Vol players who fail to work wind up sitting with Martin
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 7:00 pm
By BETH RUCKER
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin doesn’t have a problem with players struggling to score as long as they continue to work hard defensively and in practice.
When those efforts are missing, starters will be benched.
That’s where point guard Trae Golden found himself Saturday night. So does benching the team’s lead scorer and best point guard send a message to the rest of the Volunteers?
“Most definitely,” junior forward Jeronne Maymon said. “It kind of shakes up the offense because when Trae’s not in in some games it seems like we don’t push the ball as hard or we don’t have a lot of pressure defense. I think it really worked Trae up and got him excited.”
As a starter in recent games against Auburn and No. 1 Kentucky, Golden averaged nine points, 1.5 assists and three turnovers in 30 minutes of play per game. Coming off the bench against Georgia, he scored 16 points, dished five assists and committed three turnovers in 28 minutes.
For the season, the sophomore from Powder Springs, Ga., is averaging 12.9 points, 4.7 assists, 2.9 turnovers and 31.3 minutes.
Golden isn’t the only Vol who’s been relegated to the bench this season. Junior forward Kenny Hall and sophomore shooting guard Jordan McRae were removed from the starting lineup after 14 games in favor of senior forward Renaldo Woolridge and freshman guard Josh Richardson.
Woolridge returned to the bench to make room for freshman forward Jarnell Stokes, who joined Tennessee in January and quickly impressed the coaches.
Martin said he wasn’t trying to send a message to any of the players. He’s just intent on filling his lineup with players who have proven they’ll work hard on both ends of the court.
“I’m not big with trying to prove a point to a young man because he’s part of our team and our family. I just think I need to see Trae play hard on both ends of the floor. You’ve got to put forth a better effort, and I thought he did that in the last game, but it has to be consistent. I think when it’s all said and done, if he continues to work to exhaustion and push himself to be the best he’s got a chance to be one of the best guards in this league.”
Martin was pleased with how Golden responded in Tennessee’s 73-62 win against Georgia on Saturday, but won’t say for sure if Golden will be back in the lineup when the Vols (11-12, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) host South Carolina (9-13, 1-7) on Wednesday. Junior Skylar McBee replaced Golden in the lineup against the Bulldogs and had 10 points, one turnover and no assists in 20 minutes of play.
“I thought Trae played well,” Martin said. “I thought he did a good job of running the team on both ends of the floor. I thought it was his best job all season of really directing traffic.”
Finding the most effective lineup is crucial right now for the Vols, who could still play their way into the NCAA tournament with a strong showing in February. Published in The Messenger 2.7.12