U.S. players rave about Cuonzo Martin

Cuonzo Martin

Cuonzo Martin

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins ran the formation from the wing, running to the top of the key before launching a pass to the sideline.

The inside-out play, which runs about six or seven passes, is designed to put up high-percentage shots either from the perimeter or from under the basket. The guards and big men are the essentials in the plan and a simple mistake can make or break the play.

"Next guy up to the top. You're going to pass to him over there. Ready? Let's go!"

Cuonzo Martin neither barks nor screams, he simply says these words in a way comprehensible to the ear. The players stood there, paying close attention as if they were listening to a college professor explaining why a certain concept is important.

With each run through, Martin stops the play and gets in position with the rest of the players. He sees the mistake from the get-go and vows to fix it personally. He goes into the bunch and describes step by step what should happen before, during and after the play.

"You've got to have your spacing. Let's go!" he continues, again without elevating his voice.

About the only thing missing is a classroom setup complete with a chalkboard, seats and tables.

"He does a really good job at teaching and explaining things," said Darius Miller, a Kentucky guard and senior-to-be who made the 12-man USA roster for the World University Games starting Friday in Shenzhen, China. "If you mess up, he'll stop. He does a good job at communicating with the players."

Martin, who was hired as Tennessee's 18th men's basketball coach in March, is fitting into his role as an assistant coach for the U.S.

"I think it is very important for your job as a coach is you have to be sure your guys are prepared to play," said Martin. "The biggest key is to have the guys understand what they have to do in order to be successful. I try to talk to these guys, tell them a few things, quick hitters and make sure they understand what they are trying to do."

The 39-year-old Martin, who coached at Missouri State for the past three seasons, is working primarily with the big men as part of U.S. coach Matt Painter's staff.

The two have ties since their playing days at Purdue in the late 1990s and again when both were assistant coaches under coach Gene Keady. Martin remained an assistant when Painter was promoted to take over the team in 2005.

Painter said he is happy to have Martin on his staff again, especially because he says he considers Martin a great coach and is someone he has a great level of comfort with.

"In general I think he has a great rapport with people and so anytime you're dealing with young people and you're trying to get them to jell as a team, a guy like (Martin) has great communication skills and has a lot of experience," Painter said.

The 20-year-old Jenkins, who is entering his junior season, is really attracted to Martin's unique style and emphasis on character traits, such as leadership.

"He makes sure we talk and that we encourage teammates. He makes sure we are good character guys like helping each other out when somebody falls and all the little things."

Jenkins, who also made the 12-man squad, added that Martin is just one of the guys off the court, but when it comes to on-court time, he will be tough and expect the best.

"The way he coaches is very unique," Jenkins said. "If you mess up, he will tell you what you did wrong and how to fix it. This helps us out a lot and it's been keeping us trying to get better because most coaches don't do it that way. His style is unique and I like it a lot."

Butler coach Brad Stevens, who also is on Painter's staff, acknowledged that he doesn't know Martin very well in head-coaching situations, but admired his knack for getting players to compete hard and communicate well.

"There's no doubt that guys are attracted to him and that they think the world of him. They listen to what he says, they believe him and they feel he's the guy they can go to," Stevens said.

Jenkins described Martin as a player's coach who tries to emulate his style with the players.

"I think the thing is who you are everyday," said Martin. "I don't think I try to be a certain leader or lead a certain way, I just it's who I am. I try to lead by my acts, by examples and my work ethic more than anything and however that rubs off on people it's a good thing. I just try to lead by example."

Ignacio Marquez is a freelance contributor.

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 28

SATCHMOE writes:

Excited for the season I feel he will get it done

MothershipChip writes:

I feel like we ended up with a much better coach than we had before. Bruce was one hell of a recruiter, but his "coaching up" skills lacked massively.

Go Big Orange

richvol writes:

This is great feedback from very good opposing players in the SEC. I never had much faith in Pearl's actual coaching skills as watching his team's discipline during games was lax and at crunch time there was panic. We may have found a real keeper with Martin.

FeelVol writes:

Just glad he's our coach and looking forward with much anticipation to this upcoming year.

TheFuj writes:

Pearl definitely was on stage. He could recruit. Got more out of less talented teams than his talented teams. I think Martin will do good. Just how good remains to be seen. SEC is tough place to learn and gain experience in. Look forward to this season.

iowavol writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Disagree about existing talent. We have talent. We lost a lot of starters, but there is talent on this team. We will see how much CCM can do with it. Recruiting TBD.

Slystone writes:

Perhaps Hamilton did something right before getting canned. Coach Martin has tremendous upside. Pearl was a great marketing coach. He knew in order to win at UT he had to market this team and himself to get the players interested in coming. As others have said his coaching was okay and he had his moments. A new chapter arises from the pile he left behind. If Coach Martin can recruit a few blue chip players this team may surprise folk in a few years.

phippo writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

lot of 3 and 4 star players on his squad, they buy into his way of thinking, ut might not be as exciting in some ways, but won't choke like they did under pearl. i liked pearl he got us on the map, albeit not the right way but i think martin will keep it there. trust me the cupboard is not even close to being bare, things just got moved around a little. i bet ol scotty hopson wishes he was still in the fold.

beartn#223846 writes:

I've like everything Martin has done so far, and I think he will be a good coach for us. I do think the fans need to be patient, since I'm sure we will have some penalties to deal with.

I am surprised at some posts knocking Pearl's coaching ability. Pearl and Mears are by far the two best coaches we've had, towering over whoever is 3rd best. We had a hell of a run with Pearl, until he fell apart after knowingly breaking a rule and trying to cover it up. Hate that it happened, and I hope he gets to coach again.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

I've been laughing at folks on here for bashing Martin since his hiring. Good to hear positive things from people in the know, rather than negative things from people who have no clue. Also good to see a positive article on Martin. It's only taken 30 Bruce Pearl stories to get 1 Cuonzo Martin story...go figure. Hey, we only have to endure 30 more Bruce Pearl stories on here before we get another little nibble of what our CURRENT coach is all about.

PHAT_VOL writes:

in response to MothershipChip:

I feel like we ended up with a much better coach than we had before. Bruce was one hell of a recruiter, but his "coaching up" skills lacked massively.

Go Big Orange

You are Correct!! Coach Pearl needed five quarts of oil for a four quart oil change. Tatum and Woolridge will look totally different. Can't wait to see how this team looks. In the Crystal Ball I see more defense and more on court discipline.
GO VOLS !!

tennrich1 writes:

I know this isnt a "compare Pearl to Martin article" but we seem to forget just what Bruce did with limited talent especially those first years...now I'm happy with Coach Martin but let's not rewrite history here to try and elevate Coach Martin by forgetting the INCREDIBLE wins Bruce had that really opened some eyes.....just trying to keep it honest....Hopefully Coach Martin will prove a dynamic recruiter as well as motivator....

PHAT_VOL writes:

in response to tennrich1:

I know this isnt a "compare Pearl to Martin article" but we seem to forget just what Bruce did with limited talent especially those first years...now I'm happy with Coach Martin but let's not rewrite history here to try and elevate Coach Martin by forgetting the INCREDIBLE wins Bruce had that really opened some eyes.....just trying to keep it honest....Hopefully Coach Martin will prove a dynamic recruiter as well as motivator....

Dynamic recruiter and motivator has been porved.

givehim6 writes:

I have with held judgment on CCM but hearing good things about him from people outside the UT system sounds incurring. CBP liked the control chaos play, I was never a big fan of that. I like Martins teaching way of coaching, think he will do well at UT, GO VOLS!

69grad writes:

Coach Martin or Bobby Knight style?

Give me Martin every day.

GBO!

HtownVol writes:

We as UT fans need to be honest about this situation.

UT is in desperate need of a true Center. Or if a true Center is not what fits CCMs plans we at least need a big man capable of playing in the paint with the 6'11 270 Centers that UT will see.

Kenny Hall is not going to be able to handle those big men. Maymon is listed as the backup #5... I hope for the best but Hall needs to add 20-30 lbs of muscle and Maymon is 6'6.

I like Halls game, if he can get his experience and confidence he has skill, but that wont help when a player with 50 pounds on Hall starts backing him down.

Also, we have no scorer.

Who is the go to scorer? Tatum? He is more off and on than Hopson was (is).
McRae? How many minutes did Mcrae see the floor last season, 15?
Golden did average about 30 per game in High School, I think he must have played against the talent level that Morristwon East offers (6'0 is a big man at East).
Golden was the one player I did not want to take a shot last season. Even lil SP had a better chance of making his ugly YMCA type junk that he put up.
McBee was supposed to be the knock down 3 point shooter and that never came to be.
Woolridge, well I actually think that he does not give a about UT basketball. How did he earn a top 100 recruiting ranking?

I am sorry to be negative. These are my opinions of the flaws this team will face. However, perhaps CCM will be better with less as BP was.

I do think that word will spread about CCM and his relationships with players and UT will see much improved recruiting from here out.

GO VOLS!

HtownVol writes:

in response to simmsagain:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have tried to tell fans many times that UT has so many 4 star players. We are absolutly loaded compared to BPs 1st year.

The only issue is as I listed above.

How did Woolridge get a 4th star?
Tatum is off and on.
Hall is too small for a 5
McRae didnt play much at all last season.
Golden is the last player I want to shoot.
And Maymon is the backup 5 at 6'6.

On paper this UT team looks capable of winning the SEC, but if I am being honest I am not sure that we can stop the true Centers we will face.

GO VOLS

Orangeblood13 writes:

Not sure why we even had a coaching search. We have atleast 10-12 on this board. Good lord, you can't even compare cbp to zo , not yet. And players at this level have to have some talent or they wouldn't be here.

Let the man coach then all you talent scouts have your say.

voloffaith writes:

2 juco big bodies to at least provide a Wendy's moment of "where's the beef?"

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree. Just hope it continues after we've actually played some games.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

lot of experts on the board today. coach has tons of talent to work with. last year means diddly if the coach is talented. plenty of good freshmen come in every year and play well, and they don't have a year of good experience. I expect good things out of Hall, Maymon, Tatum, et al. They have a coach that can get production from them, and it is way more talented than Bruce's first year. IMO

mountainbrook writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Many coaches are better than your boy Kiffin. He had great talent at USC last year but lost a whole lot of games that Pete Carroll would have won. And don't forget that the NCAA isn't through with Lil Laney yet either.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And of course you predicted just what they would do under CBP correct? You sure have brown eyes

RockyTopinAlabubba writes:

in response to FLVOL79:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dooley is a better coach than Kiffin. What has Kiffin ever done to be such a great coach? He recruited thugs,broke rules doing it,and his play calling was real suspect at times. Has no real credentials as a head coach. OVERRATED! I don't think he will have a successful career as a major college football coach. After he tanks usc like he did the vols. Nobody else will want to hire him. Then,he will just become an afterthought in the back of nobody's mind. GO VOLS!

FranklinVol writes:

Class and Character, enough said, Go Vols

budd#207344 writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The raw talent on this team is better than
CBP had for his first year.Whether it develops to play like Lofton and Smith did will tell how good CCM really is

Slystone writes:

Does raves equate to great recruiting and WINS?

Slystone writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Crip I'd agree with the selection you have of outside shooters to grace the orange/white except Greg Bell. I think I would throw Michael Brooks in there instead. When he played they didn't have a 3 point line. But everyone in the SEC knew he was deadly from the perimeter. Not a great defender,not quick, and not atheletic but if you gave him a screen he'd knock it down flat.

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