March 20, 2013
HEAD COACH CUONZO MARTIN(Opening statement)
"Thought they played well. Thought Mercer did a good job executing their offense with energy and playing together. Hats off to those guys I thought they did a good job. I thought their point guard did a good job controlling tempo from start to finish of the game. They made shots when they needed to make them. Made stops when they needed to make key stops, so hats off to those guys."
(On how a lack of motivation might have played into the game)
"I think if you look around the country at teams who were on the cusp of getting into the NCAA tournament and you do not make it, that is one thing that can happen for your guys. It is emotionally taxing, you felt like you are right there, and I think more so with this year as opposed to last year, guys felt like they were last year. I think that as a coach we were right there, and it did not happen, so when it does not happen it takes a lot out of you as a player when you are trying to get up for a game. This is a good opponent, whether this is the NCAA tournament or not, this is a good team, a team that has been together. They run a lot of different set plays and without a lot of prep time it can be a long night for you. We knew as a staff it would be a tough game because of their talent level, not necessarily because we did not make the tournament, but the guys came out trying to put forward an effort, it just drains you. I understand that it is a tough thing to deal with as you try to motivate your guys and get them ready. Put it is part of it."
(On the upbeat energy of Mercer before and during the game draining for the Vols)
"I think more than anything how you play the game, you have to make your shots. I think there were some shots we had the opportunity to make and some shots we didn't. I didn't think we were pressing. I think we were a little more assertive in the second half on tackling the rim instead of settling for jump shots. I thought there were looks in the first half which we thought there would be especially with guys who really don't shoot a lot of jump shots. We thought there were opportunities to score but the shots just didn't fall. You have to give those guys credit and I told our guys at the end of the game this is not a case of a team that lost a game because we didn't make the NCAA tournament or we weren't emotionally into it. This is a team that plays well, Mercer played well as a team and won the ball game."
(On very feeling or realize that shots just weren't going to fall anymore and the game was over)
"Sometimes you can just feel it, but it is hard to pin point one thing. It is not like guys are out there trying to miss shots or try not to defend. It almost seems like you don't have your legs up under you so to speak. It is hard to describe one thing."
(On Mercer's offense)
"They run a lot of different plays. I think their point guard is really good. I think he is a really good player if you watch him on film he does a really good job. I called around their league and the teams they played against and they more or less said he is the key to their team. Everybody falls in line and plays their roll. He is the guy. He does a really good job and especially in the ball screens, one of the best I have seen in a college guy. Straight out of the ball screens and reading the defense and making the right pass. I was impressed with his game."
(On what needs to be improved for next year and making that next step into the tournament)
"I think just to continue to improve individual defenders. I think it is some case with some guys where they played too many minutes in this season. When you play so many minutes the focus level is not where it needs to be individually or defensive wise and consistency. We have to take better pride in defending individually one-on-one guys and shutting guys down that has to be a passion not just something we do as a team. It is a passion to defend one-on-one. I think that is the next step. We have guys that will score the ball and who can make plays. You have certain guys individually like Armani Moore who reminds me a lot of myself my freshman year going into my sophomore season I had to improve my shot and improve in some areas. He is one of those guys who is willing to work extremely hard. So I know he will become a better defender. Josh (Richardson) has to improve in some things. So that part you know guys have to be gradual moves and be consistently offensive and skill wise. I think you have to have more than one or two defensive guys and I don't care how many points you score you have to have a mindset to defend guys."
(On end note to the season)
"I thought it was a good season. We started out a little slow but these last two games I thought our guys did a great job by fighting back and showing how mental tough down the stretch of the season and guys just got better. These losses against Alabama and Mercer are just two games that we lost."
JARNELL STOKES(On the difficulty of being excited for tonight's game)
"Well we were disappointed about the NCAA but it was not difficult for me. I love playing basketball so I wanted to make sure I came out and played really hard."
(On whether or not he believed the team was motivated)
"We were a little discouraged about not getting in (the NCAA tournament), but we lost to a good opponent. I think they did a good job just running their offense and controlling their tempo. At the end of the day they basically did a good job on both. That is what lost the game, discouraged or not."
(On Mercer's energy level)
"I do not think we came out expecting to lose. They played very hard, their fans were into it, they played this game like it was the end of their lives. They are a good opponent. I do not feel like we played as hard as we needed to win the game against a team like this."
(On Mercer's offense the whole first half)
"Their timing was perfect. On the offensive end I think that really hurt us. As far as rotations on defense I think that also hurt us in this game."
(On his 12 offensive rebounds)
"I try to go after every offensive rebound, but at the end of the day we lost the game so it does not really matter."
(On what drove him to 12 offensive rebounds)
"I do not know. When took the initiative to start finding those offensive rebounds, I just started getting them. Basically it came down to who wanted it more."
ARMANI MOORE(On motivation)
"I mean we approached the game like any other game. We always come out and try to compete, but I don't think the NCAA (tournament) had anything to do with the game tonight. It was a good team, and they came out and played. We just came up short.
TRAE GOLDEN(On disappointment)
"I mean our season is over. If anything, it's just more disappointed for the seniors. Those are really good guys, and for them to have to go out like this, I think that's probably what hurts the most."
JORDAN MCRAE(On offensive struggles)
"I mean I felt like I was taking shots I normally take. Like you said, it wasn't really going in tonight."
"They didn't do anything different from what we've seen from them on film. They just played well. You've got to give all the credit to them.
HEAD COACH BOB HOFFMAN(Opening Statement)
"It was amazing how our guys responded and worked hard together, but if you've seen us all year, this wouldn't be a shock to you. That's how we play. The toughness was exhibited throughout the 40 minutes against an amazing and big-time physical team. We were fortunate to get it done. Our execution was at a high level. We were attached on the offensive and defensive ends as much as you possibly can. Every day I get to coach these guys... What a blessing."
(On Jarnell Stokes' size)
"We only fouled three guys out. Most teams at our level do not have three big whoppers like we do. Our girth isn't like (Jarnell) Stokes, but we're fortunate to have three big guys. We were able to put a little pressure on them and make them guard. Daniel (Coursey) was 7-of-7 from the floor tonight and some of those came from Langston (Hall) executing at a high level"
(On making the NIT from the Atlantic Sun)
"We've had some teams, but it has been awhile. It's a great experience for us to be in the NIT. We're blessed to be here. Obviously, just like everybody else we want to be in the NCAA. You can go back and look and there are a lot of mid-major teams that are good that don't get as much recognition in good leagues. We have great teams in our league and we were able to win the league on the road.
"This was our ninth road win this year. Last year we had 12 road wins. It's not a mistake; it's not just something crazy that happened tonight. These guys have been road warriors and done it at a high level. We played against a tough team and they might have been thinking about this or that, but basketball is about opportunity and we seized that opportunity. These guys were special tonight."
(On point guard Langston Hall)
"Langston is as good as anybody and anyone in any place in America. We were fortunate three years ago that he chose to come be a part of Mercer. In his living room we talked about dreaming of what we could do and those dreams have been lifed-out because of hard work and the people we've been able to put around him. He's a special talent and just as good off the court and in the classroom. That's what we need at Mercer. It was a great fit. I'm honored and blessed that I get to coach him every day. He is a leader in every sense of the word."
(On controlling the tempo of the game)
"A lot of teams in our league junk us up because they're really good coaches. Tonight, we felt a little freedom because Tennessee didn't have much time to prepare for us. We run a lot of sets. The other part of that - Langston got four days off. He got hurt early and missed those games against Wake Forest and George Mason. He'd been limping basically all year so those four days were huge for him. You could tell... he had more bounce in his step tonight than he's had since before he was hurt against Charleston Southern in a scrimmage we had."
FORWARD DANIEL COURSEY(On battling against Jarnell Stokes)
That dude is enormous. He is incredibly strong, he's probably one of the strongest dudes I've ever played against. We did alright against him, we just tried to move around him as well as we could. We did alright.
(On dealing with the disappointment of not making the NCAA Tournament)
We really wanted to get to the NCAA, the same thing happened to us last year and we were able to bounce back and be able to win the CIT. We're just kind of used to it by now, to be honest. We took a couple of days off to get our minds right and we came back and practiced hard and were just ready to go. It's huge for the school and the program.