Nov. 27, 2013
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas - Despite light rain and overcast conditions, the Tennessee basketball team settled into its surroundings at Atlantis Resort Wednesday.
The Volunteers' arrival Tuesday night was delayed several hours, but the team charter finally did touch down in The Bahamas around 10 p.m. ET.
After a team breakfast Wednesday, Tennessee's staff and players had most of the morning and early afternoon to explore Atlantis.
Head coach Cuonzo Martin and seniors Jeronne Maymon and Jordan McRae attended a pre-tournament press conference before the team conducted a one-hour shootaround at Imperial Arena - where the Vols will face UTEP Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network).
"We're blessed to be here," Martin said during the press conference. "It's a tremendous honor to be in a beautiful place like this, to be able to play basketball - the game you love to play - and have an opportunity to be here. We really appreciate that opportunity, but the task at hand is winning."
Maymon concurred, while also stressing that the Vols are locked in on their preparations for UTEP.
"It's always good to experience new things, new environments," Maymon said. "There are a lot of good teams in this tournament. I think with such good teams in here, every game has to be `one game at a time.'"
After the shootaround in the tournament venue, the Vols moved to a nearby, on-property practice court for another practice session as they prepare for three games in three days.
Tennessee freshman A.J. Davis is one of several Vols who have made previous trips to Atlantis - joining fellow freshman Robert Hubbs III and senior Antonio Barton (who played in last year's Battle 4 Atlantis with Memphis).
When Davis was very young (around 8-years-old), he came to Atlantis with his family. His father, Antonio Davis, played in the NBA, and the Davis family was enjoying Atlantis in the company of several other NBA players, including All-Stars Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen.
One day when A.J. Davis was playing in the pool, he decided to sneak up on Ray Allen and surprise him. When A.J. Davis sprung up out of the water, he inadvertently smashed into Allen's face, giving Allen a bloody nose right there in the pool.
A.J. Davis explained Wednesday that, long before he became a Tennessee Volunteer, he's been a "Tougher Breed."