Cuonzo Martin Press Luncheon Transcript

Jan. 7, 2013

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Opening Statement
"First off I really want to thank the fans thus far, because you look around the country and you see a lot of teams that are having success and playing well, they don't have great fan attendance. I tell our guys all the time, don't take that for granted. I have seen places and been around programs that teams are having success and they don't have a lot of fan support. We really appreciate that and it goes a long way with our guys and they understand that.

"With Jeronne Maymon, obviously you got the news yesterday that he is redshirting. What it came down to was that it was best decision for Jeronne Maymon - that was the most important thing. You have to look out for the well-being of the young man first and then you go from there. I feel like that was the best thing. I felt it all along but I had to allow him to make the decision and feel good about making the decision. Do what he felt was best for him. So we are not trying to make any last minute successful runs. I think we have enough pieces to be successful now. You have to look out for the young man and make sure he is healthy and well. I think more than anything he is relieved so that he can really push forward to get where he needs to be.

"Also - I would like to wish Jarnell a happy 19th birthday. Seems like he has been around for a long time, but he is only 19-years-old. He is doing some good things for us. I thought he played his best game all season in opinion as far as the way he competed. In other games he has scored a lot but I thought the way he competed in that game and battled in his defensive position. He was very vocal. So that was a great sign to see.

"Jordan McRae played well, he shot the ball well. I think with Jordan and Josh, I think those two as athletic wings have the ability to be major threats at this level, guys that can kind of run your offense if they continue with the level of confidence and mental toughness and focus. That part was good to see.

"Kenny Hall, stepping up his production in the last three games. He is a guy who we thought all season long, even in the preseason, he could be a double guy. I just think with him it is consistently shooting that shot with confidence because he can make that 15/17 foot shot, he can make the three-pointer, but he has to feel good about it. He is putting the time into it.

"As for Skylar and Trae, those two guys are starters for us. Just playing with confidence. We need those guys to score and shoot the game and they have the ability to do that. They are putting the time in and it will eventually come around."

(On redshirting Jeronne Maymon)
"I said it back in March, when he had the first surgery. There is no such thing as a minor surgery. You can't take anything for granted. I had four of them so I know how it goes. I didn't think he would be redshirting at that point but if your rehab isn't feeling right you go back and look at it and make the best decision. It just wasn't feeling right to him. For me that is the most important thing. I have been through it and know how it feels. Maybe there is something floating around in there, it is one of those deals you have go in there and make sure it is the best it can be. For me, it was him being healthy not putting him out there in a case when you feel you have put Jeronne out there. If you push him, he can do it. It wasn't about that, it was about making sure he was healthy and ready to go. If he doesn't feel good and you have him out there what is the point of it."

(On Maymon's recovery)
"I can't give particulars about it. But the thing is he should have a full recovery. What the trainers and doctors are saying is that he should be 100 percent, full go at the end of this month. Practicing, involved, and competing in practice, if everything goes according to plan."

(On Derek Reese)
"He is shooting, he had no contact in practice but he should be good to go on Wednesday."

(On the emotions of Jeronne and family when they decided to redshirt him)
"I think in Jeronne's mind deep down inside, you have a guy that wants to play and compete with his teammates but at the end of the day, this was the best thing for him as a player. For me, I know I felt it, but it had to be his decision. He had to make it. I knew at some point if it got this late I wasn't going to put him on the court just to win some games when he was not 100%. For me 100% is cleared to play, conditioned to play, and ready to play. Not cleared to play and then three weeks to get in shape. He has to get his body in shape."

(On his timetable for his decision to redshirt Jeronne)
"It was really about this time to be honest with you. My gauge is, if you aren't practicing in December you can't be ready in January. So if he starts practicing in January then he is ready to go in February. It is not like the guy is a freshman or sophomore, he has the ability to play this game for a long time. You have to look at the guy's long term and the wellbeing of his future."

(On if the team saw this coming)
"I am sure they talk a lot as teammates. They probably felt it. If he is not on the practice court at some point you have to make a decision. I didn't want to rush into anything; I wanted to make sure he felt good about it. Ultimately it was his decision, I had the final say in what was going on but ultimately it was his decision and he had to feel good about it."

(On Jeronne's injury)
"I didn't think that. I thought he would be able to play again. The question was if he was going to be able to play this year or next year. I didn't think because of the status of the injury, I didn't think that would be the case that his career would be done."

(On making adjustments without Jeronne)
"I think guys have done a good job of making adjustments. Obviously there are areas where we still have to get better, we are 8 and 4. But an All-SEC guy, in my opinion preseason player of the year in this league, so now you make the necessary adjustments. I think more than anything, you like to think Jeronne comes back, you are 12 and 8, worst case scenario. You lose a level of mental and physical toughness. A tremendous leader, a great IQ guy, a really good facilitator on the floor that makes decisions for you but also holds guys accountable. I think every team would like to have one or two leaders and I think he brings that to the table regardless if he is scoring or not. But the leadership part of it. But you are also talking about one of the best defenders in this league."

(On Jeronne Maymon growing into a leadership role)
"Without a doubt you can do that with him. The other guys you have to work them into that role but some guys like Kenny Hall and Skylar McBee. They bring the hard hat everyday and have a tremendous work ethic and passion for what they do, but they are not the vocal type. They will go out there and outwork everybody every day but they aren't the rah rah guys that pull you to the side and tell you what you need to do. If they pull you to the side it is an individual conversation, which is just as effective, but Jeronne is a guy that you have to challenge in front of everybody, pull him to the side and all of the above. I think the thing that the guys like most about Jeronne, obviously his ability to play the game, but he is one of those guys that is not afraid to tell you that you are playing well and you are a great basketball player. Not many young guys are able to do that, while having the same level of confidence and being sincere while they say that."

(On how being a leader comes from within)
"Me being a leader as a player I have been around teams and you can do that all day long but it is in a guys make up. What we do is make it by committee. Guys like Skylar and Kenny Hall they are low key kind of guys so we tell them to lead one way. Josh Richardson and Jordan McRae have the makeup of being vocal leaders, now it is showing them how to do those things. You can always compete, and play hard, and hold guys accountable, and do the right things, but it is how you go about doing it. That is the next phase. I don't think you can really teach a guy at this level that this is how you have to be a leader. The thing I talk about, is you walk how I walk. You follow my lead, that is being a young leader and growing into that status."

(On Jeronne Maymon returning next year)
"Once again, I don't take for granted any type of injury, but you also say a guy can return next year, they could be preseason all-league and then blow their knee out. That has happened. I went to my senior season and the first team all-league guy had surgery the second week of practice. That is part of it. You can't control that part. You just have to make sure your guys are in the best shape possible and pray that they keep healthy and move forward."

(On Memphis's shooting vs. Tennessee defense)
"I think it was a little of both. In their case, going into that game something you could give up is the three point shot because they were struggling from the three and keeping those guys out of the lane, but some of those guys were making shots that they didn't normally make. I don't think we did a good enough job with our transition defense and that is where it starts. Our half court I think we did a good job but with the transition, we had breakdowns and that is where it starts. In the second half we did a better job."

(On Jordan McRae starting)
"Always, the thing about Jordan and starting Jordan is that it isn't a big deal for Jordan McRae. You look at our team and you have some fire power coming off the bench, playing starters minutes. It is not that he doesn't deserve it, I thought he was a starter at the beginning of the season, but looking at the makeup and where you are and what makes you the most successful you will have a guy coming off the bench and for the opponents they have their second best guy coming off and play against Jordan and we feel like we have the advantage."

(On Jeronne returning to practice before the end of the season)
"What happens is you have another guy that battles and pushes guys to another level. That is what I want. I talked to Jeronne about wanting him to be able to practice before the season is over and compete at a high level so I can see it. But also for him mentally it is a good thing."

(On Trae Golden's shoulder)
"To be specific, you would have to ask him if his shoulder is bothering him. I don't think it's bothering him, I think just him shooting the basketball. I don't think it's a lack of confidence, he has the green light and shoots the most balls on the team, we need him to score the ball. But you would have to ask him."

(On Trae Golden)
"I think as a coach even if you have an all-league guy you have to do those things. He is returning as a starter, he knows what to do out there, knows the system, knows when to attack and be aggressive. It is just a matter of doing it."

(On Ole Miss)
"Talented team. I thought coming into this season our big guys and their big guys were the best pound for pound as far as experience and going through the trenches. They have Marshall Henderson who is really shooting the ball well and I think he might be averaging 10-11, maybe 12 3s a game, averaging 18 points a game. He can really shoot the ball. They have the pieces. It will be a great challenge for us and we will see. They have the pieces. I have no control of how or who they schedule but against the opponents that they played they are 11-2 right now."

(On playing against the team defense)
"We have been working on it quite a bit. Even against Memphis, they played some zone. We had some open looks, I feel good about a team that plays in the zone because you have the looks. The one thing you want to do is put yourself in a position to score the ball. If you can't get shots up and you are taking bad shots and it is a struggle to get into an offensive flow that is a problem. If you are getting up the shots that you want to get, they just have to fall. I expect them to play some zone."

(On Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson against Memphis)
"It is one of those deals, they did a great job scoring the basketball but we have to have the same mentality and flow of the game. When you are down 20, I have been around teams where there is a nothing to lose mentality. When it is in the mix of the game you have to have the same level of production."

(On the team's non-conference play)
"I like the way our team is defending, playing hard, and competing. I think on the offensive side of the ball more than anything it is making shots. When you make shots and we defend at the level that we can defend at you have a chance at being successful. You have to be able to make shots, that is the most important thing. You have to shoot the ball with confidence. Especially with the heavy rotation. There is a guy that comes off the bench that might not play much one night and the next night he plays more. When you have guys in heavy rotation, and open looks, you expect those to fall."

(On getting out of a shooting slump)
"Just get em up. That is the bottom line. I talked to Skylar yesterday, Skylar's technique is good. There is nothing wrong with his shot, nothing wrong with the flow of his shot, his follow through is good, but he is probably about 15 inches off the 3-point line when you are shooting the basketball as opposed to getting up on the line and knocking the shot down. If you aren't used to shooting 15-20 inches off the line, that is a deep shot as opposed to the normal shot you are taking in practice. Other than that his shot is good, his technique is good, his follow up is good. What happens when guys run at him, he shoots the ball and then he flicks it at the end as opposed to shooting a follow through. If he makes that adjustment he is fine. Really for me as a ball players, getting them up and not allowing my judgment to get clouded and not allowing outside influences. As long as my shot was the same and my follow through was good, more than anything with shooting it is the confidence."

(On the team's reaction to Jeronne not playing this season)
"I don't think so, you know how it is, there are a lot of things that go on with players that the coaches don't know about or talk about. I did the same thing, Jeronne might have said something and the guys might know but I don't think that is the case at all. He has always been around cheering for the guys. You don't see a guy on the floor, for me as a ball player, if I am in the same position as him and he isn't around, I'm getting those minutes, so as a ball player I don't think so. Players play. You understand that. You aren't losing a loved one; he is still a part of the family."

(On lineup changes)
"We will go four guards if we have to. I think Derek Reese, and looking at him this morning, he could be ready to go Wednesday. Quinton Chievous, he can give us some minutes there. Kenny, Derek and Quinton depending on how things are going."

(On Ole Miss' rebounding ability)
"I think so. I think the biggest key playing with these guys are they are very physical and we have to keep them off the glass. They are one of a few teams that have two guys that crash the glass at a high level and they get them. (Murphy) Holloway gets about four offensive rebounds a game, (Reginald) Buckner gets about three so those two guys get about seven offensive rebounds a game. They attack the glass. You have to be aggressive and boxing out, but more importantly our guards have to do a better job of chasing rebounds."

(On the newcomers and their playing time)
"I knew when I was in that situation as a freshman, in Armani (Moore)'s case, something will break for you eventually, something will happen. There were times that I didn't play. Just has to click for you, you get settled down, you get into the rotation and get the minutes you need and then you play the game that you are capable of playing. D'Montre has been hurt the last two games with minor injuries, but he will be fine. He could have played if he had to, but there were minor injuries and we are just trying to keep him healthy."

(On redshirting)
"I think so, looking at him now yes. You get to a point where it is so long. There are guys that want to play so they can play, and get it over with and then move on with their lives. I loved college for four years, when it was over I was happy it was over. Not in a bad way, just I served my time, I did what I needed to do and it is time to move on."

(On Jordan McRae's scoring ability)
"I think it is very important, I think he has the makeup of being a consistent scorer. When you talk about being a scorer, you don't remember your last shot, even if you missed it, you are always in attack mode, you are very aggressive and when you have the ball in your hand you are a threat to score. I think he has that ability and now he just needs to get it mentally on a day-to-day basis. It hasn't become a habit or a way of life for him."

(On losing to Memphis)
"I think we talk about competing and playing hard. Taking one game at a time because if not you concern yourself with what didn't happen. That is time and energy wasted. Let's move forward. These are the things that we need to get corrected, let's fix these things. If we are able to do these things we will be very successful."

(On SEC play)
"I think teams know how we want to play and how we compete, that is what the league is about. But at the same time as a coach I know how the league wants to play, how a team wants to play and compete and how they go about their business. It is probably better playing against the league teams because you are familiar with coaching styles and personnel as opposed to the unknown in early season games. You watch a couple pieces of film and think you have a feel, then all of a sudden it is live and this guy is better than I thought he was, bigger than I thought he was, faster than I thought he was. In league play at least you are somewhat familiar with the competition."

(On pressure to win in the SEC)
"I wouldn't say pressure we just need to win ball games. You consume yourself with RPI every year, every two or three days, you still aren't doing what you need to do. You have to compete and win the ball game that is the most important thing."

(On rebounding from a loss)
"We haven't played yet so we will see Wednesday. With any sport you lose the game and if you are a competitor you feel it regardless of who it is. But you learn from it, you bounce back, and you keep moving."





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