KNOXVILLE – The Tennessee basketball team went through its first of 10 NCAA-allotted team practices Monday in Pratt Pavilion in preparation for its upcoming exhibition tour of Italy Aug. 5-15.
All but one member of the 15-man squad is on back on campus and was present for Monday’s two-hour practice. Freshman forward Derek Reese was traveling back to Knoxville after earning All-Tournament Team honors at last weekend’s Nike Global Challenge.
Senior forward Jeronne Maymon (knee) took part in the majority of practice, while fellow senior forward Dwight Miller (knee) was limited to conditioning work and did not take part in live drills.
Junior point guard Trae Golden was back in full swing following an off-season knee surgery, and UT’s two backcourt newcomers – junior guard D’Montre Edwards and freshman guard Armani Moore – participated in their first official team practice as Volunteers.
“It was the first day, so we had some guys working the kinks out,” second-year Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. “We introduced a few concepts for the new guys.”
Martin said the new NCAA rules allowing additional instruction time for coaches and players in the summer has helped.
“You can tell from a skills standpoint,” Martin said. “And the guys are better conditioned for practice. Plus, we have an experienced team, so that helps the flow throughout practice. But there’s still plenty of work to do.”
In addition to time spent working on fundamentals, Monday’s practice itinerary also included sessions dedicated to transition offense and defense, motion cuts and curling action as well as ball-screen defense.
Nine more team practice sessions await over the coming two and a half weeks.
“Having 10 extra practices really helps,” Martin said. “Especially when they’re efficient. Ten practices give you an opportunity to accomplish a lot. For (the coaching staff), you always want to get better as a team. You want to get the new guys acclimated to what we do. And you want to reinforce your philosophies on both ends of the floor and continue to teach a level of effort, togetherness and toughness.”
Tennessee will play four exhibition games at various stops throughout the tour against All-Star Italy (Aug. 8 in Rome), Montenegro Selezione (Aug. 10 in Florence), Atletas Kaunas (Aug. 12 in San Marino) and Amici del Campetto (Aug. 14 in Como).