's getting in the gym on their own and putting in the time."
The mid-range shot is among the team's focus areas. Tennessee's practices this preseason have included a new "Celtic Shooting" drill in which players sprint from short-corner to wing to elbow on alternating sides of the court, attempting shots on the move at each location. The drill is competitive, as student assistant coaches track precisely how long it takes each player to make 20 shots.
The drill strategically takes place at the end of each practice, forcing players to overcome their fatigue to make shots.
EMPHASIS OF THE DAY
Tuesday's "Emphasis of the Day" - daily midcourt talking points spearheaded by Martin prior to each practice - centered on thinking and dreaming big.
If you've never had a God-sized dream that scared you half to death, then you haven't really come to life. If you've never been overwhelmed by the impossibility of your plans, then your God is too small. If your vision isn't perplexingly impossible, then you need to expand the radiuses of your prayer circles.
While discussing Tuesday's emphasis with the team at midcourt, Martin drove home the edict that he not only wanted his players to dream big, but he wanted them to believe that those dreams are attainable.
Martin also shared Monday's emphasis via Twitter (@CuonzoMartin) just before practice began Tuesday. Monday's focus dealt with respect:
My desire is that the people who know me the best respect me the most. Success is not measured by how many people I coach or how many games we win; success is living life with such authentic integrity that those who know me the best actually respect me the most.