Cuonzo Martin returns with a clean slate

Martin

Martin

Cuonzo Martin was in the midst of a 24½-hour travel day that spanned 12 time zones when the NCAA released its infractions report to the University of Tennessee on Tuesday.

"The text messages and phone calls were coming at different times,'' said Martin, who took over a program filled with uncertainty when he was hired as Tennessee's new men's basketball coach on March 27. "I just knew we were OK when I heard there wasn't going to be a postseason ban.''

Martin, who had been in China for almost two weeks serving as an assistant coach on the U.S. men's junior national team at the World University Games, hasn't wasted any time getting back to work since returning to Knoxville at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"I've been on the phones with recruits and in meetings with our staff members and players,'' said Martin, who opens fall individual workouts today in Pratt Pavilion. "I think the recruits' biggest concern was a potential postseason ban, and that was the biggest thing we were hoping to avoid.

"Everything else, you have a chance of overcoming, but that's hard for a young high school player to overcome.''

Martin said many recruits called the basketball office after hearing the news that the NCAA was accepting UT's self-imposed penalties and not issuing any additional sanctions on the program.

"I think we came out as good as we possibly could in a situation like this,'' Martin said. "I think prospects are more at ease making decisions; guys who liked Tennessee now like Tennessee even more.''

Martin has yet to get a verbal commitment in the Class of 2012, but he indicated that it might just be a matter of time now that the black cloud of the NCAA investigation has finally left Knoxville.

"We've always done our part in being aggressive in our recruiting, but we understand that this has been a wait-and-see deal for parents and recruits,'' Martin said. "For us, it's about finding the right guys to fit what we want to do.''

Martin said the Vols' recruiting emphasis will be on size and length. UT front line this season appears smallish relative to the rest of the SEC.

Still, Martin is anxious to make the most of what the Vols currently have to work with, and that will begin with the start of the fall's workouts.

"These guys are hungry and they are excited about the start of workouts,'' Martin said. "They are coming in with a chip on their shoulders from the standpoint they want to prove people wrong. That's good, because they'll have that added incentive and focus.''

Martin said the next three workouts — today, Saturday and Sunday — will have the team broken down into groups of four.

"We will introduce the defensive DNA of what we do, and it will be more of terminology and teaching what we expect, as far as defending different things,'' he said. "On Monday, we'll break it down into groups of two with situations of high intensity and skill work on the offensive side of the ball.''

Martin has a blueprint for what he would like to do, but he admits that much is still to be determined as he learns the strengths and weaknesses of his new team.

"Coaching over there (China) was good because it reminds you of things you can't and shouldn't take for granted,'' Martin said. "I think the thing I take away from it is to emphasize what you do and believe in it and stick with it.

"But I don't know our team strength yet, and I won't know for sure until we get into live situations in the 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 drills,'' Martin said, referring to the start of team individual workouts in September. "I just know we're all ready to get to work and move forward.''

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

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Comments » 14

mattnchatt writes:

Fresh start for coach Martin and I believe he will make the most of his opportunity. Go Vols!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

The fresh start begins when the Bruce Pearl/KNS love fest ends.

BruisedOrange writes:

After reading what the U.S. players were saying about Coach 'Zo...
and now the program emerging from the NCAA's circumspection a little tarnished but unstained (stains don't come out--tarnish can be removed with hard work)...
I'm ready to conclude we've got the right man AND the right circumstances to build a championship-contending program that Vol fans can be proud of year 'round and for a long time.

I can tolerate a losing season in football or basketball, but I'm sick and tired of being ashamed over character issues!

How many other school nicknames actually are a statement of character? All those animal-named teams only imply totem characteristics, not character. To be a Volunteer is special. And as fans we need to insist on that.

Noogaorange writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

After reading what the U.S. players were saying about Coach 'Zo...
and now the program emerging from the NCAA's circumspection a little tarnished but unstained (stains don't come out--tarnish can be removed with hard work)...
I'm ready to conclude we've got the right man AND the right circumstances to build a championship-contending program that Vol fans can be proud of year 'round and for a long time.

I can tolerate a losing season in football or basketball, but I'm sick and tired of being ashamed over character issues!

How many other school nicknames actually are a statement of character? All those animal-named teams only imply totem characteristics, not character. To be a Volunteer is special. And as fans we need to insist on that.

Amen Bruised Orange. It's very special to be a Volunteer!!! GBO

scvols writes:

Lets beat all odds and go back to the big dance.

tennrich1 writes:

Hopefully coach knows about recruits that were waiting to see and now can come in and make an impact....that will be the deciding factor for CCM...can he recruit well enough in the SEC to win games night in and night out...of course...I don't know, you don't know, no one knows yet because recruiting to Tennessee will be different than recruiting to Missouri State...no slight intended...

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

After reading what the U.S. players were saying about Coach 'Zo...
and now the program emerging from the NCAA's circumspection a little tarnished but unstained (stains don't come out--tarnish can be removed with hard work)...
I'm ready to conclude we've got the right man AND the right circumstances to build a championship-contending program that Vol fans can be proud of year 'round and for a long time.

I can tolerate a losing season in football or basketball, but I'm sick and tired of being ashamed over character issues!

How many other school nicknames actually are a statement of character? All those animal-named teams only imply totem characteristics, not character. To be a Volunteer is special. And as fans we need to insist on that.

+1

The past three years have been the worst three years I can remember.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Hopefully coach knows about recruits that were waiting to see and now can come in and make an impact....that will be the deciding factor for CCM...can he recruit well enough in the SEC to win games night in and night out...of course...I don't know, you don't know, no one knows yet because recruiting to Tennessee will be different than recruiting to Missouri State...no slight intended...

Great point Tn$$$one.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

After reading what the U.S. players were saying about Coach 'Zo...
and now the program emerging from the NCAA's circumspection a little tarnished but unstained (stains don't come out--tarnish can be removed with hard work)...
I'm ready to conclude we've got the right man AND the right circumstances to build a championship-contending program that Vol fans can be proud of year 'round and for a long time.

I can tolerate a losing season in football or basketball, but I'm sick and tired of being ashamed over character issues!

How many other school nicknames actually are a statement of character? All those animal-named teams only imply totem characteristics, not character. To be a Volunteer is special. And as fans we need to insist on that.

Great post; agree with all.

gatorstomper writes:

I'm glad CCM is not behind the 8 ball any more for what Bruce Pearl did; but the length of the investigation has had to hurt. Every time I turned on a certain network that is all I heard about.... Oh well no more penalties for our beloved ORANGE guess I should quit whining and say GO BIG ORANGE!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

What!? NCAA? Don't know what you mean. BBQ? Bruce who?
Hey let's get going and have some intensity in practices! Have fun too.

Prostar writes:

Plan your work and work your plan. I expect this team to play hard the entire game. I like Coach Zo.

IndyVolFan writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Hopefully coach knows about recruits that were waiting to see and now can come in and make an impact....that will be the deciding factor for CCM...can he recruit well enough in the SEC to win games night in and night out...of course...I don't know, you don't know, no one knows yet because recruiting to Tennessee will be different than recruiting to Missouri State...no slight intended...

He recruited pretty darned well at Purdue, which I hate to say has a better basketball history than UT. I live up here and the Purdue alums wanted Zo when they thought they were losing Painter this year. That's a good enough endorsement for me.

utvolfan writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

After reading what the U.S. players were saying about Coach 'Zo...
and now the program emerging from the NCAA's circumspection a little tarnished but unstained (stains don't come out--tarnish can be removed with hard work)...
I'm ready to conclude we've got the right man AND the right circumstances to build a championship-contending program that Vol fans can be proud of year 'round and for a long time.

I can tolerate a losing season in football or basketball, but I'm sick and tired of being ashamed over character issues!

How many other school nicknames actually are a statement of character? All those animal-named teams only imply totem characteristics, not character. To be a Volunteer is special. And as fans we need to insist on that.

Great comments!

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