UT to host Louisiana-Monroe at Thompson-Boling Arena
Cuonzo Martin wants no part of conversations involving volcanoes, rainbows, whale-watching or Tennessee's showdown with No. 6 Duke at the Maui Invitational in Hawaii on Monday.
The Vols (1-0) play host to Louisiana Monroe (0-2) at 7 tonight in Thompson-Boling Arena, and UT's coach insists his focus does not go beyond that.
"Not at all, I'm just watching film of Louisiana (Monroe), that's the most important game,'' Martin said. "You can't take it for granted. We have to do everything in our power to win that game.
"You can't walk into a game situation thinking two or three games ahead.''
Martin explained his assistant coaches have split up the scouting duties, with Jon Harris scouting the Blue Devils, Tracy Webster preparing for a possible Tuesday game with Michigan and Kent Williams studying for Memphis should the Tigers beat the Wolverines in Monday's Maui Invitational action.
But for Martin, it's all about having UT ready for the Warhawks in what will be one of two non-televised men's basketball games this season.
Sophomore point guard Trae Golden, who's coming off a 29-point, nine-assist, six-rebound performance, said the Vols have bought into Martin's philosophy.
"As a team,'' Golden said, "we look at things one game at a time.''
Golden admitted he would be packing "Tennessee sweat suits and some swim trunks" this afternoon, as the Vols will fly to Maui early Thursday morning.
But, Golden also stressed, "We need to get the job done.''
While Louisiana Monroe might appear harmless — rated No. 324 out of 345 by the Sagarin (computer) Ratings after losses to Ole Miss (60-38) and Indiana State (71-59) — Martin said the Vols must complete certain objectives to control the game.
"We've spent a lot of time focusing on rebounding, offense and defensive rebounding,'' said Martin, whose Vols were out-rebounded by UNC Greensboro, 34-31, in Friday night's 92-63 victory.
Martin said the Warhawks run well in transition, and their motion offense can lead to layups if defenses don't stay disciplined.
Offensively, UT's point of emphasis remains the same.
"We want to get the ball more inside to our bigs, and really feed them so they can be aggressive and have a level of confidence,'' Martin said. "Just to make them feel good about getting the ball inside.''
Martin concedes 6-foot-9 Kenny Hall could use as much confidence as any of his interior players, but he doesn't want to pressure the foul-prone junior post.
"Kenny comes in to watch film, does a good job with that,'' Martin said. "I try not to put a lot of weight on him. It's early in the season. I don't want that to be a big concentration. He hasn't had a lot of touches.''
Hall played 16 minutes against UNCG as a result of foul trouble, making two of the three shots he attempted while grabbing four rebounds.
"But,'' Martin said, "you're talking about one game with 15 threes made. If you go 10 or 11 games and he's not productive, that's an issue.''
Volcanoes, rainbows and whales will have to wait another day.
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32