I watched Tennessee for the first time last night against Marquette. Here is what I saw, and I do realize it is only one game:
- Bobby Maze looked very good at point guard. Perhaps the best I have seen a JUCO look in recent memory.
- Scotty Hopson was unimpressive. He appears to have a below-average handle, is slow getting off a shot, has mechanical problems in his release, does not move whatsoever without the ball and does not play good defense. He is athletic and can run, but given the choice between him and Miller, I think we got the better of that, at least based on this game. His jumper is a crap shoot -- he either makes it or misses by a mile.
- Wayne Chism has really improved his game. He is a confident, quality SEC forward with a possible NBA future. He is still very foul prone.
- Josh Tabb has really improved in all aspects. Played a smart, quality floor game, and is even developing a jump shot.
- Renaldo Woolridge is going to be a good one -- long, lean, and good fundamentals. Still a freshman, but he has a tremendous upside.
- Emmanuel Negedu has a long way to go before he is ready to really impact this team. He is athletic, but that's about all I could see last night. If he had other skills, they weren't in evidence.
- Tyler Smith is a great player, but still lacks range and isn't as good at getting his own shot as you would think. He is better than last year, but not as much as I expected.
- Brian Williams is improving, but not that much. Still slow afoot, but he uses his big body well.
- Cameron Tatum looks like a promising young player for the Vols. I liked his game very much, and he was very intense on defense.
Those are the main players I paid attention to. The loss of Lofton et. al. last year has definitely hurt this team more than the new additions have helped it. UT doesn't appear to have anywhere near the perimeter game they had last year, and their defense still seems to be very foul-prone and a step slow inside. I was very impressed by how Maze runs the team, he is definitely better than I expected, but Tennessee's offense spends way too much time standing around.
UT's denail of out-of-bounds plays is perhaps the best I have ever seen. There is no team quicker than Marquette, and they were challenged to get the ball in every time they got it out of bounds in the front court. That kind of scares me.
What encourages me is that outside of Chism, Tennessee has nobody who wants to rebound. Against the much smaller Marquette, you would think UT would have grabbed a ton of OR's but they had only 8, the same as Marquette. UT does a very poor job in help defense and grabs a lot on dribble drives to the hoop, sending Marquette players to the line in waves.
Overall, I was not as impressed by the Vols as I expected to be. The game was choppy due to a lot of foul calls, so I can't say that this looked like UT at their best. But from what I could tell, they do some things better and some things worse than UK does. It looks to me like the 'Cats and the Vols will be a very even matchup.