Mike Strange: The money ball is in Martin's court now

Mike Strange
Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin shouts from the sideline during the first half of a third-round NCAA tournament game at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 23, 2014. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin shouts from the sideline during the first half of a third-round NCAA tournament game at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 23, 2014. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Will Tennessee beat Michigan on Friday?

See the results »

View previous polls »

Josh Richardson discusses Tennessee's NCAA tournament win over Mercer

Jarnell Stokes discusses Tennessee's NCAA tournament win over Mercer

The Sweet 16 is set. That leaves a couple of days for coaching news to snatch a few college basketball headlines.

We have learned Sweet 16 surprise Dayton has locked up coach Archie Miller for the next five years. The extension was signed last month but not announced until Monday.

We also learned Monday that Shaka Smart, Virginia Commonwealth’s coveted young savant, is reported to be thinking about Marquette and maybe Wake Forest. Interesting, since Smart has turned down several prior offers, including UCLA last year.

We learned Florida assistant John Pelphrey and Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, are in play at South Florida. Both have Rick Pitino ties, which carries weight.

What we are not learning is what Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin and his boss Dave Hart are thinking.

Whatever it is, it’s probably different than what one or both were thinking a month ago. Heck, even a week ago.

It’s been a brilliant week for Martin, the finest of his three-year UT career. And that’s entirely aside from the fact that Bruce Pearl on Tuesday begins his second week as Auburn’s coach.

For the longest time it looked like Martin wouldn’t even get the Vols into the NCAA tournament. Well, he got them in and then he’s won three games in a five-day span.

And he and his team aren’t done yet. They’re off to the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis, joining a rock-star cast of Michigan, Kentucky and Louisville at the Midwest Regional.

Martin’s approval rating is at an all-time high. Even some — some, not all — of those “Bring Back Bruce” petition signers are apologizing.

So, what are Martin and Hart thinking? This could go two ways.

We could be hearing soon that UT and Martin have agreed to an extension of his contract with a nice pay bump.

A year ago, after a first-round NIT loss, Hart declined to extend Martin’s deal. So it stands that he still has two years left.

It also stands that he is believed to be the 11th-highest paid coach out of 14 in the SEC.

The other way it could go is we hear Martin’s name linked to a vacancy at another school. If his approval rating has risen in Tennessee this week, it’s risen elsewhere as well.

Would Martin be tempted to leave? I wouldn’t pretend to speak for him, but, yes, he might.

Although he would never say it on the record, he and his family have been aware of the negativity that has permeated UT’s fan base much of the season. The Pearl scenario, I wouldn’t wish on any coach.

Martin can take criticism. He’s a grown man with thick skin. It got thick growing up in a tough East St. Louis neighborhood. Then it got thicker battling cancer.

When the team was spinning its wheels at times this season, his message was unwavering: don’t panic; stay the course.

“For me, there’s no give-up,’’ Martin said in Raleigh this weekend, between wins over UMass and Mercer. “My mom didn’t raise me like that. ... You’ve got to continue to fight.

“I like to think I present that to our guys on a day-to-day basis.’’

Not exactly dazzling, but turns out it was a worthwhile and accurate message. The results are there. The Vols are one of 16 teams still playing.

What does that mean for Martin’s future? What does Hart think about the example Martin presents to his guys on a daily basis? We don’t know.

Hart said as the season tipped off that he expected Tennessee to play in the NCAA tournament. Since then, he hasn’t said a lot.

Don’t expect UT to follow Dayton’s example and announce anything this week. Hart, possibly, would prefer to see how far this run goes before deciding what alterations are due in Martin’s contract.

For his part, Martin can certainly afford to wait. He got his team to the Sweet 16. He’s playing with house money from here on out.

We’ll see in due time whose money he’s playing with next season.

© 2014 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 51

terry#1416762 writes:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

wilk58 writes:

in response to terry#1416762:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

As I read some comments I would pull out my hair if I had any. CM gets none of the credit and all the blame. Generational upset, easy trip in tournament, Pearl players while the mvp of this run is Richardson while Stokes is 1A IMO. Go Vols!

nats23stan writes:

in response to terry#1416762:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

You sir can suck on a BIG ORANGE!!! Get off of this board and go back under the rocks where you will prosper..

ColPhorbin writes:

Terry, Thank you so much for those compelling revelations. Your coaching insights were plenty enough but when you ramped things up with the business acumen normally reserved for wall streets finest, I was truly spellbound.

81volguy writes:

in response to terry#1416762:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

Gee it seems like it might be a good idea to see how the season goes. Typical clueless fan. Martin got Stokes and Hubbs, both five-stars. He'll get more. But if he reads comments like yours, I wouldn't blame him to get the heck away from Tennessee. Let the man do his job and this team could go all the way. By the way, we would've stomped Duke just like we did Mercer.

Theo writes:

in response to terry#1416762:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

What a crock of cr##.

pingkr62 writes:

Funny how the table has turned. Two weeks ago, almost every one was screaming " Fire Martin, bring back Pearl" I wouldn't blame coach Martin if he told the Big Orange Nation too go suck a Big Orange. Coach Martin has proven he has the ability to coach and motivate his players. He deserves far better than what he has received. Either way, I wish coach Martin the best regardless. I have, and will always love Tennessee athletics, but we have some of the crappiest fans in the country. The next time anyone wants to belittle fans of another school, maybe they should take a long look in a mirror. If I have offended anyone, so be it. I DON'T CARE!!!

RoadTrip writes:

I can go negative with the best of them when I feel it is warranted. But dang, Terry. That was bizarre.

I have seen enough now. 2-4 year extension depending on the final result. Bump in pay to top 5 in the conference with escalation clauses for winning the SEC and achievement in the NCAA. Then support the man for as long as he is the coach with no reservations. He is learning how to be more assertive. He needs to keep working on offensive adjustments and his system. He needs to step up a notch in his recruiting. But he has all the potential in the world to be what UT needs for a long time to come.

TNlogfire writes:

Yes, Mike....But most people really believe that we aren't overachieving here....Coach Martin has REALLY brought this team together at the end of the season, for sure. We should not forget that we were 16-11 and still looking for a leader. Now we have 5 leaders....Go Vols..!!!

Plasticman85 writes:

Surely everyone else can see that "Terry" and his assanine diatribe is not a UT fan, but probably a KY or Gator fan trying to stir up more stuff. Almost every fan I know agrees we need to sign Cuonzo to an extension of 3-5 years and pay hi. Enough to be in the top 4 paid coaches in the SEC.

UTForever writes:

Don't despair, Terry. I know it's been a tough day for you, but get real. You spoke like a fool, and you are being appropriately ridiculed. Have a good, strong nightcap, sleep well, and wake up tomorrow with a renewed spirit, and hopefully a more realistic view of our Vols.

OrangePride writes:

Back in the midst of the post A&M "Bring Back Bruce" haze, I posted that if CCM was listening to all that, he might well choose not to come back on his own......especially if he ends the season well and somehow gets in the Dance. Well, here we are and Bozo's like Terry continue to make Moron posts that do nothing but add to that possibility. My guess is Hart will make a good offer and every effort to keep Martin. But will someone make an even better one? Very possible and we can only hope the voices of the real fans drown out the Terry's of the world.

dfite#440781 writes:

These are the dumbest SOB's I've ever had to put up with. None could be college graduates, and I don't listen to morons.

David Fite 1970

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to terry#1416762:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

Terry, I'm not going to criticize your opinion because everybody is entitled to their's. But I do question your use of the word "we". I don't think a true Tennessee fan could find much fault with our past 3 games. Heaven only knows we've had little to cheer about the past few years so let's enjoy this as long as it lasts. It seems obvious you are not a fan of Counzo Martin but it might be a good time to think about getting on board and pulling for our team and not against them.

johnssr#221837 writes:

I wonder how these comments would change if the board required people to post under their real name.

clg6jcb writes:

I will turn my own criticism from coach Martin to myself. I didn't see this surge coming but he obviously did. He kept the faith--I didn't. For that I am sorry and extend my sincere apologies and best wishes to him and this team. Coach Martin has delivered everything I could ask of a coach and from here on all he will hear from me is support. Go Vols !

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to johnssr#221837:

I wonder how these comments would change if the board required people to post under their real name.

Here's one who would have no problem posting under my real name if it were required. I am not ashamed of my name, my heritage, or my comments. Another interesting requirement would be to list the number of sports they hold season tickets for. That would give us a better idea of who the true Tennessee fans were and who were the imposters.

STLVOLS writes:

in response to terry#1416762:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

Please get back on your medication.

STLVOLS writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

Here's one who would have no problem posting under my real name if it were required. I am not ashamed of my name, my heritage, or my comments. Another interesting requirement would be to list the number of sports they hold season tickets for. That would give us a better idea of who the true Tennessee fans were and who were the imposters.

Mike Woodward here. Grew up in Knoxville and graduated from UTK in 1975. Proud of Vol heritage. Live in St. Louis suburban St. Charles County.

jmaples54 writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

Here's one who would have no problem posting under my real name if it were required. I am not ashamed of my name, my heritage, or my comments. Another interesting requirement would be to list the number of sports they hold season tickets for. That would give us a better idea of who the true Tennessee fans were and who were the imposters.

I was on the fence after cuonzo's first 2 seasons. I was doubtful after the T A&M game.

But then after a close win at Miss. State,

POW! on Vandy (biggest stomping ever).

POW! on Auburn (a two-fer, vital win and helped to get Bruce out of Knoxville-- although I do luv ya, Bruce).

POW! on Missouri. NCAA play-in game? Check.

Finally the win in the SEC tourney against SCAR and a tough enough battle against the nation's top team to get us into the Big Dance.

So, now like all good fans, let's shut up the negativity.

I'm happy to sign my posts, but season tickets is not a good requirement for this column. The reasons all fans don't buy season tickets are obvious, mainly the cost and the hassle.

It's still a buyer's market, Dave Hart. Improve parking, lower prices, and in Neyland go back to 18" seats! Tennessee has done well, it now seems, with the football, baseball, and men's and women's bb coaching hires. Time to make a change in track. Softball, swimming, tennis-- good shape. Watching from the comfort of my living room, DVR remote in hand-- priceless.

Jack Maples.

Visit Maples Motor Inn in Pigeon Forge (on the web at maplesmotorinn.com. (What the hell, shameless plug!)

pingkr62 writes:

in response to clg6jcb:

I will turn my own criticism from coach Martin to myself. I didn't see this surge coming but he obviously did. He kept the faith--I didn't. For that I am sorry and extend my sincere apologies and best wishes to him and this team. Coach Martin has delivered everything I could ask of a coach and from here on all he will hear from me is support. Go Vols !

Great post. You have shown you are a person of character. We need more like you. G.B.O.!!!

underthehill writes:

Facts are this UT team was within a whisker of not even making it to a play in game..Vol fans would do well to remember the past.. Fulmer for ex.. a long time contract at this point might be an over reaction that could result in a huge buyout..next year if Martin can finish in the top 5 in the SEC it would be a far greater indication of his ability than this year..the run by the Vols is more about the inside power of Stokes and Maymon than it is about X,s and O,s..I doubt UT has ever had a coach with more character in any sport than Martin..and I join all who wish him the best..but I really don't see UT making the big show next year ..and if they don't and Auburn beats UT ..the same fans who are beating the drums now will be leading the band calling for a buyout..common sense for the athletic dept. would be to give it another year before jumping into unknown waters..but who at UT has ever exhibited any common sense..

Snapshot writes:

in response to terry#1416762:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

Well Terry, you certainly know how to get everyone riled up! Of course everyone bashing you just ignores the part where you said "I hope we win". Maybe Sunday was the apex of the Martin era, time will tell. My concern is he gets a big raise and a 3-5 year extension then has a rough next season, doesn't make the tournament again. Making the dance one time in three years is a .333 success rate by my math, not good. Maybe he will win the whole thing this year and it won't matter. I'm just afraid next season we will go through this whole thing again with him under pressure and people calling for his head and another huge buy-out to face. I hope not, but time will tell.

johndavid writes:

in response to Plasticman85:

Surely everyone else can see that "Terry" and his assanine diatribe is not a UT fan, but probably a KY or Gator fan trying to stir up more stuff. Almost every fan I know agrees we need to sign Cuonzo to an extension of 3-5 years and pay hi. Enough to be in the top 4 paid coaches in the SEC.

You and every fan you know are wrong because you don't make business decisions on emotions. Less than a week ago 75 % wanted him gone( based on almost 3 years of work) and now suddenly every fan you know wants to invest 5 years and more $ because we beat Mercer? ( with mostly Pearl's recruits. This is how a program gets ruined, knee-jerk reactions. Fulmer was in the SEC championship game less than a year before being fired! You think you would feel this way at 12-20 next year? Better slow down and look at the big picture . What if the tournament had not had play in games and we were left out? You and 75% would be wanting him fired. STOP THIS KNEE JERK REACTION STUFF .

Every fan I KNOW wants to give him one more year at the same pay rate to see if he can continue this success with HIS team.

hbuchana#1431419 writes:

This is so typical of the Martin haters- Throw out negative thoughts and watch the rest of us Vol fans rush to defend our program.
This whole article was dumb and meant to stir
division of the Vol nation. I am not a big Dave Hart fan and the pressure is entirely on his shoulders. It would not surprise me in the least big to see Martin have more than one school go after him with more money and a better contract. Come on Mr. Hart don't embarrass UT with a small raise.(we know you have money hidden away) Show the basketball world we have arrived. Enjoy the moment and stop worrying about next year ! $$$$$$

Plasticman85 writes:

in response to johndavid:

You and every fan you know are wrong because you don't make business decisions on emotions. Less than a week ago 75 % wanted him gone( based on almost 3 years of work) and now suddenly every fan you know wants to invest 5 years and more $ because we beat Mercer? ( with mostly Pearl's recruits. This is how a program gets ruined, knee-jerk reactions. Fulmer was in the SEC championship game less than a year before being fired! You think you would feel this way at 12-20 next year? Better slow down and look at the big picture . What if the tournament had not had play in games and we were left out? You and 75% would be wanting him fired. STOP THIS KNEE JERK REACTION STUFF .

Every fan I KNOW wants to give him one more year at the same pay rate to see if he can continue this success with HIS team.

I work for a large company and am in sales. If I don't produce, They are putting pressure on me to produce and will find someone to take my place if I can't turn things around. No different for Cuonzo. Had he not turned things around and made the spectacular run, he would still be under fire, however, that's a moot point because he has guided this team to the Sweet 16 and who knows what night happen from here. He has earned a raise and extension based on his results and getting this team to play to their ability. Comparing him to Fulmer is ridiculous since Fulmer started digressing after the 2001 season. Cuonzo has improved each season he has been here, just like he did at Mizzou. St. No knee jerk reaction here. All based on results. Every fan I know wants his contract extended and more money thrown at him to keep him as our coach. He has earned it!

Misplaced_Vol_in_KC writes:

My 2 cents worth. let's leave the coaching comments alone and just really savor what has just happened and what could happen this weekend. Living in the middle of Big 12 ChickenHawk land, I am having the best time in a long time listening to the local KC media eating crow on Conference comparisons. Let's smell the roses for now and we can complain later. The players deserve it. They are phenomanal kids that are turning into men at the right time.

underthehill writes:

in response to Misplaced_Vol_in_KC:

My 2 cents worth. let's leave the coaching comments alone and just really savor what has just happened and what could happen this weekend. Living in the middle of Big 12 ChickenHawk land, I am having the best time in a long time listening to the local KC media eating crow on Conference comparisons. Let's smell the roses for now and we can complain later. The players deserve it. They are phenomanal kids that are turning into men at the right time.

Your 2 cents are worth more than anything I have read..including my own comments..good job..

TommyJack writes:

in response to Misplaced_Vol_in_KC:

My 2 cents worth. let's leave the coaching comments alone and just really savor what has just happened and what could happen this weekend. Living in the middle of Big 12 ChickenHawk land, I am having the best time in a long time listening to the local KC media eating crow on Conference comparisons. Let's smell the roses for now and we can complain later. The players deserve it. They are phenomanal kids that are turning into men at the right time.

Far too rational for this crowd.

STLVOLS writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Far too rational for this crowd.

I agree. Sitting here in St. Charles County, MO-STL

johnlg00 writes:

Can't add a whole lot to what has already been said, but I would like to address the idea that the Vols would have "obviously" been crushed by Duke. I saw Duke maybe 20 times this season and they were a "doughnut" team--big hole in the middle. If the Dookies couldn't handle Mercer's inside game, why in the world would anybody think they could have handled the Vols?

Sure, Duke had some guys who can hit from the outside, and no question in my mind that Jabari Parker will be no less than a top-10 selection in the NBA draft. Recent NCAA failures aside, Coach K is one of the two or three greatest coaches of his generation. However, Duke's anemic posts would be worn down and fouled out by the Vols. Duke shot over 50% from the 3-point line against Mercer in the first half, and that wasn't nearly enough. The Vols could rotate Richardson and Moore on whichever outside shooters were the hottest and the Vols could run the resulting misses right down their throats.

In fact, that is exactly what the Vols will do to Michigan. If the Wolverines had Mitch McGarry, the calculus might be different, but they don't, so the only things the Vols have to worry about are the unaccustomed glare of the Sweet Sixteen spotlight and the name "Michigan" on the front of the jerseys.

Even those things will work in the Vols' favor. Michigan will be heavy favorites in the eyes of the media and uncommitted fans, but the same pay-back dynamic that helped propel the Vols over Mercer will also come into play against Michigan, especially for McRae and Maymon who got an up-close look at the way they smashed the Vols in Pearl's last game.

Finally, the Vols will be underdogs through all the rest of the tournament, right up to the championship game. This team has been playing with a chip on its shoulder for about a month now, which they have managed to turn into a great big stick to smash the opponents with. I'm not saying the Vols WILL go all the way, but barring a major injury or an outrageous hose job by the refs, I AM saying that NOBODY is looking forward to playing them. GBO!!! GO ZO!!!

FWBVol writes:

in response to johndavid:

You and every fan you know are wrong because you don't make business decisions on emotions. Less than a week ago 75 % wanted him gone( based on almost 3 years of work) and now suddenly every fan you know wants to invest 5 years and more $ because we beat Mercer? ( with mostly Pearl's recruits. This is how a program gets ruined, knee-jerk reactions. Fulmer was in the SEC championship game less than a year before being fired! You think you would feel this way at 12-20 next year? Better slow down and look at the big picture . What if the tournament had not had play in games and we were left out? You and 75% would be wanting him fired. STOP THIS KNEE JERK REACTION STUFF .

Every fan I KNOW wants to give him one more year at the same pay rate to see if he can continue this success with HIS team.

johndavid, I don't know how you can get "Mostly Pearl recruits" out of Jeronne Mayman and Jordan McRae. Yes, if you check the facts you will discover that those two guys are the only ones on the roster that were Pearl recruits.

Martin swayed Stokes to Knoxville. Richardson came to Knoxville because of Martin. Barton came in this year, that makes him a Martin guy as are the rest of the guys.

People are quick to criticize what Martin has done, but he took a Tennessee job that a lot of people considered poison as UT waited for the NCAA to hand down sanctions. He had to coach under a cloud for a couple of years.

And then there was the shadow of Bruce Pearl. I don't blame Pearl for staying in Knoxville after being fired. It's a great city and he had every right to stay in East Tennessee. But Pearl's presence in Knoxville only fueled the fire that if Martin didn't do enough he would be fired and Bruce would be brought back in once his NCAA penalty was served.

Even before Pearl took the Auburn job last week this UT basketball team was starting to play better. I just wonder how much better and more relaxed Martin will be able to coach without the perceived, rather real or imagined, Pearl factor out of the way.

This is only Martin's sixth year as a head coach and each of his teams at UT has shown improvement.

Now that is the big picture. I'll let Dave Hart and the powers that be decide on Martin's salary next year. But in my opinion his pay should be more than the 10th or 11th in the SEC that it is now.

tenacvol#248890 writes:

Pay the man. He has earned a nice new contract. I had my doubts if he was the right guy earlier in the season but he has proved me wrong as can be. Sorry Coach for doubting you.

GerryOP writes:

Dang! A freakin' troll opened the posting! OK Terry, you've had your attention for the day. Now get back into your sandbox and build some more sandcastles.

AxeMan writes:

in response to clg6jcb:

I will turn my own criticism from coach Martin to myself. I didn't see this surge coming but he obviously did. He kept the faith--I didn't. For that I am sorry and extend my sincere apologies and best wishes to him and this team. Coach Martin has delivered everything I could ask of a coach and from here on all he will hear from me is support. Go Vols !

If only some others could learn from your example.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

In response to STLVOLS and jmaples, congratulations to both Mike and Jack. You definitely sound like two TRUE Vol fans. As for myself, I grew up in Oak Ridge and joined the Army 40 days after graduationg from ORHS. Uncle Sam sent me to Ohio where I have lived ever since, although we did buy a condo in West Knoxville in 2006 and have spent 6 months in each place since then. I have season tickets in both men and women's basketball and see about half the home football games. My wife also has tickets for women's basketball only. I will make a mental note of both your screen names and know when I read your comments they will be coming from true Tennessee fans. Larry Gragg GOVOLS

scvols writes:

in response to tenacvol#248890:

Pay the man. He has earned a nice new contract. I had my doubts if he was the right guy earlier in the season but he has proved me wrong as can be. Sorry Coach for doubting you.

Agreed.

Chris_L75 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Can't add a whole lot to what has already been said, but I would like to address the idea that the Vols would have "obviously" been crushed by Duke. I saw Duke maybe 20 times this season and they were a "doughnut" team--big hole in the middle. If the Dookies couldn't handle Mercer's inside game, why in the world would anybody think they could have handled the Vols?

Sure, Duke had some guys who can hit from the outside, and no question in my mind that Jabari Parker will be no less than a top-10 selection in the NBA draft. Recent NCAA failures aside, Coach K is one of the two or three greatest coaches of his generation. However, Duke's anemic posts would be worn down and fouled out by the Vols. Duke shot over 50% from the 3-point line against Mercer in the first half, and that wasn't nearly enough. The Vols could rotate Richardson and Moore on whichever outside shooters were the hottest and the Vols could run the resulting misses right down their throats.

In fact, that is exactly what the Vols will do to Michigan. If the Wolverines had Mitch McGarry, the calculus might be different, but they don't, so the only things the Vols have to worry about are the unaccustomed glare of the Sweet Sixteen spotlight and the name "Michigan" on the front of the jerseys.

Even those things will work in the Vols' favor. Michigan will be heavy favorites in the eyes of the media and uncommitted fans, but the same pay-back dynamic that helped propel the Vols over Mercer will also come into play against Michigan, especially for McRae and Maymon who got an up-close look at the way they smashed the Vols in Pearl's last game.

Finally, the Vols will be underdogs through all the rest of the tournament, right up to the championship game. This team has been playing with a chip on its shoulder for about a month now, which they have managed to turn into a great big stick to smash the opponents with. I'm not saying the Vols WILL go all the way, but barring a major injury or an outrageous hose job by the refs, I AM saying that NOBODY is looking forward to playing them. GBO!!! GO ZO!!!

I like your analysis, and envy your even-keel approach all season long. A forum like this is tailored largely for the venting of frustration, and there has been ample occasion for that during the preceding months, but your comments have consistently elevated the discourse. For the rest of us, hopefully this spirit of optimism will continue to build regardless of Friday's result, and our coach will begin to feel some appreciation coming his way for the hard work he has put in.

Barring an encore appearance of "Smokey Grays," we should do fine. Let's show our true Orange to the maize and blue!

murrayvol writes:

in response to terry#1416762:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

You're about to get your contract renegotiated as well trollbreath. Congrats!

STLVOLS writes:

in response to murrayvol:

You're about to get your contract renegotiated as well trollbreath. Congrats!

Hi, Murray- You are always a voice of reason. Terry is always a voice of negativity and definitely the breath you so articulately described. Terry needs to get back on his meds. He is in full panic mode about Vols. He is one of those folks who always complains about something no matter what the situation. Nice post by you in response to Terry.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Chris_L75:

I like your analysis, and envy your even-keel approach all season long. A forum like this is tailored largely for the venting of frustration, and there has been ample occasion for that during the preceding months, but your comments have consistently elevated the discourse. For the rest of us, hopefully this spirit of optimism will continue to build regardless of Friday's result, and our coach will begin to feel some appreciation coming his way for the hard work he has put in.

Barring an encore appearance of "Smokey Grays," we should do fine. Let's show our true Orange to the maize and blue!

Thanks for the kind words, Chris. I'm just a hopelessly addicted fan of the Vols in all sports and of college basketball in general. This forum gives me an outlet to indulge these passions and my retired status gives me the time to do so. I suppose I could also say that age has given me a perspective which I would hope largely frees me from any need to get TOO excited about things I can't really control. I try to take people as they present themselves on here and am more than willing to see the merit even in ideas I don't actually agree with. I could wish more people cared about civility on here, but, alas, it seems to be disappearing from civil discourse in general. In any case, I can only do what I can do, so it's nice to see that somebody notices every now and then.

murrayvol writes:

in response to FWBVol:

johndavid, I don't know how you can get "Mostly Pearl recruits" out of Jeronne Mayman and Jordan McRae. Yes, if you check the facts you will discover that those two guys are the only ones on the roster that were Pearl recruits.

Martin swayed Stokes to Knoxville. Richardson came to Knoxville because of Martin. Barton came in this year, that makes him a Martin guy as are the rest of the guys.

People are quick to criticize what Martin has done, but he took a Tennessee job that a lot of people considered poison as UT waited for the NCAA to hand down sanctions. He had to coach under a cloud for a couple of years.

And then there was the shadow of Bruce Pearl. I don't blame Pearl for staying in Knoxville after being fired. It's a great city and he had every right to stay in East Tennessee. But Pearl's presence in Knoxville only fueled the fire that if Martin didn't do enough he would be fired and Bruce would be brought back in once his NCAA penalty was served.

Even before Pearl took the Auburn job last week this UT basketball team was starting to play better. I just wonder how much better and more relaxed Martin will be able to coach without the perceived, rather real or imagined, Pearl factor out of the way.

This is only Martin's sixth year as a head coach and each of his teams at UT has shown improvement.

Now that is the big picture. I'll let Dave Hart and the powers that be decide on Martin's salary next year. But in my opinion his pay should be more than the 10th or 11th in the SEC that it is now.

Well said.

CCM has had a tough row to hoe during his 3 year tour of duty. We'll see how this plays out but I know this much. If we don't do something positive for him after what he's done, it'll be hard to find a quality coach who'll listen to our pitch next time around.

JSmith525 writes:

I am not sure where the surge of energy, being displayed by the team over the last few games, came from. I am just glad to see it. I give a big thank you and well done to the coaches and the players. At the same time I ask, where was this energy and play for the first 2/3's of the season. I honestly feel that the Vols should have been in the Dance the last 2 seasons. But I don't have an argument because, they laid eggs in the NIT both seasons. I have never been a BBB type, He made his bed etc..etc. I do not think CCM should be fired. Fact is I don't know what to think. What is Vol Basketball with Martin as Coach? Is it the ugly, boring and I can't watch this, that we had before this trend or is it what we are watching now? If any of you know please share it with the rest of us that just "Care about UT Sports". I will be on cloud nine if they make the final 4 but I will die of boredom if they go back to playing that other style of BB.

pingkr62 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Thanks for the kind words, Chris. I'm just a hopelessly addicted fan of the Vols in all sports and of college basketball in general. This forum gives me an outlet to indulge these passions and my retired status gives me the time to do so. I suppose I could also say that age has given me a perspective which I would hope largely frees me from any need to get TOO excited about things I can't really control. I try to take people as they present themselves on here and am more than willing to see the merit even in ideas I don't actually agree with. I could wish more people cared about civility on here, but, alas, it seems to be disappearing from civil discourse in general. In any case, I can only do what I can do, so it's nice to see that somebody notices every now and then.

Great post! I consider myself a hopeless addict was well. I can relate to your comment about age and perspective. One thing I have learned over the years is nothing ever stays the same, and change is inevitable. I wrote in an earlier post that Tennessee has some of the "crappiest" fans in the country. I would like to take that statement back, in part after reading some of the latter post. Thanks from Keith Ray in Southaven Ms. G.B.O.!!!

fannotsheep writes:

Vols would have beaten Duke.

Tennessee is playing as well as anyone in the tournament right now. They may not beat Michigan, and it's unlikely they make the Final Four. But they have done very well and the match-ups have been favorable too.

Martin is doing a great job in the past month or so, but you still scratch your head at why it took so long to get this team untracked. Far more analysts seem to think they underachieved early than think they are some Cinderella story now.

The Vols don't just pass the eye test, they far surpass it. Perhaps only Kentucky has two more talented players than Stokes and McRae, and when three or four other guys (especially Richardson) take turns playing out of their minds, it is harder than ever to understand how these same guys could look so pathetic when they were going 16-11.

So maybe that explains why you aren't hearing a lot of noise about going after Martin. Because as admirable as his qualities are and as fantastic as the team has played lately, most people are still waiting for more proof. I hope we make it all the way. If we do, we will certainly have to put our money on the table to keep Martin. And if he even makes the Elite 8, I think we should.

Like I said a long time ago, Pearl was my choice for Tennessee's coach if I could have anyone I wanted, but Martin is a good man and has potential to be a very good, possibly great, head coach. All Vol fans should wish this team and this coach the very best of luck, and enjoy the ride. Never know when this kind of chance will come along again, no matter who your coach is.

UTForever writes:

Is the rumor mill correct in stating that Sir Terry, who started this strand of debate, has gone into the witness protection program?Strange that he has indeed gone silent in the face of strong and sensible posts.

rockypop writes:

Things like contracts need to be carefully thought through and considered. Yes, Martin is having a great post-season, but contracts are based on a total body of work. And, to be fair, Martin has a winning record (.605), with two 20+ winning seasons and one season with 19 wins.

He is without question, one of the most high character coaches in all of college basketball. A guy that any parent would want their kids to play for, if they value the life instructions and care their kids would get. He has overcome tremendous adversity and knows how to guide kids through that. In short, he has it all in perspective.

The real question is whether or not UT wants that. They have said they do, but I think the fans and to some degree, Dave Hart, are more motivated with wins. Because winning puts butts in the seats, money in the coffers and smiles on the fans' faces.

So, the only issue remaining is whether or not Dave Hart believes CCM can "show him the money." Martin certainly has shown him everything else, and I for one, feel like Martin deserves a chance to show Hart he is the real deal. And the only fair way to do that is to get a contract extension and raise. Sure, it's a risk, but retaining him without an extension is a bigger risk. He will be a "lame duck coach" who won't be able to recruit at the level he needs to, and consequently, UT will be left with a bare cupboard should he be fired after the next one or two years.

Yeah, keeping him is a risk, but I believe it's a risk worth taking.

gward2020#1432713 writes:

in response to terry#1416762:

Let him go, and take Hart with him. But, for a fluke, generational upset by Mercer, and we are eliminated by Duke.

We were lucky to get in the pick 4 process, we will be even luckier to be w/n 10 of michigan.

When Stokes and Maymon (pearl recruit) are gone we are going to get savaged in the SEC. We will lose McRae, Maymon, and Stokes from this team, and rumor has it one highly recruited player from last year.

I hope we win, but the realist tells me Sunday was the Apex of the MarNIT years. Rough sledding ahead, for a team that has looked lost all year long despite a lot of talent.

Cuonzo will get the call, don't match and let him accept the call, his stock will be at an all time high, let him do what is best for him in the long run.

And your suggestion for a replacement? Who would want to come here with "fans" like you? Maymon and McRae were nothing under Pearl. Cuonzo is a class act and good coach. I loved Pearl as a coach, but in the end he proved to be a snitch, adulterer, cheat, and liar. Not to mention the off the court issues we had.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to JSmith525:

I am not sure where the surge of energy, being displayed by the team over the last few games, came from. I am just glad to see it. I give a big thank you and well done to the coaches and the players. At the same time I ask, where was this energy and play for the first 2/3's of the season. I honestly feel that the Vols should have been in the Dance the last 2 seasons. But I don't have an argument because, they laid eggs in the NIT both seasons. I have never been a BBB type, He made his bed etc..etc. I do not think CCM should be fired. Fact is I don't know what to think. What is Vol Basketball with Martin as Coach? Is it the ugly, boring and I can't watch this, that we had before this trend or is it what we are watching now? If any of you know please share it with the rest of us that just "Care about UT Sports". I will be on cloud nine if they make the final 4 but I will die of boredom if they go back to playing that other style of BB.

The questions you ask have certainly occurred to many Vol fans. I can't say I know the answers, but I can make some guesses. For all the talk--which I have no reason to believe isn't sincere--the first two Martin teams especially had a preponderance of Pearl's recruits in major roles, not only on the floor but in the locker room and in off-court activities. It is one thing to intellectually embrace a change in philosophy and style, but often quite another to FEEL the essence of the new style. McRae in particular has taken awhile to realize that he doesn't have to do it all by himself. As one of the few on the team who can get his own shot, he might have been slow to adapt to the idea that the REST of the team needs a little more structure and flow in the offense for them to perform at their best, and that too much free-lancing disrupts the concentration, timing, and cohesion that the rest of the team needs for the offense to produce at its overall best and doesn't put enough pressure on the other team's defense.

It certainly didn't help the development of the team when Maymon suffered his injuries. In the second season, this left the Vols with essentially only Stokes to do all the heavy lifting inside, which limited the overall development of his own game. Then you had Golden at PG who was mostly a defensive liability under a defensive-minded coach. Still, his departure left a big hole at the position where a steady hand on the tiller was most necessary.

Then this year, Barton came in to try to fill Golden's role. He came from a much more wide-open, free-lancing style that put more defensive emphasis on playing passing lanes and shot-blocking, so he never developed the habit of keeping his man in front of him as Martin's style requires. Also, he was not a classic PG who actually knew how to run a more structured offense. Then you also had Maymon adjusting to his new physical limitations and finding an appropriate role on a team that suddenly had more offensive options.

So in essence, each season had unique challenges for a staff that had a clear idea of how they wanted to play, but did not have the ideal mix of players with the requisite skills and total belief in what they were being asked to do. Ironically, next year's team may be quicker off the mark than any of the last three, since ALL of the players now know what is expected of them, and since they don't have any real record of success playing any other style in college ball, they will more naturally fall into the habits that Martin and staff have been teaching all along.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

Let me say without taking up a lot of space that John's last post was the best analysis of our team that I have read on this site. It's nice to read a comment from someone who actually will make an honest assessment without the need to find a negative thing to say.

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features