Cuonzo Martin remains confident, focused

It was a different Tennessee locker room in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday afternoon.

For the first time in February, UT coach Cuonzo Martin had to address the losing team after Alabama handed the Vols a 62-50 defeat before a sold-out Coleman Coliseum crowd.

"It was a case where they were down about the loss," Martin said Sunday night. "But no more down than other games we've lost.

"It wasn't a case of this being the end of the world."

Tennessee dropped to 14-12 overall and 6-6 in the SEC, but with four games left in the regular season and the league tournament fast approaching, there's still a light at the end of the tunnel.

Martin said he's not concerned how others outside of his team view his team's postseason hopes; he looks at how hard his players are working and sees a bright future for men's basketball in Knoxville.

The Vols, who remain knotted in a four-way tie for fourth in the league even after having their four-game win streak snapped, will try to get back on track at 7 p.m. Wednesday (TV: CSS) at Thompson-Boling Arena against Ole Miss (15-11, 5-7).

"I tell our guys, you play and compete — you don't worry about the scoreboard," Martin said. "We came up short Saturday, and we didn't play as well as we were capable of playing against a hungry team.

"So now we come back to practice, we regroup, and we get ready for the next one."

Home Sweet Home: The Vols have won 10 of their past 11 in Thompson-Boling Arena and rank sixth in the nation in attendance behind Wisconsin.

UT is shooting 36 percent from beyond the 3-point line on the season, hitting a respectable 38 percent at home.

The Vols made 39 percent of their 3-point shots on the neutral floor of the EA Sports Maui Classic from Nov. 21-23, but it has been a bumpy road: UT is making only 31 percent of its shots in opponents' gyms; 30 percent as an SEC visitor.

Skylar McBee is 13-of-29 (44.8 percent) shooting the 3-pointer in home SEC games, Jordan McRae is 9-of-22 (40.9 percent) and Josh Richardson had made four of six 3-point attempts in Thompson-Boling Arena in SEC home games.

While McBee is coming off an 0-for-6 effort shooting the three at Alabama, he was 4-of-7 shooting beyond the arc in his previous three games.

Senior Cam Tatum went 0-for-5 shooting the three at Alabama, making him 0-for-12 in SEC road games. Tatum, however, is 9-of-29 (31 percent) shooting the three in SEC home games, including sinking three of his past eight at home.

Golden Assessment: Trae Golden gave a number of reasons why the Tide outclassed the Vols.

"Turnovers; we turned the ball over three or four times in a row, we weren't knocking shots down at all, it was a rough night," said Golden, who committed six of the Vols' 17 turnovers in Tuscaloosa. "They were making good plays, their defensive was effective and they were beating us off the dribble.

"I didn't do a really good job of controlling the team tonight. We got across half court and were shooting quick shots and turning the ball over," he said. "We have to pick up our defense and rebounding and taking care of the ball. We had 17 turnovers, and that's not gonna win us any big games."

Freshman wall?: UT forward Jarnell Stokes said his two early fouls at Alabama were "dumb," and he indicated he would do some soul-searching after his eight-point, eight-rebound outing.

"I'm not as aggressive as I was," said Stokes, who has scored in double figures in just one of his past five games. "I'm not making the plays I was early on; I've got to figure it out."

RPI Talk: The Vols RPI dropped three spots, to 109, with the loss to Alabama. Ole Miss has an RPI of 59.

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

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 41

Ironcity writes:

Each game for this team is a struggle but 3-1 would be a great finish to the SEC and CCM. Coach Martin has great potential as a coach and I hope he grows with this team next year. Ole Miss is a tough team but so far they have not had the mental make up to keep it together an entire game. Lets see if UT can whip them and then take care of business against a team in USC who can't wait for the season to end.

CoverOrange writes:

Stokes is suffering the same thing the team did in December and January. Coach is demanding focus on defense which comes at the expense of offense. Hope he can pick it up faster than the rest of the team.

NYvolFan writes:

Zo has a good grip I feel...win the next 4. Plus 2-1 in New Orleans....grab a 6 or 7 seed until the final versus UK.

BigHornBuckShot writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Stokes is suffering the same thing the team did in December and January. Coach is demanding focus on defense which comes at the expense of offense. Hope he can pick it up faster than the rest of the team.

Finally someone with some basketball sense on here. If you put too much pressure on the defensive end it effects the offensive end. There is two things called a shot clock, and a zone. Use them Coach Martin. Quit being so bull headed. Look to Coach Summitt, the best, and see what she does.

brod writes:

as poorly as this team plays on the road, nit would be a great accomplishment. at this point any talk about the ncaa tourney is ridiculous. ole miss played uk well in rupp. very important game coming up on wednesday night.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

BIGHORNBUCKSHOT??? So how is your view better than Martin's? lol Did KNS make up that name or did you?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to brod:

as poorly as this team plays on the road, nit would be a great accomplishment. at this point any talk about the ncaa tourney is ridiculous. ole miss played uk well in rupp. very important game coming up on wednesday night.

It may be an important game but it's the worst night of the week to watch, for me at least. It makes for a very long day usually.
You're right though. We need to take them one at a time and really play great defense. On offense we just need to protect the ball. "Value" each possession.

rbhale writes:

UT-K can thank The Good Lord Austin Peay, Oakland College and College of Charleston aren't coming to town the rest of the season......

NYvolFan writes:

KNS is nuts

NYvolFan writes:

But Vandy is...

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

UT will not beat teams with true Bigs. UT will not beat Vandy who just put up the most SEC road points since 1969 when they scored 102 vs Ole Miss this week. Ezeli has already dominated this team once and Taylor is a matchup nightmare. LSU is the most improved team in the SEC and the best dark horse for the NCAA with their 7 footer getting better every game. I predicted a 2-5 finish for the Vols and Im sticking to it even though I had Florida as a loss. That would leave the Vols 15-15 and then they will have to win at least 1 SEC Tourney game to become NIT eligible. Until Martin gets a true Center, UT cant beat Big teams with two power forwards playing inside.

Saban_Palin writes:

Skylar McBee is a stud.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to rbhale:

UT-K can thank The Good Lord Austin Peay, Oakland College and College of Charleston aren't coming to town the rest of the season......

Guys I been around here for a long time BUT this may be the worst post I have ever read...WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHY BE BLASPHEMOUS? Really, man you can do better than this...I personally would LOVE to have those teams visit THIS Vol team...No where near the same team that played them...But living in a nursing home probably shields you from these basic facts....Nah, its too easy..

tnvol4ever writes:

Does Tatum remind anyone besides me of Tony Harris. Both guys just totally lost their ability to make a shot toward the end of their careers. Jordan McRae should be getting Tatum's minutes.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

UT will not beat teams with true Bigs. UT will not beat Vandy who just put up the most SEC road points since 1969 when they scored 102 vs Ole Miss this week. Ezeli has already dominated this team once and Taylor is a matchup nightmare. LSU is the most improved team in the SEC and the best dark horse for the NCAA with their 7 footer getting better every game. I predicted a 2-5 finish for the Vols and Im sticking to it even though I had Florida as a loss. That would leave the Vols 15-15 and then they will have to win at least 1 SEC Tourney game to become NIT eligible. Until Martin gets a true Center, UT cant beat Big teams with two power forwards playing inside.

Easy PH, easy...Is that definitely can't "I'm willing to stake my reputation as a PHers" or "Man I sure hope they can't beat a team with a legit center and two power forwards"...funny stuff...

bogey74 writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

UT will not beat teams with true Bigs. UT will not beat Vandy who just put up the most SEC road points since 1969 when they scored 102 vs Ole Miss this week. Ezeli has already dominated this team once and Taylor is a matchup nightmare. LSU is the most improved team in the SEC and the best dark horse for the NCAA with their 7 footer getting better every game. I predicted a 2-5 finish for the Vols and Im sticking to it even though I had Florida as a loss. That would leave the Vols 15-15 and then they will have to win at least 1 SEC Tourney game to become NIT eligible. Until Martin gets a true Center, UT cant beat Big teams with two power forwards playing inside.

Short or selective memory - Connecticut...

GerryOP writes:

I'm certainly glad that Coach Zo is leading our basketVols and not some of the self-proclaimed experts on here!

VolGrad writes:

Pick up the pieces and move on. Go Vols!

Beat Ole Miss!!!

carbonzip writes:

I don't think the players expected Alabama to play as well as they did. Vols ran over Ark. and then went to Alabama with their stars on suspension. We need Hall back.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

UT will not beat teams with true Bigs. UT will not beat Vandy who just put up the most SEC road points since 1969 when they scored 102 vs Ole Miss this week. Ezeli has already dominated this team once and Taylor is a matchup nightmare. LSU is the most improved team in the SEC and the best dark horse for the NCAA with their 7 footer getting better every game. I predicted a 2-5 finish for the Vols and Im sticking to it even though I had Florida as a loss. That would leave the Vols 15-15 and then they will have to win at least 1 SEC Tourney game to become NIT eligible. Until Martin gets a true Center, UT cant beat Big teams with two power forwards playing inside.

Tell me, ohknowitallez, is Stokes not a true center? If not, why not? And doesn't Florida have "true bigs?"

BolivrBob writes:

in response to GerryOP:

I'm certainly glad that Coach Zo is leading our basketVols and not some of the self-proclaimed experts on here!

"Like"

Southland writes:

NIT at best but that is a good start for Coach Martin and next years team should really be good.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Guys I been around here for a long time BUT this may be the worst post I have ever read...WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHY BE BLASPHEMOUS? Really, man you can do better than this...I personally would LOVE to have those teams visit THIS Vol team...No where near the same team that played them...But living in a nursing home probably shields you from these basic facts....Nah, its too easy..

For one thing, I don't think this is CLOSE to the worst post on here, except for the gratuitous reference to God; the competition is REALLY tough for that honor. Second, this may BE the best he can do. I don't recall seeing his screen name on here before; maybe this is the first time he got up enough nerve to try posting. If so, he needs more off-line practice; he might start on the Etch-a-Sketch in the nursing home's rec room. He probably thinks it's a laptop anyway.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Easy PH, easy...Is that definitely can't "I'm willing to stake my reputation as a PHers" or "Man I sure hope they can't beat a team with a legit center and two power forwards"...funny stuff...

In PH's defense--words that seldom appear in any of my posts--I think he was talking about the Vols trying to beat a team with a true center with THEIR power forwards, e.g., Maymon and Stokes. Of course, PH writes so poorly it is sometimes hard to know just what he DOES mean.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to amyinsparta:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When the Vols' shots are going in, they look pretty good on offense. When they aren't going in, NO team looks good on offense. Great defense gives you a shot to win in either case. The biggest problem in the Bama loss was the turnovers. They not only gave Bama easy points, they cut down on the Vols' chances to score, especially shooting as poorly as they did.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to doesitmatter:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And so he should just TELL them they are horrible? Maybe your parents told you how horrible YOU were all the time, which may be why you are the miserable person you seem to be on here. Come to think of it, probably everybody you know tells you how horrible you are, and this is the only place you can try to assuage your disappointment with your own life.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Stokes is suffering the same thing the team did in December and January. Coach is demanding focus on defense which comes at the expense of offense. Hope he can pick it up faster than the rest of the team.

Stokes is a high school senior in age and in basketball IQ. Obviously, though, he is still a help to us this season, because of his work ethic and talent. But that is being partially offset these days by opposing coaches scheming for him after they see the tape of his college games. He will be a huge beneficiary of off-season training and pre-season camp with the returning team. We need Hall to come back quickly for us to maximize our chances at post season play.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Stokes is a high school senior in age and in basketball IQ. Obviously, though, he is still a help to us this season, because of his work ethic and talent. But that is being partially offset these days by opposing coaches scheming for him after they see the tape of his college games. He will be a huge beneficiary of off-season training and pre-season camp with the returning team. We need Hall to come back quickly for us to maximize our chances at post season play.

Agree completely about Stokes; he will be a different player next year, probably no worse than second-team preseason All-SEC. As for Hall, it depends on what he has been suspended for. Whatever it is, we all hate that it happened, since it seemed he had started playing better before whatever it was came up. No doubt we could use THAT Kenny Hall the rest of the way.

GONAVY writes:

in response to GerryOP:

I'm certainly glad that Coach Zo is leading our basketVols and not some of the self-proclaimed experts on here!

:)

GONAVY writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Tell me, ohknowitallez, is Stokes not a true center? If not, why not? And doesn't Florida have "true bigs?"

Stokes is not a "true" center. At 6' 8' and a wide body he's placed there and is being asked to fill the role.

rbhale writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Guys I been around here for a long time BUT this may be the worst post I have ever read...WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHY BE BLASPHEMOUS? Really, man you can do better than this...I personally would LOVE to have those teams visit THIS Vol team...No where near the same team that played them...But living in a nursing home probably shields you from these basic facts....Nah, its too easy..

It simply means Peay, Oakland and Charleston are better teams. They all beat UT@K. If UT@K is being considered for post season, these teams should go beforehand. BTW, I'm decades from being regulated to a nursing home, thank you very much.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to GONAVY:

Stokes is not a "true" center. At 6' 8' and a wide body he's placed there and is being asked to fill the role.

Perhaps, but I see a guy who plays with his back to the basket very well. That he can face up and also knock down short jumpers is a bonus. He is 'only' 6'8", but with his big body it makes him more of a center than a power forward in terms of quickness. I recall Wes Unseld was shorter than Stokes and had that wide body, and he was an All Pro Center in an era of the NBA known for its 7 footers. But perhaps Hall would be a better center next season and Stokes at the four? I'm not an expert, just asking the question, really. I trust the coach to make the right decisions.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Agree completely about Stokes; he will be a different player next year, probably no worse than second-team preseason All-SEC. As for Hall, it depends on what he has been suspended for. Whatever it is, we all hate that it happened, since it seemed he had started playing better before whatever it was came up. No doubt we could use THAT Kenny Hall the rest of the way.

Yep. I am very disappointed in Kenny for doing this just when the team was starting to make a late-season charge to the post season. It has definitely taken some of the air out of our balloon. I hope we can get this straightened out and get the team back together soon. We need Kenny for next year, big-time.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Yep. I am very disappointed in Kenny for doing this just when the team was starting to make a late-season charge to the post season. It has definitely taken some of the air out of our balloon. I hope we can get this straightened out and get the team back together soon. We need Kenny for next year, big-time.

IF we can get back a suitably chastened and motivated Hall at ANY point, it will help, but, IMHO, we don't need him all that desperately for next year. We will have Maymon, Stokes, Miller, and Makanjuola available to play the post next year. Both of the latter two should be a good deal better next year than they were this year, based on how much others have improved since last year.

If for any reason Hall does NOT get fully in synch with the program in a timely manner, I would just as soon let him go so Martin would have another scholarship in the fall signing period for a YOUNG big man who they might have for another three or four years. Even better if they could get one in the spring signing period; then they could either play him in 2012-3 if he was ready or redshirt him if he is not.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Guys I been around here for a long time BUT this may be the worst post I have ever read...WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHY BE BLASPHEMOUS? Really, man you can do better than this...I personally would LOVE to have those teams visit THIS Vol team...No where near the same team that played them...But living in a nursing home probably shields you from these basic facts....Nah, its too easy..

I can't believe you!! You just insulted every person I ever met from a nursing home!? Whta you got against old people?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

For one thing, I don't think this is CLOSE to the worst post on here, except for the gratuitous reference to God; the competition is REALLY tough for that honor. Second, this may BE the best he can do. I don't recall seeing his screen name on here before; maybe this is the first time he got up enough nerve to try posting. If so, he needs more off-line practice; he might start on the Etch-a-Sketch in the nursing home's rec room. He probably thinks it's a laptop anyway.

YOu too...what I said totennrich1!!?lol

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to rbhale:

It simply means Peay, Oakland and Charleston are better teams. They all beat UT@K. If UT@K is being considered for post season, these teams should go beforehand. BTW, I'm decades from being regulated to a nursing home, thank you very much.

NOT that there is anything wrong with a nursing home. I'm not decades away...though I think maybe 2 decades I hope that I live that long!

GONAVY writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Perhaps, but I see a guy who plays with his back to the basket very well. That he can face up and also knock down short jumpers is a bonus. He is 'only' 6'8", but with his big body it makes him more of a center than a power forward in terms of quickness. I recall Wes Unseld was shorter than Stokes and had that wide body, and he was an All Pro Center in an era of the NBA known for its 7 footers. But perhaps Hall would be a better center next season and Stokes at the four? I'm not an expert, just asking the question, really. I trust the coach to make the right decisions.

Unseld was from a different era, ('68-81) as a pro. At 6' 7" and 245 lb., he was smaller than Stokes whom I think tips the scales at 270lb? I'm referencing today's college game and "so called" centers; in the SEC alone: Davis, Ezeli, Sidney etc; all around 6'11. Or the combo Melo/Keita at Syracuse...these are examples of what I was comparing Stokes to. In today's game, to me Stokes is a legitimate power forward who is playing more of a Center role due to roster. This discussion could go on forever.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to GONAVY:

Unseld was from a different era, ('68-81) as a pro. At 6' 7" and 245 lb., he was smaller than Stokes whom I think tips the scales at 270lb? I'm referencing today's college game and "so called" centers; in the SEC alone: Davis, Ezeli, Sidney etc; all around 6'11. Or the combo Melo/Keita at Syracuse...these are examples of what I was comparing Stokes to. In today's game, to me Stokes is a legitimate power forward who is playing more of a Center role due to roster. This discussion could go on forever.

I'm pretty sure Unseld was a good deal heavier than 245. I remember him in college and he was bigger than that then. As a pro, I think he played most of his career at better than 260. He had long arms and no neck, so the height of his shoulders made him functionally as tall as somebody 6'10" or better, and with that wide body and low center of gravity he was almost impossible to move. But of course you are right; discussions like this could go on forever and it is always dicey to try to compare players from different eras.

johnlg00 writes:

PS: Dejuan (I think that is his first name) Blair who played at Pittsburgh and is now in San Antonio has been a frequent starter for several years now and does a fine job for being no bigger than Stokes is now. Chuck Hayes also started a lot at center, most notably for the Houston Rockets, at no more than 6'6" or so. Height is nice, but it takes much more than that to play center effectively, even in today's NBA.

johnlg00 writes:

Dang! Meant to say that Blair has started at CENTER for the Spurs, on at least one of their championship teams, IIRC.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features