Tennessee Vols freshman Armani Moore flying for rebounds

Tennessee Vols freshman Armani Moore flying for rebounds

January 29th, 2013 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

KNOXVILLE -- No. 4 in orange and white flying through the air for a rebound has become a common sight at Tennessee basketball games recently.

Expect Armani Moore's aerial board-crashing acrobatics to continue.

The freshman grabbed 26 rebounds in the last three games, and the output earned him a spot in the Volunteers' starting five.

"I think there are several ways you can be an impact to the game, whether it's playing good defense, scoring or crashing the glass," Moore said Monday afternoon as the Vols prepared for their third game in six days tonight against Vanderbilt in Knoxville. "There's many other ways to be a great player on the court without scoring. That's what I try to do.

"It's all about timing the ball and crashing the glass at the right time."

Since he reclaimed his role against Alabama on Jan. 12 after disappearing from the rotation earlier in the season, Moore's rebound total (34) nearly doubled his shot attempts (18) in the past five games. Though the Atlanta-area native stands just 6-foot-5, it's been easy to notice his athletic ability, whether he's displaying it on the boards or with an emphatic blocked shot. On most of his rebounds, he snares the ball with one hand before loudly slapping it with the other.

As a senior at Mount Paran Christian School, Moore averaged 9.3 rebounds per game, but those were much different than the ones he's grabbing now for Tennessee.

"I didn't really head hunt for a rebound," he recalled. "I just got the rebounds if they came to me. Now I look at rebounding as my thing, so I just try to go and get it."

Moore maintains confidence in his offensive game, but he's realized he can better use his athletic ability on rebounds and blocks to make an impact for the Vols.

"I think Armani Moore's really earned his way," coach Cuonzo Martin said. "[When] you've got a guy that plays hard [and] rebounds at that level, it's hard to keep him off the floor. The thing we talk to our guys about is having an impact on the game whether or not you're scoring."

Against Alabama, Moore made two shots for his four points and grabbed seven rebounds.

"I thought he had a major impact on the game," Martin said.

Though he took just two shots, he had eight rebounds and three blocks against Ole Miss. His breakout game was an 11-rebound performance against Mississippi State that included four assists and three steals. Before his five-game boarding binge, Moore grabbed 15 rebounds in the 10 games in which he appeared.

"When I basically sat down with myself and tried to realize like what could I do to possibly make an impact for this team," he said, "I felt like if I could crash the boards as much as I can, that's something I could do to help the team, so that's what I'll continue to do.

"I basically just go out there and do as much as I can when it comes to crashing the boards. I think it's fun, so I enjoy doing it."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.