March 3, 2012
HEAD COACH Cuonzo Martin
"I thought it was a great, great atmosphere--22 thousand plus. Tremendous atmosphere. There is maybe a handful, if that, of atmospheres I've been a part of. There was a lot of Orange. There were about 100 people that will have to run those sprints for not wearing that Orange. That's what our guys I appreciate and that's what they need. That gets you over the hump. You have an atmosphere like that you've got a chance to be special as a team. It means so much to our program from a recruiting standpoint and to the players' psyche. It was great. A lot of credit to our fans for stepping up and representing like Tennessee knows how."
"I thought we did a great job as a team. We played hard and competed against a very talented team. One of the toughest team to guard. I told our guys that team can be a Final Four team because they have so many weapons. Tonight our guys were ready to play. They played hard and competed. I've said it before, any time Trae Golden plays to a high level, not necessarily how many points he scores, but when he is in the game mentally, we're tough to beat."
(On Jarnell Stokes progression from first meeting at Vanderbilt
"The thing about Jarnell is we didn't know if he could play today because he had some flu-like symptoms. He is a tough kid but the thing that helps is that he has such a pace to his game. He is not all over the place, he's not wild. He's under control. He gathers rebounds and he's a physical presence. He's a tough kid. But because of his pace he's able to make adjustments. He has a real good feel for the game. It's a credit to him and his approach and also how he was raised. He understands how to compete and do the right things."
(On Cam Tatum's performance)
"I thought Cam played great. Once again my gauge is not how many points he's scoring. It's his whole floor game--rebounding, defending, getting assists, playing hard. I can also tell how when Cam is communicating out there that he is in the game. But he accepted the challenge against (Vanderbilt guard Jeffery) Taylor. He stepped to the plate and accepted the challenge. That's a credit to him and his family and him competing, playing hard and just really wanting to get this win. But also down the stretch, he shot those free throws and knocked them in."
(On challenging team's physicality after game in Nashville)
"It wasn't necessarily a challenge. Our guys are tough. Like I told our guys, I don't know how good they are. I know they are very talented, but I don't know how they are from start to finish. We played so poorly (in the first meeting) the game was over before it started. I told our guys to play how we're capable of playing and see what happens."
(On his team's improvement since SEC play began)
"I thought we were a pretty good team in SEC play. You have to take your lumps. But I go back to the beginning. You've got a new coach, a new staff and a new system. We're changing the culture and defining what we expect. That's not an easy thing to do. But what gets overlooked is that you're talking about guys who didn't play a prominent role at this level. Now you are out the gates with one of the best schedules in America. Some people said maybe we shouldn't have gone to Maui or played some of those road games, but I think it helps your character and your level of toughness. I had no doubt in my mind we were going to play those games. But I just think you have to go through with it. We were trying to guess right along with the players. They were trying to figure us out as coaches and we were trying to figure them out as players. "
SENIOR GUARD Cameron Tatum
(On the sell-out crowd)
"I have to give a shout-out to the crowd ... 22,000 that is amazing. I was so happy to see that and to be on Senior Night, it was a beautiful thing. It was an amazing atmosphere. I had chills throughout the whole game. I knew it was going to be a great day for us. It was absolutely awesome. I could not script it any better."
(On finishing 10-6 in the conference)
"There is a lot more work left to do so we can't get too excited about it. We have to go the SEC Tournament with the same hunger and the same fight. It is a testament to how hard we fought and the ways our guys came in and practiced every day to get better. It is a beautiful thing when hard work does pay off."
(On winning eight of the last nine games)
"We are playing pretty well. There are still some things we need to work on and more work to do. We will get back at it Monday."
(On kissing the Tennessee logo on the court after the game)
"It was my last time so I had to make sure I said goodbye to Thompson-Boling Arena like that. It was spontaneous. This was really my last game. Everybody had being saying it but I did not really think it was going to be my last game. It was an incredible feeling."
FRESHMAN FORWARD Jarnell Stokes
(On his 11-point, 14-rebound performance)
"I just played my role and boxed out. I think I did a great job of boxing out, getting rebounds and doing stuff that does not show up on the stat sheet. I was surprised I got five blocks."
(On the difference in his game from the first game with Vanderbilt)
"I definitely learned from that experience. That was the first time I actually had some trouble with my game. I have learned to do everything in a sprint. In high school, you really just go through the motions some time."
SOPHOMORE GUARD Trae Golden
(On what Coach Martin told him after picking up two fouls early in the game)
"He just told me to be careful and jump stop. They were going to try to take charges on me, and I was just trying to use my runner. I just tried to bring energy to the game."
(On how this team has grown)
"I just feel like we've grown as a team. At the beginning of the season, we may have lost that game. But we stayed with it and kept going to what works and came out on top."
(On reducing the number of turnovers compared to the previous meeting with Vanderbilt)
"Watching every single last turnover that we had in that game. Coach Martin did a good job of making sure we saw what we were doing. We became conscious of our turnovers and made sure we took care of the ball. We feel that we're a tough team to defeat if we don't turn the ball over because we're going to defend as hard as we can. The offense is going to come for us. We just were really cautious about turnovers."
(On how it feels to believe Tennessee has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament)
"It feels really good. I think it feels good because of where we came from. We're not the same team that lost at the beginning of the season compared to now. To say we've made such a considerable growth in such a small period of time, I just think the sky's the limit."
(On when the turning point was for Tennessee)
"I think it was one day in practice. Everybody was for everybody else. It might have been around the Florida game on the road. Everybody was for everybody, we were worried about defending, asking questions that mattered. I think that's when we turned the corner."
JUNIOR FORWARD Jeronne Maymon
(On how the team feels at this point)
"We're just going to keep going out there, competing, play hard, and go to the SEC Tournament looking to win the whole thing."
(On how physical the game was)
"I feel like everybody did a really good job of taking care of their duties and making sure that they maintained and executed on offense and defense. I think we did it as a unit."
(On the importance of winning the rebound margin)
"It was really important. Down in Nashville, they dominated us on the glass and that really hurt us along with us turning the ball over a lot. So I think this really helped us in a way."
(On being prepared for the physical game)
"It was definitely a point of emphasis. Coach made sure to tell us when we go out there to make sure our presence was known so that they know that we're here to play ball for real. So we tried to do that."
VANDERBILT HEAD COACH KEVIN STALLINGS
(On Tennessee's physicality)
"I think the story of the game is they were just physically tougher than we were at every spot. You can't win if you get out-physicaled at every spot, maybe not one spot. Maybe we had one that neutralized but that would have been it. Congratulations to them. They played harder and tougher than we did."
(On whether Tennessee's rebounding effort set the tone)
"It didn't help any. I don't think that was the only thing that set the tone. They played inspired and we didn't, really. That's just the bottom line. They did get a lot of long rebounds, especially early on missed shots."
(On whether he was surprised by Tennessee being physically tougher)
"Am I surprised at that? Disappointed would be a better word. They're a physical team, especially up front. They're physical. Their perimeter guys were light years better than ours today. If that's the case, then we're probably in trouble."
(On Tennessee outrebounding Vanderbilt, 40-30)
"I think it's very significant. I think they shot 29 free throws and we shot 16. That was due to them crashing the boards, getting themselves extra opportunities and fighting for balls. Again, they're to be congratulated. They made their free throws, they shot free throws better, they got to the line more and they did the things you have to do to win. We didn't."
(On whether Tennessee was a different team today than in the first meeting)
"They're not a lot different. They played better, but they're not a lot different."
(On Lance Goulbourne)
"I thought Lance played really hard. He did a nice job."
(On Tennessee's defense on John Jenkins)
"They did a good job covering him. He got loose some in the first half and didn't do as well getting loose in the second half. They covered him up pretty well."
(On whether or not the Vols are an NCAA Tournament team)
"I don't ever speculate because it doesn't do any good. I'll leave that up to the committee. The committee spends all of their time on that. That's their job."
"It wasn't that we didn't play physically. We just didn't play physically enough. The rebounding had reached an embarrassing stage before we decided to close the gap on them a little bit. If we don't want to rebound, then we don't want to win." (On Jarnell Stokes and Cameron Tatum) "They both had good games. They're both good players. Stokes was physical in there. He got a lot of rebounds and blocked shots. Tatum made shots and got himself to the foul line."
VANDERBILT SENIOR FORWARD FESTUS EZELI
(On the difference between the last meeting in Jarnell Stokes and Tennessee)
"He's been playing well. The whole team has been playing well the past few games. They had won their last six of seven or something like that. They've been playing really well. Confidence comes from playing well."
(On what needs to happen for Vanderbilt before the SEC Tournament)
"We have to work harder. Rebounding was really the big key in the first half. That's how they got their heads up. They were missing and kept getting the rebounds. We just have to keep working and get better at that, especially. We're a good team. We just have to play like it."
VANDERBILT SENIOR GUARD/FORWARD LANCE GOULBOURNE
(On Tennessee's physicality)
"It's clear that they played with a ton of physicality despite the rebound margin that they had over us. They wanted this game. It seems like from the outcome they wanted it more than we did. They played with a ton of physicality. Stokes had 14 rebounds. It was clear that they played pretty tough down in the paint. They were hard to deal with today."
(On whether Tennessee is the most physical team they've played)
"They're definitely up there. I would say LSU is pretty physical as well. Their big guys here are very physical. They're big, physical players. Their guards are very physical. (Skylar) McBee played with physicality on the perimeter on defense. They're very tough, especially (Jeronne) Maymon and (Jarnell) Stokes. They're around the rim a lot and it's hard to move them. They're big, physical players."
(On the decision to play some zone defense in the second half)
"Coach thought that it would be better for us to go zone for a period of time. We weren't getting many stops in man and they were getting into a rhythm. We switched up to a zone. We got a couple stops, some rebounds and we were able to claw back into the game a little bit."
VANDERBILT JUNIOR GUARD JOHN JENKINS
(On the way UT defended him)
"I had to work for my looks. The ones I did have were really tough. They did a good job."
(On Vanderbilt's struggles in regular-season finales)
"We found that out yesterday when Coach told us. I haven't won myself since I've been here. I didn't even notice it really. We'll come back strong in the tournament."