The Vols started their second full week of practice Monday afternoon. We were able to view about an hour of practice time. Here are a few notes and observations from the court and our time speaking with Donnie Tyndall, Derek Reese and Detrick Mostella. Make sure to catch the practice video embedded at the top of this post.
Big Orange Madness Coming: Tyndall announced the team will host Big Orange Madness at Thompson-Boling Arena on October 24th at 7 p.m. Admission and parking will be free. Fans are encouraged to park in G-10, G-3, G4 or G5. Vehicles without football gameday permits have to be moved from all lots by 11 p.m. that night.
Both the Vols and Lady Vols will participate in the event and fans will be able to watch the teams practice plus see 3-point and dunk contests.
Baulkman Out: Junior guard Devon Baulkman didn’t practice today due to a dental appointment (he had a tooth pulled). He’ll be back the next time the Vols hit the practice floor.
Ian Chiles Banged Up: As was the case last week, Richardson would be the backup point guard if the season started today. Ian Chiles is the most likely candidate to see time at point if he can get healthy. He missed time this summer with a hernia and is currently dealing with a toe injury. Chiles labored through the injury – which was noticeably altering his movement – throughout practice. They need him to get healthy and game ready to help at point. If he’s not able to do so, Richardson will be forced to play a ton of minutes.
Hubbs Back: Vol guard Robert Hubbs was held out of last week’s Monday practice after suffering a mild wrist strain during the team’s first practice of the year. Hubbs was a full go today and had the wrist taped, but it didn’t appear to bother him.
Seven Vols Game Ready: Tyndall told us last week that six Vols were ready for game action – that number is up to seven this week. That’s definitely progress. They’d like to get that number to nine or ten by the time the season tips off.
Dominic Woodson: Tennessee’s biggest player is getting closer and closer to his weight goals. He came in close to 300 pounds and is now down to 277 pounds. He was wearing three shirts under his jersey to help with weight loss at today’s practice. He’s down about five pounds from last week and they’d like to get him to 275 by the end of the week. Their goal is to get him to close to 265 pounds by December.
He looked more motivated this week than last and was definitely moving better. Woodson certainly looks determined to reach his weight goals and, if he does, he’ll play a big role for the Vols this season.
Starting Five: The Vols are less than two weeks into practice so take these with a grain of salt. Robert Hubbs took the place of Baulkman (who was absent) in the starting group. He was joined by Kevin Punter at point guard, Josh Richardson, Armani Moore at the four and Willie Carmichael at the five. That group also played some with Woodson at the five. Tyndall mentioned last week that you could see Woodson and Carmichael on the floor at the same time as well, depending on the matchup. Derek Reese has also taken a step forward. Tough he doesn’t look to be in the starting lineup at this point, he’s definitely in line for significant minutes.
Owens and Reese: Tyndall mentioned that Tariq Owens has taken a step forward the last couple of weeks. He leads the team in blocked shots in practice and swatted a couple today. He still needs to put on a ton of weight, but it looks like he’ll play a role this season. He has more length and bounce than any Vol forward in years. Derek Reese has also improved in recent weeks after wrestling with a back injury over the summer. Tough he doesn’t look to be in the starting lineup at this point, he would probably see significant minutes if the season started today.
Free Throw Struggles: At the end of our viewing time the team shot free throws. The premise was simple: if the called upon player hit two consecutive free throws, the team didn’t have to run. If they missed the first or second, they ran the length of the floor and back on a 12 second timer and a new player was summoned to the line. The team went 4/12 during the drill until Galen Campbell finally made his two attempts and earned the team a break. Keep in mind, this was after nearly an hour of non-stop drills – the team didn’t have its legs. That said, the charity stripe is certainly an area the team needs to improve.
Three-point Shooters: I asked Tyndall who he felt most comfortable with shooting 3-pointers. He said Mostella, Punter and Richardson have been the most consistent shooters from beyond the arc thus far and also mentioned that Baulkman and Hubbs aren’t too far behind.
Lopez Improving: Brandon Lopez, who tore his ACL this summer, rode the stationary bike at practice again today. Lopez even took to the court to shoot free throws during a break in the action. They will continue to monitor him.
Physical Practice: As you can see from the video, today’s practice was extremely physical. Tyndall places a big emphasis on toughness and that will be important for this undersized team once the season starts. Both Tyndall and Reese said they’ll play fast, press and force turnovers from day one. After just a couple of practices, I can assure you that most Vol fans will embrace the way this team plays.