Postgame Quotes: Memphis 69, Tennessee 51

Jan. 4, 2012

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HEAD COACH Cuonzo Martin
(On his overall thoughts relating to the loss)
"They did a really good job defending tonight. I thought we did a really good job in the first half defending, but when you struggle to get points to score, all of a sudden your offense becomes stagnant and the next thing you know it takes a toll on you on the other side of the ball. I thought for the most part we did a solid job defending. We broke down in the second half with the ball screens and letting those guys turn them down and getting to the rim."

(On Tennessee's 15 turnovers)
"We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. They took a couple balls from our guys. We have to handle the ball and be strong with the ball. That shouldn't happen."

(On Memphis' Tarik Black)
"They did a good job. I thought (Tarik) Black had one of his better games all season, just watching him from afar, being aggressive, attacking the rim and scoring the ball around the basket. I thought he had a very physical presence all night."

(On Memphis' efforts to keep Golden from bringing the ball up)
"I think the biggest key for us when that happens - Jeronne brings it up - now we have our wings to score and our bigs down there so we feel like we have an advantage if they play him like that, if you take it away from Trae. We just didn't make shots on the perimeter. For us, we feel like that's an advantage if we can get our bigs up the court, especially with Jeronne. We feel like he's probably one of our better ball handlers and decision makers. They trap Trae, Jeronne gets up the court and we can make plays."

(On Memphis controlling the paint area)
"It definitely was. Once again, the key for us going into the game was to get the ball inside. We wanted to make a conscious effort to get our guys on the blocks as they defend you one-on-one to really try to score. We have to do a better job with that."

(On how Tennessee can improve in getting more points in the paint)
"One is wanting the ball, demanding the ball on the blocks. I just think when you're one-on-one in the post, that's an opportunity you want to have to get to the free-throw line and get fouled or score the basket. That has to be an advantage for us."

(On Wes Washpun)
"One thing Wes definitely is - is a tough kid. He's a battler. He competes at all times. He doesn't back down from anything. You saw that foul. He's aggressive. His best is yet to come as he continues to get better. He wants to be a great player."

(On Jarnell Stokes Status)
"Jarnell has been cleared by the NCAA, but he's not eligible (to play games) he has to be cleared by the SEC as well. He wanted to be a part of (the game) and be on our bench with us. So we loved to have him. He's a part of the family. He can come back to Knoxville and start practicing with us, that will be tomorrow. When he gets back with his family, he can get down (to Knoxville), but he won't be able to play games until he's cleared by the SEC. There is some paperwork that he has to fill out, information that he has to send in to the SEC."

(On Stokes' timetable)
"He won't be able to play (games) until school starts. That's the rule. But, the biggest key after that, once he's cleared is when we feel he's healthy enough, and when I say 'healthy,' I mean from the standpoint of conditioning, to be ready to play. Even though he has done a lot working out, he hasn't played an actual game since the end of July -- a 5-of-5 competitive game. As it's really a matter of us, when we feel he's physically ready to go and go out there and compete on a high level."

(On Stokes earning playing time)
"I think he will get the minutes, because he is a hungry basketball player. He's a guy that will give you production on the blocks. He's a physical presence. He can post hard. He demands the ball. He's a guy that goes and rebounds the ball. So, I think he will demand minutes, but it's just a matter of him being physically ready to go. He will be a four (power forward) for us. He will play four for us and will bring him off the bench initially. He can be a five (center) when teams go small against us. You have a lot of cases when teams have five perimeter guys out there and big guys step out, so he can do that as well."

(On playing Florida on Saturday)
"A very talented team. I have spent a lot of time watching them from afar, watching games on TV, already scouting them. We will get to that tonight and go from there."

(On Memphis' defense helping to open up a double-digit lead on the Volunteers)
"We have to do a better job in taking care of the ball and making sure that our guys are aggressive in their style of play, but take care of the ball at the same time."

(On Memphis' play in the post)
"They did a good job. I thought that (Tarik) Black had one of his better games of the season in attacking the rim. They had a very physical presence tonight."

(On Memphis' ability to keep the ball away from Trae Golden in the front court)
"I think that the biggest key for us when that happens, is that Jeronne (Maymon) has to bring it up, and that allows our wings and big guys to score. We feel like we have an advantage when teams play like that against us, but we just didn't make shots on the perimeter (tonight). But, for us, we feel like that is an advantage, especially with Jeronne."

(On having only nine bench points on the night)
"Memphis is a great atmosphere. I think that for our guys, we just have to be aggressive and attack the rim. We don't necessarily have to make the big play; we just have to get the ball to the right guy."

(On the challenges that Memphis presented)
"A lot tonight they were basically double-teaming me and I couldn't get the ball inbounds. They did a good job pressuring us, but we just have to stay more composed and be ready next time for the pressure."

(On Memphis' pressure defense)
"I really didn't know how to handle that at the time. I guess I should've broken open but they were still doubling me every time I got the ball. They did a good job with their pressure defense. That's something that our team just really has to work on."

(On the difference between the teams' two meetings)
"I think one reason that they played differently is I think I heard there were 19,000 people in here tonight all for Memphis. We had our great fans, but of course you're a different team at home. We're a different team at home. They were definitely a different team. You could tell they had an emphasis on getting the ball inside. Like I said, we had a few mental breakdowns and we didn't stay composed. That's something I just think we're going to work on and get better at."

(On being able to shoot comfortably from the top of the key)
"That's one play we like to run. It did work out for us. Their guy dropped so low under the basket that it gave me an open lane to get to the top of the key and get open so that was pretty good for us."

(On staying mentally focused for Saturday's SEC opener)
"I think our head is where we need to be. We just had a good talk in the locker room. We're going to continue to make strides. I think Saturday morning when we play Florida, we'll be ready. We're going to get back to the gym tomorrow and just fix everything that we need to fix and make sure that everything works out fine for us."

Memphis Head Coach Josh Pastner
(Opening Statement)
"I'm very proud of our guys. Everyone was terrific and just did their job. We won this game with defense and rebounding. And, we also won the 50-50 balls. You have to win 50-50 balls and hustle plays, and we did that. That's why we won the game.

"I'm very, very proud of our guys. I want to give credit to Tennessee. They're a good club, better than their record. They are going to play well in the SEC. We need them to win some games in the SEC. That will help with our RPI, no question. They are a nice ball club. Coach (Cuonzo) Martin does a great job there.

"It was a great win for us. You can say that was a win for Coach (Gene) Bartow. I know he smiled upstairs. Everyone came in and did their job. Again, like I said, we won the game because of defense and rebounding.

(Talk about the improvement in your team compared to the close win in Maui.)
"We did a good job on the glass. That's one of the big differences--they didn't get second and third chances. We won the rebound battle. The biggest thing is that we have to cut down on our turnover numbers. We made some silly, unforced turnovers. But, how about this stat? We were 14-of-15 from the free throw line. We stepped up and made free throws. Everybody came in and was terrific and contributed. It was a good game overall for everybody."

(Talk about the incident that resulted in technical fouls for each team.)
"I just think it was two clubs battling and being competitive. It happens; it's one of those things in the heat of the moment. I wanted to get out there and dissolve any issue. We got there quick enough for there not to be anything else. As I always tell our guys, the second guy is always the guy that gets caught. We just need to keep being tough and hard-nosed, but we need to do it within the rules.

"I thought Wesley (Witherspoon) came in and gave us good minutes. He didn't practice the last two days, but felt good in shootaround and wanted to give it a go. He gave us really good minutes. I thought Joe (Jackson) gave us good minutes and was terrific defensively. That's the Joe I know. He came up with 50-50 balls, guard rebounds, and he really got after it on defense. I was so proud of our guards for sticking their nose in and coming up with big rebounds.





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