David Climer: Vols' Cuonzo Martin on shaky ground

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin shouts out to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin shouts out to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

I wonder if Cuonzo Martin is starting to feel the influence of the Dooley Effect.

Remember, Derek Dooley was Tennessee’s football coach for only three seasons before it was determined that mediocrity was unacceptable and he was fired. For those keeping score, Martin is in his third season as Vols basketball coach, and his team simply is not playing up to expectations.

College coaches in major sports used to get at least four seasons to prove themselves. It was considered only fair. That way, they could get their own recruits into the program and chart their course.

Those days are gone. By Year 3, you’re on the clock.

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Comments » 9

nanab54#1420544 writes:

oh from the way some of you have been talking he was on shaky ground the day he was hired. UT is sad and I am not talking sports. Its just sad in general

johnlg00 writes:

Like most Vol fans, I thought Martin was an OK hire, though disappointing in that he wasn't a WOW hire. I understood why none of the WOW guys wanted anything to do with UT for anything less than top dollar, and even that was not enough in a few reported cases.

That said, it is hard to imagine that ANY decent coach couldn't find a way to win with this roster. Sure, none of the guys are perfect, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. But the mark of a good coach is to devise a system that gives a team a chance to win regardless of the particular mix of skills among the players. It's good to have a system or a philosophy about how to play the game, but one shouldn't be a slave to it.

I have seen recent signs of growth from Martin. The team HAS looked pretty good at times. One still has the feeling that they are capable of playing with anybody. BEATING anybody seems to be a somewhat different thing with this team. But, who knows, we have seen improbable late rises in college basketball before.

If Martin can pull it off, he deserves another year. The talent level will likely drop off from this year's top-three-in-the-league level to right at the mid-range in the conference. Of course, that could change depending on what Stokes and Hubbs do. In any case, if Martin is ever to show signs of getting more out of a team than meets the eye, he will have the opportunity to do so next year. If the bottom falls out, that will be all she wrote, but then it may be too late to get Bruce Pearl if that is even a possibility.

So we either have to hope that Martin continues to grow as a coach--and faster, please!--so that he can finish this year strong and put up a credible showing next year OR hope the team goes right down the tubes so it will be easier to fire Martin and get in serious touch with Pearl before anybody else can lock him up. I just can't go for hoping the Vols will lose so a good man with a chance still to grow in his profession can be jettisoned in the hope that the school can wade into a possible whole new world of turmoil and pull Pearl back to shore.

no1djkb#278630 writes:

Well said John like always.
I have to stop watching this team. The way the play is just so hard to watch.

gglardon50#417841 writes:

Pearl is bad news period. Liar , cheater etc. Move on Tennessee from Bruce-guys a jeak

oldster writes:

Martin has done nothing to inspire confidence in his coaching ability since he has been at UT. Great guy, but then, so was Buzz Peterson.

fannotsheep writes:

OK, let's wait and see what happens this year. Maybe the Vols turn it around. But the Florida game was not the first time they played like they didn't care or weren't prepared. It has happened several times this year.

This has nothing to do with Dooley. This is the best talent UT has had in a long time, and so far it has been wasted. Next year's roster won't be anywhere near as good and next year's class of recruits doesn't seem to be NCAA Tournament material. Dooley at least could point out that he took over a program decimated by coach and player defections. Martin took over a good talent level and full roster. He did sign Stokes, who was a Pearl recruit if you recall.

If the Vols keep playing like they have been they will miss the Tournament. I am not interested in the NIT. They don't have many (any?) quality wins and the SEC has little basketball cred.

Everyone says no way Pearl comes back. There is a way. If they keep playing like this, stay home. Don't buy the tickets or the popcorn. Skip the radio and TV broadcasts. Show Hart and Cheek who is important and who has the leverage in this situation: the fans.

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Like most Vol fans, I thought Martin was an OK hire, though disappointing in that he wasn't a WOW hire. I understood why none of the WOW guys wanted anything to do with UT for anything less than top dollar, and even that was not enough in a few reported cases.

That said, it is hard to imagine that ANY decent coach couldn't find a way to win with this roster. Sure, none of the guys are perfect, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. But the mark of a good coach is to devise a system that gives a team a chance to win regardless of the particular mix of skills among the players. It's good to have a system or a philosophy about how to play the game, but one shouldn't be a slave to it.

I have seen recent signs of growth from Martin. The team HAS looked pretty good at times. One still has the feeling that they are capable of playing with anybody. BEATING anybody seems to be a somewhat different thing with this team. But, who knows, we have seen improbable late rises in college basketball before.

If Martin can pull it off, he deserves another year. The talent level will likely drop off from this year's top-three-in-the-league level to right at the mid-range in the conference. Of course, that could change depending on what Stokes and Hubbs do. In any case, if Martin is ever to show signs of getting more out of a team than meets the eye, he will have the opportunity to do so next year. If the bottom falls out, that will be all she wrote, but then it may be too late to get Bruce Pearl if that is even a possibility.

So we either have to hope that Martin continues to grow as a coach--and faster, please!--so that he can finish this year strong and put up a credible showing next year OR hope the team goes right down the tubes so it will be easier to fire Martin and get in serious touch with Pearl before anybody else can lock him up. I just can't go for hoping the Vols will lose so a good man with a chance still to grow in his profession can be jettisoned in the hope that the school can wade into a possible whole new world of turmoil and pull Pearl back to shore.

I hate to say it ..but I have given up any hope Martin sees what is going on ..he appears to be set in his ways and his belief that his man defense can work when it is clear that the better teams run multiple defenses as the game situation demands and being predictable makes it too easy for the opponent to game plan..I have a friend who is a retired college coach who says he has no idea what UT is trying to do on offense..especially against a zone..he thinks you have to get the ball to the middle at the foul line instead of doing a weave at the mid court line until the shot clock is about to expire then throwing up a prayer..I think he may be right..this is shaping up as a bad time for UT basketball..I hope I am so wrong this team wins the SEC tourney and shows us all how good they can be..but ..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

I hate to say it ..but I have given up any hope Martin sees what is going on ..he appears to be set in his ways and his belief that his man defense can work when it is clear that the better teams run multiple defenses as the game situation demands and being predictable makes it too easy for the opponent to game plan..I have a friend who is a retired college coach who says he has no idea what UT is trying to do on offense..especially against a zone..he thinks you have to get the ball to the middle at the foul line instead of doing a weave at the mid court line until the shot clock is about to expire then throwing up a prayer..I think he may be right..this is shaping up as a bad time for UT basketball..I hope I am so wrong this team wins the SEC tourney and shows us all how good they can be..but ..

Not to disparage your views or those of your coach friend, but what one sees looking at the Vols varies with the occasion. On more than one occasion, they have run competent zone offense with men in the middle and high-low passes and pitchouts to wing shooters. Sometimes those shots have gone down and sometimes they haven't, but really, the Vols have had plenty of good shots most games this year. I would say that LOTS of good teams struggle against zones, even though most of the effective tactics are well-known.

I agree that they have too many stretches where they do NOT do what they have clearly been instructed to do and visible correction from the bench did not quickly follow; real-time adjustments are infinitely more effective than any amount of after-the-fact film study and practice.

Even so, I'm not nearly so down on Martin's coaching as some on here, though I do have to lay some of the inconsistency at his feet. I'm not sure what he can do about it, but he IS responsible. I have also not wavered in saying that the minimum goal for this year is to make the NCAAs and if Martin can't do that with this team, he may never be able to, and is then rightly on the hot seat.

fannotsheep writes:

I agree that it's a bit too soon to give up on Martin, but this team is very hard to watch most of the time. Unlike Pearl's teams I never feel comfortable with a lead, seldom see any adjustments made at halftime that work, and don't think it's an entertaining brand of basketball.

Maybe Hubbs gets healthy and emerges as a star next year. I guess it's possible Stokes hangs around. And there's a chance some of the unheralded recruits will be good or even great -- like Lofton.

But I thought this was a team with big potential. Admittedly I expected Maymon to be the player he once was and didn't expect Hubbs to be lost to injury. So I feel it may be unfair to Martin to say he either makes the NCAA or loses his job.

But I would love to have our rightful basketball coach back. Yes I know he lied to the NCAA. But the punishment in no way fit the crime. Think Pitino or Calipari have not committed far worse offenses? Hell, the NCAA itself is guilty of far more than Pearl was.

I've heard the experts on local sports radio and in the papers say it's impossible for Pearl to come back. I disagree. He is worth more than the idiots who have destroyed the entire athletic department of a once great university.

If Martin can't get it done, I don't see any benefit in hiring anyone else -- unless it's Bruce. And if Hart and/or Cheek stand in the way of that, Vol fans should boycott the games until we get our coach back.

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