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Cuonzo Martin Press Luncheon 2/24



Feb. 24, 2014

(Opening Statement)
"Two good ones this week- Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Mississippi State a team that has been battling, coming up short in games, but they continue to battle, play hard, compete. I think Rick [Ray] is doing a great job with his guys, probably limiting his numbers. I think they might play seven, sometimes eight guys, but they compete always in games. We have to be locked in, ready to go. I thought Jarnell [Stokes] had a good week, rebounding the basketball, playing hard. I thought Jeronne [Maymon] had a really good game. I thought he looked good in that game against [Texas] A&M- his body, scoring the ball around the rim, was active, just came up short in the last game. I thought those two guys did a good job looking good. Now, we have to get Jordan [McRae] rolling offensively where we have to get him good looks. He's working hard to get shots, so we have to do a better job of getting him easier looks."

(On being better than average)
"Without a doubt, but you have to do the job and do the work and not so much get consumed with it. For us, it's winning basketball games and the most important game is Mississippi State."

(On Jarnell Stokes' missed free throw against Texas A&M)
"We didn't talk. It was a missed free throw. Let's go into overtime and try to win this basketball game, but not at all, just missed a free throw. He stepped up, shot the free throw and it didn't go in, but not at all. He's fine, I think he's fine. Of course, he obviously wanted to make the free throw, but I didn't see anything to make me say he won't bounce back. Of course he's down about missing a free throw, but again, I didn't put that type of pressure on him after he missed it. I just tried to win the game in overtime."

 

 

(On 7-way tie in SEC for 4th place)
"It's something I don't think I've ever seen in league play before. For us, our goal is to be on top when the smoke clears and that's the bottom line. Mississippi State is the most important game on our schedule right now."

(On guard play in Texas A&M game)
"We just finished meeting as a staff- you have to get production at that position. It's not so much as scoring points- running the team, distributing the basketball, getting guys in position to score, whether or not you get the assist, but getting guys in position, attacking the rim, because when you have guys on the wings that are shooting three-pointers that are good at good clip in Jordan [McRae] and Josh [Richardson] and you have two bigs that demand sometimes a double team presence down the rim, we have to be able to get in their lane and make plays, but just being more assertive and more aggressive. I think that will get it done."

(On rotating players)
"We always look at that, not necessarily just because of this game. You look at it, because you want to give yourself the best chance to win games. I've never been a guy to constantly rotate guys in and out. You want to give your guys the best chance to win. You want guys to play with confidence and understand what they need to do to be successful, but we look at every option."

(On relationship with Dave Hart)
"I talk to Dave all the time. We talk about each particular game. Dave does a good job, win or lose, texting or calling just about the game, other than that, not at all. We just talk about basketball."

(On Josh Richardson)
"The thing about him, I said yesterday- last four or five games, I thought he's played really well. His cuts, being aggressive- I think he's improved his defense as well. It's just unfortunate, sometimes we have to take him off a guy, put him off another guy- hopefully we can solidify another guy on the perimeter to help him out from a defensive standpoint. I made that a point of interest to our guys yesterday. I think he's really made strides, on both ends of the floor. He's even developed his leadership qualities. He's always been a fun-loving guy on the court and in the locker room, but I think he's getting better with his leadership qualities."

(On team characteristics)
"I think just with in any team, even when I played, leadership, most with decision-makers, play-makers, you watch team anywhere, you have to have those qualities to win games."

"I think there's different things- making a play here, offensively making a shot, having the opportunity to score the ball, defensively getting stops. Again, I say it all the time- it's not just necessarily offense all the time. Defense you have to get those stops and get big rebounds on defense or making a big free throw, making a big basket, whatever the case may be. Across the board- identifying where the ball needs to go, getting the ball where it needs to go and then making a shot or making a play."

"I think so. Being able to make plays, getting the ball where it needs to go, executing what you're trying to do, but I think wins always help."

(On recovering from losses)
"I would imagine, as a basketball player, it would consume you as far as thinking about it, but what I tell the guys- we watch films, we learn from it, so when it happens again, you're ready when that situation presents itself, more than anything. That's the thing I talk about- being positive with yourself."

(On a player's mentality in making clutch plays)
"I think so. I think what happens, you see obviously around the country, when you say this guy's a great player, that's the reason he's identified as a great player, an elite player, because of those situations. His teams were put in tough spots- he responded, got his team out of a jam, great shot blocker, because they get a big block. Great play-makers are guys that are 90 percent down the stretch of games. I think when you go through those situations, that's when you become what you become."

(On getting to the NCAA tournament)
"Our goal doesn't change as far as making the NCAA tournament. It doesn't change. I think there have been some games where we had the opportunity but came up short, but that goal doesn't change at all."

(On thinking realistically on expectations of getting into the tournament now)
"Yes I do"

(On helping Jarnell Stokes get his looks in the second half)
"I think this game was a little bit different when you watch film of the Mizzou game because there were opportunities to give him the ball where that team defended him. This is a little bit different in watching the film. But again keep looking for him inside he keeps posting hard. That is the goal."

(On penetration from Texas A&M's Alex Caruso)
"You have to take care of the ball. You have to take care of keeping the ball out of the lane. I thought Caruso did a good job in our game here of getting in the lane, but we have to do a better job of keeping him out of the lane because he is a pass first guy. He is one of those guys who will drive it to the rim when the opportunity is obvious to him. We have to do a better job of keeping guys out of the lane because it is not like he is a small guy. He is a big guy. I mean he is a tall point guard."

(On helping the guys stay motivated)
"We have talked about it before even in July not reading and dealing with things like that before the season even starts because obviously things get to a point. As a coach those are things we always talk about. You know those young guys will read what they want to read and see stuff when they are on campus. That is just part of it. You control it as much as you can control it as a coach and make the guys understand that they should consume themselves with their teammates and the task at hand. The next game learn from the last game, win or lose. That is all you can do as a coach. We talk about that stuff all the time."

(On job security)

"Don't waste time and energy on it. Just the next game, present itself, move forward."

(On getting caught up in job security)

"Been doing it for years, for me as a ball player and as a coach been consuming what I need to do for years. Everything else take it. If you put the work in, everything else will take care of itself. And again, don't have that time and energy. If it is negative, I don't consume myself with it."

(On seeing strong results during the second half)

"I think you keep working. You don't stop working. Obviously, you watch film, you tweak, you come up with different things, different thoughts - what can we do better, when we need to change. So you always do that, but you never stop working and that has always been my game plan. That has always been me as a coach and as a player, just figure it out, continue to study, talking with a few players - what do they need to do better, how do they respond to certain situations, what makes them successful, and you go from there."

(On Dale Ellis)

"Been great, Dale is a really good guy and I talk to him all the time. Just like talking to him, but a good person. I'm happy for him. He put the work in, was a very successful college and NBA player so it is great to see that. Hopefully our fans come out and support him because he is a really good guy, and I like being around and talking to him."

(On Dale being one of the best NBA 3-point shooters)

"Well, the thing about him, he just put the work in, really developed his game from the 3-point shot, but if you watch him now, I've seen him shoot the ball where he can make 25 threes in a row, even to this day, because he comes back and still worked Tobias out when I first got the job and you can see it, but the time he puts into it, just a case of a guy that put the work in."

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