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