Goins and Golden

The fact that Tennessee's top two point guards - Melvin Goins and Trae Golden - have GO at the start of their family names is purely coincidental but strangely appropriate.

The Go-Go Guys will be entrusted with keeping the Vols' transition offense on the go this season. Bobby Maze did a superior job of this last season, helping the 2009-10 Vols advance to their first-ever Elite Eight appearance. Now that he's out of eligibility, Goins and Golden must fill the void.

Goins, a 5-11, 190-pound senior, is the heir-apparent to Maze after starting four games last season. He averaged 16.0 minutes and 5.3 points per game. His ratio of assists (57) to turnovers (35) was adequate but his shooting percentages from the field (38.7), the 3-point arc (32.7) and the foul line (63.5) need work.

Goins was wildly inconsistent a year ago, playing really well at times (11 points, 5 assists, 0 turnovers vs. UNC Asheville and Vanderbilt) but playing awful at other times (0 assists, 3 turnovers vs. Purdue and Wyoming). Now that the point-guard job is his to lose, he appears to be smoothing out some of the rough edges.

"Melvin's progress probably has been in his consistency," head coach Bruce Pearl said following Wednesday's practice. "He had a couple of days last week where Trae really closed the gap on him, then Melvin put the pedal to the metal since that time. Trae hasn't backed down at all. But consistency and desire to lead the team (have elevated Goins' game)."

Maze averaged 9.4 points per game last season, and Vol coaches would like to get similar production from Goins this season.

"One of the things I talked to Melvin about is that when the ball was going inside and coming back out, he was surprised and wasn't ready to shoot it," Pearl said. "He obviously took that to heart. Every time it kicked out (Wednesday) his hands and feet were ready (to launch a shot). I just see him being more alert, more consistent."

For a true freshman who played mostly off guard in high school, Golden (6-1, 207) seems to be adapting quickly to the point-guard position.

"Trae, offensively, is really good on the break," Pearl said. "He's a really good advance passer. He has great vision and he's good at transition ball screen. He was a scorer in high school and he'll still be a scoring point guard here, but his offensive point-guard abilities are a little more advanced than I would've anticipated."

Senior Josh Bone played some point last season but appears likely to play mostly shooting guard this season. Sophomore Skylar McBee is getting a look at the point in preseason but he, too, appears more comfortable as a shooting guard.

"Skylar's clearly better off the ball," Pearl said. "He's demonstrated that in the scrimmages but I'm not giving up on him at the point because he does two things: Skylar can move his feet and keep quick guys in front of him and he can make shots. And he's a lot better ball-handler than what you'd think. It's just that he has not played the position as much in high school. Certainly, when you have to go against guys like Melvin, it's hard."

Although McBee and Bone may make cameo appearances at the point, it appears that Goins and Golden are going to get most of the minutes. In other words, the Vols will go as far as the Go-Go Guys can take them.

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