Vols PG Moore back in action: freshman learning to slow his pace

Vols PG Moore back in action: freshman learning to slow his pace

January 14th, 2013 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Tennessee's Jordan McRae (52) shoots under pressure from Memphis' Armani Moore during an NCAA basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena. Memphis won 85-80.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Armani Moore needed to slow down to see his minutes go up.

Tennessee's freshman guard saw exactly that on Saturday at Alabama.

In an active 21 minutes in the Volunteer's third consecutive loss, Moore scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked one shot, and considering the 6-foot-5 Atlanta-area native didn't play against Ole Miss earlier in the week, the noticeable showing came as a surprise.

"Coach [Cuonzo] Martin basically sat me down, and he and Coach Kent [Williams], they told me," he said after the game. "For me coming out of high school I always averaged a lot of points. When I get into college ballgames, I've got to learn when to attack and when not to attack.

"He said basically just get in, run the offense, swing the ball and let it come to me. Once it comes to me, I'll know because I'll be playing well."

After beginning the season as Tennessee's backup point guard, Moore saw his minutes and role diminish. He played at least 11 minutes in three of the Vols' first five games but played just one minute against Virginia before not playing against Wichita State and Presbyterian. Another stretch of nine combined minutes in three games led into the DNP against the Rebels in the SEC opener.

Though Moore entered Saturday's game with nearly as many fouls (12) as points (15) this season, Martin said the freshman earned a chance to play his way back into the rotation.

"He's been in consistent in practice [with] his effort," the coach said. "The thing with Armani [is] he's very aggressive, sometimes over-aggressive, on the defensive side of the ball [with] a lot of hand checks. Offensively he's aggressive off the bounce, but he turns it over in situations.

"But he's done a really good job in the past two weeks in practice of taking care of the basketball and playing defense without fouling. That's why he was on the floor. He's earned those minutes, and I think he'll be consistent in the rotation because he competes and plays hard."

Moore played off the ball against the Crimson Tide after beginning the season as a point guard. He smartly chose to drive along the baseline for a pair of layups and looked poised in making a 3-pointer from the corner. His two most impressive moments came when he swatted Rodney Cooper's shot into the stands in the first half and leaped above a crowd near the basket to tip an offensive rebound to Kenny Hall in the second half.

Martin said Moore did a "tremendous job" playing in a road atmosphere and noted how the rookie was unfazed by the unfamiliar territory, and Moore now hopes he can capitalize on a good afternoon to make his face a familiar one in the Vols' rotation.

"I just basically tried to come out and play my role and play with confidence and try to let everything come to me," he said. "It was very important because there wasn't that one time when I chose to attack at the wrong time -- I chose all the right times. I think now that I've sat down with the coaches they've helped me figure out role.

"I've got a lot to learn, but I feel like I gained my confidence back to go out there and play hard every game."