Vols' seniors honored at private banquet

Martin, Hamilton pay 'proper respects'

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin calls to Cameron Tatum, foreground, during a workout in Pratt Pavilion on campus Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin calls to Cameron Tatum, foreground, during a workout in Pratt Pavilion on campus Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

Cuonzo Martin is moving forward as coach of the Tennessee men's basketball program, but Martin wasn't beyond setting aside a night to honor the past.

The Vols held a private team banquet Thursday night for the players and their families.

"It was important to honor the seniors because they did some great things representing the program,'' Martin said. "Coach (Bruce) Pearl did great things, too; his teams went to six straight NCAA tournaments and were exciting and fun to watch.''

Tennessee's six consecutive NCAA appearances are a school record, and the Vols peaked at No. 7 in the national rankings in December en route to a 19-15 record.

The UT administration did not invite the previous coaching staff to the banquet, nor was the media welcome as it had been in previous years. UT associate athletic director for communications Jimmy Stanton was reached but did not provide comments on the banquet.

Attempts to reach athletic director Mike Hamilton were unsuccessful. When reached, Pearl declined comment.

Tom Satkowiak, UT associate sports information director for men's basketball, issued the following statement to the News Sentinel on Friday: "The basketball banquet this season was a private event for the student-athletes, their families and team staff.''

Senior John Fields said the event went well despite the somewhat awkward circumstances.

"Coach Cuonzo and Mike Hamilton paid the proper respects to Coach Pearl and the seniors, but at the same time they made it clear Coach Cuonzo is coming in here with a strong vision for the future,'' Fields said Friday. "It was good to see Steven Pearl there and see he was OK with everything and understood there was no ill will.''

Junior All-SEC shooting guard Scotty Hopson was en route to an NBA team workout and did not attend the banquet.

Still, Fields said, Martin made sure it was a special night for the players in attendance.

"I'll always love Coach Pearl and his staff, and I feel those same feelings when I'm around Coach Cuonzo's staff now,'' Fields said. "They have been very helpful, and it was nice to hear Coach Cuonzo say he appreciated the seniors.

"It may be the last time that team is in the same room together, but we'll always have a bond, and I left there last night with a good feeling.''

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Comments » 7

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I will miss these young men helping the Vols. GBO

FeelVol writes:

I believe it's time for us all to move forward.

VOLDoll writes:

After having to endure playing for Bruce Pearl for four years these young men should have been given the keys to the city.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

fakevolsfans everywhere

carbonzip writes:

Come back and finish what you started, Scotty. Good luck either way.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Come back and finish what you started, Scotty. Good luck either way.

We need a like button instead of all this reply stuff. btw like your post.

dlukinbeck writes:

Agreed as well. So what if scotty goes up/down sometimes. The majority of the time he's "up" and our teams leading scorer. Would be awesome for him to come back and rep it hard as a senior and finish on a bright side. Because with the end of his season in combo with our sourpuss fanbase, he can turn it so he leaves on a good note.

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