Dec. 30, 2013
HEAD COACH Cuonzo Martin(Opening Statement)
"First off, I would like to thank the fans. We had a little over 16,000. I think that is the season high. That's a great turn out during the holiday season. That was much needed against a talented, physical opponent. I thought our guys did a good job getting off to a good start in the last two games. The last two games were probably our best job with assists, 20 and now 18. We did an even better job taking care of the ball against a physical defensive team that doesn't allow you a lot of touches, doesn't allow you a lot of lane drives, and on post feeds they double. I thought Jarnell (Stokes) and Jeronne (Maymon) did an exceptional job against the double team in finding the shooters. But again, when you make shots, that's what you look like. The thing I told our guys, we have to always hang our hat on defense and we did that. I think the last couple of games, for both halves, we defended like we are capable of defending and we should be defending. Antonio Barton had a career high tonight. I thought he shot it well. He has been in the gym getting shots up and he is playing with confidence. Josh (Richardson) is playing as well as any wing-guard in the league right now over the past two games. On both ends of the floor, he just has to stay aggressive and keep doing what he is doing. I thought we did a good job against that defense. If you asked me before that game I would have been surprised to be totally honest with you. Because they are so physical; they make catches hard, lane touches, lane drives. They are one of the best in the country. But again, when you make shots, you drive the ball, you're very aggressive, you cut, move and have space, and then good things happen. I thought that was probably Jordan McRae's best job defensively, since he has been in the program, on Harris (Joe Harris). It was just one of those deals that he had to guard him, because the other wing guys are big, physical guys that rebound. Especially when they start the game the way they started. But I thought he did a great job accepting the challenge defensively. He has been better in practice and the past several games in taking pride defensively. Jarnell (Stokes) making his free throws. When he is making his free throws and active, he is one of the best in the country in defending and trying to stop. That is just extremely hard with a physical guy that is mobile. But a great team effort."
(On what stood out with this performance)
"We had to go back, because as a coach you have to assess and look at everything when you feel like you are getting off to slow starts. It's also the training with Chad (Newman) and Nic (Nicodemus Christopher), always sleeping in too late on the holidays. We got off to slow starts during the school season. When school was in, how were guys eating, you look at those things, were guys sleeping too much, are we getting guys up too early. A lot of different things you look at, and I feel offensively before we get into our actual play that we are trying to run, get movement to throw the defense off. To get guys constantly moving and rotating, then you get into your action. So now you have flow to what you are doing. I thought our guys did a good job with the press early to just put pressure on the defense and keep them off balance. But just really getting the movement, again, just to start of how we get into our actual sets I think it helps the guys a little bit better because now they really have to cut and move to get open."
(On making shots the past two games)
"When you put in the time into it, that is what I told the guys, the thing we have to consistently do is we have to defend, rebound, and play hard. The shots will come and go. That is part of the game, some of the best to ever play the game missed shots. But as long as you work on your shot, you're in the gym and preparing yourself, this is the time where guys take steps and get better. We will be fine. So I knew with the work we were putting in, guys were ready to knock shots down. It was just a matter of doing it, and we did it in the last two games. They have been putting the work in. But again, for me as a coach, if we defend, rebound, and play hard, then we give ourselves a chance."
(On if the game was a surprise)
"The thing we talked about was we wanted to play our game. We didn't want to come down and make 10 or 11 passes. Like I said, they are a great defensive team. We wanted to play where opportunities present themselves, take shots. You have to be very aggressive and attack. In transition, if you have easy baskets, take them, if not, move the ball and run your offense. But against a team like that, that defends so well, the ball has to get from one side of the floor to the other. It can't be one pass up, unless you're wide open. You have to move the ball. But when Jarnell (Stokes) and Jeronne (Maymon) are scoring and active around the rim, we are a tough team to defend."
(On Antonio Barton's frustration on offense)
"I wouldn't necessarily say frustration, but a guy that makes shots and he isn't making shots, of course that is concerning for a basketball player. But again I don't consume myself with it. If you are putting the work in eventually those shots will fall. If you aren't putting the work in, that is another issue. It goes back to defend, rebound and play hard. If you are doing those things, and not turning the ball over then you give us a chance to win as a team. At the end of the day it is about Tennessee."
(On the team holding a significant lead against Virginia)
"I think what happens, you are talking about a team, I don't what this to come off as an excuse, but you are talking about a team with three returning starters and a lot of new guys. It is not a case of seven returning, your first five returning, two guys that played a lot of minutes. You have three talented freshman, you have Jeronne, 18 months removed. Really, what you have is Jordan McRae as a starter, Josh Richardson and Jarnell Stokes. Now all of a sudden you have two talented point guards that come into a program that is already established with three key starters, then you have Jeronne trying to find his way. It is not like it is a team that has everyone back and let's roll. It takes times, as talented as Antonio is and as talented as Darius is, they still have to learn where Jordan wants the ball at in live games, that is okay in practice but now all of a sudden someone is defending Jordan a different way, they are defending Jarnell a different way. I have to know where this guy needs the ball at. That is not an easy thing to do. Again, Tennessee went into the season with a reputation. You just make adjustments as you go. Guys continue to get better. These are some of the results of what our team could and should look like."
(On playing fast)
"It wasn't a case of trying to run the score up, like I told the guys, if you have a transition layup, that is obvious, you have to take it. If not, you have to run your offense, it is not about trying to score 100 points to embarrass an opponent. It is to keep pressure in what we are doing, locked in defensively. I think the 94 defense can help us, just keep teams off balance. With a team like that you want to speed them up because as well as they play defense, in some ways their offense is kind of like their defense too, they move the ball, they take time off the clock and they grind you out. If you are not physically ready to defend for 25/26 seconds it can be a long night."
(On Josh Richardson)
"I just think with him being aggressive. If he is aggressive, whether it is off the dribble, making shots, it opens it up for those other guys because you are talking about probably the best defensive team when it comes to double in the post or the double wasn't as strong now and you have the perimeter guys making shots. You back a year ago, the double was tremendous because you didn't have guys that could consistently make shots. Jarnell and Jeronne do a good job of passing out of the double. But you are making shots, you are driving the ball it is tough."
"I think more than anything was as a coach you have to look, I don't think there was anything exact. We just had to get better movement, that is why you kind of see the weave and different action to movement cuts and get spacing. Now you attack. Now when you are doing that you have to move. As opposed to coming down, we run a play, throw it inside, everyone is standing. When you have movement going you have fresh legs. It is the same thing I tell guys when they come off the bench, you may have an open three but pass that first one up, just to get your legs moving, go get a rebound, get your blood flowing."
"Taking pride. You have to want to defend. It has to be a part of your DNA. But also understanding, this is what can help us be successful as a team. Because we probably spend about 65-70% of what we do defensively. I think a small percentage is the way the game is called because you have guys that don't mind taking charges so now there are lane drives because I am afraid to step up or take that charge because of the block. That is part of it. For the most part, just taking pride in defending and understanding in order for us to be successful at the level we want to be at, we have to do this on a consistent basis."
(On taking shots)
"I think so. Jordan has 15 shots, you still have to take the shot. You have to be aggressive. Just like Darius, I thought Darius had an opportunity to score there but he was standing straight up. You still have to be aggressive and play the game because it is a mentality. If you are on the floor, you are still playing a college game, they have college players and we have college players. It is not a case of not being ready to play, you still have to compete."
(On Jordan McRae)
"If he shoots 20 shots, if they are good shots that is fine. I think there were opportunities where maybe he could pass to a guy. I just think as a scorer, it is trusting the guy next to you. It is not a case of I don't like this guy or that sort of thing. But trusting the fact that he can make the shot not that he is open. Now it is my job, if that guy can't deliver to put someone in that can. Just one of the biggest things, you have to be able to get the ball up, he might not have had a shot but there is something else going on behind that."
(On this win against Virginia)
"I think it is good. You are talking about talented players and I think when you don't have the success level that you want to have there is doubt. That is with anybody, any player. I went through it. Just stick to the scout report, these things will help us win games. 500 shots a day. You do all those things, you have success, because they are obviously talented basketball players.
(On a resume win)
"Without a doubt. It is a good win against a quality opponent, a physical opponent. They will do well in the ACC. I think more than anything it shows our guys the level we are capable of playing at when we play together and when we play hard. That was a talented team. Like I said, I was surprised at the way we did what we did."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR GUARD Josh Richardson(On what contributed to the win)
"Extra gym time over the break, so much extra free time over the day, guys were able to come in everyday and get shots up and it was really showing."
(On how precise the shots were)
"It got to the point when I shot a three I was just running back on defense. I was like, good shot, so it was a good night for us."
(On moving off the basketball)
"When you cut hard it just gets open looks for other guys cause guys have to help. We get fouls off that, easy buckets, and it helped us a lot tonight."
(On his shots)
"Yeah, I felt like if I threw it up there it was going to go in. I was making them tonight."
(On him being confident)
"We had a team meeting not too long ago and we talked some stuff out. We've just not been putting the action in on the court. It was just talking, nothing serious. We went to dinner and just talked some stuff over."
(On being relaxed)
"We were tensed up with a couple losses and we were just trying to tell the young guys not to panic and to keep plugging and it sure worked well for us tonight."
(On his effort benefiting his team)
"I just try to tell them every time not to give up on a play. Late in the game when they had forty seven points I was just telling the young guys hold them under fifty-five, just hold them under fifty-five and we'll be alright."
(On watching the score during the game)
"When I came to the bench the last time I was looking up there and was like...well I was shocked, but they're a great team and they have great players. We came out and played our game tonight."
TENNESSEE SENIOR GUARD Jordan McRae(On the team's hot shooting night)
"We were definitely hitting shots. Everybody was on tonight. If we have games like that, we're almost impossible to beat. We just have to keep playing like this. Any time you have a win like this it feels good, especially having the day off tomorrow."
(On the difference from last season's game)
"We knew they liked to play slow and we're trying to play faster, so we just figured we're not going to play as slow as them. We haven't been this fast in awhile, so just playing faster, we thought that was going to be a problem for them."
(On getting separation on the scoreboard early)
"Josh (Richardson) set the tone early, knocking down shots. I feel like we're finding guys on open shots and everybody's passing to guys open for even better shots."
(On opponents having to prepare for Richardson)
"It's definitely going to be hard on them because Josh is a guy that if they double off or if they sag off, he's going to hit shots, so they can't do that anymore, which frees up Jarnell (Stokes) and Jeronne (Maymon). Josh's game is getting out on the break. He's always been a spot-up shooter and now we're doing a better job of finding him, him spotting up and getting in the lane and making things happen."
(On the increased tempo since the North Carolina State game)
"We made it a point to push the ball when we could, so we're doing that and getting to the line. As long as Jeronne and Jarnell are knocking down free throws like they are, that's great for us."
TENNESSEE SENIOR GUARD Antonio Barton(On how the win shows them what they are capable of)
"It's a very good game, very important game we can feed off this and watch this and come back even better." (On scoring a lot of points on a good defensive team)
"That was a good Virginia team. At one point in the season they were a top 25 team. That wasn't an easy team, they came out they were strong and physical, they played aggressive. We just had the upper hand. We shot well, and we defended" (On if the team needed the win)
"Yes, we needed this win very well. For guys like me this game was very important to have my shot falling I came in more confident, not worried about the last game. This was a good statement game for us." (On how he put the last games behind him)
"Believe it or not just going home, seeing my daughters, being around my family just being tress free not worried about the last games, i came back with a different attitude." "Its not what my family said to me it was just their presences just being around them. I haven't seen my daughter that often like I wanted to, seeing her spending time with, her doing Christmas, put me in a different mind set and made me comeback more focused." (On putting to much pressure on himself)
"I had to get adjusted to this style of play, playing along side Jordan and those other guys getting them going .I didn't come in like I needed, that wasn't my intention at the same time I needed to find my place and get a feel for the team." (On if he felt his half court shot was going in)
"I didn't when it left my hands, as it kept going I was like ok, this thing has a chance of going in. It went in clean." (On the team shooting so well in the first half)
"We couldn't miss, Josh I believe was 100 percent in the first half he only missed one shot the whole game. Coming in like that, it was a good game, we shot the ball well."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR FORWARD Jarnell Stokes(On being freed up by the outside shots)
"I think that's why you were able to see me come out in the second half and play a much better game. Guy were able to hit shots. One of the big things I think Virginia tried to use a taller guy against me but my mindset coming in for the next couple of games is that these taller guys have to match my physical play. Guys say I have to match their left and I can't score with the left but guys have to match my speed and the way I'm able to run the floor and make physical plays."
(On the player's meeting relaxing the players)
"A lot of people were going through the same struggles and I had no idea it would make this big of an impact, but I don't know if it's a coincidence or not but since the player's meeting the guys have had their heads up when we're at practice and in games and the numbers show."
(On the tone of the player's meeting)
"Everyone was able to voice their opinions and the tone started off pretty bad. We were frustrated after the NC State loss. The next practice we had a very good practice and the guys were very frustrated with certain things that were going on in the program, certain things on the floor, and some guys were frustrated that they weren't playing as much."
(On the difference of his free-throw percentages this year compared to last)
"Repetition. I pretty much had the summer to work on it. Even though I'm 19, I feel like a vet. I'm old enough to know that free throws are important. If I had shot a one out of ten game I would have said that I played terrible. I was able to hit free throws and play a pretty good game.
(On his practice over the summer)
"I would work out then I would shoot. Some days I made one hundred, some days I'd make twenty five in a row. Reward yourself and leave early, just make fifteen, twenty five in a row. I was just constantly getting them up and making sure I used the same form every time. I think i struggled with that last year with not being able to use the form. So, from going through the struggles with last year I know that they are very important."
VIRGINIA HEAD COACH TONY BENNETT
"They certainly shot the ball well and they hit some tough shots, but they got some great open looks. They had so much time to get in a rhythm. We've had our struggles offensively, but if we're going to struggle like that defensively, run into that many screens and be that slow to trap, that poor on ball screen coverage, then that can happen if they get hot. They did what they wanted, whether it was post touches on the glass, then certainly they shot it very well.
"They separated quick and we couldn't reel it back in. At the end, we were just trying to play some solid basketball and that was a struggle for us too. So that's humbling, it really is. You look at that and you say 'here we go.' We have to get back to playing as tough as we can getting ready to go into ACC play. But it certainly leaves a bad taste in your mouth. This will sound funny, but we prepared and had three solid days of practice, we really did. I wasn't expecting us to come out and perform like this. Tennessee is talented, when they play like that they're hard to beat."
(On Tennessee's hot shooting from three-point range)
"I hope it's that, but I don't think it was that. Sure, they were hot, but there has to be...we were disjointed. We looked slow, we looked tired, we looked delayed in our reactions. Every mistake we made, they capitalized on. Yeah, they shot well, and it's hard to beat a team when they're shooting like that, but they at least have to be contested. They weren't and that was discouraging."
(On what kind of three point team he thought he was facing)
"I think they were 30 or 31 percent from three. The way we play, if there's a guy we know can't shoot, maybe we'll be soft on him, but ball pressure is really important to us and contested shots. Even on guys that aren't great statically, but we couldn't even get to the shots. We were overhelping on screens and were just a step behind in every way. It wasn't like we were daring them to shoot and we're shocked by that. They just took it to us in every way."
(On the contrast from last year's meeting)
"I think they're better this year and it remains to be seen where we're at. Whether that's Maymon or not, he gives them 260 or 280, that physicality that they have. Their model was to draw a line in the sand and dare you to cross it physically. That's kind of their mentality. They just overpowered us. They didn't shoot it like that last year."