GVX Audio: UT coach Cuonzo Martin responds to frustrated fans
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.”
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