Erratic outings show inconsistent Vols
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
After spending 20 minutes demonstrating a complete inability to find the basket without the aid of OnStar, GPS and a sherpa on your home court, it isn’t all that hard to be significantly better in the second half.
When the other team shoots an outlandish 64 percent and 80 percent from beyond the arc despite a respectable defense, it’s only a little ways to being measurably better as the law of averages comes into play.
takes some more work and a leader — like say Jordan McRae and his 21 second half points stepping
forward — to be dramatically better and cut the lead to a crowd-inspiring margin.
But as Tennessee found out Friday in an 85-80 loss to Memphis, even with all that can go right late after it went disastrously wrong early, it is very difficult to be decidingly better after 20 minutes of being unable to even find the farm, much less hit the barn located on said property.
As many ifs and buts as can be offered for the difference between Tennessee’s first half and its second half against Tiger High, it is the same Dr. Dazzle and Mr. Hide that the Vols have displayed in an emphatically erratic and inconsistent nonconference schedule.
“It can’t be a situation where they say we’re down by 20 and now it’s time to be aggressive,” UT skipper Cuonzo Martin said noting the improved play with Kenny Hall and Jarnell Stokes on the floor together. “It has to be consistent and every day attacking the rim.”
In the microcosm of UT’s ups and downs, only once did the Vols manage to connect on back-to-back attempts while managing to hit shoot 9-for-32 the first 23 minutes to score 31 points. The last 17 ticks Tennessee showed every reason why Memphis coach Josh Pastner would prefer his athletic director not make a deal to extend the on-again, off-again in-state series. UT hit 20-of-34 attempts to score 49 and light up every Memphis foible.
“We did a much better job in our transition defense the second half,” Martin said. “Joe Jackson did so much by getting in those seams the first half and giving them open shots.”
While Tiger High was once again a victim of its lack of discipline with unforced turnovers and goal tending against a team shooting in the 20s, keeping the game from getting truly out of control, the Vols seemed often as not the victims of too much discipline and not enough confidence early.
“The biggest concern going forward is a couple guys have to play harder, not necessarily scoring more, just playing better,” Martin said.
Though shooting a little bit better at the start wouldn’t hurt either.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times, who enjoys reading comments posted to this column at http://thedailytimes.com . He wrote from Knoxville.