Cuonzo Martin Press Luncheon Transcript

Jan. 14, 2013

(Opening Statement)
"I thought we had a good practice yesterday coming off a tough road loss. I thought the guys were really locked-in at Alabama. We played well the first half and did well defending. In the second half we just had some key turnovers down the stretch that cost us the game. But I liked what I saw from our guys from and effort standpoint and the way they competed. We shot a good percentage offensively - 47 percent from the field. We still have to keep working on ways to find Jarnell (Stokes) the ball inside. I thought he was very aggressive in attacking. He was really throwing his body around, which is a great sign to see.

"Jordan McRae is scoring the ball well for us. He's shooting about 50 percent, and one thing we talked about with our guards is really focusing on getting their field goal percentage up 45 percent or better. Jordan has done a good job with that and Josh (Richardson) is at 50 percent. Jordan is 50+ in league play so he's really improved. Those are good signs. We've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball in stretches and certain situations.

"I thought Armani (Moore) came in and played with a lot of confidence for a guy that hadn't played in three games. The one thing he's done a great job of in practice is staying focused and continuing to work. He's one of those guys that come in at 6 or 7 in the morning faithfully and consistently. Coach (Tracy) Webster continues to work on his game and now you can see the results. He's always been an aggressive, hard-nosed player, but as a kid settling into a situation, I thought he's done a great job with it in practice and it carried over into the game. I was really happy to see that.

"It's the same with Derek Reese coming off those injuries going in without having a lot of games under his belt. I thought he played well. Both those guys are really good basketball players and have a good feel for the game. I thought they did a good job of making the extra pass, making the extra play, which is a good sign."



(On the point guard position and starting lineup vs. Kentucky)
"We'll start the same way (as the Alabama game). We'll go with Jordan, Josh and Skylar. Unless somebody gets injured at practice today that's the way we'll go."

(On Trae Golden coming off the bench)
"I thought he did a solid job. I don't think he was the Trae Golden that he could be, but I thought he did a solid job. He did a better job in the second half with attacking the rim, especially late making plays. He got an and-1 there so that's the Trae Golden I'm accustomed to seeing being aggressive and looking for his offense."

(On if Trae Golden is bothered by injury)
"I don't think so. I've seen his shoulder situation, but I don't think it's enough to keep him out of games."

(On Jordan McRae running the offense)
"I thought he did a good job of getting good looks, moving the ball and Jarnell was aggressive so they were able to establish a post-presence. So now that ball was able to move - if he saw a double-team he could make the extra pass - so I thought he did a good job with that. One of the things Jordan is good at is attacking ball screens when he can turn that corner. He's got good length and can see over the double-team and make decisions to make passes. But he can also move the ball. He can move the ball, he can attack off the bounce when the double-team comes and he knows how to find shooters."

(On playing faster with Jordan)
"The thing is that we always want to play with a pace, but you've still got to defend. I think where we came up short in two games here was against Ole Miss we played with a pace, but didn't do a good job with our transition defense, getting back and getting stops. When you're trying to pass the ball and get easy baskets - especially against a defense like Alabama who likes to get set up and make you work on offense - you want to get the ball out quick and play, but you still got to rebound and defend. Those are the most important keys in balance and design."

(On slowing down Kentucky)
"You've got to stop the ball in transition, first and foremost, and get your guys back from a transition defense standpoint. We'll still crash the glass with three guys like we normally do. You've got to get back. It starts with your transition defense. You can't allow those guys to get easy baskets. When they get easy baskets in transition, it's a tough night. Then you have to keep them off the offensive glass."

(On the team's defensive mentality)
"I think for us wedefinitelywant to crash the glass, and that will not change. I think for us we have to make sure we have our guys on the backside from a transition defense stand point, but we will still crash the glass, that will not change at all."

(On getting Jarnell Stokes the ball more)
"Really the biggest key is to try and get (the ball) where he can catch it and go up. When you do not have guys on the backside, guys sitting down there hanging around the rim, because sometimes you can catch (the ball) and drop step but there is normally a guy on the backside, really it has not been like that these last couple of games. So really we are just trying to find ways (Jarnell) can catch and go up, not even have to dribble."

(On the slow start in SEC play like last season)
"As a coach I would not get panicked about it, it is one game at a time. I have always said that for us it is to find ways to compete and win games and do what we do. That is the mostimportantthing. I do not look at last year starting 1-4. Every season and every game is different. It is a different team every year, and you have to find ways to win games and do what we need to do to be successful."

(On comments about Stokes not developing as he maybe should from year one to two)
"I do not know if Inecessarily agree with it from the stand point that he works hard. I think the misconception about a guy like Jarnell Stokes because of his physical stature, you are talking about a guy who is 6-8 260, you automatically assume he is a low-post guy, where he is probably better at facing up and making plays, but he is a physical, strong guy and that is probably the best way for him to get baskets; around the rim, posting up, and being physical. He is a good face up guy, so I do not know if I agree with that. He has made progress and the key for him, and what I have talked to him about all the time is demanding the ball more. I think the next step for Jarnell is to demand the ball every time. He is a low key kind of guy, he lets his actions speak for themselves and he is very vocal from that standpoint, but he needs to demand it more and I think he has it in him."

(On whether Jarnell has progressed as a low post player)
"I think he has. The key for him is to work on cutbacks, which is a move we work on all the time. I think somewhere inside him, he has not said this but he sets to avoid maybe getting fouled because he is not a great free-throw shooter. That is something he has spent a lot of time on and I just tell him to go ahead and miss the free-throws because you have to stay aggressive and be active. When he is active that is when he is playing at his best."

(On Jarnell growing comfortable with his size)
"I think he needs to be more aggressive. I think he can be. I think he is a guy who has to leave a game with fifteen fieldgoals or fifteen free-throws, whether he is making or missing his free-throws, he has to get them up. He has the ability to put that pressure on the defense. I figure it is a case now where the transition from high school to college, being a big guy coming to this level, and now he is dealing with a situation where he is a big guy but also guys that are guarding him are 6'10 and 6'11, when we played Alabama, when he goes into the game, they put their big guy out there to block his shots. So now he next phase is getting up over bigger guys and making plays."

(On balancing Jarnell withaggression)
"It is just something Jarnell just has to feel through the course of a game. Not every team in America has somebody, one or two guys, that has that type ofpresenceon the floor with people identifying. Sometimes you just have to attack. Sometimes you have a great score or sometimes they force the issue. Jordan McRae in the last three games has done a great job of scoring the ball. I would not say every shot he took was a perfect shot, most scores it is not, but sometimes you put pressure on a defense and you make plays."

(On players not feeding Jarnell the ball out of worry)
"I think it is a case of reluctance more than anything, not because of the way he is playing. Sometimes there is pressure there, sometimes there are guys on the backside and I'll sit there on the sidelines saying get him the ball, then all of the sudden you see a guy get in from the backside. I'm talking from the sideline, I'm not playing, so I do not think it is a case of them not wanting to give him the ball, I think it is a matter of where can you get him the ball so he can make quick moves. I think it has a lot to do with not wanting to turn the ball over."

(On Kentucky)
"They are a talented team. Texas A&M came in there and won a ball game. You have to compete. Elston Turner made big shots from start to finish, he made big plays. Sometimes that is what it takes to win in that environment because those guys kept coming at him. They put different bodies on Turner and he made enough plays to win the ball game. They kept their composure from start to finish and they found ways to win it."

(On having a new team every year)
"I would imagine it isn't an easy thing to do. I think the thing that might save them more now is that you have the summertime to work with them once you get them on campus. That is a tough thing to do. In most cases you have a system in place, you have older guys that have been in the program and understand what to do. So now the summertime into the fall those guys have been around your new guys and they can let them know what coach expects and this is how we do things around here. I imagine it is a tough thing to do."

(On Kentucky's team)
"I think there is still talent, they have lost five games to good teams. Texas A&M is a talented team, they ended up winning the game. I think they have the pieces to be successful. Ryan Harrow is a very talented point guard, I saw him on the draft boards early in the season as a first round pick in the draft. He is a talented guy. He is one of their keys guys who had missed some games and now he is back in the fold. You have to make those adjustments as well. He is playing his best basketball right now."

(On developing relationships with the players during their four years)
"That is my style, I like to build a program, be around the guys because you want continued success. With that being said, you can get five guys that are first round draft picks. It is not like that have to pick up the knowledge they can still play the game and score the basketball. I think for the most part you like to have guys around. Not only are you coaching you are developing a relationship. You like being around your players, I think that is just as valuable."

(On playing point guard at Rupp Arena)
"I think it is tough, hard on the guys. They took it tough. You turn the ball over like that, you spend a lot of time working on those exact drills, backing the ball back and attacking. They know it; we have spent a lot of time on that. I don't think you say a lot. Keep your composure, find ways to win the game, have your spacing. But the most important thing is you have to get the basketball, go get it and bring it to the floor. When the double team comes find the next guy at the rim. There isn't a lot to be talked about. We have spent a lot of time working on it."

(On playing at Rupp Arena)
"I thought it was a great atmosphere. They just played really well. You can't allow those guys to make baskets on transitions. They made plays. All of a sudden it goes from five, to seven, to ten, to fifteen. That is tough to bounce back from. You have to play the way you play, that is the most important thing. You can't be passive you have to be aggressive. You have to attack those guys and you have to put pressure when you are attacking the rim. You have to do what you have to do, you have to crash the glass. If you are passive, it is a long night."

(On Alabama traps)
"They just trapped. I don't know. They trapped the whole game. It's just what happened. The key is you want to get the ball in the middle of the floor. Now you have your wings, so now if you bring the ball to the floor, anytime you've been trapped, the key is you keep the ball in the middle of the floor, now if you see a trap coming, you're able to make passes. We just probably didn't make the right decision, but that's where you want the ball, in the middle of the floor, so if somebody's trapped, now you can identify guys. They get you on the wings and up the sideline, then that's when it's a long night for you."

(On team's effort)
"I definitely think there's more in the tank. I've been pleased. The whole season, I think the two games, I wasn't as pleased was Ole Miss and Memphis. Those two games, I don't think the effort was there at the level that we needed it to be. Not to say the guys weren't trying, but I just don't think it was there from start to finish. The stretch, obviously the Memphis game, you got yourself back in the game. I don't think from start to finish we were the team we're accustomed to being, at least what I was accustomed to seeing."

(On Armani Moore)
"One thing about Armani, he's done a good job. We had him at the point earlier and really I think he struggled with that, because it was so much pressure, so many things involved, running things, set plays, defending at a high level, so what we did, is just took him off the ball and now we have him playing the wing, but he's also bringing the ball up in situations, so now he doesn't have to worry about and focus on being a true point and running the team. I think it really helped him where he is able to flow a little bit. Now he can grow into that in the future, but I think for right now it really helps him to play off the ball and he's done a good job of attacking. He prepares himself in practice. He works hard in practice all the time. He was one of the few guys, if I would put a guy in a game on a road atmosphere I would definitely do him. It wasn't like he was phased by the atmosphere or afraid, it was just a matter of him settling down and playing the way he's capable of playing."

(On Alabama environment)
"You walk in trying to win a game. I don't know if necessarily you approach it differently, you do what you do. You have to play hard. You have to take care of the basketball. That's the biggest thing. I think the two keys, whether you're making or missing shots, you have to take care of the basketball. You have to do a really good job in transition defense. I think they have a great atmosphere. I think they have a tremendous atmosphere, tremendous fan base. Their place and here in Knoxville are two of the best in the country, in my opinion, as far as the fans when they get after it and make it a tough atmosphere for you."

(On Skylar McBee)
"He's been in the gym. I think the last game, I was happy to see he stepped up and made some shots. He shot a tough one over a guy and made it, which is a good sign. Normally he is better at making them when nobody is really on him, and he made a tough one in the opposite corner by the bench the last game and knocked it down, so that was good. The thing I told him: to be ready to shoot the basketball. Don't hesitate in taking a shot. Shoot the basketball. What we're working on with him right now a lot more than that is really his shot fake, draw a pull-up so he can get to the free throw line, those sorts of things, because he's a really catch and shoot guy. Now he has to get the shot fake and attack and make the extra pass and shoot the ball."

(On Jarnell Stokes)
"I think so. I think the biggest key and we talk about it all the time is you have to get your shoulders around those guys and then go up. I think if you're just going straight up, those guys have an advantage. He's smart enough to get angles and get around those guys, make quick moves, get off the block some, attack off the dribble and make plays that way. If you have both of those guys out there, the thing we have to do is have those guys move, as opposed to him going right down the post and going inside and get set, have those guys move him and then you attack."

(On absence of Jeronne Maymon)
"We've missed him from day one. Just from the outside talent, the leadership he brings to the table, the mental and physical toughness, but I think more than anything we taught Jeronne, a guy like Jarnell misses him from the standpoint of having him on the side of him, a guy in his ear letting him know what's going, I got you up, I got this for you, you need that all the time. I think that's what helped Jarnell's transition coming in as a freshman out of high school. It's part of it. I think it's fourteen games now. Have to roll."

(On frustrations)
"I would think so, just from the standpoint that you go into the season one, having expectations for yourself as a team. Then you're losing a key piece and nobody knows when he's coming back, if he's coming back. Now you're in a situation, you're playing without him. I would think so because you have aspirations a lot of winning the gold, being the best team in the league, which is still not over with. You lose key pieces, now you have to make adjustments. Other guys that normally wouldn't have a certain role now they have to step up into a role. That's part of it. People have injuries all the time and you have to deal with it. Well you know, the thing about it, I don't normally get caught up in expectation, like preseason expectation, you're picked to finish first, second, third, that sort of thing. I think you have an expectation for your team and goals as a team of where you like to be. The difference at Missouri State, when I took over the program, very similar. I think we finished last, seventh and first my third year. It's part of it. Everybody's different. Every team is different. This team, instead of going in certain roles, you need your guys to step up in be consistent more than anything."



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