Cuonzo Martin: Vols should always be on the hunt

Members of the University of Tennessee men's basketball team pose for their official group photo during media day at Pratt Pavilion Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Members of the University of Tennessee men's basketball team pose for their official group photo during media day at Pratt Pavilion Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Scenes from 2012 UT basketball media day

On Saturday, March 3, 2012, Cuonzo Martin, fresh off a 12-round knockout of rival Vanderbilt, repeated the question.

“Is this an NCAA tournament team?” the Tennessee men’s basketball coach said in a you-know-the-answer kind of way, “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

There was doubt, however, in the minds of the NCAA tournament selection committee.

A one-and-done trip to the SEC tournament and early season missteps sent UT to the NIT.

Standing at midcourt inside Pratt Pavilion on Thursday for UT’s media day, Martin was reminded of that post-Vandy moment. All around him, his players were being asked about the expectations of the 2012-13 season — a trip to the NCAA tournament being No. 1.

Glancing around, Martin said those aspirations can be met. He then delivered a caveat that will serve as the upcoming season’s foundation.

“Only if they’re still ready to hunt,” he said resolutely. “I think when you hunt, you have to do it all the time. Success cannot allow you to be weak. You’ve got to be ready to hunt at all times, regardless of if you did or didn’t make the tournament.

“Until you’re the last team standing, you’re always on the hunt.”

Returning 82.8 percent of his scoring from a team that finished 18-14, Martin has plenty of ammo.

Because of that firepower, media day had an entirely different vibe than that of a year ago.

Back then, the theme was, “Trust us, we’ll be OK.”

This time around, it was junior Trae Golden, saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Asked if he’s the point guard of an NCAA tournament team, Golden added, “Yeah, but we’ve got to work.”

A year collectively spent rebuilding Tennessee basketball has the Vols reading the same script. Golden, along with forwards Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes, occupy starring roles. They’re surrounded by a supporting cast that knows its roles.

“We get each other, we know all the tendencies — who can do what,” said junior guard Jordan McRae.

Assistant coach Tracy Webster echoed McRae, saying, “You can just see it. They’re older. They understand each other.”

That continuity and rapport is a 180 from this time last season when new coaches, new roles and a new system made everything — new.

Now all commodities are known. It starts down low.

McRae didn’t hesitate in saying that Maymon and Stokes give UT one of the best frontcourts in the country. Talking specifically about Stokes, he raised his eyes and succinctly said, “Jarnell … is a monster.”

Stokes agrees.

“I had to really find myself this offseason,” the 18-year-old sophomore said. “I think I found what I love — I love to bury guys in the post and that’s what I look forward to doing to guys this year.”

Martin, meanwhile, had little interest in speaking of past accomplishments or current aspirations.

The first day of practice is today. The first game is Nov. 9 against Kennesaw State at Thompson-Boling Arena.

That’s all that matters.

“By the looks of things with workouts, they put the work and time into it but there is still plenty of work to be done,” Martin said.

That’s because UT still likely will be picked behind Kentucky, Florida and possibly Missouri in the SEC.

Time to hunt.

“The end of last season,” Golden said, “added fuel to the fire.”

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 30

CoverOrange writes:

Expectations are going to be higher this year from the fans even if expectations are lower by the media heads.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

We have plenty of talent thats not the problem we just aint got a coach that can coach the talent...sad real sad hopefully Hart has someone in mind at the end of this season

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to BigOrangeSmoker:

We have plenty of talent thats not the problem we just aint got a coach that can coach the talent...sad real sad hopefully Hart has someone in mind at the end of this season

You must be confused, this was about basketball not football. I think last year proved Martin can coach, not so confident in having enough tournament type players, but time will tell.

atnvol#283282 writes:

I like our coach....and I appreciate all that he brings to this program. Thanks for all the class Coach Martin. Good Luck...which will come as hard work always embraces with good fortune.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

CAN'T wait! Vols #1. Well at least we'll be in the "hunt"!

Go Vols.

BolivrBob writes:

in response to BigOrangeSmoker:

We have plenty of talent thats not the problem we just aint got a coach that can coach the talent...sad real sad hopefully Hart has someone in mind at the end of this season

You're definitely smoking something.

usafvol writes:

in response to BigOrangeSmoker:

We have plenty of talent thats not the problem we just aint got a coach that can coach the talent...sad real sad hopefully Hart has someone in mind at the end of this season

Are you serious? You really should lay off the smoke for a while there Beavis..

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to usafvol:

Are you serious? You really should lay off the smoke for a while there Beavis..

Yep Beavis and Butthead (one or so posts up)!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I didn't really mean you are a But_____! I can't seem to actually call people names without apologizing. Even But____s.
GBO Go Vols.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to atnvol#283282:

I like our coach....and I appreciate all that he brings to this program. Thanks for all the class Coach Martin. Good Luck...which will come as hard work always embraces with good fortune.

My goal is on this site to find one or two positive posts in which to reply. Good job.

usafvol writes:

We got a steal in this guy. Coach Martin is old school (tough defense) and teams don't want to play us, that's for sure. We had a great season and I fully expect us to have a better one this year..

CoverOrange writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

My goal is on this site to find one or two positive posts in which to reply. Good job.

Congrats Mocs on hitting the 4000 post milestone! Was that positive?

voloffaith writes:

in response to BigOrangeSmoker:

We have plenty of talent thats not the problem we just aint got a coach that can coach the talent...sad real sad hopefully Hart has someone in mind at the end of this season

Late night? Tired when posting? Didn't read your post b4 sending? C'mon now we think you are a troll or KNS pot(ha ha) stirrer.....

On topic, excited to see if the can kick it up a notch or two over last year.....

BigBadVol writes:

in response to BigOrangeSmoker:

We have plenty of talent thats not the problem we just aint got a coach that can coach the talent...sad real sad hopefully Hart has someone in mind at the end of this season

Could you be any dumber?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Congrats Mocs on hitting the 4000 post milestone! Was that positive?

4001

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Congrats Mocs on hitting the 4000 post milestone! Was that positive?

Congrats to you for closing in on 5000. But you probably have been here a lot longer. I've only been posting 3-4 years...not sure.

crappieking writes:

Unlike Dooley, CCM expects a lot from his players. His team did not quit once last year. Can't say the same about the football team. Enter Kentucky.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Congrats to you for closing in on 5000. But you probably have been here a lot longer. I've only been posting 3-4 years...not sure.

This incarnation started in June 2007. I was on the pay site before that but those posts don't count. Was averaging 1000 posts per year but annoyance of trolls slowed my interest in the last year or so.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to crappieking:

Unlike Dooley, CCM expects a lot from his players. His team did not quit once last year. Can't say the same about the football team. Enter Kentucky.

Did you see the Oakland game last year? Not only did they quit, they didn't even get off the bus.

UTVolWarrior98 writes:

I am from and live in Detroit suburbs..I was at that Oakland game! They looked like complete garbage and were unenthused..thought they could just show up and win. That number 35 Anderson guy lit us up..one of the worst UT bball games Ive ever been to!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

What are you guys talking about? Stokes will be one of the best players in the conference if not the country. He's developed a decent jumper to go with his inside game. He and Maymon will be tough to deal with. And we should have really good depth this year.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

What are you guys talking about? Stokes will be one of the best players in the conference if not the country. He's developed a decent jumper to go with his inside game. He and Maymon will be tough to deal with. And we should have really good depth this year.

You're absolutely right. PLUS the bad games we had last season actually spoke to the don't quit in Martin. He didn't give up on his team even when the team had given up. I'll tell you he played Golden when I wouldn't have. He stuck with Tatum for his hustle and defense even when everyone on here thought it was crazy to keep playing him(me too). He definitley will not let them play if they don't play D. I respect that a lot. He also takes them out if they don't shoot!lol I have to sometimes wonder about that. But hey it seems to be working. He's the coach and he knows a lot more than I do about his team and what he wants them to accomplish.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Did you see the Oakland game last year? Not only did they quit, they didn't even get off the bus.

NO one will argue that game.The only explanation I can think of is that they were a new team and coach. That is they were new together. They were a little out-manned at the point position because Golden was new at point. Our reserves were all new and our starters hadn't played together much. It'll be better now. I honestly can't predict how we'll do but I think and hope it'll be well enough. We're a more veteran team than most the other top SEC. Missouri? A little worried but we can handle them. Florida never plays

CoverOrange writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

NO one will argue that game.The only explanation I can think of is that they were a new team and coach. That is they were new together. They were a little out-manned at the point position because Golden was new at point. Our reserves were all new and our starters hadn't played together much. It'll be better now. I honestly can't predict how we'll do but I think and hope it'll be well enough. We're a more veteran team than most the other top SEC. Missouri? A little worried but we can handle them. Florida never plays

I think there were several factors in play in that game. 1. 5 days back from Maui. 2. They believed their press clippings from Maui 3. They didn't believe in Martin's style and tried to play Pearl like street ball.

I liken that two month transformation period to the moment in Hoosiers when Gene Hackman told his best player to sit while he had only 4 on the floor. They had to be broken before they could be rebuilt Martin's way.

ashvol7 writes:

in response to BigOrangeSmoker:

We have plenty of talent thats not the problem we just aint got a coach that can coach the talent...sad real sad hopefully Hart has someone in mind at the end of this season

You amaze me,sounds like you would not know a good coach from a bad one! Looked what he did last year and should do better this year. Just maybe he will not get us in trouble, Pearl did not know the truth. How did that work out for you?

cloudodust writes:

Stokes is the key to all things inside which can translate to an outside wide open. That being said, Maymon will get his if the feeds are there when they collapse on Stokes. Haven't seen the expectations this big for an inside game Atop Rocky in years...

John_10065 writes:

We're going to surprise some folks. I've been impressed with Martin and there are a lot of signs that the players have bought into his coaching style and have congealed into a cohesive unit.

It has a feeling of a great season. No matter what the clowns around this site think, last year was a success under the circumstances. We’re going to split with our nemesis to the north this year and tromp a lot of people who think we’re pretenders.

hickoryvol writes:

No matter which sport you read about on this site there has to be some so called fan wanting to fire a coach. PATHETIC

smokeygrowl writes:

Guys Vols will be in NCaa tourney. Maymon Stokes and Golden will see to that. I think we are going to finish ahead of Kentucky. Martins teams are tough on D. We got some older player with a few years in the weight room going up against a bunch of skinny freshmen. Without Davis Cal will have his hands full with the Large Orange. I know how talented Ky freshman are but u can't always mold young teams the way Cats did last year. Cal opened the donors pocketbook again for another top class. you just can't win too many titles with a all freshman team every year and Davis is gone. maymonne and stokes will push those sticks all over the place.WE ARE COMIN KY FANS

smokeygrowl writes:

Martin mi quoted. he should know by coach Fulmer we are not on the hunt. We are in the mix and in the hunt.

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