Mike Strange: Donnie Tyndall says toughness is a talent

Mike Strange
Morehead State's Donnie Tyndall, right, talks to Morehead State's Brandon Shingles and Kenneth Faried (35) during a first-round NCAA men's college basketball tournament game against Louisville Friday, March 20, 2009, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Photo by Al Behrman, AP2009

Morehead State's Donnie Tyndall, right, talks to Morehead State's Brandon Shingles and Kenneth Faried (35) during a first-round NCAA men's college basketball tournament game against Louisville Friday, March 20, 2009, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Are you concerned about the state of the men's basketball program with six players being released from scholarship under Tyndall?

See the results »

View previous polls »

UT men's basketball assistant coach Adam Howard

Al Pinkins: New men's basketball assistant coach

None

The former coach’s brand was “A Tougher Breed.” Every player he recruited knew that when he signed to play basketball at Tennessee.

The new coach talks about toughness being the great equalizer.

“Talent is important,’’ Donnie Tyndall said Tuesday, “but toughness, in my opinion, is a talent.

“Toughness will be the key ingredient in our recruiting.’’

So if toughness is a common denominator, why the apparent disconnect between Cuonzo Martin’s recruits and Tennessee’s new coach?

In a word, loyalty.

Kids are loyal to the coach who recruited them. If UT’s signees and roster guys are asking out, Tyndall understands it isn’t necessarily because they’re soft and/or have already decided he’s a demanding, hard-nosed SOB.

“I haven’t yelled at anybody yet,’’ Tyndall said. “I haven’t got these guys on the floor so I haven’t been able to challenge or push them whatsoever. Every conversation has been ultra positive and upbeat.

“I just think these kids are very loyal to Coach Martin, which to be honest with you, I love. I respect that.’’

It was the same when Tyndall told his Southern Miss recruits he was leaving for Tennessee.

“Every single one of ’em,’’ said Tyndall. “First question was ‘can we come with you?’ ”

Before it’s over, perhaps one or more will.

Wherever he finds them, what Tyndall needs to first salvage and then rebuild Tennessee’s roster is guys who will be loyal to him. Guys who will hop in his foxhole.

He hopes that includes the players on the roster, even the ones who already have or might yet ask permission to explore other options.

In a media session to introduce his staff Tuesday, Tyndall also shed more light on what kind of prospects he will bring to UT as he puts his stamp on the program.

Yes, he will recruit a higher caliber of prospect than he did at Morehead State and Southern Miss. But with Tennessee’s resources, there’s no reason to think blue-chippers are beyond reach.

Keep in mind what Tyndall said a few paragraphs ago: toughness will be the key ingredient in recruiting.

Start on the national top-50 list, but if you don’t see a good fit, move on to 150.

“I’m going to take a five-star kid if we can get him,’’ Tyndall said.

“But if he’s soft, not very competitive and doesn’t love to play and can’t be coached, I’d rather take the three-star guy that’s unbelievably competitive, wants to be coached and will play as hard as he can every day.’’

Tyndall plans to coach as hard as he can every day. Those who know him confirm as much.

He needs players who don’t get their feelings hurt easily. His coaching style has been described as aggressive and fiery.

“Those are compliments to me,’’ Tyndall said.

Aggression and toughness were necessary for a self-described “grunt guy” to work his way up the ladder. He expects his teams to mirror his approach.

That style and attitude have, in fact, served him well at low-major and mid-major programs.

Kenneth Faried, formerly of Morehead State, currently with the Denver Nuggets, is Tyndall’s poster boy, a slightly undersized, hidden gem with the toughness to flourish in his style.

“Kenneth Faried was a no-star and I think he would have been a pretty good player in the SEC,’’ Tyndall said.

Now he’s trying to find more hidden gems with the requisite toughness to play his style in the SEC.

Maybe there are even a few already on his roster. The ones recruited to build “A Tougher Breed.’’

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

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 4

OrangePride writes:

Loyalty. That's a big part of it. But should there not be some other issues on the table for these transfers? Playing time? Thompson, for one, would be a starter. He would be a leader. Now, he's looking for a new team where he has no allegiance, sits out a year, and is doing it at a time when there are very few scholarships even available to fill. Some of these players will not improve their situation with a move. We'll see. Tyndall has to go get his own guys...period. I'm done worrying about it.

vol1957 writes:

Loyalty works both ways. Many of the UT players did not feel the loyalty from the UT fans this season as they were getting trashed in social media. The sad thing for me is that I think that a majority of UT fans are being misrepresented by the very vocal "fair-weather" fans that spoke out so loudly during this past season. A basketball season is so long with so many games, no team ever plays its best all the time. I have heard Coaches like Wooden, Knight, Summitt, Krzyzewski, Valvano, etc. say that the key for a successful season is to have your team playing its best at the right time of the year. That is exactly what Coach Martin and the team did this year. Their struggles earlier in the season were not due to a lack of effort it was just a result of the the team going through the process of learning what it takes for them to be successful. Loyal fans should have stuck with the team, supporting them through these rough times. Again, I think most UT fans fall into the loyal category but due to the very vocal, very negative fans, this is not how we are being perceived by the current players, recruits, and the national media.

fannotsheep writes:

in response to vol1957:

Loyalty works both ways. Many of the UT players did not feel the loyalty from the UT fans this season as they were getting trashed in social media. The sad thing for me is that I think that a majority of UT fans are being misrepresented by the very vocal "fair-weather" fans that spoke out so loudly during this past season. A basketball season is so long with so many games, no team ever plays its best all the time. I have heard Coaches like Wooden, Knight, Summitt, Krzyzewski, Valvano, etc. say that the key for a successful season is to have your team playing its best at the right time of the year. That is exactly what Coach Martin and the team did this year. Their struggles earlier in the season were not due to a lack of effort it was just a result of the the team going through the process of learning what it takes for them to be successful. Loyal fans should have stuck with the team, supporting them through these rough times. Again, I think most UT fans fall into the loyal category but due to the very vocal, very negative fans, this is not how we are being perceived by the current players, recruits, and the national media.

What we don't know is what went on behind the scenes. Who knows what the tone was in meetings between the AD and the Coach? Everyone says the petition and restless, negative fans were the issues but without being a fly on the wall we can't know the reality of the Hart-Martin relationship.

As for the average fan, what I mostly heard was, "if we can't win with this year's talent what will happen next year when Stokes, McRae and Maymon leave?"

Believers were made during the late season run, but the buyout clause in the contract was another factor. Only Cuonzo Martin knows what his reasons for leaving were. I doubt someone as tough as he is was scared away by any petition.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to vol1957:

Loyalty works both ways. Many of the UT players did not feel the loyalty from the UT fans this season as they were getting trashed in social media. The sad thing for me is that I think that a majority of UT fans are being misrepresented by the very vocal "fair-weather" fans that spoke out so loudly during this past season. A basketball season is so long with so many games, no team ever plays its best all the time. I have heard Coaches like Wooden, Knight, Summitt, Krzyzewski, Valvano, etc. say that the key for a successful season is to have your team playing its best at the right time of the year. That is exactly what Coach Martin and the team did this year. Their struggles earlier in the season were not due to a lack of effort it was just a result of the the team going through the process of learning what it takes for them to be successful. Loyal fans should have stuck with the team, supporting them through these rough times. Again, I think most UT fans fall into the loyal category but due to the very vocal, very negative fans, this is not how we are being perceived by the current players, recruits, and the national media.

Great post; agree with all. No surprise to me that some of the holdovers felt disrespected by some vocal "fans" from the day they were signed. I think it might be inappropriate for them to more or less take that out on Tyndall, but young men of that age are not generally known for cool, mature judgment.

On topic, Charles Barkley said the exact same thing--that toughness is a TALENT--on one of the recent TNT halftime shows. He and Kenny Smith have always insisted that mental and physical toughness, effort, and consistently great decision-making are every bit as important, if not MORE so, than any combination of physical talents without those other traits. Of course, one would always prefer that his players have all those attributes, but if you have to choose, go with the guys who have the requisite character traits. They will find a way to compensate for any deficiencies in talent.

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