Cuonzo Martin Press Luncheon 2/10

Feb. 10, 2014

(Opening Statement)
"Against South Carolina I thought the guys did a good job moving the basketball and setting the tone pounding the ball inside early. They did a good job defending early. They did a great job trying to get the ball, keeping the three point shooters from being a threat. Overall it is a good win now we look forward to Florida. They are a very talented team from top to bottom they have good parts on both sides of the ball, so it should be a great test."

(On the Florida defense)
"I think first and foremost it is the commitment. I think anytime your point guard and your big guy in my opinion the guy who starts it up top and the guy who is anchoring on the back side when they do that at such a high level. I think both of those guys really have the DNA, even when they were freshmen, to be defenders. I think it helps they are seniors and Casey (Prather) is a guy that flash and defends. Will Yeguete has always been a defensive minded guy. All those guys have always been their make-up. You look at their previous years they have never been their go to guys for scoring baskets. Now they are scoring the ball and defending at a high level. I think that is the biggest key. They all have bought into defending at a high level and this is what is best for their team to get where they are trying to go."

(On Florida sometimes using a young point guard)
"I think so just in watching when you have a good point guard who puts pressure on the ball, but also Scottie Willbekin he can guard off the ball. Not just defending points he can guard the two guards. The way Patric Young defends, he rebounds, plays hard and competes. He exerts a lot of energy out there."

(On surprised with improvement of Casey Prather)
"Not really, you can see what he does now. It would be surprising if he shot 60% from the three because he has never really shot a lot of threes. He is more at the four position and now he is playing with a three slashing the ball. If you watch how we scores baskets and he is just attacking the rim and making plays. But I am not surprised because I thought he had a level of toughness to him even a year ago. He just has so many other pieces, but he is doing a great job of slashing but it isn't like he is coming off screens. He is really attacking. He is making plays. When he gets smaller guys on him he posts up and scores around the rim. He is probably 6'6, 215 or 220 pounds."



(On Tennessee guards having an off game last time against Florida or just tough defense)
"I think a little bit of both. From our stand point quick shots, off balanced shots but then you have to give credit to the defense for that. We were not executing at the level we needed to as well."

(On Jordan McRae's shooting)
"I think it is good, but you are talking about a guy who is one of the better scoring guards of the league. You expect that production from him, but you expect even more on a major stage against the quality opponent. That is when the great ones make their name so to speak when you perform on stages like that. He is built for that. He is ready for it."

(On looking that the common thread for Florida's two losses)
"I didn't see the Wisconsin game but I saw the Connecticut game. I think it was just a box out at the end if they would have boxed out it would have been their game. They did a good job with their 1-3-1 getting Connecticut off balanced. They just didn't come up with the box out. I thought they did a good job. At that time they had guys out so it wasn't like they had a full team. They did a great job performing without guys because Casey (Prather) he would have been playing that game, so you can't take a lot from that just because the situation."

(On Chris Walker)
"I watched the Alabama game. I saw him quite a bit on the AU circle. He is a tremendous athlete. He runs the floor, jumps, blocks shots and is a talented basketball player. It is hard to say what he brings outside of his athleticism because I haven't seen him play a lot. One thing with a team with chemistry and flow you don't want to disrupt that. So it is hard for me to say right now."

(On things Alabama did against Florida that might help Tennessee)
"Trevor (Releford) made plays in the first half. He did a good job of attacking and making shots. They attacked the press and got across. In some ways that is a blueprint of how Florida plays but Alabama did a good job of attacking the press and getting to the rim mixing it up a little defensively. They just played with confidence. They came up short but I thought they played with a high level of confidence."

(On Florida's lack of weaknesses)
"I think so, but I think, in my opinion, their biggest strength is probably--they don't, well it looks like they don't--care who gets the accolades, glory, that sort of thing. It's just win ball games. I think when you have a team like that with talented basketball players, you have a chance to be very successful."

(On difference between UT's play against Florida press and other presses)
"Unfortunately, probably spending more time on it in practice than we would like to, but that's what you have to do because it takes away from some other things because at this time of the year, you shorten your practice time. A couple of the things you might take away from it and, hopefully, it doesn't hurt you going into your next game. But, just giving it more time. And, even the other teams that didn't press as much, we still worked on the press just to keep it fresh in our heads. I think it helped us, but again, you have to be aggressive. These guys have seen press since they were youth. They have to get it across the court and attack the rim. You can't be passive."

(On offense's impact on defense)
"Again, you can't be consumed by your shots. If they go great or they don't, you still rely on your defending, rebounding, and playing hard. Those things have to be a constant. You have to do that. I think, for us, home atmosphere, great crowd--we expect that to happen. I think all of those things help you. I think their crowd played a major factor on how we played at their place. Even though they played well as a team, I thought their crowd had an impact on the game. The noise, not being able to execute our plays, not being able to hear the point guard make calls--I think all that played a factor into it."

(On importance of McRae's scoring)
"I think so. That is what he does. He scores the ball. That's his job. But, it's the same way with Jarnell and Jeronne. If they don't rebound, we don't win. So, I think it all falls in line. Every man has to do his part. Whatever your part is, you have to do that to the level you need to do it at."

(On concerns of Stokes' comment of only playing hard after a loss)
"It doesn't concern me. I think, for us, it's one game at a time. Again, lock in on what you need to do to be successful as a team is the biggest key. I'd have to ask Jarnell specifically what he meant by that. But, if you come out ready to play, you're locked in, you listened to the assignment, you listened to the scouting report, and you do your job, you have a chance to be successful."

(On Jordan McRae)
"We'll see. I think that's the biggest key. You have to do it on the floor. The stage is set and you have to perform on the stage."

(On Florida's ability to play all over the floor)
"I think, probably, I don't want to say late in the games you have different lineups out there on the floor, but I think in the first half and early in the second half, I think they got their heads up. They got to rolling, making plays, and we just couldn't really get into a good flow. In watching film, I thought we missed some open shots in the second half, some opportunities we should've capitalized on. When those don't fall, you don't get the stops on the other end and it just kind of flows from there."

(On preparing for Florida)
"I hope they're very eager to play them. They show it in practice. These guys are competitive basketball players. Like I've told them, you lost to a good team, but you can't assume because you're playing at home under a great crowd things will be different. You have to perform on the floor. With this team, you have to beat them. This is one of those teams, they want to beat themselves. They take care of the basketball, so you have to beat them."

(On player/fan behavior)
"All the time, almost every day. The thing we say is that we have to do a great job of going under the radar, every day and for us, it's not once a month or once a year. Anytime something pops up in the paper or I see it on ESPN, I could be at home reading a book- I see something on ESPN, I write it down, text my guys, right when I see it, tell them we'll talk about it the next day. It's all the time. It consumes you, but you have to do it. Unfortunately, it's the world we live in. These guys play the game at a high level. In Marcus [Smart's] case, I've seen him from afar as a high school player, very talented player, a lot of energy, a lot of emotion. It's sad, but you have to keep moving forward. I tell our guys all the time, you have to be a professional in that situation and just walk away. I talk to my guys all the time, I know you're 18, 19, 20, 21, you think you're an adult, but just walk away from that and keep pushing."

"You would have to, to be honest with you, you would have to ask a player that specifically. Truthfully, I can't hear anything. I don't see anything. I don't read anything. If anything is towards me, I couldn't tell you, but it's expected. It goes with the territory. I just think when you're talking about a student-athlete, an amateur athlete- I think it's a little bit different. You're talking about a professional athlete who gets paid to do that, something different, but I think when you're talking about an amateur athlete, I think as fans, we have to have a little bit of restraint in certain situations, because they are kids. It's emotional. He's a young man, probably felt like his team wasn't playing to the level that he wanted them to play. Things happen- you say thing as a young guy, you do things- it doesn't make him a bad person. It's just an incident. I do think there is a difference when you're talking about professional athletes and how you treat and talk to them. I don't think you should ever be able to touch an athlete. When you talk about an amateur athlete, even though he's big and strong, he's 18, 19, 20, he's still a kid, so we have to take that into consideration."

(On playing non-conference games)
"I thought guys did a good job of stepping up. Obviously you still have to keep going and pushing forward. I thought guys did a good job scheduling, trying to step up to help the betterment of the league, I think so. I think if you look at it, I don't have specifics in front of me, but I think you have more teams hovering around the top 6 in the RPI and you didn't have as many last year as you do now. I think so. If guys stay the course, I think so, but again I'm not a part of the committee. I think so, if guys stay on the pace."

(On this week's games)
"As always, it's one game at a time and they are all big. Yes, you can say that. But again, for us the most important thing is Florida tomorrow and we push forward from there."

(On preparing for Florida)
"I think they are tough to game plan because they have parts out there- guys that can make plays, guys that can make shots, they have bigs that can make decisions. I think more than anything, you have to be sound in what you're doing. I think we had breakdowns, watching film with our guys yesterday, we had breakdowns. It will happen throughout the game, but you can't have the level of breakdowns we had. You can't do that against good teams."

(On RPI)
"Not as much, Tom [Satkowiak] keeps me informed with it. What does it say? Is that good or bad? I have to call Jimmy [Hyams] about it now."

(On SEC basketball)
"I don't know if it's necessarily a bad rep. I just think winning games is the biggest key. I don't think it's so much it being a football league- the Big 10 plays football too. I just think as coaches, as teams doing our part for the league. The most important thing for us is to represent Tennessee the right way and winning games for Tennessee and everyone else take care of themselves. I think that's the biggest key. We can't do everything for the league and they can't do it for us. I don't think so."



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