Cuonzo Martin Press Luncheon Transcript

Jan. 28, 2013

(Opening Statement)
"Coming off a good win against a very talented Alabama team, a team that forces you to play on both ends on the floor, you really have to execute. Tough team to go against when you have two really good guards who control the tempo and get to the rim and also make free throws. So it was a good win for our guys. It is also good to be at home again tomorrow against a Vanderbilt team that shoots a lot of threes and shoots them well. They will space you out. Dribble, penetrate and find those shooters, especially when they go small, they spread you out so that will be a good task for our guys. Also I would like to wish Holly good luck with the girls tonight, playing against a great opponent. It should be a good atmosphere, the orange out, I will be in attendance. I am excited about that; it should be a lot of fun. We need our fans to support that. I think Jarnell is playing well. I think the last game, I thought he did a real good job of rebounding the basketball. I think he is first or second in rebounding in league play, just league stats if I am not mistaken. I think around 9.3 a game. He has really been aggressive, attacking rebounds. It was good to see last game getting 18 rebounds, I think that is the most in league play this season. Jordan McRae is playing well, scoring the basketball. I think the thing with Jordan is he is shooting the mid-range shot, his three point shot, coming off the ball screen is really improving. When teams are going he is knocking the three point shot down. But he is also able to hit big guys, diving to the rim and shooting behind in the backside. So seeing those things have really been impressive to Jordan's growth as a scoring guard and really facilitating the offense. Armani I think has 26 rebounds in the last three games as a guard. But he goes and get them, as a defender, he goes and gets them. I just watched on the film when he hopped off a guy on the perimeter and when he got a big rebound on the rim. He is a great addition from a defensive standpoint to have a guard to get rebounds like that. I think the guys are really competing. They are making progress every day. So it will be fun to get out on the court tomorrow against a very talented team and a great atmosphere."



(On Jordan McRae's mid-range game)
"I think the lost art part is everything is dunks and three point shots. When you watch guys warm up they are around the rim, not necessarily dunks, and it is three point shots. We spend a lot of time on one or two dribble pull ups in the lane. That is why Jordan's pull up is pretty good. That is why Josh Richardson's pull up is pretty good. That is the part that is missing. Not necessarily settling for three point shots. I think both of those guys are solid three point shooters. Jordan is a little bit better than Josh, but they both have the length and size to get that one or two dribble pull up in the lane, get over those defenders and make those shots. I think more than anything Jordan is playing with a level of confidence right now, he feels like he can score the basketball. If not score, somebody to help, he is able to find his guards, he is able to find his bigs. He is also getting to the free throw line."

(On midrange shooting)
"I think what happens in most cases, you look at numbers and percentages, everything plus/minus charts. When you look at percentages that is probably a high percentage, a tough shot, when you talk about percentage, that midrange shot as opposed to a layup or a three point shot. You have a defender, you are closer to the rim, you have guys collapsing, you have big bodies around you. I think with his length he is doing a good job of setting a guy up for a one or two dribble pull up. But he spends the time with it and that is why he sees the results."

(On McRae maturing)
"I just think as a coach and as a team your family there are certain things that you say to a guy, there are certain things how you react to a guy, you get a guy to play a certain level. I approach Jordan a little differently than I approach another guy. There is a certain type of coaching he needs and he responds to. You might see us on the bench like we are arguing at each other in certain cases but he needs a level of emotion. Making him understand, `here we go.' But he responds to that because he has a big heart and he wants to be successful. I enjoy coaching him. It is every day, `Come on, here we go.' Just keeping him in tune, I thought he did a great job in the last game. I think he had two points in the first half and he is one of those guys who has to have the ball and he has to feel it, he has to get some shots, whether they are going on or not. I think Alabama did a good job of taking the ball out of his hands and forcing him to make plays and they play in the zone. He kept his composure and he made big plays in the second half. I just think it is a credit to his growth as a young man."

(On Jarnell Stokes' foul trouble in previous games)
"I thought he did that the last game and that is the thing I have talked to him about you just got to play, play as hard as you can play and allow everything else to take place. Whatever happens, happens and I thought he did that. I think the next step and hopefully it continues because you have seen big guys over the years playing the game. They see double team, they see traps, they see guards scrapping and it is hard to get in the flow because you are not going to let a big guys just dominate you. The thing we talk about to him is you got to get them off the offensive glass. You get 3 or 4 off the offensive glass and that is 7 to 10 points that you can get. That is another way to score the basketball because it is so hard to just count on him when you throw it inside and they are doubling him. They are not going to let you beat them. If you get 8 offensive rebounds, keeping that ball alive was accredit to his hard work and figuring another 8 minutes where I can get some baskets."

(On the difference for Jarnell Stokes during the second half of the game)
"Well one, us going to him continuing to feed the confidence, continuing to play. The guards were really making an conscious effort of really trying to get him the ball. He has to try to deliver the ball and make plays. I also think he is getting better every day at making quick moves. I think in this particular game he was gathering himself because they had a shot blocker. He knows when they had a lineup change so he could move and once the guy went out then he was aggressive with attacking the rim. I think that was smart on his part to recognize then be aggressive. It just one of those deals when he is feeling good and scoring then that is just who he is. We just got to keep him consistent where is aggressive and attacking more, but I said it at the Alabama at their place I thought he was aggressive even though he didn't get the numbers and the production. I just really thought he was really aggressive."

(On Jarnell Stokes having a humbling year instead of a one and done year)
"I think it is hard to say humbling because he is not a guy that walks around cocky saying I am one and done. I think a lot of that was said but I don't know how much he said. Any talented player you think that is their goal to be an NBA player and that is understandable to think that. I don't know if it is necessary humbling because he didn't walk around saying I am one and done and I am going to do this and do that. He goes out there and compete and practices and tries to play hard. I think for him it just understanding his strengths and being the best he can be. Whatever happens, at the end of the day he will be there. It just a matter of when. I think he will get it done. I think he will be an NBA player when it is all said and done. Whether if it is this year or next year, it just depends on how he plays. I could politic for him all day long but I just think it is his production on the floor that will get him where he needs to be."

(On if the call to the SEC office had anything to do with Jarnell Stokes not having a foul in the first half)
"I don't think so. I don't spend a lot of time even when I first started coaching I couldn't tell you 6 official's names. Only from this stand point I didn't get caught up in how guys are officiating the game because I knew going into games that those guys do everything in their power to officiate the game. I never thought and I still don't think to this day that an official goes out and says well I am going to make these certain calls for this team and lose the game. So I don't get caught up in that. It was just a particular case with one guy on our team. Even before that game it wasn't looking right. So as a coach it is my job to protect my guys. I told our guys at the end of the game that we had 21 turnovers, we missed key free throws and that is the ball game. You still have to find ways to win games. Once again I don't go into games thinking the official is out to get this kid, not at all. I didn't think that was the case but with such a physical presence, a foul is a foul."

(On if Jarnell Stokes was playing timid to stay out of foul trouble)
"I think that was part of it. I also think that is the case when he is on offense and being aggressive and not worrying about either or not he missed free throws. I think it is a combination of both. I thought there were times in the game where he wasn't aggressive in the attacking. Now when he is being aggressive in the attacking and he is not getting the calls it is a little different."

(On if he saw anything different when watching game film from this weekend)
"Not really. Even in this game I would go to the test of time thinking our guys got fouled every time down. In the Ole Miss game I thought maybe Jordan [McRae] got fouled when I watched some film, he went up tipped, went up tipped. It's part of the game. I'm not going to complain about every foul. I do think, in this game, he was aggressive. I think we had three or four fouls in the first half and they had seven. That's just the way the game is played. However you're going to officiate the game, as long as it's the same on both ends of the floor then that's fine, that's how it's played, and we'll make the adjustments."

(On having four different starting lineups in the last seven games)
"I think going into tomorrow's game we have the same starting lineup. I think Armani Moore has really earned his way. He's a guy that plays hard, rebounds at the level, and it's hard to keep him off the floor but he's not a guy that thinks he needs to start to play. He wants to compete. He rebounds that basketball, he can make plays offensively, and the thing we talk to our guys about is having an impact on the game whether or not you're scoring the basketball. When he finished the game I didn't realize he only took two shots. I thought he had a major impact on the game with eight rebounds and the way he defensed, he got out in the passing lanes and make stuff hard on guys. He knows how to take charge and he knows how to move his feet, and that's what it comes down to at the end of the day, but once again, for us to be at the level you need to have Trae Golden running the point and being effective, whether he's starting or coming off the bench, because he's a talented basketball player. We just need to get him to where he needs to be and that's my job to try to get everything out of him to play at the level he's capable of playing at."

(On what the biggest obstacle is for getting the most out of Golden on both offense and defense)

"Well he's getting minutes. When you look at the numbers he's getting the minutes. Once again, when you look down the stretch of the game in that Ole Miss game the ball was in Trae [Golden]'s hands, and when you look down the stretch of the Alabama game the ball was in Trae Golden's hands, because I believe in him. Now it's just a matter of Trae Getting out of this slump. You can call it a slump or struggling or whatever the case may be, but once again, he's a talented guy and he's built to score the ball and he has an offensive mindset, and we just need him to regain that.

(On having a -31 turnover differential for the season)
"I think really just taking care of the basketball is the issue, because if you look at [Jeronne] Maymon's numbers, he didn't have great number last year; turning the ball over quite a bit. That's one of the area's, going into this season that he had to work on: taking care of the basketball and his free throw shooting. I don't know if it's necessarily the case of having a true point guard or not, because if you look at the Ole Miss game he had nine turnovers, and I think that was him trying to make plays, and travelling with the basketball and that sort of thing. I just think it's putting guys in a position where your point guard is facilitating the offense as opposed to having so many different guys handling the basketball. I think that's the big difference, when your point guard is handling the ball then the other guys are just catching and shooting or catching and laying the ball up as opposed to making decisions."

(On if it has taken a toll having lost so many close games that were decided in the last two or three minutes, and if there was anything different with the mindset in the close win on Saturday over Alabama)
"They were upbeat yesterday. We did a walk through for about an hour and did free throws, so no contact. That was the first day in a while that we didn't have contact for about an hour and ten minutes to get a flow and get a feel, but I've said it before, the thing I credit these guys with is to be able to come back the next day after tough losses, emotional losses, and put your hard hat on, put forth a good effort in practice, which is a good thing because it's not an easy thing to do because after a while you start second guessing and doubting, and you get a lineup change and that can take a toll on you mentally but I credit these guys, like Skylar McBee, who didn't start, I thought he played hard in the minutes he did play. I thought he did a good job of getting in passing lanes. It's just a credit to those guys, coming back to work hard."

(On if there's any concern with fatigue having a third game in six days)
"Not at all because it's part of it. It's on the schedule, we have to play the games. We don't talk a lot about it outside of getting in the cold tub, and not really getting up and down the floor, and just playing the game. Like I said, today will be the first day we do some up and down a little bit so that will be good for our guys to get in there for an hour or so and get out of there. But not at all, you've got to play. The good things is that we are at home, so that helps when you have a great crowd that's behind you to give you that extra lift that you need."

(On starting 1-4, but looking at the standings and still only being two games out of third place, and if that's something he talks to the team about)
"The thing we talk about is one game at a time. Then when the smoke clears and you have yourself in a position where you want to be, but no, we don't look ahead. I'd imagine the players do, but as a coach it's finding ways to do anything in your power to win that next game. Then once that happens, and you start separating yourself from the competition, then you make the most of that."

(On if the rest of the schedule seems like more of a grind)
"Well it is a grind, and we haven't even gotten half way through conference play. When you play league play, especially now, when Georgia got a road win at [Texas] A&M, teams go through preseason with so many new guys trying to find their way and you have struggles in the preseason and all the sudden when you get into league play, guys have gotten better and they start winning games and I don't think it's a case of a league being down, I just think it's a matter of being familiar with your opponent in league play, you know their strengths and weaknesses, you know the things that they like to do, and then your guys eventually get better, but you know 18 games, that's a grind, but it's expected, I don't think it's new. I'm familiar with it, being from the leagues I've been in but it takes a toll on you."

(On what his take was initially with the TV scheduling and if it has an impact on recruiting)
"Well I think one of the things you want to do with your program is get exposure, so you get exposure and that's a plus. I think when you have an experience team that's part of the game. Because when you look at other leagues, like the Big 12 they go for Saturday and Monday nights, so it's just what you do. I think as a player you want to play then. When you have a young team, and inexperienced team you lose one, you lose two and now there might be a third one and that can be tough. I think with experienced teams and having home games, I think it helps you."

(On Vanderbilt)
"They're a talented team, they're a young team. You see them playing a lot better now. They had a tough loss at Mizzou, but when you have a team with four or five guys on the floor at a time that can make three point shots, it spreads you out, and their point guard does a tremendous job of controlling the tempo, anything can happen. We expect it to be a tough game. Those guys are coming in and competing. It's a rivalry game so the energy is going to be there. Our job is, once again, to do everything in our power to win the game, but when you have that many guys that can make three point shots, they dribble penetrate, and then pitch it out, you have to be locked in defensively. I think the biggest key is to really impose your will on a team, because they might go small in some ways but with the way that Jarnell [Stokes] and Kenny [Hall] rebounded in the last game, then that's the strength, you have got to attack the glass. There are a lot of those guys, with four guard, dribble penetrating and pitching and shooting threes and then we're not imposing our will on the other end of the floor. Once again, we have to pound the ball in to Jarnell and Kenny, and those guys being aggressive and getting rebounds."

(On if he's always been of the mindset that if a guy gets two fouls in the first half you take him out or if he thinks there are some players that know how to play through two early fouls)
"I've coached guys before with two fouls in the first half, and played them, and continued to play them or maybe sit them down and then put them back in, and we didn't play a zone, we played a man, and you just have to understand the importance of that guy and in certain situations. Also, we could put him on somebody where you can hide him defensively. But really, it's just kind of a feel. I think in the Ole Miss game I put Jarnell back in in the first half and he gave us a good boost, and then we took him out, but it's really just a feel. I'm not a guy that going at you, if you have two fouls, you're down, I'm not saying that. Just get a feel for the guy, where his mind is and go from there."

(On how he balances in-state rivalries and the importance of conference scheduling, after having lost to Memphis earlier this year)
"Really, the bottom line is winning the ball game. Of course there's a rivalry, and when you're talking about rival teams, the stage is somewhat set, so your guys understand what's at stake. They know. And for us, not having a lot of guys from the state of Tennessee, you have to make those guys aware of the fact that this is a rivalry, and they do know that, and the importance of protecting your home court, and winning the rivalry, so we'll be ready from that standpoint.

(On how he would evaluate Stokes' passing)
"He's a good passer. He's one of our better passers. He's one of the bigs I've been around that when he gets double-teamed, it's a good thing, in my opinion, because he can make decisions. Now it's a matter of other guys, the guy he passes to, making plays. He does a good job when he gets double-teamed."



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