Nov. 15, 2013
@VOL_HOOPS REPORT: Wisdom from the KingTennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin gathered his team at midcourt prior to Friday's practice at Thompson-Boling Arena. Then, with the team silent and surrounding him, he glanced down holding a folded piece of paper with handwritten notes scrawled in orange ink.
"I talked to some former (Tennessee) players today," Martin told his team. "One of them was Bernard King ... one of the greatest to ever play the game."
Martin went on to share some of the advice and knowledge he gleaned from his conversations with the former Vols before closing with one simple, yet powerful, quote from Hall of Famer King.
"Leaders and great players don't allow bad practices."
Martin led the words sink in before tipping off what was a very spirited and productive two-hour workout.
The Vols' season did not begin as they'd hoped, suffering a tough, four-point loss at Xavier on Tuesday. But practice - when approached with a King-like mentality - provides an opportunity to build, grow and correct mistakes.
The Volunteers look to capitalize on their two practices since the setback when they host USC Upstate Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised regionally on SportSouth, with Randy Smith calling the play-by-play and former UT All-American Bill Justus (1967-69) providing analysis.
The Big Orange own a 24-2 record in home-openers at Thompson-Boling Arena, which opened Dec. 3, 1987. Tennessee's current win streak in home-openers stands at 21.
"It's always good to play at home," Martin said. "The guys love to play at home in front of the fans. We have a great home crowd."
Tickets for Saturday's game can be purchased in person at the UT Ticket Office, via phone by calling 1-800-332-8657 or online at www.UTtix.com.
Fans who bring two new school supplies to be donated to Knox County Schools will receive free admission Saturday. And the first 2,500 fans to arrive will receive a complimentary schedule magnet (doors open at 5:30 p.m. ET).
SCOUTING USC UPSTATE
Founded in 1967 in Spartanburg, S.C., USC Upstate (formerly South Carolina-Spartanburg) has an enrollment of 5,500. The Spartans went 16-17 (9-9 A-Sun) last season and were picked to finish third in Atlantic Sun this season by both the media and the league's coaches.
Head coach Eddie Payne is in his 12th season at USC Upstate. This is his 29th season as a head coach. Payne played at Wake Forest in the early 1970s and has been a head coach at all five levels of college hoops (junior college, NAIA, Division III, II and I).
Spartans junior guard Ty Greene is a Knoxville native who graduated from Bearden High School in 2011 after earning All-State honors. Greene ranked in the top 15 in the Atlantic Sun in six statistical categories as a sophomore last season.
Upstate already defeated a "major" conference opponent on the road this season, beating Virginia Tech 64-63 in Blacksburg Nov. 9.
Tennessee owns an 80-30 all-time record against teams from the Palmetto State.
CAMPUS COMMUNITY LUNCH
The entire full-time Tennessee basketball staff - head coach Cuonzo Martin, associate head coach Tracy Webster, assistant coaches Jon Harris and Kent Williams, director of basketball operations Marco Harris and strength and conditioning coach Nicodemus Christopher - had lunch with UT students Monday at Presidential Court Café.
Martin visited with students, posed for photographs, signed autographs and distributed mini foam basketballs, schedule posters and pocket schedules.
The UT athletic marketing staff also held a drawing for two free courtside seats for Saturday's home-opener vs. USC Upstate.
Friday's lunch was just the latest in what has become a regular occurrence, as Martin and his staff have made several lunch stops at Presidential Court Café and the University Center to interact with the student body and encourage students to make their presence felt at Thompson-Boling Arena on game days.
When Martin met with reporters prior to Friday's practice, he stressed the impact the UT student body can have on a game.
"Our students are very important," Martin said. "We have tremendous fans here - one of the best fan bases in the country. But when you're students are involved, it bodes well for your guys. The guys really look forward to that... just a different level of energy. I think our guys need that."
BUTCH STOPS BYWith the Tennessee football team in the midst of a bye week, Vols football coach Butch Jones stopped by basketball practice Friday with a few of his assistants.
Cuonzo Martin visited with Jones while the basketball team stretched prior to practice.
Jones attended several UT basketball games at Thompson-Boling Arena last season.
For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee basketball program, visit UTsports.com/basketball and follow @Vol_Hoops on Twitter and Instagram.