Postgame Quotes: Vols 67, #13 Gators 56

Jan. 7, 2012

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Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin
(Opening Statement:)
"I thought it was a great atmosphere. Fans gave great energy. I thought they fed off the way our guys played hard. It fun to watch our guys really compete and battle. I don't think there have been too many times like that this year that we've played like that from a passion standpoint, playing for each other and defending the way we did. I thought that was great.

"We had a great team meeting last night with our chaplin Roger Woods and also (former Vol All-American) Tony White. Those guys gave our guys good inspiration with the things they said. It was that was great. They said some wonderful things.

"Guys played with tremendous effort, really defending well and challenging their 3-point shot. The way those guys shoot threes and the way they score on the blocks, they're not one of those teams where you can identify one or two guys and think you're OK. They have five guys on the perimeter who can make shots, make plays. I thought we did a great job of keeping them out of the lane, making shots tough, making passes tough, extending the offense out to the hash. That was a game plan.

"We did a great job of scoring in the paint. I think we had 32 points in the paint. Kenny Hall was assertive. Jerrone (Maymon) was assertive. Renaldo scoring around the basket. Our guards did a good job of going off the dribble. We shot five threes in the first half and I thought we played a very effective game, a very efficient game. We were just putting our head down, getting to the lane and making things happen."

(On what this game does from a confidence standpoint:)
"I think you always want to get wins. I think more importantly, you want to protect your home court. Whether it's a new coach, new team, inexperienced guys or whatever you want to call it, you want to do everything in your power to try to protect your home court then find ways to win on the road. The great ones find ways to win on the road. It might be an ugly performance, but you have to find a way to win.

"For us, it was fun for our guys, fun for our fans to get a good win against a great program."

(On changing the starting lineup:)
"I wanted to go with guys that I thought could defend and really play hard. Nothing against the other guys. I thought it gave us the best chance to win a game."

(On Hall's 13-point game, if it had anything to do with playing from the bench:)
"I don't try to do things to wake a guy up. I give them opportunities to be successful and do the things you need to do. Once I make moves, I make them. It's not for sound bites, a scare tactic. We make decisions, and that's what we're going with."

(On Hall's and McRae's game from the bench:)
"More than anything, I talk about from Day One, you've got to sit and accept it for the team. That's the most important thing. Whatever happens after that happens. When you start, there are other guys sitting on the bench cheering for you, so it's a two-way street. We're a family. We're a team. You've got to accept your role."

(On if Hall and McRae will continue to start on the bench:)
"They've got to earn it one day at a time. These other guys played well, so they'll stay out there and play. I think that's the most important thing. I didn't do this to shake somebody up. I just felt like this gave us the best opportunity to be successful out of the gates."

(On if UT was feeding off its own defensive intensity:)
"More than anything, I think that's a step we had to really sell them on, the importance of defending at a high level. I like defending at a high level. You're playing extremely hard. Maybe you're missing shots, but you've still got to defend hard. You can't play hard and struggle in this program."

(On Tennessee having the confidence to win)
"It was everybody who thought we weren't going to win. I think the only people that thought we were going to get our next win today were us in the locker room. It was very satisfying. It's something we just have to continue to work at. We can't get complacent."

(On the importance of the Vols winning their SEC opener)
"It was huge, getting the SEC off in the right way against a great team. It's amazing for us and it's something we can build on."

(On the change in the starting lineup)
"I commend them a lot. I'm pretty sure it's hard to go from being a starter to a bench player. I talk to Jordan (McRae) a lot and I just told him to come out with the same mindset, be aggressive and get yourself going on defense. That's what I started doing when I was in a bad slump in the middle of the season. I just started playing better defense and it helped me on offense. I think he just had a better mindset today. They all came out with such a more aggressive mindset and that's something that helped us."

(On the play of Jordan McRae and Kenny Hall off the bench)
"You'd probably have to ask them. They came off the bench with fire and that's something we need, 23 points between the both of them. That's huge for them. That's huge for us. It was just great to have that boost come off the bench."

(On Kenny Hall's aggressive mindset)
"I saw a different guy. I think that when he has the strong mindset that he wants to be aggressive and he wants to attack, I think there's nobody that can stop him."

(On whether the change in the starting lineup had any negative effects)
"We're a team here. Everybody knows that everybody is going to have ups and downs. It doesn't matter who starts. We're a team. The first thing Jordan (McRae) said when we got in the locker room was `I'm so happy for you Josh (Richardson). That was a great game.' That's what we need. Josh was the key for us. He got us going in the first and second halves. Kenny (Hall) went over to Renaldo (Woolridge). That's what we need. We're a team here. It's not about being selfish. There's no individual play."

(On defeating 13th-ranked Florida)
"It was very big. It was really good for us to get our confidence back after the loss at Memphis and I think it was really good for our fans."

(On starting SEC play with a victory)
"It's only one game but we were just trying to start it off strong. Everybody's record was 0-0 so we were just trying to start over like a new year."

(On what Tennessee did to slow Florida's offense down)
"We were just trying to disrupt their offense, get them to catch the ball further out, get in the passing lanes and make them twice about passing the ball."

(On his matchup with Patric Young)
"We're just both physical and real strong. I just had to play smarter than him. We are both really strong, but we didn't want to go back-and-forth with the fouls and everything. I just tried to play smarter than him."

(On Tennessee's adjusted starting lineup)
"It didn't really bother me or help me at all. I'm good playing with whoever is on the court. We were all just trying to play for one another tonight."

(On the play of Jordan McRae and Kenny Hall off the bench)
"If you can't tell by the way they played, they came out there with something to prove. Obviously, they wanted to be out there at the start of the game, but it's not about who starts. It's about who finishes."

Sophomore guard Jordan McRae
(On not starting)
I knew I was not starting since Thursday. I was thinking the whole time that I am not going to sulk about it and play hard on defense. Coach was trying to send me a message to play as hard on defense as I do on offense and let the offense come. I kept my spirits up, and coach told me to go out and play like I can play.

(On supporting freshman guard Josh Richardson who took his place in the starting line-up)
I talked to Josh before the game and in practice. I told him to go out there play hard and not be nervous. I am happy for him, and he did really well.

(On getting the victory)
It means we are growing up. (Former Vol) Tony White came in and really got onto us. He pointed some people out, told us we have to start playing harder and playing for each other. Once you do that, you can be a great team.

Junior forward Kenny Hall

(On not starting)
Coach always wants to us play hard in practice and I got caught slacking off a bit. I am just glad I was there for my team when they needed me. It was a wake-up call and it worked. Coming off the bench, I just wanted to be a spark. I wanted to make things happen when I was out there.

(On getting the victory)
It is great momentum going into SEC play. We beat a great a team and we have to keep it going. We showed up today and were ready to play. We have to keep this momentum going.

(On supporting his teammates)
I was just cheering my team on and hoping they would do a good job out there. I will do whatever coach wants me to do and whatever it takes for our team.

(On turnovers being a problem on the road)
"No, I'm more disappointed with our defense than anything else in the game. That was more disappointing to me. Both teams played hard, but the difference was the defense. At one point, we were giving up 55 percent (from the field) in the second half - that was the issue.

"Because even with 15 turnovers, which really is not a lot on the road, if we defend a little bit better - I'm not saying we win the game, but at least we're probably a little bit more in the game and we needed to be. "

(On today's poor shooting)
"I still think our guys have a long way to go in terms of what they need to learn and how they need to grow, and these experiences, hopefully, will help us.

"Give them (Tennessee) credit; they did a good job defensively. There were things open and available that, at times, we took advantage of and were able to capitalize on. But I don't think we made enough good decisions and that's something we've got to get better at."

(On today's press being effective)
Yeah, we pressed quite a bit. The hard part for us is when we have Erik Murphy in the game - when he's in the game with Patric (Young) that makes it kind of tough. You've got to kind of pick your poison there a little bit because with Erik, he certainly provides a lot of offense for our team and he is a good half-court defender and can play post defense.

"But what happens is when the floor gets extended, you've got to bring him up and move him into an area of the floor where he probably has to guard a quicker and more athletic guy. So when (Casey) Prather comes in the game or (Will) Yeguete comes in the game, we're probably a better pressing team. The press was effective for us. It was somewhat disruptive and, do I wish we could have done it more in the game? Sure. But I realize too that we couldn't keep giving them easy baskets with the floor being spread like that."

(On concerns about another road loss)
"No, I'm not worried about that. Playing on the road is, for me, a mentality you've got to have. We've been a pretty good road team. Two of the teams we've played (this season) on the road were ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the country - clearly two of the better teams in the country - and obviously here is a tough place to play and Rutgers is a tough place to play.

"Anytime you play on the road it's always a difficult challenge. We've got to learn what we have to do to put ourselves in a position to win."

(On offensive ball movement)
"I wasn't happy with our offense at all and what we needed to take advantage of. That was the most disappointing part. They pretty much played their hand at how they were going to guard; they played that way the entire time.

"Defensively, when you do things, you're always giving up something. At times in the first half, we did a really good job of capitalizing on it and there were other times we didn't. For the most part, more often than not, we did not do a good job of taking advantage of what was available."





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