Early Intel on Tenn

Submitted by alum96 on March 23rd, 2014 at 1:39 AM

Not in a sleepy mood right now and with the caveat of I have not seen Tenn play one game this year and there is no assurance they get by Mercer.... I decided to look over some data points on Tenn assuming they win.  Here is some quick and dirty intel on the team a lot of people are suddenly high on.  (Mercer's big guy has a concussion so that hurts them Sunday assuming he cannot play).

Tenn plays in the SEC - this is looking like a very sorry conference.  Three teams made it to the NCAA: Florida (18-0), Kentucky (12-6), Tenn (11-7).    Georgia at 12-6 in conf was invited to NIT... and promptly lost to LA Tech.  So conference = bad.

How did Tenn play vs "good opponents".  They look a lot like Texas.  A high variability.  They crushed a lot of the lower SEC teams by 20, and played the good teams kinda close some of the times.  They played a quite awful non conf outside Wichita State and Virginia.  For some reason they played Xavier twice in non conf (splitting).  Their one signature win is an absolute destruction of Virginia in December.  Obviously a lot can change in 3 months and maybe it was just "one of those nights" for a very good defensive team in VA.

Key losses:

  • By 9 @Wichita State
  • By 8 @Kentucky [only 1 meeting]
  • By 25 @Florida
  • By 9 to Florida
  • By 7 to Florida in tourney

So Florida is their standard as the season progressed and they have narrowed the gulf as the year went by.

They beat Iowa in OT to get into the tourney earlier this week. 

So how do they "stack up" age wise and physically - which is the go forward question for UM opponents?   First their starting 5 has a ton of experience - 3 seniors and 2 juniors; a major luxury in the current NCAA.

Looking at the Iowa game - their starters play the bulk of the minutes, everyone at least 32 minutes (in an OT game).  Two main subs who played 12-14 minutes.  Basically 7 deep; UM plays generally 8 deep in games that refs don't erase Morford in the first 2 minutes, but seem to run teams into the ground with our good conditioning, so potential advantage to offset Tenn's age/experience advantage. 

Similar situation vs UF in the SEC tourney; 5 starters 27-37 minutes, 1 sub with 23 minutes - the other 2 under 10 minutes.

Beefy quotient -  about the same as Texas.  Two big bruisers inside Jarnell Stokes & Jeronne Maymon, both 6'8 260, 54%ish shooters.  I am confident with Morgan against one, but GR3 unlike with Texas won't be out weighed by 25 lbs but by a lot more.  Offset.... that dude has to chase GR3 on the perimeter.   Of the two Stokes is the big target with 15 PPG and 10 RPG.  The other Maymon is 10 PPG and 8 RPG.

They play 3 guards, but unlike Texas these guards have size ...and experience.... two are 6'6 (one is 6'2) so a good match for Caris and Nik size wise.  Of the 3, the main man is Jordan McRae.  He of 18.7 PPG.  Looks like a high volume shooter to get those points with a 43.6% FG and 37% 3 PT FG.  The other 2 guards are 33% 3 PT FG, but Josh Richardson (4th leading scorer and 6'6) has a nice FG% for a guard at 45%.

There 2-3 main bench guys are all guards. 

So takeaways - their top 5 play a lot.  They have 2 beefy guys in those top 5.  If said beefy guys can get into foul trouble or tired, they get smaller with 6'5 type guards.  It's a long team though, aside from one dude at 6'2 we are talking 6'5 to 6'8 for every other of their top 7-8.  They are experienced and maybe coming together but an Iowa team in a tailspin just took them to overtime last week...  I see a lot of similarities to Texas in this matchup.

If Mercer wins Sunday, this message will self destruct.



March 23rd, 2014 at 1:58 AM ^

Can anyone explain to me why Tennessee is ranked so high by KenPom? I know his system sometimes produces some weird results, but nothing about Tennessee's resume suggests they should be the number 7 team in the country.


March 23rd, 2014 at 6:51 AM ^

As I recall, the Pythagorean Winning Percentage is the expeted win percentage against an average Division I team based on Adjusted Offense and Defense (expected efficiency against an average Division I team). Tennessee's AdjO is 114.9, which would be equivalent to a Top 10 performance in Division I. Same deal with their AdjD number, although I think in this case we're talking Top 20.

Marley Nowell

March 23rd, 2014 at 2:22 AM ^

Morgan's excellet conditioning defintely helped him play a career high 35 mins.  He uses up a lot of the opponents energy on the stuff he does on the offense.


March 23rd, 2014 at 2:28 AM ^

I thought we'd have a much tougher time with Texas and while I'd rather play Tenn/Mercer over Duke for an E8 bid, the numbers can sometimesime show otherwise. As noted, they played some good conference teams close but outside of Florida that isn't saying much. They had that one thrashing of Virginia but then scrape by Iowa to even get here. They seem like the team that may have players which don't really "buy in". What I mean is that they LOOK the part and have played the part but the 4 games I've seen them play were 2 horrible defeats in which they were never in the game (score or mentally), 1 game where they ran a one seed out of the building and 1 game where they were in the middle to beat Iowa. When they show up they are big, explosive and great shooters. They look like a top ten team. When they don't, they not only look disinterested but I wouldn't rank them in the top 50 (maybe worse). Like Texas, capable of hanging with most anyone but often don't against shabby opponents. Typical "better the team the better they play" squad, IMO. If Mercer wins.........I can't say anything. Have never seen them play (ever ever) and couldn't name one player on their team w/o Google. No offense to them.


March 23rd, 2014 at 2:30 AM ^

Tennessee is weird. I never thought they'd beat UMass like that. They seem to be getting hot at the right time which scares me. Then again Texas scared me too. It's just almost impossible to predict.


March 23rd, 2014 at 2:38 AM ^

He might be too much of a tweener to be an NBA guy, but he'll be a handful for Robinson (assuming they put Morgan on Maymon).  


March 23rd, 2014 at 3:20 AM ^

Here's a scouting report I found from a Kentucky site, and since Kentucky fans do know a bit about basketball, it seems pretty good (admittedly, it is a couple months old, but they have all the same, experienced starters, so it seems worthwhile). The things that seemed most advantageous for Michigan is that they said the bigs, Stokes and Maymon, are both fairly unathletic and slow, meaning that GRIII might be able to take advantage and use his freak athleticism on offence. Also, guys like that seem likely to be vulnerable to our high ball screen offense, when we bring Morgan up top to set the screens. Here's the link: 



March 23rd, 2014 at 8:34 AM ^

Thanks for the link.  Yes he only listed 7 players from back when report written - looks like they have a sophomore guard named Armani Moore who has gotten a bulk of minutes off the bench latey who has emerged as he was not listed.  Anyhow, we'll be able to watch them closely today and put faces to names - sounds like stats suggest: they have a top end guard and a top end college forward and a lot of long players behind those 2.  Will be interesting to see how they defend.

Their coach is 42 so I expect a lot of phone calls will be placed this week in Knoxville if Tennessee was to advance.


March 23rd, 2014 at 2:23 PM ^

It is less than a month since articles were circulating that Cuonzo Martin was on the hot seat and probably going to be fired. The presumptive replacement: Bruce Pearl...




Edit: as always, I should read the whole thread before I reply...


March 23rd, 2014 at 4:43 AM ^

I've seen clips of them and watched their games a couple times this season...Maymon and Stokes are absolutely athletic.  I fear for Stokes over-powering Glenn

3:24 = a pretty athletic move



March 23rd, 2014 at 7:02 AM ^

I still fondly remember running Tennessee out of the gym a few years ago. While the teams are completely different, who have the Volunteers faced this year like Michigan? I think that Michigan's discipline, along with having six viable 3 point threats, along with a different set of offensive plays, will lead to another victory. I actually think Mercer would be a slightly harder matchup. We'll find out tomorrow, regardless.

Generic MGoBlogger

March 23rd, 2014 at 7:52 AM ^

This UM team is much better conditioned... Keeping them out of the paint and transition will be key. On the other end, keeping the game at our pace with fast break opportunities and lots of ball movement will wear out Tennessee. Should be a very interesting game


March 23rd, 2014 at 9:13 AM ^

I'm right there with you.  Since Mercer beat Dunk City in their conference title game, I tweeted out that they would stun some teams in the tourney.  I didn't know that one of those teams could potentially be us.  They could be this year's version of Butler or VCU from a couple years ago.

Darker Blue

March 23rd, 2014 at 9:25 AM ^

I'm no expert but I watched the entire dook game and Mercer looked like a really good basketball team. They didn't make many mistakes, they played okay defense, and they made baskets. I could see them making a run.

Luckily no matter who we play next, John Beilein will have had a week to prepare, and we all remember what Tim Hardaway Jr. said about giving Coach a week to prepare. We're going to the Elite Eight.


March 23rd, 2014 at 8:05 AM ^

Think Beilein would start both Horrors and Morgan, and bench Walton, to better deal with the two bigs? Sounds like GRIII would be overmatched defensively against either one. Levert and Stauskas should be able to handle the guard duties.


March 23rd, 2014 at 9:16 AM ^

If he didn't do it against Texas or any of the B10 teams with a big frontcourt I don't see him doing it now. The beauty in that is we'll have mismatches our way that they'll have to deal with also. They have to guard us to. I was nervous going against Texas's frontcourt but we handled ourselves ok even though we lost the rebounding battle, we won the war pretty easy.


March 23rd, 2014 at 12:16 PM ^

all day long. Scared of Mercer just because they beat Duke? Duke defense is worse than Michigan which is saying a lot since Michigan defense is pretty bad.  Michigan should do just fine against them.


March 23rd, 2014 at 8:45 AM ^

As of 1 AM yesterday I was not going to sit and watch an entire game of Tenn basketball after digesting parts of about 20 games the previous 3 days.  Watching 10 minutes of youtube clips wasn't going to change much. It wasn't titled "Deep scouting report of Tennessee basketball".... just a cursory glance at their stats, conference, type of players they have, size, age, playing time, etc.

Feel free to write something far more in depth after breaking down film the next 6 hrs.


March 23rd, 2014 at 8:35 AM ^

Interesting article on the coach / pace of play here from a few days ago.

Less than one month ago, Tennessee was .500 in SEC play and staring down the wrong side of the bubble for the third time in three years under Cuonzo Martin. Martin was the hot seat coach of the week, it seemed, as Tennessee fans rallied by the thousands to suggest that athletic director Dave Hart bring back former coach Bruce Pearl to right the ship in Knoxville.

While Pearl is fiery and emotional, Martin is unwavering with his approach to coaching. A commitment to physical defense and dictating the pace of the game was not going to change with a little pressure from the fan base. He calls the outside criticism "wasted energy," and ignoring the extraneous elements is part of his message in basketball as well.

Since the "Bring Back Bruce" campaign hit critical mass, Tennessee has won seven of eight games, only falling to Florida in the SEC tournament, and now needs just one win to reach the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in school history.

During the run, Martin has implored his team to "just be tough, play tough," Tennessee guard Josh Richardson said after the 86-67 win. "Play like we know how to play. Don't play at anybody else's pace, and I think we've done a good job of that."

Tennessee doesn't win flashy, and that may have been part of the problem with the fans. The slow pace -- the Vols' adjusted tempo ranks No. 325 of 351 Division I teams and only five teams are slower in the NCAA Tournament -- and defense-first approach can be hard to appreciate as a casual fan.


March 23rd, 2014 at 8:36 AM ^

Talk about massive irony:

A season ago, Tennessee was one of the teams just short of the cut line for the tournament, and the toxic feeling of disappointment seeped into the NIT practices and resulted in an embarrassing 75-67 home loss to Mercer in the first round.

Westside Wolverine

March 23rd, 2014 at 9:08 AM ^

I have to be that guy but officiating will play a significant part in a Mich Tenn matchup. Our strength is on the perimeter, their strength is more balanced but probably big heavy; if the refs are ticky tacky outside then it is a small advantage to us, if Morgan gets whistled for breathing on their bigs then advantage them. When teams are close in talent and experience officiating can make a significant impact.

CRISPed in the DIAG

March 23rd, 2014 at 9:43 AM ^

Ref's seem more likely to give an agressive team the benefit of good calls.  The Texas bigs seemed tired and Angry Morgan was able to make plays without fear of a quick whistle.  Contrast that to the last game against Staee when Payne came out of the locker room like some unholy beast from hell and quickly put Morford on the bench.  Hopefully, we get angy Morgan.


March 23rd, 2014 at 9:49 AM ^

I'd give Mercer a great shot if not for the concussion issue.  Tennessee is a lot like Texas as far as inconsistency.  If you watched the first half against Iowa, the only reason the Hawks weren't up 20 points at halftime is that they kept bailing the Vols out by taking some highly questionable shots in transition.  UT honestly had no answers for anything Iowa did for much of the game, but Iowa was making such odd choices at times that they couldn't maintain a big enough lead to hold them off in the end.


Yeah, Tennessee was impressive against UMass - but I don't think too many people had the Minutemen going anywhere.  I figured the Iowa/UT winner would beat them either way.  If today's game is even close, I think you've got to take the UMass result for what it is, an easy win against a solid but not great opponent.


I think Tennessee is very dangerous to us if we play sloppy offensively and allow them to hang around.  If we execute on O and play a competent defensive game (something like how we did vs the Horns) then we should be fine.  But you know, March Madness... anything can happen.

SF Wolverine

March 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 AM ^

both of these teams present some touch match-ups.  That said, we have had a pretty long string now of games against teams with strong guard play and big, defensive-minded squads.  Not going to be easy, and this team is not going to turn into a lockdown outfit any time soon, but the defense is trending in the right direction. 


March 23rd, 2014 at 12:13 PM ^

last year and kept wondering why Beilein refused to go 2 bigs even though Perry Ellis was torching GRIII in the post and Kansas scored 60+ points in the paint.  I do not see Beilein changing for this matchup.  He will probably look at it from a "How are they going to match-up with us on defense while playing 2 bigs?"  I am confident in Beilein.  It is obviously a major concern but it should also be a concern for Tennessee as far as how to defend our offense.


March 23rd, 2014 at 5:50 PM ^

Guys, the guy with the concussion averaged 9 minutes a game, 4 pts and 2 rebounds.  Mercer's real big man is the 6-10 Coursey, a baller.  He will be playing.

He could be needed agaisnt TN's big men, sure, but overall it seemed as though he wasn't that good of a player.  (Monty Brown is his name, it just came to me.)