Cuonzo Martin Press Luncheon Transcript

Dec. 12, 2011

Opening statement
"College of Charleston is playing well. They are 7-1, although I don't think they've played in a week. Their point guard is coming off a career high 25 points. They did a really good job in their last game of scoring the ball against Chattanooga. Their big guy, (Antwaine) Wiggins, is from the state of Tennessee and playing well for them as a No. 4 man, inside-outside guy. They are forcing about 15 turnovers a game, which is pretty good for those guys. It's really a five-man, motion-type offense with ball screens and a lot of body movement. Their guards do a good job of penetrating and getting into the lane.

"Jeronne (Maymon) is playing well again. I think he's leading the league in field goal percentage at 59 percent, which is impressive. I thought he did a good job in the past week of workouts of really concentrating and making his layups in traffic with bodies around, so that was great to see.

"Kenny (Hall) had another double-figure rebounding night, which is a good sign. He's gaining more confidence on the offensive side of the ball. The most impressive thing about him in the last game is he did a good job of chasing rebounds. He had seven offensive rebounds, which is impressive for him and we are excited about that.

On Charleston's Antwaine Wiggins
"He's a guy who can put the ball on the floor. (He) slashes and has a good frame on him. He's got a small-forward type body, a small-forward, power-forward guy who can play inside-outside, pick-and-pop, attacks off the dribble, posts up a little bit. Just a good all-around player."

On Charleston's defensive tactics
"They might run at you a little bit with a press - not really pressing the whole game but they will do it in spurts. Really, they play man-to-man, getting out in the passing lanes, getting steals, switching ball-screens - different activities like that."



On the team's mindset since Saturday
"For me, it was a loss. Not necessarily a bad loss, but we lost a ballgame. I always tell the guys, `You take the same approach, no matter the opponent.' We never talk about a team's record or that sort of thing. We talk about how we approach the game. I've said it before - we don't have the luxury as a team to go through the motions and get wins. We have to be clicking on all cylinders on both ends of the floor and competing at a high level. I think that was the biggest key.

"For me, it was a loss. I don't put one above the other. You prepare to win a game and we came up short.

On being disappointed in the defense
"I think so. When you watch the film, we give up a lot of points off turnovers. When we break the film down - the Pitt game, the Oakland game - there are a lot of breakdowns where opponents are scoring. When we're solid, I think we are fine. We're really fun to watch when we're solid, but there are a lot of breakdowns.

"Offensive rebounding - you go down the shot clock, 5-4-3, and all of a sudden they get a basket. You work too hard to give up a key offensive rebound, although that wasn't necessarily the case this last game. We just have to be consistent, with every guy consistently carrying out those assignments from start to finish."

On the defensive difference between the Pittsburgh and Austin Peay games
"It more focus than anything. We have guys right now who are built to be offensive players. Whether they are good, average or great offensive players, they are built to be that. Now they have to understand that in order for us to have long-term success, or high-level success, everybody has to defend. You have to do your part.

"We have proven you can score points, but you have to be able to defend in order for us to be successful as a team."

On Trae Golden's progress at point guard
"He's learning at a high level against pressure situations. The best thing for him, and it's the toughest thing right now to go through, is pressure - guys who are really pressuring him. You still have to be able to run the team. You have to go get the ball and run the offense as a point guard. You have to demand the ball. I don't know many teams that can execute offense without their point guard setting it up and running the team. So he has to take the pressure and embrace the pressure, but also play well on both ends of the floor. My gauge once again is not necessarily how he's performing offensively - whether he's making or missing shots - but it's how he's defending, how he's rebounding, how he's boxing out, how he's carrying out those assignments, how he's fighting through ball screens."

On if Golden is affected by how he is shooting
"I think so, because he's a guy who's built to score the ball and shoot the ball at a high level. But in order for him to be successful in this program at a high level, he has to be able to defend - especially as a point guard. You have to be able to defend your position, because everything flows through that guy."

On repetition as a coaching style
"I don't necessarily coach with an iron fist because after a while, that wears down. You have to have guys who understand what you're trying to do and the level you're trying to do it, and make them comprehend the information. Because it's one thing to get a guy to embrace what you're saying - it's long-term - as opposed to a guy doing it because you have your foot on his throat, so to speak. I think there's a big difference. When guys understand what's at stake, how to watch film and how to study film, then you have long-term success. Then it's passed down because it's the way you do things. I think that's the biggest key - just watching film and making guys understand it. You can learn a lot of lessons through watching film."

On Bobby Cremins
"I know he's been doing it for a long time, I think over 30-plus years, and had long-term success. I watched his teams a lot when he was at Georgia Tech and was a big fan of those teams."

On the environment in smaller gyms, with loud crowds near the floor
"For me, it's a fun thing and I look forward to it as a coach. Even as a player, I would look forward to that. It's a matter of our players embracing that opportunity, which is a great atmosphere to be part of. It's an exciting time. There's nothing better than shutting up opposing teams with your preparation, your focus. And you do that by playing great defense."

On if the backdrop of smaller gyms affects shooters
"For me, it didn't when I was a player. I remember going into Butler, Ball State and those arenas - I felt like it was a great atmosphere more than anything. I guess early in my career I wasn't such a shooter, so it didn't bother me how the backdrop was. You just look forward to competing at that level in an opposing team's gym and finding ways to get wins. That's the most impressive thing for me, just getting a road win. I've said it before - there's nothing better than getting a win on the road."

On bench production
"They do things in spurts. We talk about that, being consistent on the bench and coming in ready. Whether or not they are scoring - we can put points on the board. As long as they are ready and in tune to what's going on defensively, not turning the ball over, then I'm fine with that. We cannot be scoring the ball and be breaking down defensively. That's a problem; that's when you have issues. But if they are playing aggressive basketball, they are moving the ball, they are cutting hard, they are playing well offensively - whether or not they are making or missing shots - they can't give up anything defensively."

On changes to the lineup or rotation
"I don't know. You look at every scenario. For us, we have to have a defensive mindset, and I don't know that we necessarily have that right now. Guys are working toward becoming better defenders. But once again more than anything, it's just personal pride when you're playing defense and wanting to be a good defender, and not thinking you can outscore the opponents. We've tried that and it hasn't worked. In order for us to be successful, we have to defend.

"You weigh all your options and we're definitely looking into it as we speak."

On Kenny Hall's progress
"He's done a really good job. For Kenny, he understands and he wants to be good now. For any player, you have to believe in something before you want to do it full-throttle. That's with any young man. Kenny, going through it, now sees the results behind his hard work. And that's the bottom line. He's really bought in. Back-to-back double-figure rebounding nights for him and we expect him to do that consistently.

"But the most impressive thing in the last game was he rebounded the ball physically. A couple of times on film, they boxed him out and he went and got rebounds. He kept the ball high and was able to finish around the basket. That's a great sign to see that he and Jeronne (Maymon) are playing well. Now we have to get everybody clicking on all cylinders."

On not getting the ball inside enough
"It's a combination of posting strong, wanting the ball. The one thing we talked to Kenny about, and even Jeronne, was they have to demand the ball in the blocks. And it's not to say the guards are selfish, but you have to demand the ball in the blocks. But once again, I always go back to the defensive side of the ball. When you demand it on offense, you have to give it up on the other side because it's a fair tradeoff. You have to demand a high level of boxing out, rebounding and ball-screen defense as well. We just don't talk about it on one end; it's on both ends of the floor."

On who is getting close to an acceptable defensive level
"Our big guys are possibly there, right now; they are getting there. Cam Tatum is doing a good job. He's really taking pride in defending; you can see his approach in practice. It's just a matter of doing it. I never thought defense would be that difficult. It's just heart and desire, bottom line. You can take the technique out the door. `I'm stopping my guy' - that's what it comes down to. It's a matter of wanting to be a good defender, because it's not difficult. At least I didn't think so."

On the team's best perimeter defender
"It's between Cam and Josh (Richardson). Josh has to be a great defender, but he's still young and learning to find his way. Cam has really stepped up and taken pride in defending."

On guards realizing that the inside players are scoring
"When you are consumed with team success, you would know those things. With guys open, you feed them and you continue to feed them. But on the other side of that, the good thing and the bad thing about Kenny and Jeronne is they don't demand the ball. Those guys just go about their business. They work hard, they don't make a lot of excuses, they don't complain about it.

"I told those guys, sometimes, you have to say, `Give me the ball.' So I think that's a two-way street. It's the guards recognizing it but also those guys demanding the ball."

On having just one senior being a deficiency at the end of tight games
"More than anything, you have a team that's going through the fire, an inexperienced team that's finding its way. For us as a coaching staff, sometimes we sit there and say, `Who do we go to? Who's feeling good? Who's confident enough to take this shot, to execute a play?' Young guys can make plays; that's not the case at all. It's just a matter of these guys playing with each other more than it being youth. As a coach, you try to figure out the best guy to put the ball in his hands to try and make a play.

"Thank you."



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