"It's over with and in the wind," UT's first-year coach said on Tuesday. "It's time to move on, refocus, regroup and get ready to get back to work.
"We don't begin with starters in place; we have guys who started coming back, we have new guys coming in, and every position is available."
One of the winningest Tennessee season-ending runs in recent history crashed to an end when the Blue Raiders (27-6) used a 15-0 run the final six minutes to overcome an eight-point deficit and score a 71-64 victory in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament at Thompson-Boling Arena.
As much as it bothered Martin to see the Vols (19-15) lose on their home court — where UT had won eight straight and 13 of 14 entering Monday's game — the way his team was defeated was an even tougher pill to swallow.
The problem for Martin was that the manner in which MTSU won the game was neither unexpected nor surprising.
"If you look down the stretch of games, you look at how teams won games (against the Vols), they won off the ball screen with their point guard attacking the rim," Martin said. "You look at most games, that's the bottom line."
Bruce Massey averaged fewer points per game (5.5) than any MTSU starter, but against UT, the point guard went off for a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds against defender Trae Golden.
Blue Raiders coach Kermit Davis said he had, indeed, studied film of the Vols' recent games and saw the high ball screen trend from UT opponents.
But even Davis, the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, couldn't have anticipated the success Massey would have down the stretch, scoring eight of his points in the final six minutes.
"The game just unfolded that way," Davis said, "and (Massey) just felt like he was going to have a chance to score and attack the rim."
Massey said in the postgame interview that Davis and his teammates told him Golden was growing tired, and that he should attack him off the dribble.
To Golden's credit, he did score 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting and dished out eight assists without committing a turnover.
But as Martin has stressed since taking over the job, his version of Tennessee basketball must hang its hat on defense to be successful.
There were other factors in the UT loss: The Blue Raiders out-rebounded the Vols 46-30, and Tennessee was 1-of-13 shooting beyond the 3-point arc despite many open looks.
Martin wondered aloud if concentration was a factor in UT's 19-of-30 (63.3 percent) free-throw shooting performance, and on Tuesday suggested his team might not have appreciated the NIT enough.
"You want to be an NCAA tournament team, and you were just right there, you put yourselves in position," Martin said. "Then you don't get in, and as a competitor that takes a lot out of you mentally and physically, and getting back up is not an easy thing to do.
"As a whole, I just don't know if everyone was excited."
Martin, however, said he's still proud of the players' resolve and growth over the course of the season.
Only one other UT team during the past 40 years closed the regular season with eight wins in its final nine games, the 2007-08 squad led by All-American Chris Lofton that finished the season No. 1 in the RPI rankings.
This season's team finished second in the SEC and matched last season's record despite losing four starters and being picked to finish 11th in the league at the preseason Media Day in October.
"I saw the guys get better without a doubt," Martin said. "Next year we're planning on being one of the best teams in the country, that's the bottom line."
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32