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Cuonzo Martin Press Luncheon 3/11



March 11, 2013

(On what it will take to be selected for the NCAA tournament)
"I think you still need to win games. One thing I told our guys, when you look at a body of work, and you can probably take 20 teams, bubble teams, or whatever, Tennessee is just as good, if not better when you talk about the opponents we have played, the games we have won, where we played teams at, and the schedule. I feel good from that standpoint, but like I told our guys, lets not leave this in anyone's hands. The best way to be sure about it is to do what you need to do. We have to continue to win ball games, that is the most important thing."

(On McCrae's comments referring to Martin as a father-figure)
"There has to be a level of respect. If you do not have respect then you are not getting results. I do not mind being a father-figure, I am not getting any younger. I do not mind it at all, it is what it is. There are certain things I demand, there are certain things I expect, but we have a lot of fun doing what we do. I hope the guys look to me and say, if I am a father-figure, that is a guy I want to pattern my life after. I want to be like that because this guy is similar to my dad, and if most guys did not grow up with a dad then I would like to be like that guy (Coach). Not necissarily coaching the game with x's and o's of the game, but just the man and how you present yourself. These guys come in from 18 to 19 years old and there is a transition from a young man into a man and there are certain things I have to do and give with my walk so those guys can see that. It has to be a lifestyle, not just me talking about it. It has to be who I am, not just to me but for my staff and guys around me. If you do not have those guys around you, then you are not showing those guys good people and good signs of what they need to become. Now, it might not be every program's form, but this is what we are doing here in this program."

 

 

(follow up)
"In a nutshell, outside of going to class every day, which some think that it is a hard hing to do, working hard, trying your best, it is that simple for me. We have a rules sheet we give out to the guys every year, certain things I expect, certain things to look out for and be aware of in the dorm settings, when you are out on the town, all these things we talk about every day. Outside of that, just doing the right things, trying your best. I am not a guy and I have never been a guy where you need to average this many points to have a scholarship. You can be on the team for four years and never score a basket as long as you are taking care of business the right way then you are part of this family. If I recruited you to be part of this family, then I made the mistake if it is not working out. Now, if you are having problems off the court, you are not taking care of business, then we have issues. It is like Jordan McCrae has done a tremendous job scoring the ball. My job as a coach is to put him in position. Here is what you need to see, here is what you need to do to be successful. His job is to take the information and run with it. For any player, it is the same way when I was with Gene Kady, I needed to see it and feel some results and then I could say, okay I see what you are saying. For young guys, when they do not see the results, if they cannot feel it, then why are we doing it."

(On the low turnover numbers)
"I would not say it was all guards. Last season, Jarnell Stokes and Jeron Maymon probably had the most turnovers from a percentage standpoint. Now when you look at it, because we continue to spend so much time with skill development, because you do not have time to be banging around in practice because everything is sop physical, we might do a ten minute segment just to keep the guys on the edge. I think that is where we have some slippage in games late in the season because we do not spend so much time on physical contact because you do not want to get guys injured, we spend more time on offensive skill work, guards and bigs getting shots up, but the guys continue to grow, you are playing with each other. I would not necessarily say it is the four guard lineup (that is helping) but it helps when you have multiple guys who can handle the ball and make decisions. Jarnell Stokes handles the ball just as much as those guards. I just think it is getting familiar with the offense, having a pace to your game, slowing the game down, better spacing, you know where your shots are coming from, and you have better results."

(On how last year's loss to Ole Miss in the SEC tournament helps this team)
"I just go back to the fact you lose ball games. I do not get consumed with a lot of things, we only have control of what is going on today. Now as a staff we talk about it, but I do not go to the players. Sometimes players have a short term memory, they only remember their good things. We talk about it, we watch film on it. For us, the most important thing when you have a setting like this, you are not sure of the first opponent because you do not know who will win the game, it is more about how Tennessee plays the game, playing with a level of passion competing out the gates. Sometimes it is not a great thing to sit out that first game. The other team can get familiar with the rim, the setting, I have seen it both ways. We just have to get out the gates aggressive. That is the most important thing."

(On adjustments to how you approach the SEC Tournament)
"You have to find fresh legs. Right now we have to find another guy off the bench that can give us production. I think that guy is D'Montre Edwards. I think he has to be the next guy forward because he has the ability, skill, and the makeup and we need another set of legs out there. As far as anything I have learned from the past, this time of year you have to have fresh legs. You cannot go out there are practice for an hour or two hours or three hours. That is a long time. You can get bogged down, especially with our key guys that play major minutes for us."

(On why the team might need a fresh guy like D'Montre on the court)
"I think when you are trying to go four games in four days I think he is right there as far as earning those minutes. I think he can help us, he can make a shot, he is an offensive threat. He is a guy who can rebound. I think he is right there as far as getting those minutes."

(On Jordan playing well in the 2nd half of games)
"I think what happens, and Jordan is a wonderful kid, he is emotional, plays with a level of passion, but when guys move from being your players and becoming your family, now I can say to Jordan without him getting emotional, settle down, here is where your shots need to come from, slow it down. What has happened is that he is built to score. Now all of the sudden he has a passion for scoring, it is like food to him right now, I've got to score this ball. Well what happens is that it is not going to be that easy when you are the guy so to speak, the go-to guy so now they defend you. You saw Frankie Sullivan at Auburn bump and be physical with him and it is the same way with Mizzou, they have these big, physical guys that make it look hard. Now what happens when you have the next phase, and I talked to him about it in the Auburn game, you have to become a better screener. Now, that is the way you get shots. You need to move without the ball but you have to be a better screener. At first guys are screening for you to get shots, now when you become the elite scorer, you have to be a screener. He has settled down in those second halves where now he screens, catches, and shoots. Also attacking the close out. You cannot get it, hold it, and want to go one-on-one when a defense is set. It has to be a screen and attack and close out right away. It is a catch and shoot or make a move. If you hold the ball for one or two seconds, then it is too late. Those are the things I talk him through."

(follow up on McCrae's confidence)
"I think it is more confidence within himself. It went from a standpoint of I'm scoring the ball, it feels pretty good, and man I've got to score the ball, because we were in a stretch earlier in the season where we were struggling to get scoring and get production. Jordan might have had some bad shooting nights, but he was still scoring some points. He played through it, and learned from it. We went into film and told him to keep the shots up, but here's five shots you need to keep out of your game. This is a catch and shoot as opposed to a floater. Right here you should have been to the free throw line as opposed to fading away. It is my job and our assistant coach's job to give him the information. It is his job to embrace it and absorb it and say okay I understand and run with it."

(On the wide-open SEC tournament)
"Obviously the favorite is Florida, they are the #1 seed, they have the parts, but it is anybodies game at the end of the day. Anytime you are in a setting like this, unless you have an elite team where it is just tough to beat them, making your free throws, a couple baskets here and there, not turning the ball over, anything can happen."

(On support from middle Tennessee Vol fans)
"I think it is great, we need all the support we can get. Our guys will put on a good show. Any time you can go eight of the last nine games, that means we need to support these guys. Especially the way they having been playing and the way they have been competing. With the proximity, and location of where we are playing, we need them there."

(On why the team has played so well under pressure)
"I think that there is a balance. I think with most players you want that stage. The balance is that you cannot go in there like you are pressing, saying we have to get this win. That is what I told our guys down the stretch while we were struggling as a team, one at a time, lets walk through each game one at a time. All of the sudden we started writing them off. That is the only thing you can control and for us it is one game at a time. Lets do everything in our power to win this first game, whatever happens, happens. We are not going into a game saying ok we are going to save legs, play this guy. We are doing everything in our power to win the first game. Whatever is presented to us and we are blessed to win the first one then we move on to the next one."

(On Trae Golden's strong game against Missouri)
"The good thing about Trae is that his defense in most cases is his offense. He is a threat to score, he is a guy who can make plays, he is a physical guy. A lot of times I do not know if Trae gives himself enough credit for how good he can be and how good he is. I think right now Trae is about 80% of where he could be. I really do. This will be a big spring and summer for him. I think there is more in his tank as a basketball player, but it helps us as a team because you have a ball handler out there, a guy who can make plays, a guy who is a threat to score, a guy who can get to the rim, and a guy in games who is a 90% free throw shooter."

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