Donnie Tyndall, assistant coach Beau Braden, Josh Richardson, Armani Moore and Kevin Punter spoke with the media Thursday afternoon. Here are a few notes from Tennessee’s media availability.
No Open Practice: For the first time this season, the Vols didn’t have any portions of practice open to the media. Tyndall made that decision in hopes of focusing his young team as they prepare for three big games. “Young guys are so easily distracted, and no offense to you guys, we’ll probably open it up next week,” Tyndall said. “We had two of our better practices of the year Tuesday and Wednesday. We hope to keep that going.”
The Vols face Kansas State, No. 23 Butler and NC State in their next three games.
Too Many Fouls: The Vols rank last in the nation in fouls at 26.2 per game and that’s something Tyndall is addressing with his team. They started calling fouls in practice this week – something that is uncharted waters for Tyndall’s team.
“We’re obviously fouling at too high a rate,” Tyndall said. “It’s a couple things. No. 1 our style of play lends to fouling a little bit. Also, it’s eight newcomers trying to learn how to guard at this level. The hardest thing to do is guard the dribble. Guys are hand checking and picking up a lot of fouls. In some cases, 90 feet away from the rim. We’ve tried to emphasize the importance of not fouling and showing our hands to the officials in hopes that we don’t get hand checks or cheap fouls called…you get what you emphasize and this week we’re really emphasizing not fouling.”
Tyndall Meets with Students: For more than an hour, Tyndall hung out with Tennessee students (picture above) at PCB Cafe on campus Thursday afternoon. He signed countless autographs, encouraged fans to come to Tennessee’s game with K-State on Saturday and posed for numerous photos. Tyndall has participated in hundreds of similar events since taking the Tennessee job and has made embracing the community a clear priority.
Braden Stresses Continuity: Vol assistant coach Beau Braden spoke with the media for the first time Thursday afternoon. He referenced his time as an assistant at Morehead State and his thoroughness as Tennessee’s video coordinator with preparing him for his new role. Braden also stressed that the staff uses the same terminology and has the same message for the team. “We’re very consistent about what we teach and the terminology we use,” Braden said. “We’re not teaching our guys anything new. I’m not talking in a different way than they’ve been talked to before.”
Tyndall was quick to praise the job Braden is doing. “I have a lot of confidence in Beau,” he said. “He’s a bright young coach who was a full-time assistant at Morehead State where he recruited and was on the floor. He’s doing a great job. He’s been around good coaches his entire career and they’ve helped him grow and develop. He’s doing very well so far.”
Bonds Update: Tennessee still hasn’t heard from Liberty about Braxton Bonds. Tyndall had hoped they’d sign a waiver supporting his immediate eligibility, like Memphis did with Dominic Woodson, but Liberty has been reticent to do so despite Bonds’ extremely limited time on campus. Things certainly aren’t looking up on that front.
More Playing Time: When asked about a new potential starting lineup, Tyndall singled out three Vols who should be in line for more minutes. “Detrick Mostella showed some good flashes in each of the three games,” Tyndall said. “Tariq Owens was good against Kansas and I didn’t go back to him – which was probably my fault in the Marquette game. We’re going to give him an opportunity to start playing more minutes. And Devon Baulkman maybe too. He’s shown some things, particularly in the Marquette game, that maybe he’s earned a few minutes too.”
Looking Ahead to Kansas State: “They’re a very disciplined and well-coached team. At the offensive end they don’t force shots, they don’t take bad ones. They’ll probably run a lot of four out, one in motion against our zone. They’re going to play smart and play hard.”
Kansas State is shooting 40% from beyond the arc this season but allowing opponents to shoot 39% from deep. The Vols have struggled to defend the three-point line this season and have been an inconsistent team from three-point range. Whoever wins that battle will be in position to win Saturday’s game.