Cuonzo Martin Press Luncheon 3/18

March 18, 2013

(Opening Statement)
"Got a good Mercer team coming in on Wednesday. They play about 11 guys, 10 plus minutes and 2 guys about 9.8 minutes. Good defensive team, they score the ball and have a lot of set plays who execute very well. Bob (Hoffman) has done a great job coaching those guys. They have some big wins this year, Florida State, at Alabama. I think they had a tough loss at Georgia. So it is a talent team. A team that has been together and won the CIT, if I am not mistaken, last season."

(On what film seen on Mercer)
"Coach (Kent) Williams has the scout. Watching them on film, they run set plays. They do a great job. They have good guards and good bigs. Similar to a pack defense so to speak, keep you out of the lane and force you to make shots from the perimeter."

(On Mercer's approach to the game playing a major conference team)
"I think in this case it is a little different. Last year when they played in the CIT it was probably a great experience for them. I think in this case they feel like they should have won their league. You are probably talking about a team that is probably similar to us all depending on the days they had off since their last game to absorb the fact that they probably weren't a NCAA tournament team and get back to work and practice. It is also tough even at a major level you felt like you won at your league and had a chance to be in the NCAA tournament team but it didn't fall your way. So that can be emotionally taxing as well."

(On difficulty preparing team after tournament letdown)
"I thought it was tough last year as well. I just think both cases are very similar because you felt like you were right there. I think in this case, me as a coach, I felt we were right there more so this year as opposed to last year. I could embrace the fact last year the case was that, okay preseason didn't work out as well but I thought we had some good games. We lost some games in the preseason and had a great schedule, so I felt like this time around we did the things necessary to be in there. Once again you're talking about three straight years in the SEC the second place team doesn't get into the tournament. Then you talk about a team that finished fifth and 11-7 in the league that doesn't get into the tournament."



(On NCAA criteria as moving target)
"I think so, because three years ago Missouri State would've been in the NCAA tournament if it was what it is today. That's part of it, that's why you have to do everything in your power not to allow anybody to make a decision on your future."

(On importance of SEC tournament)
"But it shouldn't be that way, because now you're talking about are we a mid-major league. You're talking about a BCS league and you're saying we have to approach it as if we're a mid-major league. If that's the case, then we need to schedule like mid-major league. Then, maybe we can get eight or nine teams in the tournament.

(Elaboration on scheduling like mid-major team)
"Because what would happen with mid-major teams is they schedule aggressively because they know the best case scenario to get in the NCAA tournament is you have to go play teams. So then maybe we need to go schedule like mid-major teams. Tennessee did. I can't speak for anybody else but at the end of the day, at the rate we're going if we don't get it right in some way shape or form, you're looking at three different new guys every year. I mean something has to give. It's about a league at the end of the day because I wanted with everything in me for Alabama to make the NCAA tournament, Kentucky to make the NCAA tournament. When you get to that point, you're competing as a league not as an individual. I'm not one of those guys who has an ego and wants to see this guy fail. This is a league because what happens when the league is good, everybody is good. Big Ten top teams are good and their bottom teams have success, they even get into the NCAA tournament. That's what it comes down to at the end of the day, we need our league to be good. It's not an ego thing where whoever finishes, you finish first; but there is no way in the world this league with this caliber talent and you're only getting three teams in the NCAA tournament, it shouldn't happen."

(On being angry for not making NCAA tournament)
"No I'm not angry. I mean, I'm upset for our guys because I felt like we did the work. Like I said, last year I wasn't upset. I was hurt for our guys because of the work they put in, but this year is a little bit different. I felt we did the necessary work to be in the NCAA Tournament, so that part is unfortunate. You can't get any better scheduling than we got in the preseason."

(On Team caring about NIT)
"Well I just think it's tough, especially when you're right there. It's different if you had a week off, you knew you were in there, and you can practice and have a little fun with it but when you're right there and feel like you made it as a team, it's emotionally taxing on you. I think last year we might have played on a Tuesday, you got another day to get your head right, so to speak, and get after it. Hopefully we can play some different guys that have some energy and give some guys that haven't played a lot the opportunity to play the game, but it's not easy. We do our jobs as coaches to get our guys ready to play, but you like to think once the ball is tipped, its basketball but it's easier said than done."

(On impact of NIT for next season)
"I don't think so. I think if you can win it... because if you have different guys coming in. You have one of your better players returning, you have guys that will fight, guys that played a lot of minutes that will be fighting for minutes, so you have a lot of factors involved within that. It could, I mean I just all those things within the individual player, and when you want to be good you put the time and put the work in. You know and then ultimately staying away from injuries."



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