Maze looking to help Vols improve

For point guard Bobby Maze, the senior's final season as a Volunteer has not been up to expectations. After opening the season 15-2, the Big Orange have dropped four of the last seven, including back-to-back road losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the past week. Maze is looking forward to success in Vols last six SEC match ups.

For point guard Bobby Maze, the senior's final season as a Volunteer has not been up to expectations.

After opening the season 15-2, the Big Orange have dropped four of the last seven, including back-to-back road losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the past week.

"We lost some games that we shouldn't have," Maze said. "I expected our record to be about better than it is now. Last season we lost 13 games, so obviously we're doing a lot better. Right now, I give it a C+."

In 24 games this season, Maze is averaging just over nine points per game, while leading the team in free-throw shooting at just under 85 percent.

"Bobby's bringing it," head coach Bruce Pearl said. "His energy's great. Bobby's one of those guys you don't even have to worry about, he brings it at practice. This isn't work at all for him."

If any voice resonates above Pearl's during practice, it's that of the 6-foot-3 point guard, encouraging his teammates to hustle back after baskets.

When many are quick to label Wayne Chism and Scotty Hopson as leaders of the 2009-10 Tennessee squad, Maze works eagerly to join them.

"Yeah I feel like I'm a big leader," Maze said. "I don't know how sometimes my name doesn't get recognized in that category. As long as I know and my teammates know, that's all that matters to me."

On the court, some of Maze's greatest games have come against the schedule's toughest opponents, as shown in Saturday's 15 point performance versus Kentucky.

Against No. 1 Kansas on January 10, Maze had 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

When facing a sixth-ranked Purdue squad in the championship game of the Paradise Jam in November, Maze collected 13 points, five rebounds and two assists.

"When you play against top teams, the best players, I think you just always got to rise to the occasion," Maze said. "Your team may need you a little more than the average opponent, that's the reason why I play well in some of those games."

The Maryland native knows after three years of college basketball under his belt that February and March offer the toughest stretch for teams looking to finish strong after an exhausting season.

In the final six games, the Vols will travel to South Carolina, Florida and Mississippi State, including a home match up with No. 2 Kentucky.

Each game could go a long way in determining how the Big Orange are seeded for March Madness, the dance the Vols were eliminated from after a first-round loss to Oklahoma State last year.

"Go on another run," Maze said. "The longest run we had was a 7-0 run. You think about seeding, last year we had to play Oklahoma State in the first round, that's not a team you want to play in the first round; try to get a better seeding."

Tennessee put together winning streaks of four, four and seven games before a shocking road loss to Georgia on January 23.

It will take a similar run as the ones orchestrated at the beginning of the season in order for the Volunteers to secure their position as a dangerous team in March.

With team leaders such as Chism, Hopson and yes, even Maze at the helm, fans in orange can rest easy knowing that every game day presents an opportunity for another W.


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