Sept. 24, 2013
When Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin assembled his basketball staff in the spring of 2011, he aimed to surround himself with well-rounded, high-character assistants who excelled in several areas - player development, mentoring, recruiting, scouting, etc.
In short order, Tracy Webster, Jon Harris and Kent Williams were tabbed as assistant coaches.
Martin knew his Tennessee staff was among the brightest in the country. What he didn't realize at that time, however, was that he had assembled the highest-scoring coaching staff in the entire country.
Now, heading into the 2013-14 season, the Tennessee staff holds that title for the third consecutive year.
Taking into account only the four full-time coaches at a school*, Tennessee's staff combined to score a total of 5,381 points during their respective college careers. Only one other staff in America accounted for more than 5,000 career points (Syracuse, with 5,010).
In his four years at Purdue (1992-95), Martin amassed 1,666 points. Webster, who now holds the title of associate head coach at UT, totaled 1,264 career points while running the point at Wisconsin (1992-94). Jon Harris was a savvy role player at Marquette (1999-2002) who scored 439 points, primarily in the paint. And during a stellar career at Southern Illinois (2000-03) - where he remains the program's second-leading scorer - Kent Williams racked up 2,012 points.
"This staff is full of guys who have been high-level players in Division I basketball," Martin said. "We know what it takes to not only perform at your best on the court but also manage the demands of being a student-athlete."
"I've developed a ton as a player under this coaching staff," UT senior All-American candidate Jordan McRae said. "From coach Martin all the way down - this whole staff has helped me grow my game and improve in several areas. I also feel like they've helped me grow into a better teammate and a better all-around person off the court."
Williams says while many different types of individuals make great coaches, it's no accident Martin put the staff together the way he did.
"I think he likes having guys who have played because we're working with guys on the court," Williams said. "No. 1, it earns the respect of the players. Not that we use it, but we could tell them to go look it up. See what we've done. It's right there in black and white.
"Also, the four of us were different types of players. Some of us were self-made players. Some of us started from day one. Some of us came off the bench and worked our way into the starting rotation. So now when we have relationships with these players, we've been in different spots."
During his playing career at SIU, Williams earned All-Missouri Valley Conference honors in each of his last two seasons and was the only player in program history to lead the team in scoring four straight years. The Salukis advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2002.
Following graduation, Williams spent one season playing in the NBA Developmental League and was the league's top 3-point shooter, both in made baskets and percentage.
"Coach Harris and I are not too far removed from our playing days, so we've got a good feel for what these guys are feeling," Williams said. "The longer you are out of it, the less you maybe know what they are thinking. We're not too far removed. We can talk about guys in the NBA who we played against and who they can relate to."
Harris certainly played with one of the best during his days at Marquette. Paired with future NBA superstar Dwyane Wade for Harris' senior season, the Golden Eagles went 26-7 and finished No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. Harris was a two-year captain and one of the 20 best rebounders in Conference USA history.
He went into coaching the following season at Marquette under Tom Crean, helping his alma mater win the C-USA championship and advance to the Final Four. Harris watched as Wade guided the Golden Eagles past Kentucky in the NCAA regional final with a triple-double of 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
"It's something that is great for us, especially from a recruiting standpoint," Harris said of the staff's success as collegians. "We have guys who have been through the fire. The guys on our current roster and guys we bring in aren't going to go through an experience we haven't seen.
"We're not that far removed from what they're going through. I think we're all approachable guys, easy to communicate with. And we have a good understanding of what they're going through day to day."
Vols senior D'Montre Edwards echoed that sentiment.
"It helps because they've been there," Edwards said. "They know first-hand what it takes to perform well in different situations. That helps them teach us what we need to know during practice, so we can execute correctly during the games."
Harris went on to coach five seasons at Wisconsin-Green Bay before joining Martin's staff at Missouri State and transitioning with Martin to Tennessee.
"Jon played with one of the greatest players in the game in Dwyane Wade, so he really knows what it takes to be a great role player," Martin said. "And because of his effectiveness as a communicator, he can really help our guys understand and accept their roles."
Webster and Martin were Big Ten rivals in the early 1990s, with Martin getting the best of those matchups by a 4-2 margin. Both earned all-conference honors, and Webster - a three-time team captain - still holds the Badgers record for career assists with 501.
They later coached together as assistants at Purdue in 2004. Now, Webster is glad to be reunited with his former playing foe on the Tennessee bench.
"Our leader, coach Martin, he's done an unbelievable job of getting these players close to what he wants," Webster said. "Before it's all over with, these guys will be like a tight fist. That's what it's going to take.
"It's not just because we played, but we've been through it. Now we continue finding ways to explain it and get it across to them, 'Look, this is how it needs to be done.'"
Other coaching stops for Webster in addition to Purdue included Ball State, Illinois, two seasons at Kentucky, DePaul - including a stint as interim head coach - and Nebraska. In all, Webster owns 10 seasons of high-major Division I coaching experience, with four NCAA tournament berths and one Final Four appearance (Illinois, 2007) to his credit.
Martin not only was a dominant player in college, he also reached the sport's pinnacle, suiting up in the NBA.
Before he heard his name called on NBA Draft day, however, he led Purdue to a 90-37 record during his four-year career and a combined 54-12 mark his last two seasons. During Martin's senior year, he averaged 18.4 points while leading the Boilermakers to the second of three consecutive Big Ten championships.
After his first two years at Purdue, Martin was 0-for-7 from 3-point range. But by the time his career was over, he held the school's all-time record for 3-pointers made, with 179.
On March 24, 1994, Martin set the Purdue school record for 3-pointers made, with eight in an NCAA Sweet Sixteen win over Kansas. That mark - ironically set at UT's Thompson-Boling Arena - still stands.
Martin went on to play four seasons of professional basketball, including brief stays with the Milwaukee Bucks and Vancouver Grizzlies, before a bout with cancer ended his playing career.
Research conducted this summer by the Tennessee Athletic Media Relations staff, including a survey of Division I men's basketball SIDs, led to the compilation of the following list of top-scoring staffs for 2013-14:
Rank Staff Points
*Includes point scored at Division I institutions only; includes current full-time "coaches" only (no support staff, directors of operations, etc.)
Tennessee - 5,381
HC Cuonzo Martin (Purdue) - 1,666; Tracy Webster (Wisconsin) - 1,264; Jon Harris (Marquette) - 439; Kent Williams (Southern Illinois) - 2,012
Syracuse - 5,010
HC Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) - 745; Mike Hopkins (Syracuse) - 628; Adrian Autry (Syracuse) - 1,538; Gerry McNamara (Syracuse) - 2,099
Tulsa - 4,724
HC Danny Manning (Kansas) - 2,951; Brett Ballard (Kansas) - 59; Steve Woodberry (Kansas) - 1,240; Wendell Moore (Ga. Southern) - 474
Auburn - 4,373
HC Tony Barbee (UMass) - 1,643; Tony Madlock (Memphis) - 894; Milt Wagner (Louisville) - 1,836
Valparaiso - 4,211
HC Bryce Drew (Valparaiso) - 2,142; Roger Powell Jr. (Illinois) - 1,178; Matt Lottich (Stanford) - 891
TCU - 4,063
HC Trent Johnson (Boise State) - 1,555; Donny Guerinoni (Nevada) - 197; Brent Scott (Rice) - 1,906; Kwanza Johnson (Tulsa) - 405
Duke - 3,830
HC Mike Krzyzewski (Army) - 426; Steve Wojciehowski (Duke) - 687; Jeff Capel (Duke) - 1,601; Nate James (Duke) - 1,116
East Carolina - 3,712
HC Jeff Lebo (North Carolina) - 1,567; Michael Perry (Richmond) - 2,145
Detroit - 3,549
HC Ray McCallum (Ball State) - 2,109; Steve Payne (Ball State) - 1,440
Colgate - 3,397
HC Matt Langel (Penn) - 1,191; Mike Jordan (Penn) - 1,604; Dave Klatsky (Penn) - 602