Jan. 14, 2012
Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin
"First, I thought it was a great atmosphere, great energy. I thought our fans represented well. I thought Jarnell (Stokes) played real well. I thought he had great energy. He wasn't intimidated at all. It was fun to see him out there. It's tough, tough against that level of talent to be able to pick things up so quickly, the different schemes and not a lot of time to prepare for. I thought he did a tremendous job.
"I thought our bigs battled. They really competed. Jeronne (Maymon) had another double-double. I thought Kenny Hall played well on the blocks. Anthony Davis is just such a poised young man, knows how to block shots. He has a great feel for the game. The starting defenders love his maturity out there and it's a pleasure to watch him play.
"I thought Kidd-Gilchrist kind of set the tone for those guys down the stretch and made big plays at the right time. I thought we did a good job competing. Down the stretch, we didn't score the ball. They did a good job knocking it out of our big guys' hands late. I thought we did a good job across the board."
(On Kentucky's run down the stretch:)
"You have to give them credit. They did a good job defending and that's what good teams do. You have to defend at a high level. You have to compete. I thought both teams did a good job defending. That's just part of it. Credit goes to those guys."
(On decision to play Stokes:)
"I think it was really him being really hungry to play, and I thought the time was right to put him in. We had one of those subs to just get him in, get a feel for the flow, try to go right to him. I thought he did a good job accepting the challenge."
(On Stokes' instructions:) "I just told him, if there's one guy, shoot the ball. If there's two guys, a double team, pass the ball. If it's one-on-one, make plays."
(On how Stokes' playing time was be determined:)
"The thing that determined the time was not necessarily his play. As long as he was solid defensively, we were going to try to roll with him. There were a couple breakdowns. Once, I think they had Darius Miller there, and we switched one through four. Jarnell hedged him and we got lucky, he missed the three. It was really more or less taking him out and letting him understand certain situations. For a guy like Miller, we switch those ball screens, but for (Terrence) Jones, we would hedge him. Just to let him know, more than anything. I thought his conditioning wasn't bad, so we gave him more minutes. We got him in and got him out."
(On defense holding Kentucky to 15 points below its season average:)
"I thought we were playing defense the way this program will be accustomed to playing defense: hard, aggressive and physical. We've still got a ways to go as far as I'm concerned, but we're at that level where I think we need to be. We're making the necessary strides we need to be a really good defensive program.
"They're a very talented team. They get to the rim. It's hard to sit and say `Well, you guard it this way.' When you have the ability to get to the basket. I mean, Marquis Teague I've been watching since his was a kid. Gilchrist is one of the best in the game, a lot better than I thought he'd be live. He's very talented. Those guys can get to the rim but I thought did a good job contesting 3-point shots and other shots, but you've got to be able to guard off the bounce, and I thought we did that."
(On how Richardson's two early fouls affected team:)
"Josh is a guy who battles and competes, and when you get in foul trouble like that, it's hard to truly get in a flow. In some situations, we wanted him to guard Marquis Teague and take Trae (Golden) out, but he was in foul trouble, so that kind of messes your plans somewhat. I thought Renaldo (Woolridge) did a good job guarding the small forwards in the first half."
FRESHMAN FORWARD Jarnell Stokes
(On adjusting to the environment)
"I felt good going into the game. I really wasn't worried about all of that. It felt different here, the atmosphere and the crowd. That's something I'm going to have to get used to."
(On being prepared for the atmosphere)
"Coach (Martin) really prepared me for it. I was just playing for my team and the state of Tennessee. It was definitely different. There was a lot of adrenaline going, but that's how I'll continue to play and build off of that for the rest of the season."
(On the confidence he gained from making his first shot)
"It definitely helped me. It gave me confidence. Going in, I was a little worried how I would do coming out of high school. I felt pretty good once the shot went in."
(On getting a game under his belt)
"I plan to build off of that and watch film, something I haven't been used to doing, and learn some defensive plays. I made a lot of defensive mistakes."
(On playing in his first game out of high school)
"I'm not going to give any excuses. We're all on the college level. I made a mistake towards the end of the game. I felt like I made a good move, but I lost the ball and then I made some defensive mistakes. I feel as if I contributed to that loss. I'm not going to give excuses because I came out of high school."
(On how his teammates have welcomed him)
"They've accepted me pretty well, guys like (Jeronne) Maymon, Cam (Tatum), Trae (Golden) and all those guys. They've given me nothing but love. Coming out of high school, I felt like I needed that. The coaches also, I see them every day. I love Tennessee."
(On the influence of Jeronne Maymon)
"His energy and how he uses his body so well, I've definitely been watching him throughout practice. Going up against him is even better."
(On his first game being against second-ranked Kentucky)
"I felt like I matched up pretty well. I wasn't scared going into the game. I've played with these guys all of my life. I'm not going to give any excuses. They won."
(On his energy level)
"I just wanted to win the game. It was definitely big for me to make my first shot. I didn't know when you first got on the court how tired you would be, as far as all of the noise and bumping and grinding. It's something I'll have to get over and I'm looking forward to the next game."
(On how the crowd received him)
"I love Tennessee. Coming into the game, they gave me a standing ovation. I'm just playing for my state."
(On whether he was physically ready to play)
"I felt like I could do it. I wouldn't be out here if I didn't feel like I could do it. Coach would've never put me in that situation if he thought I couldn't. I thank Tennessee for giving me the confidence to go out there, play and contribute."
JUNIOR FORWARD Jeronne Maymon
(On Tennessee's mentality)
"We try to hang our hat on toughness. We just go out every night and play team defense and team ball. Hopefully, we get good results. That's how we all think. We all have to be tough. We all have to be there for one another and have each other's back."
(On how Tennessee has evolved throughout the season)
"I think we grow every game. Every practice we grow and every time we have team dinner. Our chemistry just gets better. The way we practice, we have to get better. I just think that really helps."
(On the improvement of Tennessee's interior game)
"Our post guys have been shooting really good numbers. I think our guards do a really good job of locating us and spotting us up for shots."
(On Jarnell Stokes' debut)
"He was definitely real aggressive when he first came in. I think he was 2-for-2 on his first two shots. He just stayed aggressive the whole game, going out there and getting rebounds. I was real proud of him for the way he played."
(On how he has helped Jarnell Stokes)
"I didn't try to do anything special to babysit him during practice. I make sure I show him the ropes and show him what other guys are going to try to do to him, take him off the bounce and be extra physical with him. A lot of the guys in this league aren't as big and physical as him, so he's doing a real good job out there."
(On hanging with ranked opponents)
"We definitely know we're a good team. We just have to do a better job on our mental lapses and slow rotations on the defensive end."
(On Tennessee's struggle to score in the final 10 minutes)
"That really hurt us. I think they scored a few buckets and that really kind of gave them the momentum a little bit. It was a tougher job for us fighting back for the lead."
(On what has changed for the Vols since the loss at Memphis)
"I just think our focus level has turned up and our intensity as well. We know we're a good team. We just have to go out there and prove it. Sometimes when you win a couple of games, you start to think you're good or whatever the case is. Night in and night out, you have to go out there and prove yourself once again. I just think our focus level is turned up a little bit more and we're paying more attention to our opponent."
(On Cameron Tatum)
"He provides another scoring threat. Sometimes he gets down on himself. I just tell him keep shooting the ball no matter what happens. A shooter is going to miss shots, so just keep shooting."
Senior guard Cameron Tatum
(On not scoring for more than six minutes in the second half)
We had a couple of turnovers, did not finish around the basket, and had some lapses on defense that we allowed to affect us on the offensive end. We had some lapses that we cannot have at this point in season.
(On the team's development)
We believe in everybody on the team, what the coaches are telling us, and we believe in each other. We believe we can compete against anybody in the country. We have played against the top teams in the country starting at the beginning of the season. We have confidence in ourselves and everybody on the team. It is no surprise to us that we stay in games. We just need to finish them.
(On freshman forward Jarnell Stokes' collegiate debut)
It was impressive for a freshman to do something like that. He has a presence about himself. He is real calm and just goes out there and plays the game. He lets it come to him. He is a big, physical presence and he knows the game well. You can tell from practice he is very cerebral the way he is out there playing. He came out there and gave us a spark. I was real happy for him, and I hope he continues to do it.
(On his offensive game and team-leading 16 points)
I knew I had to step it up and be aggressive. My thing right now is consistency. The guys on the team just tell me to be more aggressive. They tell me I am a great scorer and a great passer but I have to know how to get a mix of the two. Coach Martin tells me to just play the game and not think too much.
Freshman guard Josh Richardson
(On the team's development)
We are starting to play better to together. We are learning each other's tendencies and know what coach wants us to do. We learned what we are good at and what are strengths and weaknesses are.
(On playing point guard)
I played point guard my senior year in high school so it was not anything really different or new. I know when Trae (Golden) goes out that is my role. I am comfortable with that.
KENTUCKY HEAD COACH JOHN CALIPARI
"I am so impressed with what Coach Martin has done. I keep coming back to if you want to win championships, you've got to be able to guard in the half court, you've got to be physical and you've got to have toughness. I don't really care what their record is; (Tennessee) is an NCAA tournament team. Just win games now. Just win games. Win the games you're supposed to win. (That) is an NCAA tournament team. Jarnell Stokes makes them way better too.
"He's (Martin) doing it by changing a culture. He's getting them to guard. The second thing is he's doing it in recruiting. I can't imagine they're not ecstatic. And I know that losing to us is like, you know. But the reality of it is they played the game and they did everything they were supposed to do to give themselves a chance to win. (Martin) was really good, and their team was really good."
(On learning from previous close games)
"No. What it was again was we got out-physicalled in the first half again. The same guys got pushed, shoved and couldn't come up with the ball - and were accepting it. The thing we had was our young players had a will to win. The three (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) makes, the shot Anthony (Davis) makes and the plays Marquis Teague made. Marquis Teague guarded; that's the first game he's guarded. He knew that kid (Trae Golden) was averaging 20 a game the last four games. So he went out and said, `You know what, I'm going to guard my man and I'm going to make this tough on him.' And he did.
"Those three did it, and then Kyle (Wiltjer) came in. How about the five points he had? When you're in a game like this and he makes that three and he makes those two free throws - he did what we needed him to do.
"If we want to be unique and special, we're either going to get tougher and negate the physical play people are using on us or we're just going to be another team out there trying to win as many as we can. That's it. We talk better today but we still need to execute better.
"Like I said, (Kidd-Gilchrist) makes the three and then he comes up with two balls late and he makes a free throw. If he had missed both, it would have been a one-point game after they made those two threes. Now it's a whole different ballgame. We make two, they make a three, it goes to overtime and blah, blah, blah. So you think about Michael Gilchrist and what he did. I bet he didn't know he had missed a few shots before he shot the three. All he knew was that ball was going down."