UT Vols Sports
Knoxville, TN – Just three weeks remain until the Tennessee basketball team hosts Pikeville in exhibition action, marking the dawn of the Donnie Tyndall era on Rocky Top. The Volunteers continued preseason preparations Monday, powering through what has become the hardwood norm in Knoxville–a physical, fast-paced, high-intensity practice at Pratt Pavilion.
“We’re making progress. Kids are working hard, and I’ve said that all summer long,” Tyndall said. “Our attitude toward being coached, our receptiveness to being coached, has never been an issue. We certainly have deficiencies in other areas, but guys are competing and giving great effort.”The first week of preseason practices has been supplemented by daily video-review sessions during which Tyndall and his staff teach the nuances of his system.
Each workout is filmed from start to finish, and stats are charted for every drill and possession. Did each player use proper technique on his closeout? Did he make an attempt to box out his man every time a shot went up? Did he attack rebounds with both hands?
Percentages are compiled for several traditional and non-traditional statistical categories, and Tyndall shares the good and the bad with the team prior to the team’s daily video review.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
Speaking of good and bad, one area in which the team’s video review sessions has been most beneficial is educating the Vols on what shots are considered “good shots” within the framework of Tyndall’s system.
While meeting with reporters Monday, he was asked if his players are getting a better feel for the kinds of shots that are considered acceptable.
“There are a lot of guys who are still learning,” Tyndall said. “I don’t think we have any selfish guys on our team. The biggest things right now (that lead to bad shots in practice) is that the guys are maybe overconfident in their ability to make shots, number one. Number two, those are shots they’ve usually taken in the past–at least with the newcomers.
“At this level, we call bad shots a `shooting turnover,’ because so many times they lead to transition at the other end for the opponent. You’ve got to limit those tough, contested shots and take care of the basketball. We’re getting better, but we’ve got a long way to go with it.”
Freshman Detrick Mostella said that’s been the biggest adjustment for him. The guard from Decatur, AL, said many of the shots he took in prep school–thinking they were good shots at that time–are now bad shots at the Southeastern Conference level.
“That’s one thing we’ve been trying to fix in practice.”
Tyndall smiled after hearing that Mostella referenced “good shots” while the freshman was talking to reporters Monday.
“Well, I’ve got him brainwashed,” Tyndall joked. “He’s heard me say that enough that now he’s repeating it.”
In The Zone
Tyndall and his players promise this: don’t expect to see your typical zone defense when the Vols hit the court at Thompson-Boling Arena this season.
Forget the conceptions of a stereotypical zone defense where players are on their heels in the paint. Tyndall’s zone plan is an aggressive one that features plenty of movement and pressure on the ball.
“When you see us play, there will be a good portion of different games or different possessions where we will play man to man, depending on where the ball goes to certain parts of the floor,” Tyndall said. “What some people perceive to be a typical zone is standing in one spot with your hands up. It’s a very aggressive zone.
“There’s a lot of man-to-man principles. We get out and pressure the ball. We’ll trap some ball screens. We’ll trap the short corner at times. It’s very aggressive, and those guys have picked up on it well.”
For Derek Reese and other returning Vols, the installation of a zone defense is a departure from years of a near-exclusive man-to-man approach.
While many of the principles differ from what they’ve worked on before, the new zone strategy requires a similar toughness as man-to-man. Reese said Tyndall wants the toughest players out on the court, willing to work and get rebounds.
In addition to working on the zone defense, the team has spent time on press situations.
“Everyone’s athletic, long and can handle the ball,” Reese said. “Everyone is very versatile, so I really like our chances at pressing the ball.”
The 2014-15 season marks the 40th anniversary of the highest-scoring team in school history. Head coach Ray Mears’ 1974-75 squad averaged 86.6 points per game (2251 points in 26 games).
It was also 40 years ago that a member of that team, Hall of Famer Bernard King, set the school record for single-season scoring average. The Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer averaged 26.4 ppg – as a freshman.
In King’s college debut – the 40th anniversary of which takes place November 30th, 2014 – he dropped 42 points on Wisconsin-Milwaukee. That still stands as a record for most points in a Tennessee debut.
That 1974-75 season was a good year to be a Tennessee point guard, and Rodney Woods capitalized. With weapons like King, Ernie Grunfeld and Mike Jackson flanking him, Woods, a senior, set the UT single-season record for total assists (227) and assists per game (8.73).
Fifty years ago, Mears put together one of the school’s top-rebounding teams. The 1964-65 Vols boasted the best rebounding margin in program history, out-rebounding opponents by 16.7 rpg.
For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee basketball program, visit www.UTsports.com/basketball and follow @Vol_Hoops on Twitter and Instagram.
Video – Donnie Tyndall
Video – Detrick Mostella
Video – Derek Reese