GVX Audio: Cuonzo Martin to disgruntled UT fans: 'Put the heat on me'

Head coach Cuonzo Martin is interviewed by media during the men's basketball team's practice at University of Tennessee's Pratt Pavillion in Knoxville on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013.  (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Head coach Cuonzo Martin is interviewed by media during the men's basketball team's practice at University of Tennessee's Pratt Pavillion in Knoxville on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Many Tennessee basketball fans were left somewhere between frustrated and fuming after their Vols lost to N.C. State 65-58 at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night, and UT coach Cuonzo Martin knows it.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with fans speaking out,” Martin said during an interview on the News Sentinel Sports Page radio show on Friday. “That’s what good fans do. They’re concerned. They’re upset. That’s what they should be. I think we should be better myself. Our guys think we should be better. But we’re not. We’ve got to learn from it and keep moving forward.”

The Vols fell to 6-4 with the loss to the Wolfpack. The defeat at home was another significant blow to a talent-laden team that entered this season with a clearly defined goal — make the NCAA tournament. The third-year coach placed the blame on his shoulders.

“The one thing I will say to all fans is, ‘Continue to support,’ ” Martin said. “Because this team will continue to fight and continue to get better. But as a fan there’s nothing wrong with being upset, as long as their support is genuine. I would rather the fans be more upset at me as a coach than the players. Because these — I’ve said time and time again — are young guys who are battling and trying to find their way. Put the heat on me as a head coach, and we will get them to where they’ve got to go. Unfortunately, with some of our guys, they read and listen to it. And it takes a toll on them, physically and mentally.”

Martin also spoke about the controversial charge called after a Jarnell Stokes dunk that would have cut the Wolfpack’s lead from 10 to eight with 5:49 to play in the first half. A replay shown on the Jumbotron at Thompson-Boling showed the N.C State defender had one foot on the curved line of the no-charge zone.

“It looked like a block to me,” Martin said when asked what he thought of the call after a reviewing game film.

“Both feet should be outside of the circle,” he continued. “And I think that’s why (official) Tony Greene came over. Because he probably saw something and tried to change the call. But they didn’t change it. Both feet should be outside the circle.”

Martin has now coached 179 college games without receiving a technical. He was asked if he considered pursuing one to debate the charge call and potentially spark his players.

“It was a consideration in the second half in the game,” he said. “Something took place. I went out on the floor. Tony Greene kind of put his head down and looked away. I really tried to get something going there. That one (the charge call) I couldn’t really couldn’t see on the screen until I watched it on film. When I watched it on film, it was different.”

For today's full GVX audio interview, click the SoundCloud button above.

Listen to the News Sentinel Sports Page every weekday from 10 a.m. to noon on The Sports Animal, 99.1 FM.

GVX Audio is a daily podcast featuring News Sentinel sports reporters talking about UT sports.

For mobile and tablet users, click here for direct access to the SoundCloud audio or download the SoundCloud app on your mobile device.

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Comments » 16

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

"That one (the charge call) I couldn’t really couldn’t see on the screen until I watched it on film"
===========================================

BS. Everybody else in TBA saw it.
The man needs to grow a pair.

atchleyaaron#1420833 writes:

If I was coach Martin,I would tell everyone to chill out and let the season play out. There are 20 somthing games left before the regular season is over.

volnsc writes:

And remember, you can go 0-30, win the SEC tourney and still go to the Big Dance. This team is not performing to level of its talent and the heat should be on CCM, in my opinion. Does he not realize that he is getting the brunt of the criticism?

underthehill writes:

Coach..you may not know it but you are the one getting the heat..not the players..

Dude1980 writes:

I wish he would / could just win... at least at home. I really can't stomach another Vol coaching change but if this talent laden team can't make the NCAA tourney....

Rookie2 writes:

Yeh, I'm not down on the players, I'm down on the coaching. I feel sorry for the players because CCM doesn't have any answers for them. Instead of shaking up the line-up, maybe they should shake up the coaching. Try some of the other coaches ideas for offensive and defensive schemes.

oldster writes:

One of Cuonzo's biggest problems is that he speaks with zero emotion or inflection in his voice. His monotone comes across not only as boring, but dispassionate, uninterested, and uninspiring. This is almost certainly not his personality, but perception becomes reality in the minds of those perceiving. This problem is exacerbated by comparison with the last UT basketball coach. It would be okay to be perceived as boring if you win (Greg Popovich), but death if you do not.

gbo78 writes:

I would like to believe that the team is "talent-laden" but until they can demonstrate it at Div I level, it's meaningless and counter-productive to call them that.

gbo78 writes:

I hope they will forget about making this or that tournament and go out on the court and play every minute of every game like there is no tomorrow, including the NIT if they are given the opportunity.

wilk58 writes:

in response to gbo78:

I would like to believe that the team is "talent-laden" but until they can demonstrate it at Div I level, it's meaningless and counter-productive to call them that.

Excellent point

murrayvol writes:

in response to gbo78:

I hope they will forget about making this or that tournament and go out on the court and play every minute of every game like there is no tomorrow, including the NIT if they are given the opportunity.

This will likely qualify for "Post of the Day".

JSmith525 writes:

in response to atchleyaaron#1420833:

If I was coach Martin,I would tell everyone to chill out and let the season play out. There are 20 somthing games left before the regular season is over.

Have you been watching the games? "Tell everyone to Chill?" If they go 6-4 every ten games they will finish with 18-19 wins and 12-13 losses. That will not make the tourney. This team was picked to finish 3rd in the conference. If this team is the 3rd best team in the conference, then the SEC must really suck this year. I know these kids have the talent but the coaching IMO is subpar. Coach Martin needs a fire lit under his butt. JMHO.

ut_man1#1427524 writes:

in response to atchleyaaron#1420833:

If I was coach Martin,I would tell everyone to chill out and let the season play out. There are 20 somthing games left before the regular season is over.

That's just what UT will do, then let Mr Martin find employment elsewhere. Belmont is beating UK at the half! Please get Coach Byrd as UT's new coach!!!

Plasticman85 writes:

No passion or excitement from the head coach = no passion or excitement from the players. Players take on the personality of their coach

johnlg00 writes:

in response to gbo78:

I hope they will forget about making this or that tournament and go out on the court and play every minute of every game like there is no tomorrow, including the NIT if they are given the opportunity.

I agree with both of your comments. As the old saying goes, talent is as talent does; you are only as good as you play or as your record says you are. At this point, the team can't worry about anything except the game--no, the POSSESSION--they are in. If they don't, won't, or can't pay attention to all the little things that happen every second on the court, those will, as we have seen, become the BIG things that lose games and ruin seasons--and coaching careers! If the players truly care about Martin, they will find a way to get themselves on track or Martin has to find the ones who can find their way and let the others sit.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to JSmith525:

Have you been watching the games? "Tell everyone to Chill?" If they go 6-4 every ten games they will finish with 18-19 wins and 12-13 losses. That will not make the tourney. This team was picked to finish 3rd in the conference. If this team is the 3rd best team in the conference, then the SEC must really suck this year. I know these kids have the talent but the coaching IMO is subpar. Coach Martin needs a fire lit under his butt. JMHO.

The SEC really DOES suck this year, which is why the Vols had BETTER dominate it if they want to make the tourney. Unfortunately right now, the Vols are one of the reasons WHY it sucks. Given his background, I don't doubt that Martin has a lot of fire in his belly, and it would not be in character for him to all of a sudden become a yelling, screaming, arm-waving maniac. However, it might be well for him to realize that sometimes it doesn't hurt to LOOK like such a one if the team, crowd, and refs are to respond to him as he no doubt wishes. Imagine how shocked all of the above would be if he just ONCE, say, yanked off his jacket and stomped on it!

To illustrate that point, indulge me while I tell a tale from my childhood. Like most men of his generation, my Dad was not a terribly demonstrative or voluble man. One day, he called me and the other available siblings into the kitchen. He was holding a small, rusty wrench in his hand. He said, "I have told you kids over and over not to take my tools outside and then leave them there to get lost or rusty. But do you listen? Now look at this! Sometimes, I get so MAD...!" Whereupon he threw the wrench through the window above the kitchen sink, shattering the glass and shocking all of us out of our wits. Turns out the window was already cracked and he was there to replace it, but he ALSO made an unforgettable point about taking care of his tools!

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