Let's have a show of hands. How many of you expected the Cuonzo Martin Era to be lighting up scoreboards right out of the gate?
Not me, I confess.
Six games in, Tennessee is averaging 84.7 points a game. UT has fallen short of 80 only once, in a 77-67 loss to Duke.
But that's only half the story. The other side of the scoreboard is lighting up, too.
The Vols rank 268th out of 338 Division I teams in scoring defense — and that
was before Oakland's 89 points Monday night.
UT has lost 99-97 in overtime to Memphis and 89-81 to Oakland.
In 102 games as a head coach at Missouri State, opponents scored 80 points six times on Martin's teams. They've done it twice in six games at UT.
"We've scored a lot,'' Martin said Wednesday, "and we're 3-3. Now the guys understand we can score.
"But let's defend at a high level.''
That, after all, was going to be Martin's trademark, based on his three seasons at Missouri State. Virtually the first words in UT's new basketball media brochure are "smothering defense.''
When the media was allowed to view individual workouts in September, I don't recall anyone attempting a shot. All the drills were about defense.
Let me point out that I don't hear anyone complaining about the early-season performance. The scoring has been impressive, the tempo entertaining and the effort commendable.
It's just a different look than what was expected.
That goes for Martin, too, to an extent.
"I'm fine with it, that we have guys that can score the ball,'' he said. "Our programs have always scored ...
"Offensively, 80 to 90 is great, but defensively, we need to keep that thing right around the 60s.''
Martin is going with what works. He realized his perimeter players especially are "built to score,'' and haven't developed a defensive focus yet.
He can live with it for now, because it's early. But one-on-one defense has to improve. Oakland guard Reggie Hamilton scored 35 points primarily because no UT defender could stay in front of him.
Martin hopes Hamilton's exhibition will appeal to the Vols' sense of pride.
"The last thing you want to do,'' he said, "is go into the locker room and have guys teasing you about a guy scoring 30-plus points on us.''
The teacher in Martin — and the motivator — believes progress will come. The tools are there. It's about the want-to.
As a player at Purdue and as a pro, Martin wanted to. Knee surgery took a step off his quickness but he said he was still a good defender.
"I understood angles,'' he said. "I was where I was supposed to be all the time.''
Junior Dwight Miller said Wednesday he's pondered after every game why the Vols allowed so many baskets.
"We definitely have to fix it,'' said Miller, "to accomplish the goals we set in the beginning of the season.''
Martin will be watching for the fix with great interest.
"If you have pride,'' he said, "somewhat of an ego as a competitor, you'll do something about it.''