Martin: 'It's an honor' to open Maui Classic against Duke

The Tennessee men's basketball schedule has gone from difficult to downright daunting.

The Vols, who must replace four starters under first-year coach Cuonzo Martin, open the EA Sports Maui Invitational in Hawaii on Nov. 21 against national powerhouse Duke.

It will be Tennessee's first meeting with the Blue Devils in more than 30 years. The Vols beat Duke in the teams' most recent meeting, 90-69, on Dec. 29, 1980, in the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans. The series is tied at 7-7.

Depending on how UT does against the Blue Devils, it will meet either Michigan or Memphis on Nov. 22, according to the tournament schedule. All eight teams at the Maui Invitational will conclude the tournament with games on Nov. 23.

"It's an honor to play against one of the best coaches in the history of the game, and we're excited about that opportunity,'' Martin said about the matchup against Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski. "As a player, you couldn't ask for better opportunities than our schedule presents.''

As part of the Maui Invitational, UT will play UNC Greensboro on Nov. 11. That game will be played in Thompson-Boling Arena and serve as the Vols' regular-season opener.

The UT schedule also includes non-conference games at home against defending national champion Connecticut (Jan. 21) and Big East heavyweight Pittsburgh (Dec. 3), and road games at dangerous mid-major conference opponents Memphis, College of Charleston and Oakland (Mich).

UT's SEC schedule doesn't offer much relief; the Vols play home-and-away series with fellow SEC Eastern Division members Florida, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, all of which have been projected as top-15 teams in the offseason polls. UT's SEC Western Division road opponents are Mississippi State, Alabama and LSU.

"This is one of those schedules where there are no nights off, and that should provide a high level of focus for our players in our preparations,'' said Martin, who is in Colorado Springs, Colo., serving as an assistant coach with the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team. "It's hard to imagine a more challenging schedule.''

Tennessee's strength of schedule ranked as the second most difficult in the nation last season according to RealTimeRpi.com and has ranked among the top six in the nation five of the past six seasons, including No. 1 in 2008 when the Vols finished the regular season as the No. 1 team in the RPI rankings.

There's a good chance Tennessee's schedule will rank in the top five this season once again, provided the majority of the preseason projections prove accurate.

The SEC doesn't typically release its schedule until all of the games have been finalized, usually by mid-August.

Other non-conference game dates that have been released are: at Oakland (Nov. 28), home vs. Pitt (Dec. 3), home vs. East Tennessee State (Dec. 23) and home vs. Connecticut (Jan. 21).

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball and can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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Comments » 54

FiftyOne writes:

You get better by playing the best there is to play. Got get em VOLS.

Volunatic writes:

Piece of cake. The Cuonzo Martin Era will begin with a statement win against a traditional basketball power. Good stuff.
GO VOLS!!!

kjneel#238751 writes:

No fear. You get to be the best by playing the best. I would rather play Duke and learn over beating a patsy to death and get arrogant. GREAT Schedules inspires Great Play. Bring them ALL on!

GreerVol22 writes:

Makes great announcer fodder for ESPN. I promise you they mention Pearl 5 to 1 over Martin when it airs.

TheFuj writes:

ESPN will put the whole Pearl timeline within the first 5 minutes of air time. Timeline meaning bar b que to termination--not his career.

Vols1998 writes:

Cool! time to make plans to the islands!

GBO!!

kevin151 writes:

could lose by 40 with this team

OrangeDew writes:

in response to TheFuj:

ESPN will put the whole Pearl timeline within the first 5 minutes of air time. Timeline meaning bar b que to termination--not his career.

To date, that time frame is the defining moment of his career. It cannot be swept under the rug.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

I don't guess there's any way Mike Hamilton can come back and buy us out of this game. I would much rather see the football team play North Carolina then to see the basketball team open up with Duke.

Volunatic writes:

in response to RockyTopRenegade:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good work, sir.

Jamey1210 writes:

Pearl will have his first commentary game of the season for ESPN. LOL

Chris4Vols22 writes:

I'm glad we have Zo for such a tough tournament. I have more faith in his strategy and game-planning than Bruce's. Should be a great primer for the rest of the season. Some tough games to start out with may be exactly what our boys need. GO VOLS!!

hickoryvol writes:

Lovin it!
GBO

born2ride writes:

Martin will get clobbered against Coach K.

Sauce writes:

I have hated Duke since 1989 when I got into it with a bunch Duke fans at the NCAA tournament in Greensboro. We were losing to W.Virginia and they were making fun of how bad we were while they were doing there homework during our game. I hated AD Woodruff for scheduling his Buddy Spurrier against UT in Football. I had waited 21 years for our shot at Duke this spring and Hamilton blind-sided Pearl & the team before the Michigan game. Now, out of nowhere, we draw Duke in Maui??.... No Pearl, No Tobias, No chanc---Wait, I refuse to give in - Go Coach Martin - GIVE 'EM ALL YOU GOT!

MothershipChip writes:

Go Vols beat Coach K!!!!

stumpyb writes:

all this is, is a basketball game. Wheter we win or lose the sun will come up the next day.

MikeInTN writes:

This year could get ugly quick!!! Da*n, I hope I'm wrong!!!

VOLsince68 writes:

in response to OrangeDew:

To date, that time frame is the defining moment of his career. It cannot be swept under the rug.

No it can't, but it was NOT the defining moment in his career. That was just bad judgement. Six straight NCAA appearances for the VOLS is the defining moment in his career.

GO VOLS!!!!!

knsrag writes:

Jimmy the Cheek will get air time on the Sport Mammal before the Duke game and announce that Coach Martin will be fired at season end.

Noogaorange writes:

in response to Chris4Vols22:

I'm glad we have Zo for such a tough tournament. I have more faith in his strategy and game-planning than Bruce's. Should be a great primer for the rest of the season. Some tough games to start out with may be exactly what our boys need. GO VOLS!!

What? You have more confidence in Martins' game planing than Bruce's. What do you know about his game planning? When Martin's record comes close to Bruce's with the Vols maybe then your comment will make some sense....but I doubt it! Not much chance the Vols will be going to 6 straight NCAA's anytime soon. But we can all hope. GBO

tennrich1 writes:

in response to kevin151:

could lose by 40 with this team

Could. May win. Truth is we don't know. I remember a time when we played a pretty good Texas team that was too beat us by....say 40 points...and we shocked the baskeball world...do I think this will happen here? Probably not....we could lose by 40 points..but then again...okay you get the point...

Outdated writes:

Strength of schedule is important at the end of the season..who knows what can happen if our team comes together like I think they will..we have more talent than some are giving credit..I think Martin has a staff that will get the most from our players..Pearl came and is gone..a big win would help ESPN shut up about it...

digthevols writes:

Yoohoo! Hopefully we'll get to see some Coach K NCAA sponsored commercials on how he builds great humans. Ask Gail Goestenkors how he TREATS humans. He's a fake and the Jim Tressel of college basketball.

MikeTheTiger writes:

RutRoo Scooby!

A_Voice_ofReason writes:

This team will be fortunate to be .500 this year. Too bad that won't happen. I told you all for 2 years where your savior Pearl would get this program...I hope it was worth it sheep.

VolInIndy writes:

in response to digthevols:

Yoohoo! Hopefully we'll get to see some Coach K NCAA sponsored commercials on how he builds great humans. Ask Gail Goestenkors how he TREATS humans. He's a fake and the Jim Tressel of college basketball.

+10

A_Voice_ofReason writes:

in response to kevin151:

could lose by 40 with this team

Nice to see someone actually making a realistic comment for a change.

Pass the Kool-Aid!

VolInIndy writes:

in response to MikeTheTiger:

RutRoo Scooby!

Glad to see you recognize the tigers' fate in this tournament

mocsandvolsfan writes:

A win against Duke would make the whole season for me. I can't think of any team I'd rather beat. Ok ok Kentucky yes...uhh ok maybe North Carolina...and Ohio State. I don't especially like USC or UCLA...I also HATE UCONN. BEAT 'em ALL!!! How many wins can we get ?32?

dvols writes:

still get to go to maui........

Outdated writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I felt like TN did not do a good job setting screens and getting good shots for their shooters this past year..I think we have shooters if they get a good look..we were too easy to defend this past year ..I hope this improves..I hope Hall steps up inside..I can understand your voice of reason..I just hope for the best...

FeelVol writes:

A class act by Coach Martin of giving Coach K his due respect,Cuonzo will get it done at UT hope the older guys will buy in and put forth the effort this year.

UTKin1992 writes:

Cuonzo.

Cuonzo.

We are SO screwed.

brokebackvol writes:

In all honesty, even though the Vols are probably going to have a really tough year, playing all these tough teams will pay off with exposure and recruiting if Coach Martin can make hay while the sun shines.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You worry about how many 30 point blowouts your football team will suffer this year. I guarantee it will be more than our basketball team.

brod writes:

i don't see how this happened. i would think that tennessee would be paired against michigan or someone else. if they can win one game in this tournament, that would be a good thing. excluding chaminade of course.

KevDVol writes:

Now would be a good time to start REALLY cheating. Not some stupid BBQ.....I mean Cam Newton game changer type stuff (allegedly).

Just kidding NCAA. Seriously, just kidding.

41_14gbo writes:

in response to kevin151:

could lose by 40 with this team

I doubt that kevin. This team will be built on grit and heart, just like BP's first teams, remember those teams? Had no talent, but banded together to win. Teams to be proud of. Then BP started signing talented players with no heart and the circus began. No circus with Coach Martin, just grit, heart, defense and good shot selection. Hey, wait a minute...sounds like Lofton's team.

PHAT_VOL writes:

What gets lost in all this is Coach Martins class. Cause he is a class act all the way. In the long run U.T. will be the winners here. How old is Coach K? You get better by playing better teams. Pearl new this and its know secret. Also our exposure will attract better recruits. And for all those who ragged on Scotty Hobson where are you now? Look for Tatum and Woolridge to be totally different players. The defense will be cranked up several notches. Trust me on this we will be totally shocked with coach Martins system. In a possitive way.! With that said I really dont think the NCAA is gonna hert us all that much. With the cancer of Pearl and Hammilton being gone. One who cant waite for Round Ball Season and the Martin era to start.
GO VOLS !!

hueypilot writes:

I think if Martin could bring his little Mo St team to TBA last year and stay within a half dozen of the Vols who would beat Pitt within a week or so, then he'll be fine playing Duke in a pre season tourney. I think his teams will play tough defense, take care of the ball, and be more disciplined that Bruce's teams. As successful? Doubt it this year, but give the man a chance to see what he can do.

Bigger_Al writes:

Schedule looks like a lot of fun. Play the best and see if you can get some marquis wins. Remember in Pearl's first season, we didn't expect much but we overachieved.

Orangeblood13 writes:

it will be close, till tip off

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to 41_14gbo:

I doubt that kevin. This team will be built on grit and heart, just like BP's first teams, remember those teams? Had no talent, but banded together to win. Teams to be proud of. Then BP started signing talented players with no heart and the circus began. No circus with Coach Martin, just grit, heart, defense and good shot selection. Hey, wait a minute...sounds like Lofton's team.

i agree, but we dont have a shooter on this team as we did in Lofton

KevDVol writes:

Chaminade 2!!

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to UTKin1992:

Cuonzo.

Cuonzo.

We are SO screwed.

What a whiner! Stop being a little girl and cheer for your team!

nwcs writes:

What I think is an encouraging sign is that Martin isn't afraid of Duke but looking to take them on. I don't expect we will win but if the team has the attitude to bring it to the best teams out there then maybe we'll finally start seeing the enthusiasm and consistency that leads to quality wins and thus quality recruits.

dcap8424 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This is the opening game for the Maui Invitational, not the season opener. There aren't going to be back to back blowouts.

Do they not teach reading comprehension at Vandy anymore? Not that I can say much. Most of the other people on this board seem to think this is the season opener as well.

bigdisbig writes:

I just hope Cuonzoball won't be like Buzzball.

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