March 9, 2012
Post-Game Press Conference
CLAUDE FELTON: We're joined by head coach Cuonzo Martin and student-athletes Cameron Tatum and Skylar McBee. We'll start with an opening statement by coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.
COACH MARTIN: Thought it was a well-fought game. Both teams played hard. Both teams competed. I think they beat us at playing their game. Dribble penetration, playing to their strengths more or less.
We just didn't make shots. I thought we had a lot of good looks, they just didn't fall for us.
Q. Can you just talk about hitting that shot and kind of going though the emotions going from the high of that and then ending up losing, and just walk us through that last play.
Skylar McBee: Fighting to get a chance. We needed three to get into overtime and ended up getting it, and so we were just fighting to stay alive. That's what you're trying to do in the tournament setting is, no matter how ugly or pretty it is, is get to the next round. And it just happened. And in overtime we just didn't play as well as we needed to to get that win.
Q. That two-three zone, y'all had so much trouble penetrating it. Were you trying different things? What was the problem there?
Cameron Tatum: I think that like Skylar said, we just couldn't hit shots. And if we hit shots in the zone, you get teams to come out and extend more and that gives you the opportunity to drive the ball better. But if they're hitting shots, they just stay off of us and just get a hand in the face and we didn't knock them down.
Q. You guys had a significant rebounding edge much of the game, but it looked like down the stretch, they were able to keep you guys off of the offensive glass a little better. Can you talk about that period of time and what was going on there with your big guys.
Skylar McBee: I thought we were fighting. I thought that sometimes the ball don't fall your way. Seems like earlier we were getting a lot of those loose balls, a lot of those offensive rebounds. And there late in the second half, it just seemed like they wasn't coming our way.
I thought our big guys did a good job fighting. Ole Miss is a very good rebounding team. They're long, they're big and I thought our inside guys did a tremendous job with them for the most part of the game. And I thought we fought and we just come up on the short end.
Q. I don't think anybody else hit a field goal until about two and a half minutes left in the first half. Can you talk about your offensive performance keeping Tennessee in the game up until then.
Cameron Tatum: I guess just doing whatever it takes to try to keep us in the game. Guys kept fighting hard, guys kept shooting the ball. We had a lot of confidence in everybody. I was just trying to do whatever it takes to keep us in the ball game and keep the confidence with our guys. I think that was just the tale like I said all night, just couldn't knock down open shots, the shots that we needed.
Q. Y'all are a physical team. They're a physical team. But can you recall a game where it all seemed like almost every possession, bodies were flying all over the place.
Cameron Tatum: Yeah, pretty much every possession was, it was a fight to the end. It was a war. And we kind of knew that going into this game, kind of one of them wanted some revenge from the home game and things like that. So we came in knowing what to expect. And they just beat us, like coach said, they beat us with their own strengths.
Skylar McBee: They did a good job of penetrating and getting in the lane and following up with rebounds there late in the second half and in overtime. It seemed like all their misses, they were getting the offensive rebound and putting it back in. And they were playing to their strength. They're a long team and they do a good job, dribble, penetrating. They got those two left-handed guys that do a great job of getting to the left and scoring. And it was just one of those things that they knocked down some of the shots and we didn't.
Q. Did you feel like were you playing for the NCAA tournament?
Cameron Tatum: No, we were just playing right now for what it is right now, and that's the SEC tournament.
Trying to make sure that we stay here until Sunday. And not really worrying about the NCAA tournament. If we played until Sunday, we would have a chance to play in the championship. And then it will take care of itself.
And that was our goal. Try and take it one game at a time and not looking forward to Selection Sunday or NCAA.
Skylar McBee: You can't look too far ahead. We're just trying to win every game that we play. No matter who it is, we're coming up and we're thinking about that game and that game only. You can't really look into the future. You start overlooking teams and you get beat. It was just one of those things that they played better than we did today. I don't think we were looking forward to anything. I thought it was just one of those things where we came up on the short end of the stick.
Q. Tough question, but now that it's over, you do got to kind of look at it. You have been to the NCAA tournament every year you've been at Tennessee, as a fifth year guy, how tough is it swallowing the reality that you guys probably aren't going back?
Cameron Tatum: As of right now, I'm not leaving any opportunities, anything out the window. Anything could happen. If you have faith, anything can happen. So if it was meant to be, it will be. God will let it happen. We'll just wait until Sunday and see where we end.
Q. Can you talk about the zone and just the problems they presented there.
COACH MARTIN: They have good length in their zone. When you're not making shots, obviously a team sticks with it. We figured that would be their game plan, to stick with the zone throughout the game. They did a good job. We had some looks, they just didn't fall.
Q. Up three, four to go, seemed like the offense ended up -- just a lot of threes started flying there. Maybe you were in the bonus. Can you talk about the last four minutes, what happened with trying to close out?
COACH MARTIN: I felt we had a couple good looks from three. Especially one Skylar had in the corner. I think Trae might have had one. We had opportunities to get the ball inside. I don't think we were posting as aggressively as we needed to. But it was also a combination of the guards really looking inside and not being hesitant to make the post feeds.
Q. Could you address the kind of rebounding momentum and how it changed a little bit. Y'all were so dominant in having second and third shots much of the game, but not at the end.
COACH MARTIN: I guess that would be a credit to those guys boxing out. In some cases we had a lineup change where we had guys with four fouls, so we had basically four perimeter guys out there. So it's really hard to attack like you normally would when you have four guards on one big guy.
Q. Talk about the start. Do you think that was jitters on your guys' part, where the offensive struggle with the nine turnovers or the credit of Ole Miss?
COACH MARTIN: Credit Ole Miss, but I don't know if it was jitters on our part. But I thought we had some bad turnovers. I didn't think we were very aggressive at attacking the rim off the dribble all night. I thought we didn't do a very good job with that. But other than that, I thought our guys were assertive and ready to play.
Q. You said all year that there would be nights your team wouldn't shoot well, but you thought you could hang your hat on defense. Were you disappointed with the defense because of the way Ole Miss was able to dribble penetrate?
COACH MARTIN: Yeah. Like I told our guys when I went into the locker room at the end of the game, I said, Guys, there will be nights shots don't fall, but we didn't do a very good job of containing the dribble. And especially when guys are able to play to their strengths, their left-handed guys were able to dribble left. The right-handed guy was able to go right off the ball screen and we didn't do a good job in that department.
Q. When we talked to you yesterday, you said in a neutral floor type event the three ball probably wasn't the way to go, that you really wanted to attack the rim, get to the free throw line. So did you anticipate what Ole Miss was going to do defensively and just couldn't get there?
COACH MARTIN: We knew they would play us zone. We did a good job of getting to the free throw line. I don't know if we did a very good job of using the dribble penetration. Really only on the perimeter. Cam Tatum some and Trae, they're good at attacking off the bounce, but I don't think we did a very good job of using our dribble to get in the lane.
Q. I think with about 13 seconds left, y'all deflected an inbound pass and a lot of people said it went off of Henry. You had a good view. What did you see?
COACH MARTIN: Ref made a call it was Ole Miss ball. Just one of those deals. I thought it went off his shirt. I can tell you more definitely when I go back and watch it on film.
Q. If you had an opportunity to make a case for yourselves for your postseason future, what would your stance be?
COACH MARTIN: Eight out of the
last 10, guys play hard, guys competing in
a great league. I think our guys deserve it.
10-6 in the SEC.