The guy is always the same from one day to the next. From one hour to the next.
You wouldn't know whether he just won the Powerball or buried his dog.
The observation was meant as a compliment. At this advanced stage of the 2011-12 season, we can see why.
The Vols have weathered rough seas and emerged steering a course in the right direction toward March Madness and — big picture — into future seasons.
"You know what you're going to get," senior Cameron Tatum said Monday.
"It's going to be hard-nosed practices and hard-nosed games. He'll be straightforward with you all the time.
"It's very helpful."
This Tennessee team needed help. The majority of last year's rotation was scattered to the four winds along with the coaching staff that recruited them. It was a new ballgame.
"With a new coach," Martin said, "we didn't have the luxury of getting out of the gate with some confidence, with your head up.
"We had to have some tough losses and learn from it."
Tough losses like Austin Peay and College of Charleston the same week in December.
Like getting routed and taunted at Memphis. Like a 25-turnover fiasco at Vanderbilt that left the Vols 1-4 in the young SEC race.
Through it all, the new coach never wavered. From consistency comes confidence. The players knew what they were going to get.
"That's the way he's been, not just in basketball, but as a person since I've known him," assistant coach Kent Williams said.
"He's a very balanced person. He stays that way."
Williams has been coaching with Martin for seven years: three on Matt Painter's staff at Purdue, three more when Martin got the Missouri State job and now in the maiden voyage at Tennessee.
"He's been as consistent from day one as you could
possibly be," Williams said.
"Now he may tweak some things here and there, X-and-O wise, but as far as running our program and staying on top of it, that's his model. To be consistent."
It was a model that worked at Missouri State. Year One was a rebuild. The Bears finished 11-20. They won 24 games the next year, then 26 and a conference title the third year.
"There are definitely some parallels," Williams said. "That team had lost a lot of their best players and scorers. Same thing here."
Martin speaks of staying the course. He means it.
In the dark days of December some wondered, for example, if a zone defense wouldn't be a good idea.
"That's not who we are," Martin said Monday. "I remember as a player, when you see the coach constantly changing, he's in the huddle wavering, second-guessing, doubting, I understood what was going on.
"I fed off that, because you follow his lead."
That's not the lead Martin would have his players follow. There is a blueprint. You stick to it.
"Eventually," said Tatum, "you buy in."
In buying in, the team got tougher. It got smarter. The wins are coming. They don't come easily, but they're coming.
But losing in December or winning in February, the blueprint does not change.
You know what you're going to get. It's very helpful.