Martin: Vols haven't 'hit our stride as a unit'

UT wing Cameron Tatum on the Vols' mindset

Cuonzo Martin wasn't looking for any Christmas miracles when the Tennessee basketball team returned to practice on Monday night.

Just more hard work.

"The break was good and much needed for our players and the staff," UT's first-year coach said Tuesday during a break in practice. "It's time to get back to business. Nothing changes.

"Our goals haven't changed; the key is playing hard."

Asked about the difficulty of Monday's practice, UT sophomore Jordan McRae replied: "It sure wasn't a walkthrough."

The Vols (5-6) will be looking for their first three-game winning streak of the season against The Citadel (2-9) on Thursday (TV: SportSouth, 7 p.m.) at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"You've got a team here that's trying to find it's way; you can't overlook anyone," Martin said. "I don't think we've hit our stride as a unit."

Martin said all of the players reported to practice on time on Monday, and the energy has been positive.

"I said even in our losses, you could see guys getting better," Martin said. "Kenny Hall, Cameron Tatum, I think both have done a good job."

Martin said after reviewing the first 11 games from a big-picture standpoint that, while he hasn't changed the starting lineup, the rotation remains unsettled.

"I don't think there are five guys that have solidified themselves," he said. "We haven't had the same five on the floor at the end of games."

Stokes Update: UT mid-term signee Jarnell Stokes is expected to be in Knoxville on Thursday, though his enrollment isn't complete and his high school transcript has yet to be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Martin said it appears it will only be a matter of time after Stokes is academically cleared and enrolled that he will play in games.

"It's coming in here, and making sure his conditioning is where it needs to be," Martin said. "As a coach it's my responsibility to put him in situations where he can be successful. So you see where he does well and what his strengths are. He's hungry to play."

Stokes can't practice with the team until his transcript is approved, and he can't play in any games until after classes start on Jan. 11.

The Vols play at Mississippi State on Jan. 12, at home against Kentucky on Jan. 14 and at Georgia on Jan. 18. Defending national champion Connecticut plays in Knoxville on Jan. 21 in a nationally televised CBS game.

Bradshaw on Stokes: Former UT player Dane Bradshaw said he has an appreciation for Stokes' decision to go against the local flow in Memphis and sign with the Vols.

"It would be like if Knoxville had some Parade All-American quarterback Tennessee was recruiting hard, and he signed with Alabama." said Bradshaw, who is from Memphis and signed with UT in 2002. "Like Harrison Smith at Catholic going to Notre Dame (to play football); you find out who your friends are real quick.

"I don't know if people realize how big of a deal this was in Memphis. It says a lot for Jarnell that he's willing to take a chance and be different and go where he's comfortable, and it says a lot for Coach Martin that he was able to get this kind of unique player."

The 6-foot-7, 255-pounds Stokes is the first No. 1 prospect out of the state of Tennessee to sign with the Vols in at least 13 years. He was ranked No. 11 by Rivals.com in the Class of 2012 before graduating from Southwind High School early.

Orange Slices: Jeronne Maymon leads the SEC in field-goal percentage (60.9), and is third in offensive rebounding (3.4 per game) and fifth in total rebounding (7.9 per game).

Through Monday, UT lead the SEC in free-throw shooting (71.6 percent) and were second in 3-point shooting percentage (38.6), rebounding defense (33 per game) and assists (14.8 per game).

Trae Golden leads SEC players with 5.7 assists per game and ranks 15th in scoring (13.3 points per game).

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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Comments » 48

Ironcity writes:

Trae has done a good enough job moving the ball a round. He and the rest of the Vols have to start playing some defense. Team needs to improve and fast. They still look lost on help defense.

wigmeister writes:

This team needs a lot of help. Can't put a lot of pressure on Stokes. Young kid coming in to the big boy game. Hope he can learn the system quickly, and make an impact. Looking forward to watching him play and grow. Hopefully, we will not end up in last place, and things will start to improve.

CincyOhVol writes:

Any word on if Chris Jones might come back to play?

What about Charles Mitchell? He's still undecided.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Trae has done a good enough job moving the ball a round. He and the rest of the Vols have to start playing some defense. Team needs to improve and fast. They still look lost on help defense.

We still have KEY turnovers at crucial times in the game...I know in two of the losses we turned it over when we could have tied or made it a one possession game inside 1:00. Got to treasure EVERY possession at every time during the game...we are too quick to take shots that arent what we need at a particular time...but I still think we can come together...But you are correct...we MUST hold the other team in the 60's to have a chance to win...and defense and rebounding can be taught...

justafan4ut writes:

The young man should be in pretty good shape. Did he play this fall with his high school? If not, at least he may have practiced with them. I thought this team looked pretty good against the good competition,and I was a little disappointed with the effort against lesser opponents. Looks like when the shot is not falling and the other team is a little hot shooting we get very tight. Hope they can play loose and not let the pressure of whom ever they play get to them. Have fun and let the shots fly!!!LOL

born2ride writes:

Should be another close game for the Vols against a 2-9 Citadel team.

harveyupdyketreehugger writes:

in response to born2ride:

Should be another close game for the Vols against a 2-9 Citadel team.

Thanks for your prognosis born2troll

eb502us#225637 writes:

Every time I read a Cuonzo Martin comment, it reinforces my belief that he hasn't a clue.

Oh wait, now he's saying we haven't hit our stride. What a genius!! I take back what I just said

Brentwoodvol writes:

in response to born2ride:

Should be another close game for the Vols against a 2-9 Citadel team.

Wish this site had ignore button. You have never brought one positive thing to this site. Go pull for someone else!!!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to born2ride:

Should be another close game for the Vols against a 2-9 Citadel team.

Ok. I admit there is some sort of perverse humor in your statement. I really would HATE to see you leave like another poster suggested. well in fact I'd hate to see you period anywhere at all. LOL LOL LOL excuse me

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Every time I read a Cuonzo Martin comment, it reinforces my belief that he hasn't a clue.

Oh wait, now he's saying we haven't hit our stride. What a genius!! I take back what I just said

LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL!

You know? Every time I read a troll it just you know...re-enforces my belief that he/her/whatever "hasn't a clue".

Boy that statement was so easy to say about someone I don't have a clue about. I don't know you eb50sumpinnornuther? While your statement was funny I don't think YOU are very smart Neither!!! Sarcasm is always funny every time it's used. evertime!

BolivrBob writes:

The hope of a nation rests upon the shoulders of a 17 year old young man with size 20 shoes. A lot of pressure. He does fill pretty big shoes though.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to born2ride:

Should be another close game for the Vols against a 2-9 Citadel team.

Should be another day that born2ride wins idiot of the day award.

brod writes:

this team should have beaten memphis in maui and obviously should have beaten austin peay. a 7-4 record would be much better than 5-6. any hope of making the nit is pretty much gone. if this team does hit their stride, what should we expect? 6-10 in the sec maybe? 5-11?

underthehill writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Every time I read a Cuonzo Martin comment, it reinforces my belief that he hasn't a clue.

Oh wait, now he's saying we haven't hit our stride. What a genius!! I take back what I just said

Martin appears to me to be a solid person in every aspect of life and basketball... Thus far..hope it continues..I agree this team has not hit it's stride and what that says to me is they can get much better.

TommyJack writes:

in response to harveyupdyketreehugger:

Thanks for your prognosis born2troll

He's just doing what he's told to do.

lomas98 writes:

in response to Brentwoodvol:

Wish this site had ignore button. You have never brought one positive thing to this site. Go pull for someone else!!!

It kind of does have an ignore button, DON'T RESPOND.

Noogaorange writes:

in response to born2ride:

Should be another close game for the Vols against a 2-9 Citadel team.

Why don't you ride to another site. GBO

lomas98 writes:

Every time I see the words clearinghouse and NCAA, I just cringe. I know Stokes has good grades and is good student, but it seems these clearinghouse things take a lot longer than they should. Hopefully he can get on the floor for practice very soon or he won't make his debut against Miss. St. I know he has been working out but that cannot simulate college conditioning and playing against SEC players. He will be thrown into the fire, hopefully his talent will carry him initially until he really learns the college game.

Interesting that this team leads the SEC in that many categories. Shows how bad free throw shooting in the college game is when 71% is leading the conference.

Ironcity writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL!

You know? Every time I read a troll it just you know...re-enforces my belief that he/her/whatever "hasn't a clue".

Boy that statement was so easy to say about someone I don't have a clue about. I don't know you eb50sumpinnornuther? While your statement was funny I don't think YOU are very smart Neither!!! Sarcasm is always funny every time it's used. evertime!

EB is a long time poster and is one of the more knowledgeable UT BBall fans on here. Their is a lot to be concerned with. Martin preaches defense but this team is worse on defense then any team the last 15 years. Our end of game strategies are questionable at best. Coach Martin has shown patience but to a fan sometimes it looks like confusion. I think he is limited with the lack of ballhandlers on the team but he also has chosen not to play a zone when its obvious we can't stay in front of anybody. I will make my judgment at the end of the year but I want to see this team improve. So far that has not happened.

westknoxrepub writes:

I'm surprised people aren't taking the "we're going to surprise some people" and "we're a dark horse NCAA tournament team" stance given the big win streak we're on. Barely beating such powerhouses as UNC Asheville and ETSU.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Trae has done a good enough job moving the ball a round. He and the rest of the Vols have to start playing some defense. Team needs to improve and fast. They still look lost on help defense.

Golden has a lot of improvement needing to be done at the point Just moving the ball around is not nearly enough. His perimeter defense has to improve along with his decision making when they are in transistion.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to lomas98:

Every time I see the words clearinghouse and NCAA, I just cringe. I know Stokes has good grades and is good student, but it seems these clearinghouse things take a lot longer than they should. Hopefully he can get on the floor for practice very soon or he won't make his debut against Miss. St. I know he has been working out but that cannot simulate college conditioning and playing against SEC players. He will be thrown into the fire, hopefully his talent will carry him initially until he really learns the college game.

Interesting that this team leads the SEC in that many categories. Shows how bad free throw shooting in the college game is when 71% is leading the conference.

I was thinking the same thing about Clearinghouse. Changing high schools his senior year then graduating early will probably raise some eyebrows. May not know until mid March.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

The NCAA Clearinghouse want delay this because they know the sooner this kid hits the floor the more people will come out to see him. Money still talks. The kid graduated early so no issues regarding grades.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Ironcity:

EB is a long time poster and is one of the more knowledgeable UT BBall fans on here. Their is a lot to be concerned with. Martin preaches defense but this team is worse on defense then any team the last 15 years. Our end of game strategies are questionable at best. Coach Martin has shown patience but to a fan sometimes it looks like confusion. I think he is limited with the lack of ballhandlers on the team but he also has chosen not to play a zone when its obvious we can't stay in front of anybody. I will make my judgment at the end of the year but I want to see this team improve. So far that has not happened.

"Hasn't a clue"??? Not a very complimentary statement regardless of whether he's right or wrong or how long he's been posting. I don't like posts of this sort even when I do them. He doesn't have to respond. btw I don't mean it to be an attack. I just thought my response was funny. It's mostly silly if you ask me when you put down someone you don't know and assume he's not correcting the situation. I certainly haven't seen all the things I'd like to on the floor this year but I don't think Martin is "clueless"! do you? Also these same players seemed confused last year as well. You can't argue that they haven't shown overall improvement. Let's get into Feb. before we call him clueless.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

I'm surprised people aren't taking the "we're going to surprise some people" and "we're a dark horse NCAA tournament team" stance given the big win streak we're on. Barely beating such powerhouses as UNC Asheville and ETSU.

What do YOU think WKR? You think we have a shot a NCAA doggone championship? Can we get to the Big Tourney? Is Batman gonna get himself and Robin lose(notice the missing o)? Are you really a looser?
I'm sorry I know I shouldn't respond.

martinvol34 writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Every time I read a Cuonzo Martin comment, it reinforces my belief that he hasn't a clue.

Oh wait, now he's saying we haven't hit our stride. What a genius!! I take back what I just said

What is your problem? Is it the obvious? Give the man a chance.

Ironcity writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

"Hasn't a clue"??? Not a very complimentary statement regardless of whether he's right or wrong or how long he's been posting. I don't like posts of this sort even when I do them. He doesn't have to respond. btw I don't mean it to be an attack. I just thought my response was funny. It's mostly silly if you ask me when you put down someone you don't know and assume he's not correcting the situation. I certainly haven't seen all the things I'd like to on the floor this year but I don't think Martin is "clueless"! do you? Also these same players seemed confused last year as well. You can't argue that they haven't shown overall improvement. Let's get into Feb. before we call him clueless.

I agree with you but most posters go overboard with responses so they can be noticed (I know sometimes I do). I enjoyed Pearls antics on the sidelines and I think his teams played really hard for him. Martin is the polar opposite of Pearl in that his expression never changes no matter how good or crappy the team is playing. It does make you wonder sometimes what he is thinking while teams are on these huge runs which seem to happen every game.

With this team their is no leader or player that has stepped up that has the ability to make a play. I would love for it to be Trae but he isn't talented enough at this time. Mcrae may be our best chance to be that guy but he isn't consistent enough yet.

Like I said, Martin has a lot of work to do but he does have some decent talent and he just added a stud so martin should be skilled enough as a coach to develop these guys within the next two months. If he doesn't then I am not going to give him a free pass.

murrayvol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

He's just doing what he's told to do.

And doing it quite well.

Knowing which verbal grenade to roll on the floor and when requires skill.

D60 writes:

Counzo needs to hit his stride right out the door

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to eb502us#225637:

Every time I read a Cuonzo Martin comment, it reinforces my belief that he hasn't a clue.

Oh wait, now he's saying we haven't hit our stride. What a genius!! I take back what I just said

Agree Completely. Who's fault is it that the team hasn't hit its stride? Why doesn't he just say I can't coach a lick, but I'm sure enjoying the money.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

and until we get a coach that knows how to coach we wont be hitting no stride

devo-evol writes:

I am hoping it is more of a change of style of play from Pearl to Martin that has this team stuck in neutral. I haven't gotten to watch as much as i want to but defense seems to be a real weakness. That is strange because CCM from the very beginning has talked about stressing defense. I am very concerned that he seems completely unflexible about using a zone. I think a zone would be a good option when we play a team with taller quality center since we don't have a true big man. I have not given up on post season play although the SEC looks brutally strong this year. What I want most of all is to see this team play aggresive defense and hustle for boards and loose balls which I have not seen enough of. If they do they will win some games. Also, for once, I would love to see Stokes come in and live up to the hype unlike every other big time recruit we have gotten the last decade.

devo-evol writes:

in response to D60:

Counzo needs to hit his stride right out the door

why don't you stride right out the door with him. i can't stand fans that probably never played before act like they know so much, he's only coached 11 games or so. You know Coach K had a losing record at Duke his first 3 YEARS. Why don't we just change coachs every year, that ought to make you happy. It will do wonders for recruiting.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to devo-evol:

why don't you stride right out the door with him. i can't stand fans that probably never played before act like they know so much, he's only coached 11 games or so. You know Coach K had a losing record at Duke his first 3 YEARS. Why don't we just change coachs every year, that ought to make you happy. It will do wonders for recruiting.

If you read these comments and expect to hear rational thoughts or interesting discussions that is your first mistake. This board is comprised of 12 year old girls, mickey d's late night shift and losers who got kicked off their own teams boards because they were too stupid to be allowed to post. If you come here as I do to reflect on the depths to which our society has fallen then you come with the right frame of mind. Because the training is so intense at mickey d's these jerks expect that if they can learn to say "Do ya want fries with this?" in a week that a coach can have a team completely fine tuned in 10 or 12 games. As proof I just point out that one poster thinks ebwhateverhisnameis is knowledgeable about UTBB.

CroKev writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

I'm surprised people aren't taking the "we're going to surprise some people" and "we're a dark horse NCAA tournament team" stance given the big win streak we're on. Barely beating such powerhouses as UNC Asheville and ETSU.

Your doom and gloom attitude suggests you should change political parties...

crmcm44#321757 writes:

We as fans can only hope they haven't hit their stride as a unit. Unfortunately at times during the game play seems to degenerate to a one on one it's my shot mentality. Defensive lapses, inconsistent shooting, and poor decision making skills are hard if not impossible for any coach to overcome.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to CroKev:

Your doom and gloom attitude suggests you should change political parties...

Uhh CroKev!!??? Please, please, please don't make me take Westknox's side here. Just leave the politics out so I won't have to like WKR's prescence.lol

shoalcreekvol writes:

"Through Monday, UT lead the SEC in free-throw shooting (71.6 percent) and were second in 3-point shooting percentage (38.6), rebounding defense (33 per game) and assists (14.8 per game)."

^^^ Not sure we've said those particular things about our basketball teams the last few years, even though they were successful teams. Progress being made in reshaping the team.

ACWLY writes:

in response to born2ride:

Should be another close game for the Vols against a 2-9 Citadel team.

Seems like a lot of posters are coming down hard on you, WHY? they know you could be right and it's scary for 'em.

As far as the article goes I certainly hope Martin is correct in his thinking the Vols "haven't reached their stride yet" because I can't see any improvement. They sadly look worse than they did at the start of the season. But hopefully Martins right and they will improve, I think Stokes may just save the season, we will see!

utk1996 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

I'm surprised people aren't taking the "we're going to surprise some people" and "we're a dark horse NCAA tournament team" stance given the big win streak we're on. Barely beating such powerhouses as UNC Asheville and ETSU.

This is a guy who is negative at every opportunity. It's either his schtick or he is simply just a negative person who sees the glass as half empty. He has repeatedly railed at Coach Martin as a guy who can't recruit. Well, here is a guy in Stokes who everyone wanted. Here's a tip: Bruce Pearl did a lot for our program, but he disgraced us by lying to the NCAA. He's a liar and has a shady past. Embrace Coach Martin and be optimistic or STFU.

utk1996 writes:

By the way, I have embarrassed westknoxrepub repeatedly in the past and ran him off the message board time and again. It's logic, westknox, logic.

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to devo-evol:

why don't you stride right out the door with him. i can't stand fans that probably never played before act like they know so much, he's only coached 11 games or so. You know Coach K had a losing record at Duke his first 3 YEARS. Why don't we just change coachs every year, that ought to make you happy. It will do wonders for recruiting.

devo-evol, I can't stand fans like you who run around trying to kiss a coaches butt just because he is a coach. Martin is out of his league and D60 is correct, He does need to walk right out the door and don't come back!

LibertyVolance writes:

Better hit that stride soon. Memphis is coming in on 1/4/2012. Sure want to win that one.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

devo-evol, I can't stand fans like you who run around trying to kiss a coaches butt just because he is a coach. Martin is out of his league and D60 is correct, He does need to walk right out the door and don't come back!

Man I didn't mean to hit the reply BUTTON!!!
Your stuff and WKR's certainly are repeated enough on here.
Look guys... I don't know the future and neither do any of you. Coach Martin may or may not work out as a head coach. But right or wrong I think he will. I also am disgusted by the constant attacks on him as a person and as a coach by some idiots(or KNS) who are only out to make UT look bad in any way they can. It could be ANY coach. Pitino(worn out), Krew,,,well Duke's coach Mikey(too old), well any coach. You don't want to see UT get any sort of continuity in recruiting! I can't say yet that Martin will be a great coach because only hard work, luck or God's blessing, and time will tell. You folks however sincere you may or may not be are the "I want it now" generation that's soooooooo spoiled you can't wait on a coach to teach. I'm a teacher and it takes year to teach kids. The team we have right now NEEDS lots of teaching. First they have to learn that they CAN learn from our coach. Second they have to develop instincts on defense and offense that just aren't there right now, third they have to implement what they're taught into games. 4th each player has to meld with others on the team that it appears at least that they don't like.
OwensboroVol a bit above me here just made the dumbest comment I've heard on here...ok that would be something...but "kiss the coach's(I had to correct his coaches error) butt"? What would any fan gain by kissing up to the coach. He doesn't have time to read this stuff. Also why would he "walk right out the door" of the best job(to me at least) he's ever had??He doesn't care what your sorry a%%% thinks about his coaching. I'm guessing he cares about how he does his job more than any of us ever will.

That said I DO hope to see some changes tonight that will help our team meld and play together better. Not so much changes in strategy as changes in hustle and defensive pressure. According to Martin he wants that as well.

brod writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

I'm surprised people aren't taking the "we're going to surprise some people" and "we're a dark horse NCAA tournament team" stance given the big win streak we're on. Barely beating such powerhouses as UNC Asheville and ETSU.

we have some more powerhouses coming up. citadel and utc should round out a tough conference schedule. oh wait, we're in the sec not the southern conference. i forgot that when i saw that north dakota state routed oakland, whom we lost to.

tdvol1989 writes:

What we need to HIT is more inside "chippies". We miss too many inside layups.

Once again. You can't hack on Cuonzo. Way too soon. I just want to see improvement.

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to born2ride:

Should be another close game for the Vols against a 2-9 Citadel team.

Another brilliant observation from a true "road" scholar. Maybe he could just "hit the road" and move on.

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