March 13, 2012
Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin
"I thought the crowd energy was great tonight. It wasn't as huge of a size but it was a tremendous effort. They were enthusiastic about cheering. They were ready to cheer when we hit a lull. I thought they were very active and it was fun to see. I thought they were a really good crowd in my opinion. That part was great.
"I thought Yemi (Makanjuola) played really well accepting that starting role. He defended, played extremely hard, rebounded the ball. He gathered himself when got an offensive rebound and made plays. He made his free throws: 6 of 7. That was just as impressive.
"I thought we did a good job on our team defense."
(on "ugly win" without Jeronne Maymon in the lineup:)
"For me, I just like W's. I'd rather gather and regroup after an ugly win I guess because it's a win. You keep moving. It's better watching film that way and guys are learning. I thought we did a good job. They make you play a certain way. Their 4s and 5s are really 6-7, 6-8 perimeter guys that go off the dribble and I thought we did a good job of guarding from that standpoint. I thought we did a good job handling their press.
"We hit a spell in that first half. We got a big lead and we didn't move the ball as well as we needed to. I think we were hunting shots. I thought we did a good job in the second half of settling down and making plays."
(on Jeronne Maymon's injury status:)
"His knee. Bruised knee, if I'm not mistaken. After talking with the trainer about his status. It's more day-to-day than anything right now."
(on if it was a pre-existing injury:)
"I think it was if I'm not mistaken, it was before LSU, but he just fought through it."
(on adjustments on playing without Maymon:)
"It's tough. You're talking about an all-league player. A guy who rebounds. I guy who really posts strong. A guy who helps facilitate the offense. You're talking about really your team leader. You can't lose a guy of that magnitude and think you're going to click on all cylinders out of the gates. There were some major adjustments and some of the other guys had to step up."
(on Makanjuola's development and future:)
"The thing about Yemi is that he has done a really good job getting after it in practice, continuing to get better. He's there early in practice and really working hard. He's not a guy who's saving energy and getting ready for practice. He spends 20 minutes really sweating with Coach Harris and Coach Ryan and working on posts moves: catching the ball, catching the bad pass. It's his body balance more than anything and having the patience in the post and his free throws. He puts the time in and that's the result of it."
(on if Makanjuola has a big role in the future:)
"There's no doubt in my mind because he's already tough, so he has that ingredient. Now it's a matter of developing his skills. He puts so much time in it."
(on if NIT home game feels any different than a normal contest:)
"Winning ball games. That's the most important thing. When you're able to play and win ball games, that's always good wherever you're playing at. As a competitor, you step on the floor and you compete. It doesn't matter if it's this tournament or that tournament. You're a ball player. You're going to roll over and give up or you're going to play."
JUNIOR GUARD Skylar McBee
(On UT's dry spell in the first half)
"I don't think we moved the ball as well as we needed to. That's part of the game. You're going to have times where you're not scoring as much and then you're going to go on runs. That was just part of it. I thought we did a good job of regrouping. We came out in the second half and took control."
(On his jump ball in the second half)
"Me and the other guy just got tied up and I ended up coming out with the ball. I don't know what the referees saw on the replay, but I didn't think anything dirty went on. It was just two guys competing to get the ball."
(On playing aggressive)
"I'm out there to battle. It's part of my job to bring toughness to our team. My brother is about 6-5 and 280 (pounds) so I've had a lot of practice with wrestling around with him. It comes in handy out on the basketball court."
(On playing without Jeronne Maymon)
"It was tough. Missing a player like Jeronne (Maymon), he's always somebody you can get it to down on the block and you know you're either going to get a bucket or a foul. I thought Yemi did a great job picking us up. He did a great job rebounding like coach said. He did a great job making his free throws. That's from the work he's put in. He's in the gym every day and you saw it tonight."
(On Savannah State)
"I knew they were going to be a good team. It's a tournament. They're not going to invite any bad teams. We knew they were coming in and were going to be hungry. I thought we did a good job of taking control of the game, defending our home floor and playing our game. Hopefully, we'll just continue to do that throughout the tournament."
(On not overlooking anybody)
"I think that we have a mindset - and I think Coach Martin does a great job of this - of not overlooking anybody. We respect everybody. We know anybody can come in and beat us. We approach every opponent the same. I think if you do that, then you don't have to worry about getting upset."
(On whether Savannah State played well or Tennessee played average)
"I think a little bit of both. We didn't move the ball in that little spurt as well as we needed to. They hit shots. They're a good team. Give credit to them. They played their game, caused some turnovers right there and made shots. We didn't. Like I said, I thought we did a good job of regrouping. We ended up taking control throughout the rest of the game."
(On when the game was within two points in the second half)
"We were just trying to keep playing. We're going to keep battling no matter what the score is. We really didn't even pay attention to that. We were just looking to get the win and battling as hard as we could battle."
(On playing in the NIT)
"Anytime you're playing in March, I think it's special. There are some teams that don't get to go anywhere during this time. We just have to definitely be respectful to everybody. We're in this to win, no matter what tournament it is and no matter what game it is. We're coming to battle every night. We're looking to hopefully make it to New York and win this thing."
Savannah State head coach Horace Broadnax
(On falling behind 22-5 to start the game)
"At the beginning of the game, if we could have made some shots, it could have knocked the edge off. We put ourselves in the hole 15, 17 points, and we had to burn a lot of energy to get back to where we were. I think we cut it to two (points) and had the ball of couple times. There was a stretch in the second half where we could have tied it up or possibly could have gone ahead. We could have made it a one-possession game. We made a couple of turnovers and (Trae) Golden got an easy lay-up."
(On this being the final game of the season)
"The season is over with for us. These guys played extremely well, and I told them we exceeded expectations. We were expected to finish 11th in our conference and we finished first. To win these type games, you have to exceed expectations too, and we basically did not do that on the defensive end when we needed to do that. I am proud of these guys. We had a tremendous season. A lot of people did not expect it. We got these guys coming back so we have to do a lot of work for next year."
(On the game plan)
"We always try to extend the game full-court and try to wear the guys down. We wanted to try to wear them down and hopefully at the end we have an opportunity to win it. We wanted to trap a little bit more but we were not too successful with the trap. We decided wanted to press up and not let them get anything easy from the outside."
(On the crowd)
"Around that 12-minute mark (in the second half), the crowd got into it and did what they needed to do to try to bring energy. It made it kind of tough for us to hear and execute some of the things we needed to do. That is probably the little punch they needed to get them over the hump. We did enough to get back in the game, but the crowd did what they need to do when they had to."
(On playing in the NIT)
"It is a good experience for the program and good experience for these guys to play on this type of stage. It is good to be on this type of stage because there is a lot of pressure. It is a one-and-done pressure. It is the type of pressure you want to try to prepare for in the offseason. You have to visualize these types of games and putting yourself in these types of positions. So, it is going to be a tremendous experience for these guys going forward."
Savannah State Junior Preston Blackman
(On the momentum shift in the game:)
"I would have to say defense. Anytime we play defense like that we have a good outcome, we get wins, we break it down to two points, or one point, and have a chance to put ourselves back in the game. I can't say that it was the offense, so I would have to say it was our defense."
(On being down due to tennessee's early run:)
"Personally I was trying to keep the team together. I was trying to keep everyones head up and let them know it was just the crowd and we were just a little rattled, but, a few calls here and there kind of discouraged a few players and it got their own momentum down personally."
On the scrappy jump ball play with Skylar McBee:)
"It was just two players competing. Anytime you see a physical NIT Tournament, you're going to see physical jump balls where you are going to have to look at instant replays and see what was what. I just see it as two basketball players competing. At the end of the game I shook his hand, and he shook mine. I told him good game and good luck. It's just basketball."
(On taking something from this game into next season:)
"I can definitely take something from this game, but I could take more out of the whole year than just this game. I feel like being in an NIT Tournament, I would have never been in an NIT Tournament, just because of the history at Savannah State. We did a lot that a lot of people didn't expect and I saw that we could make it, now what can we do to next year do more than "just make it." There is always another goal."
Savannah State junior Rashad Hassan
(On playing against All SEC-Freshman Jarnell Stokes:)
"For a freshman I think he has a lot of potential. he has a lot of size to him, and if he keeps working on his game he can definitely be a dominant factor in the game. We were just two guys competing out there, and I tried to lay it all on the line tonight because it was a one and done. It was a good experience going against and SEC opponent, we don't get to play many teams in the Power 6 conferences, so this was a good match up."
(On putting up a double-double on Tennessee:)
"I just tried to play my game and play as hard as I can. I battled with him and used his weight against him. I just wanted to get this win tonight and unfortunately we came up short."