KNOXVILLE – Tennessee conducted its first official basketball practice of the season on Friday without All-SEC forward Jeronne Maymon, who is still rehabbing after surgery on both knees during the offseason.
Maymon has seen limited action the last few weeks, but that’s more a precaution than a sign his recovery hasn’t progressed normally. “It’s a long season,” Vol coach Cuonzo Martin said during his team’s media day on Thursday. “You want to have him available in March.”
The beginning of Martin’s second season is the polar opposite to his debut, when the Vols were picked my Southeastern Conference media to finish 11th in the league. They wound up tied for second, and lost just one significant player from that team-guard Cameron Tatum. Eighty-three percent of the Vols’ scoring and 73 percent of their rebounding from a year ago returns. Several preseason Top 25 polls include Tennessee.
Because of all that experience, Tennessee’s August trip to Italy and the 10 practices that went along with it, and a new NCAA rule that allows limited practice in the offseason, the first official practice of the 2012-13 season was more a refresher course.
As such, significant portions of Friday’s workout were spent on individual skill development. The staff also spent time refreshing offensive and defensive terminology. As is customary of any team activity supervised by Martin, not a second was wasted. Efficiency is demanded throughout all aspects of his program.
“The guys did a good job today. The focus was there, so we were able to make efficient use of our time,” Martin said. “We did a lot of review and installation today. This weekend we’ll make everything live, and it will really be coming at them quickly. The guys will have to make quick decisions and communicate with one another at a high level. Defensively, I want us to turn it up a notch from last year.”
Maymon wasn’t the only player limited because of health reasons.
Fellow senior forward Dwight Miller (knee) and freshman guard Derek Reese (shoulder) were limited mostly to conditioning and drill work.