Players say Cuonzo Martin is 'going to keep it real'

Knoxvillians respond to the hiring of Cuonzo Martin

Tennessee men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin held his first meeting with returning players Sunday night.

“I told the guys I appreciated the fact that they were there at 11:30 at night; they didn’t have to be there,’’ Martin said. “I wish they did have to be there.’’

Martin’s comment drew a chuckle from the 200 or so media, boosters and fans on hand in the Ray Mears Room at Thompson-Boling Arena for the news conference introducing him as UT’s new coach Monday.

But the returning UT players weren’t laughing.

The message was sent: There’s a new sheriff in town, and still buffed at 6-foot-6, Martin can look most all of them in the eye when he addresses them in his deep voice.

Freshman All-American Tobias Harris was the only returning UT player who wasn’t present, as he went home to New York for the weekend after learning that his class on Monday was canceled. Harris is expected back today, according to his father, Torrel Harris Sr.

As disciplined as Martin’s style of play is on the court — reflected by Missouri State ranking seventh in the nation with only 10.3 turnovers per game — UT’s new coach is just as strict with off-the-court policies.

“Go to class, be on time; those things are very important,’’ Martin said. “It’s not just winning ballgames, it’s being successful on and off the court.’’

Martin said he learned those lessons while playing for the legendary Gene Keady at Purdue from 1991-95, and he’ll be quick to apply them to the Vols.

Judging from the reactions from juniors Scotty Hopson and Cameron Tatum, Martin has their attention.

“His ultimate goal here, recruit quality guys, and when guys leave here they become grown men and quality men and always come back to the university and see him as the coach and be welcomed back,’’ Tatum said. “We all need to buy in to whatever he does and whatever he brings to the table.’’

Hopson agreed, through he made it clear he won’t be sure if he’ll return for his senior year until after he is evaluated by NBA scouts and general managers in May.

“He’s definitely a straight-forward guy, a guy that’s going to keep it real,’’ Hopson said. “Guys are even talking about changing their numbers. It’s a new change, new face, guys seem happy right now, and I’m happy for them.’’

Hopson, along with Harris, will declare for the NBA draft before April 24 and both have until May 7 to withdraw and maintain eligibility, provided neither of them signs with an agent.

Martin said he supports Harris and Hopson, and he encourages them to make a commitment to whatever they choose.

“I talked to Scotty, I talked to Tobias, two quality young men, I think they will put their name in the draft,’’ Martin said. “I don’t think you can be one foot in, one foot out; I want them to go full-bore and try to be successful, and if not come back and be a part of the family.’’

Martin indicated the decisions Hopson and Harris make on their futures with the program could have a direct effect on the team’s summer basketball activity. The NCAA allows teams to take a “foreign tour” every four years, and the Vols are up in the rotation to take one this summer.

The trips allow the teams extra practices and extra games.

Michigan went to Belgium last summer, Florida went before one of its national championship runs and the Vols used their 2007 trip to central Europe as a springboard into a season that saw them win a school-record 31 games, reach the No. 1 ranking and finish the regular season No. 1 in the RPI. UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said the Vols are contracted to play overseas this summer, but Martin said he’s not sure it would be worth the effort.

“If we can do it, we could be great, with Scotty and Tobias back, because now you’ve got nine guys back,’’ Martin said. “I don’t know how much it would help you with seven guys.’’

Martin wasn’t counting UT signees Kevin Ware and Chris Jones, perhaps unaware that the NCAA changed a rule in 2010 and now allows freshmen to go on such trips.

Martin already is committed to his own overseas excursion this summer, as he and Butler coach Brad Stevens will serve as assistant coaches to Purdue coach Matt Painter for the USA Men’s World University Games in Shenzhen, China, from Aug. 12-23.

Martin said Harris and Hopson would be eligible to try out for the team from July 30-Aug. 8 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

UT will begin individual workouts next week. Martin said some practices will be open to the media, but he did not specify how many or if fans will be welcome.

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

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Comments » 53

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say the players like him! Witch Doctor say he have good juju.
Bones never lie.

Down_The_Field writes:

football practice tomorrow.

SandySpringsVol writes:

Tobias Harris would be well-served to consider another year before coming out -- if not at Tennesee, somewhere.

He's got a lot of natural ability, but how many times coming down the stretch did he have a great first half followed by a no-show second half?

runninbroke writes:

I like what I have been reading so far... Let's go Cuonzo!!!

clvolfan writes:

in response to SandySpringsVol:

Tobias Harris would be well-served to consider another year before coming out -- if not at Tennesee, somewhere.

He's got a lot of natural ability, but how many times coming down the stretch did he have a great first half followed by a no-show second half?

I believe,the last 3 games.

paradisetaxi writes:

I like CCM. We ALL have to come together and give all the support we gave CBP when he first came here and we weren't sure of him , GO VOLS !

Munsterlander writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Great read!

carbonzip writes:

Can someone explain why Pearl released Matthew Dotson from his scholarship? Look at his record at Belmont.

Ironcity writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Can someone explain why Pearl released Matthew Dotson from his scholarship? Look at his record at Belmont.

Yes the kid was told to transfer because he would never play and he wouldn't have. I watched the kid, he could shot and that was it. He couldn't guard my grandmother he couldn't handle the ball and he couldn't jump. He could shoot though but we would have never known that since he would have never played

cncchris33#221375 writes:

Correct me if I am wrong, but RE: the "I wish they had to be there" comment that elicited laughs from the crowd, I could have sworn he said, "WHICH THEY DID have to be there."

Sounded as though he was making light of the fact that he was the new boss and they needed to give him the same respect they would have given to the former coaching staff had they called a late-night team meeting.

That's the way I heard it anyway.

tovolny writes:

I don't know. I don't know enough to make predictions on this one. I have the same kind of feeling when I draw one card to an inside straight. I feel alot better when I draw one card trying for a flush or trying for a full house while holding two pairs. Unfortunately in the game of reality, one cannot fold but is forced to play with the cards dealt.

Alwaysavol writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Yes the kid was told to transfer because he would never play and he wouldn't have. I watched the kid, he could shot and that was it. He couldn't guard my grandmother he couldn't handle the ball and he couldn't jump. He could shoot though but we would have never known that since he would have never played

I agree, Ironcity. Pearl was doing the kid a favor. He would have gotten little if any playing time at UT. I only saw him play once or twice at Belmont, but from what I saw it was hard to imagine him having success against SEC competition.

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to WildcatsOne:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

1.3 million!! lol

skm writes:

come on griff. after saying they didn't have to be there, martin quipped, "they had to be there." not "i wish they had to be there." you missed the whole joke! lol.

TennVol01 writes:

Coach Martin .... take the overseas trip. Even with seven player, it would be great experience. Don't punish these seven because Hopson and Harris are bailing for the money.

VolBy3 writes:

If they pass on the foreign trip this year, can they take it next year? It sounds like this summer already has a lot packed into it and the trip would benefit the team much more next year.

SIMSVOL writes:

Tennessee picked up another great coach. Hamilton and team have signed up a good one in Martin - despite what some uninformed idiots on here think. Save your ignorant comments in a file knuckleheads - and revisit them in about a year or two. You'll see how wrong you are. Go VOLS!!!!

rev1 writes:

Coach Martin, I will give you my support as our new coach. In times such as these we need to make a turn to build up again. I believe the Vols will battle through and i will be here cheering for you. Go Vols

lomas98 writes:

Scotty's comments make it sound like he has already made his mind up. He said he was happy for them.

FatherVol writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Great srticle, but I still want Hamilton gone with the wind.

cwbytruckers writes:

Im curious to know what type of recruits he will target. I just hope he goes after some size. Would be nice to see a 7 footer on the floor. SHOOTERS....SHOOTERS.....SHOOTERS...and not in a glass. Basketball IQ please..Less tattoo's and more basketball IQ.

Smokey_Chow writes:

From what little we know of Martin it seems like he is a good guy and the players like him. There's really no way to know how that will translate into how he does at UT... so only time will tell.

By the way guys, dont forget to keep voting for Scotty Hopson to win dunk of the year.. only a few days left.
http://www.smokeychow.com/2011/03/sco...

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say close..Juju is the thing that make you hunt down all my post and read and ponder and then plot. Witch Doctor say it makes you post something you think is clever only to find its something Witch Doctor will beat you senseless with...thats good Juju as practice by a professional!
Bones never lie.

Outdated writes:

Hopson has 2 chances to play in the NBA ..SLIM and NONE..unless he returns and Martin works a miracle..his defense is pathetic..

PHAT_VOL writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say the players like him! Witch Doctor say he have good juju.
Bones never lie.

OH, yea good JUJU is always good. I just downed grits and biscuts and gravy. Eggs and Tennessee Pride sausage. Always Tennessee Pride! My big belly felt like it doubled in size. Then started to read this article. And wouldnt you know it wife comes by and is looking for good JUJU ! Well Ms Honey Bee has gotta waite for all that breakfast and Tennessee Pride to settle down first. And that may take a while. But while my Tennessee Pride is calming down. I was thinking. Maybe Mr Hamilton has learned how to be an athletic director. I mean really direct the athletics at our great university. While the attention is on Mr. Hamilton it diverts the attention away from Coach Martin and Coach Dooley. Acts as a buffer in which to work and be successful. With the great coaching enviornment that exist at the University of Tennessee and with fans venting at Mr. Hammilton and not at Coach Martin and Coach Dooley this has to be a plus for both of them. So, while my Tennessee Pride is settling down I'm wondering is Ms Honey Bee still in the mood for some good JUJU. I hope so!
GO VOLS !!

somebodywhoknows writes:

Coach Martin can look right here in our own back yard and find some great talent. Take a look at West High School. They have some really great juniors who are maybe the best players in the state. Somebody please let him know.

spoolingup writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say close..Juju is the thing that make you hunt down all my post and read and ponder and then plot. Witch Doctor say it makes you post something you think is clever only to find its something Witch Doctor will beat you senseless with...thats good Juju as practice by a professional!
Bones never lie.

Right on Witchy!

brod writes:

it will be an interesting off season. i don't believe that there will be any more sanctions against the program. hopson might return, but maybe not. harris is most likely gone. if one or both of those guys return, the team will be better than what is expected. if they don't, i hope that they can sign a transfer or juco guy. there is just not enough scoring on the team right now to compete at a high level.

ITISWHATITIS writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say close..Juju is the thing that make you hunt down all my post and read and ponder and then plot. Witch Doctor say it makes you post something you think is clever only to find its something Witch Doctor will beat you senseless with...thats good Juju as practice by a professional!
Bones never lie.

Witchy, you so funny!!! IIIIIIIIIIIILIKE IT!

RunningWithTheVols writes:

Hopson will never make an NBA roster: no heart.

Harris needs more time to develop an outside game as he cannot play within 15 feet of the basket in the NBA. DeVoe made Dale Ellis play in the paint but Dale developed his 3-pt game for the NBA. Harris reminds me a alot of Ellis.

I loved Pearl but the guy just could not follow the rules. Had a recurring problem with players smoking weed, also.

VOLliven2it writes:

I say keep it REAL for us coach Martin and we will REALly support you whole-heartedly.

Tenn_Dawg writes:

I think you guys have a good solid coach. I like him. Pearl was great coach but he had a snake oil salesman vibe about him. Good luck to Coach Martin. If he can win and groom those young men to be solid citizens after BB then the world is a better place. The SEC is stacked with great and good coaches.

Go Dawgs!

dsbyrd#287440 writes:

in response to cncchris33#221375:

Correct me if I am wrong, but RE: the "I wish they had to be there" comment that elicited laughs from the crowd, I could have sworn he said, "WHICH THEY DID have to be there."

Sounded as though he was making light of the fact that he was the new boss and they needed to give him the same respect they would have given to the former coaching staff had they called a late-night team meeting.

That's the way I heard it anyway.

You are correct. I heard it the same way. The quote in this article doesn't even make sense.

gbeejr#1354500 writes:

Considering what TN & Pearl has accomplished I'm a little surprised that we settled on this hire. Hopefully he'll turn out to be a great pick, but a little surprised too about the apparent lack of interest in playing overseas. Maybe a little short-handed but I would think the practice/games would only be positive for a new coach evaluating his team early.

jimr07 writes:

in response to somebodywhoknows:

Coach Martin can look right here in our own back yard and find some great talent. Take a look at West High School. They have some really great juniors who are maybe the best players in the state. Somebody please let him know.

Maybe you can be his chief recruiter.

Ayres_Hall writes:

We settled on the hire because few others wanted to come here and risk the possible NCAA sanctions. Hamilton had limited choices and made the best hire considering the circumstances. Perhaps it will become a great hire.

At least we'll see more discipline and better execution. Watching the team the past three years was frustrating when we had such a higher level of talent on court.

OrangePride writes:

Coach Martin impresses me as a man of integrity and a strong sense of commitment to the players he coaches. Before the announcement, like most people, I knew nothing about him; but the more he speaks and the more I hear, the more comfortable I am with his upside. And good grief, folks......let's all get behind him and the University of Tennessee program. Negativity and grousing about Hamilton or who did what this season will NOT help this team move forward and be the team we want to see at TBA. He's a good man and he's the new Tennessee basketball coach!

CCLC writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say the players like him! Witch Doctor say he have good juju.
Bones never lie.

Kevin Ware still wants out of commitment to Vols:

"Tennessee basketball recruit Kevin Ware confirmed with the AJC on Monday afternoon that he is still requesting a scholarship release from the Volunteers, despite the hiring of a new coach at the SEC school.

The 6-foot-4 guard from Rockdale County High School says it’s nothing personal against Tennessee’s new coach, Cuonzo Martin. In fact, Ware has left open the possibility of playing under Martin at Tennessee.

Ware, as he has maintained all along, simply wants a release to re-open the recruiting process. He wants to make sure he’s a good fit with his college coach and vice versa. Ware has been committed to Tennessee since his sophomore year, citing his close friendship with ex-coach Bruce Pearl as a primary factor."

smkymtnhiker writes:

I have really struggled throughout this process, if you can even call it that. Bottom line, these kids represent the university and deserve fan support and likewise so does this Coach. He chose the Vols over staying and other possible opportunities and he deserves a chance, no matter whatever ill will I have to the administration and the AD.

I am going to give him and these players my support and encouragement and hopefully this time next year it will all just be a faint memory.
I also wish Coach Pearl the best. Yes, he made mistakes but we all do and he owned up to it unlike Tressel and K^^^in. And, I do believe he loved this institution and community.

It is time to move forward. GBO!

VOLHEAD writes:

Just win, Vols.

CCLC writes:

in response to smkymtnhiker:

I have really struggled throughout this process, if you can even call it that. Bottom line, these kids represent the university and deserve fan support and likewise so does this Coach. He chose the Vols over staying and other possible opportunities and he deserves a chance, no matter whatever ill will I have to the administration and the AD.

I am going to give him and these players my support and encouragement and hopefully this time next year it will all just be a faint memory.
I also wish Coach Pearl the best. Yes, he made mistakes but we all do and he owned up to it unlike Tressel and K^^^in. And, I do believe he loved this institution and community.

It is time to move forward. GBO!

...the one million dollar raise might have nudged him a bit....
just sayin'

bigorangeinNC writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Great article; minus some of the comments directed at UT fans.

The more I read about Martin, the more I like him.

stratocaster54 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say the players like him! Witch Doctor say he have good juju.
Bones never lie.

Does that mean they'll play an entire 40 mins for this guy? Just keeping it real!

TNVol71 writes:

Maybe we have a coach that can truly do player development. As much as I hate CJC at KY, one thing he does is bring out the best in his players' talents. I have always felt that CBP did not use the great players he had to their fullest.

I hope Tobias and Scotty both come back. Maybe with one more year under Coach Martin their talents could flourish and they could move higher in the lottery. JMHO. GBO!!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to BicardiRum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor summarize "Walts" long post....
waa waa waaa waaa waaaaaaaaaaaa!!
Witch Doctor say good gosh grow some gourds!
Witch Doctor say repost ANY post you are not crying about Tennessee or Hamilton
BUT....
You are NEVER here to celebrate a victory or win.
Witch Doctor say go away little gnome.
Bones never lie.

smokies_old_soul writes:

Scotty said Coach Martin was "keepin' it real" ???

Imagine my relief.

orangepeel writes:

I have been a UT fan my whole life. Ever since I have know what a football and basketball are. I have never been more disappointed in UT as I am right now. Mike Hamilton and Jimmy Cheek need to be fired. The only way UT fans can make this happen is to quit donating money, quit going to games, and quit buying UT merchandise until they are gone. Money is apparently all the higher ups at UT care about any more. I call for all UT fans to stand together and show the University that Hamilton and Cheek need to be replaced now. Lets hit them in the pocket book.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to orangepeel:

I have been a UT fan my whole life. Ever since I have know what a football and basketball are. I have never been more disappointed in UT as I am right now. Mike Hamilton and Jimmy Cheek need to be fired. The only way UT fans can make this happen is to quit donating money, quit going to games, and quit buying UT merchandise until they are gone. Money is apparently all the higher ups at UT care about any more. I call for all UT fans to stand together and show the University that Hamilton and Cheek need to be replaced now. Lets hit them in the pocket book.

Witch Doctor say yes lets destroy the University of Tennessee burn TBA down and fill-in Neyland over our bitterness! Witch Doctor suggest you let someone you trust proof you before posting in the future.
Bones never lie.
Go REAL Vols!

Theo writes:

in response to smokies_old_soul:

Scotty said Coach Martin was "keepin' it real" ???

Imagine my relief.

lol!

JDL211 writes:

in response to lakindofguy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Expand on that if you like. You mean like Tom Izzo, Bob Knight, Gene Keady, Lou Henson, Bo Ryan, John Orr, Jud Heathcote, Matt Painter and Bruce Weber, all over the league, just to name a few. Keep going ok?

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