Vols coach Cuonzo Martin 'doesn't waste time and energy' on growing chatter over job security

Cuonzo Martin answers questions from local media Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Photo by Erin Chapin

Cuonzo Martin answers questions from local media Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Tennessee men’s basketball team enters its second-to-last week of the SEC regular season as one of seven teams tied for fourth place. It’s not where UT (16-11, 7-7) expected to be in coach Cuonzo Martin’s third season. And during his weekly media luncheon on Monday, Martin addressed the elephant in the room — chatter about his job security — that has grown with each loss.

His approach?

Block it out.

Cuonzo Martin questioned about job security

“Don’t waste time and energy on it,” Martin said. “The next game presents itself. Move forward.”

“I’ve been doing it for years,” he added. “For me, as a ballplayer and as a coach, I’ve been consumed with what I need to do for years. If you put the work in, everything else takes care of itself. Again, don’t have that kind of time and energy. If it’s negative, I don’t consume myself with it.”

UT plays Mississippi State (13-14, 3-11) on Wednesday (MyVLT, 8 p.m.) The Bulldogs’ nine-game losing streak is the longest in the SEC. While Mississippi State has zero chance, outside of winning the SEC tournament, of qualifying for the NCAA tournament, Martin still likes his team’s shot at the dance.

“It’s something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in league play before,” Martin said of the seven-way tie for fourth. “For us the goal is to be on top when the smoke clears. That’s the bottom line. Mississippi State is the most important game on the schedule right now.”

Point Guard Problems:

Saturday’s overtime loss to Texas A&M yet again exposed UT’s deficiency at the point guard position. A&M point guard Alex Caruso drove into the lane at will, scored 14 points and distributed seven assists. UT’s Darius Thompson and Antonio Barton combined to miss eight of their shots and distribute two assists.

“You’ve got to get production at that position,” Martin said. “It’s not just scoring points. Running the team, distributing the basketball. Getting guys in position to score.”

Martin named Thompson the starter when Barton struggled. On Monday he didn’t rule out the possibility of giving walk-on Brandon Lopez some time at the position if Thompson and Barton can’t produce.

Ellis Honored: The jersey (No. 14) of former Vol forward Dale Ellis will be retired when UT plays Vanderbilt on March 1 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

“I’m happy for him,” Martin said. “He put the work in. He was a very successful college and NBA player. So, it’s good to see that. Hopefully our fans come out and support him.”

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Comments » 9

KENVOL writes:

He does not need to waste time with it....he is GONE!!!

underthehill writes:

A&M point guard Alex Caruso drove into the lane at will..same as the first time they beat UT..this goes to the heart of the problem with Martin as a coach..little..if any..ability for him and his staff to game plan and game coach..

jandjhome#228397 writes:

Coach I think you are dealing with more than just "chatter"

Volfan14 writes:

I hate having to go through the coaching change again, but Martin has shown nothing to encourage me. While no players have been arrested, none have been consistantly productive on the court either. I see no progress.

broleb44#1437447 writes:

sorry jerk has got to go. throwing his point guards under the bus. does anyone remember who recruited the point guards, also who said they were two of the best in the sec, earlier in the year? what the heck does he think lopez will do, oh I forgot he will feed the ball to stokes, screw the rest of the players, and never shoot the ball, and increase turn overs, martin's kind of man. martin constantly yaks about working, he has worked his butt off for three years, drinking water, wiping his brow, trying to scare everyone with his hood scowl, avoiding technical fouls, and completely destroying the BB program, and the confidence of all players except, mr. basketball, stokes.

STLVOLS writes:

Not defending Martin-However, just for grins please explain with player alignment and detail what you would do to fix the problem. Letting you off the hook, if you knew how to coach and motivate, you would be making the millions as an SEC coach. As a fan base, wins are what count, as we know, so time for a positive change. If Pearl, had not lied and cheated, Vols would not be in this mess. So start off blaming Pearl.

broleb44#1437447 writes:

in response to STLVOLS:

Not defending Martin-However, just for grins please explain with player alignment and detail what you would do to fix the problem. Letting you off the hook, if you knew how to coach and motivate, you would be making the millions as an SEC coach. As a fan base, wins are what count, as we know, so time for a positive change. If Pearl, had not lied and cheated, Vols would not be in this mess. So start off blaming Pearl.

if you are referring to my comments, here it is: run the damn ball, you have the athletes, go back and check the wins we have had, and see for yourself. sure you are going to make some mistakes, but everyone touches the ball, everyone is involved, including stokes, seems I remember a game in the past UT ran a team out of the building, stokes and martin both agreed ut should run the ball, sure enough the very next game, walk the ball down the court and give the defense time to get set up, and double and triple team your bigs, and turn you over. I do not have to be a sec couch making millions, but I am not an idiot like martin. many people who know BB much better than I, have said the same, ie sports writer SI, believe his name is Seth, stated the least martin could do was turn his players loose. why the heck do you think, nicky boy wants to slow down football, and butch and the other proponents of up tempo football want to keep the status quo.

magicbyswh#221420 writes:

Yes Cunzo you have been doing this for years. But not in the SEC. Missouri State might think 18-19 wins and an NIT bid is good job security. That will not cut it at UT and the SEC. You don't have to worry about it but Dave Hart does. He has to worry about the donors and the expectations. You did not have these expectations as Missouri state or at the other Mid Majors but you do at Tennessee and the SEC. So say what you will but Dave Hart has decisions to make. As of now I have not heard him give you a vote of approval or a vote of confidence. No extensions and no raise. Don't that tell you something. IF money ifs the issue let him coach through his contract and make a change. But Cuonzo your next job either way will not be at a major conference. Heck you may not get another chance at a mid major.

STLVOLS writes:

in response to broleb44#1437447:

if you are referring to my comments, here it is: run the damn ball, you have the athletes, go back and check the wins we have had, and see for yourself. sure you are going to make some mistakes, but everyone touches the ball, everyone is involved, including stokes, seems I remember a game in the past UT ran a team out of the building, stokes and martin both agreed ut should run the ball, sure enough the very next game, walk the ball down the court and give the defense time to get set up, and double and triple team your bigs, and turn you over. I do not have to be a sec couch making millions, but I am not an idiot like martin. many people who know BB much better than I, have said the same, ie sports writer SI, believe his name is Seth, stated the least martin could do was turn his players loose. why the heck do you think, nicky boy wants to slow down football, and butch and the other proponents of up tempo football want to keep the status quo.

Excellent points. I read posts in various articles where people are complaining but have no idea what they would do as a coach. You did excellent job clarifying your position and I agree. Just checking, broleb. My sentiments exactly.

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