What's up with Jarnell Stokes? Cuonzo Martin has puzzled and puzzled 'til his puzzler was sore, and frankly Coach Martin is still puzzling more. Reading through the day's articles for this morning's Talking Points, I kept coming back to this excerpt that includes a quote from Stokes and an observation from the reporter who elicited it:
"When I was being patient, guys were telling me I need to get the ball and go, but now that I'm being more aggressive, guys are telling me to be patient," Stokes said Monday, seemingly coming to the realization as he spoke the words. "I just need to find a balance between the two."
My initial internal response to that was that the realization Stokes needs the most is that he's the boss. Jeronne Maymon is redshirting. Trae Golden is on the bench. And yeah, Stokes is basically half-freshman/half-sophomore, but he's All Man and The Guy to boot. He needs to stop listening and start telling.
I love guys with quiet strength, guys like C.J. "Quiet Storm" Watson. But I also love guys like Al "Just Plain Raging Storm" Wilson, and this team looks like it could use some vocal leadership. And some aggression.
Martin seems to be saying as much:
[Stokes] has made progress and the key for him, and what I have talked to him about all the time is demanding the ball more. I think the next step for Jarnell is to demand the ball every time. He is a low key kind of guy, he lets his actions speak for themselves and he is very vocal from that standpoint, but he needs to demand it more and I think he has it in him.
Martin also hinted at something he's suspected with Stokes, namely that he thinks Stokes may be a bit more passive because he's concerned about missing free throws:
I think somewhere inside him, he has not said this but he sets to avoid maybe getting fouled because he is not a great free-throw shooter. That is something he has spent a lot of time on and I just tell him to go ahead and miss the free-throws because you have to stay aggressive and be active. When he is active that is when he is playing at his best.
Made free throws isn't the only payoff for fouls. It racks up the number of fouls, puts individual opponents in foul trouble and on the bench, and ups the tally so that when other better shooters are fouled, they benefit from the team getting into the one-and-one and bonus quicker. And it means that Stokes is being Stokes.
So here's to Stokes getting the message, sooner rather than later, that he's the guy and that he needs to assert himself on the floor against the opposition and in the huddle with his teammates.
- Speaking of not being passive, the Vols have a real opportunity to test drive some new aggression in Rupp Arena tonight. The keys to the game appear to be rebounding and transition defense. This Kentucky team is not the same as the teams of the last two years. Calipari has lost five games already this season, matching the total losses of his last two teams. And maybe Armani Moore, who Martin says is not bothered one bit by a road atmosphere, can help.
- Hoops report from UTSports.
- Vol Access video from UTSports.
- Several Vols have been invited to post-season award games. Mychal Rivera and Dallas Thomas have been invited to the Senior Bowl. Ben Bartholomew, Zach Rogers, and Prentiss Waggner will play in the Raycom All-Star Classic, and Herman Lathers and Marsalis Teague have been invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
- The football team earned a 2.49 GPA during the fall semester.
- Tennessee has released more detail on the salaries of the football and support staff.
AROUND SB NATION
Weird day yesterday at SB Nation SEC blogs, with both Kyle of Dawg Sports and Todd at Roll Bama Roll hanging it up. Both of those guys have been good friends and colleagues, and we at RTT wish them the best.