N.C. State loss leaves Tennessee men's basketball team searching for season-shifting changes

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin talks to Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) on the sideline during the first half at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin talks to Tennessee guard Jordan McRae (52) on the sideline during the first half at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Beneath Jordan McRae’s crossed arms was the reminder that it wasn’t supposed to be this way.

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Comments » 14

wigmeister writes:

McRea is the only baller we have right now. No one else has come even close to stepping up. What should have been a good season is now a morass. I am watching the Duke-UCLA game and it just magnifies how truly sad this team is. We have one true shooter, McRae. Other than that we only have spotty shooters, awful free throw shooters, and the offensive scheme sucks. They ought to make the players watch the Lady Vols work. No lack of hustle there.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

I hate to even post this; I have always been supportive of whoever is selected to lead our teams. They know more than I do. However, the old saying, "You are what your record says you are," applies to this team. Thus far, they simply do not show up prepared to play. Is it not fair to say this group of athletes are probably more talented than Pearl's first couple of classes? Almost immediately, those teams stepped it up and played most nights to their capabilities. This crowd, more often than not, simply fails to do so. Where does the buck stop?

Except McCrae, these are Martin's picks. He recruited them, he (supposedly) prepares them and he game manages them. Their failures are his.

A solution to this looms as neither quick, simple or pretty. This team is mediocre and without a drastic turn-around, is likely to stay that way. Next year? What evidence do we have that it will improve. Has not for two-plus, yet.

I love the Vols; I may just tune out this team as they are not winners.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

The only change they need to make is to play with passion.
That's it in a nutshell.
These guys have no passion.
It shows.
And it starts at the top.
Coach Martin displays no passion.
Passion doesn't have to be loud.
Coach Summit's famous stare was never accompanied by a shout, but can anyone deny the passion in that glare?

Columbo writes:

"It's a long season. We can go 0-30, win the SEC, and we're in the tournament".
That's the problem, and the mind-set of this team. It's been that way for three years now.

b24vol writes:

Martin has the most talent since he's been here and we still can't win the big games. Team is playing hard but do we really have a shot to make the NCAA's again??? The bad part is we'll lose 4-5 starters after this season and get to start all over again...

fannotsheep writes:

I've got a mid-season change for you: Fire Cuonzo and hire Pearl and Tony Jones back. Today.

Otherwise, UT basketball goes where it was after the Wade Houston hiring disaster, and where the football program has been the past 5 years.

Time to clean house on the Hill and it starts at the top. If Cheek won't be satisfied until his Gators can beat the UT basketball team with regularity, he can go swim in the swamp.

Somebody said the SEC office won't like it if we hire Pearl back. Well I have a news flash for them: We made the politically correct hire after we threw the best college basketball coach this side of Raleigh Durham under the bus, and now look where we are. So it's somebody else's turn.

I was watching several SEC games on cable the past two weeks and Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss had maybe 200 fans in the stands. That is where the Cuonzo train is heading. I've sat here and tried to be supportive long enough. He is wasting too much talent this year to remain silent.

namici#1422384 writes:

"The senior, who has been slowed with a left leg injury and hangnail on his shooting hand..."

Are you effing serious??? A hangnail!?!?!?

WORST EXCUSE EVER

GoVolsinKY writes:

This is the last year for Bruce's suspension. Just sayin'.... This team has so much talent but not even fun to watch!

ben.frederickson#1436552 writes:

in response to namici#1422384:

"The senior, who has been slowed with a left leg injury and hangnail on his shooting hand..."

Are you effing serious??? A hangnail!?!?!?

WORST EXCUSE EVER

Here is some more info on Barton's injuries, if interested.

http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2013/d...

irishcoffee writes:

the team came out of the gate slow in the first game against Xavier, against UTEP, as well as TN Tech for crying out loud. NC State was the rule, not the exception. a team has a tendency to take on the personality of the coach. i think we are seeing that. i'm sure conzo has a passion for the game, but his personality is such that it does not show. some one needs to light a fire. dave?

ProudVol writes:

in response to fannotsheep:

I've got a mid-season change for you: Fire Cuonzo and hire Pearl and Tony Jones back. Today.

Otherwise, UT basketball goes where it was after the Wade Houston hiring disaster, and where the football program has been the past 5 years.

Time to clean house on the Hill and it starts at the top. If Cheek won't be satisfied until his Gators can beat the UT basketball team with regularity, he can go swim in the swamp.

Somebody said the SEC office won't like it if we hire Pearl back. Well I have a news flash for them: We made the politically correct hire after we threw the best college basketball coach this side of Raleigh Durham under the bus, and now look where we are. So it's somebody else's turn.

I was watching several SEC games on cable the past two weeks and Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss had maybe 200 fans in the stands. That is where the Cuonzo train is heading. I've sat here and tried to be supportive long enough. He is wasting too much talent this year to remain silent.

Ummm…Bruce Pearl got a three-year show cause penalty, so he is not currently eligible to coach in the NCAA.

ray61 writes:

Blame John Adams and Fulmer.

fannotsheep writes:

in response to ProudVol:

Ummm…Bruce Pearl got a three-year show cause penalty, so he is not currently eligible to coach in the NCAA.

I thought the school could bring him back and that he would be restricted with recruiting. Anyway, I really suppose Martin should have the opportunity to try to turn it around.

But if the amount of talent being squandered at UT right now is not "showing cause" as to why we need Pearl, I don't know how you could show that. At this point I feel that Pearl and the basketball program have been enormously punished for breaking a rule that is no longer a rule. I acknowledge that covering it up brought the penalty but there's certainly extenuating circumstances here. Everyone knows Pearl was the subject of a witch hunt for his apparently unpardonable sin decades ago.

The NCAA is about as broken and corrupt an organization as exists in this once-great country of ours. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse, those NCAA guys know a hell of a lot about cheating and lying.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to fannotsheep:

I thought the school could bring him back and that he would be restricted with recruiting. Anyway, I really suppose Martin should have the opportunity to try to turn it around.

But if the amount of talent being squandered at UT right now is not "showing cause" as to why we need Pearl, I don't know how you could show that. At this point I feel that Pearl and the basketball program have been enormously punished for breaking a rule that is no longer a rule. I acknowledge that covering it up brought the penalty but there's certainly extenuating circumstances here. Everyone knows Pearl was the subject of a witch hunt for his apparently unpardonable sin decades ago.

The NCAA is about as broken and corrupt an organization as exists in this once-great country of ours. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse, those NCAA guys know a hell of a lot about cheating and lying.

I couldn't say what all is involved in a "show-cause" order, but there must more to it than a few recruiting restrictions or lost scholarships or there would have been more schools defying them.

As for Martin, I agree that he should have the chance to turn the season around, not least because there is no credible alternative before the season is over, whether or not UT decides to try to secure Pearl for the job before the show-cause expires.

As for Pearl, if he can overcome what seems to be the opposition of certain administrative higher-up, I would welcome him back. I don't think UT would pay what it would take to get one of the established coaching icons, e.g., Izzo, Coach K., Roy Williams, Rick Pittino, Calapari, et.al., even if one imagined for a moment that such a person would take the job. The most promising next-tier guys, e.g., Marshall, Smart, et.al, have mostly been locked up by extremely favorable contracts such that it would take a Hall-of-Famer-level contract to shake one of them loose. So the reality, as I see it, is that Pearl is just about the only credible alternative with a proven high-level track record that UT is likely to get. After that, we are looking at yet another hopeful mid-major up-and-comer who hasn't yet excelled at the highest level.

Tough times right now, folks, and no real bright light at the end of the tunnel if it isn't Pearl. I'm still pulling for Martin, but at this point he is going to have to show me.

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