The Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball team’s season has gone nothing like it had planned in the off-season.
Star power forward Jeronne Maymon took a medical redshirt for the season. The offense struggled early while the defense was strong. Then, the defense struggled while the offense picked-up. In recent games, the team has been so-so at both. The result is an 8-7 team that is winless (0-3) in SEC play.
Win or lose, head coach Cuonzo Martin has been a rock of consistency and optimism that things would get better. Some fans haven’t taken the same patient approach. NCAA Tournament hopes are quickly washing away. Short of one of the country’s best close-outs to the season, the Vols will fail to make the tournament again.
Jesse Smithey and I talked to Cuonzo Martin on the “News Sentinel Sports Page” talk show about his team to this point and the upcoming game versus Mississippi State at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville. Some of those quotes are below.
To hear our entire interview with Tennessee men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, click the video to the left.
Cuonzo Martin when asked if he’d like Jarnell Stokes to play with more of an edge or meaner:
“I would like to see it, but every guy’s nature and style is his own. He’s got it in him because he shows it sometimes in practice.”
Why Trae Golden isn’t playing as well as he has in the past:
“That’s one of the things we’re trying to figure out with Trae, just really talking with him.”
His thoughts on the officiating in recent games:
“The Kentucky game, I thought that was a tough officiated game. That was a game I was sitting there trying to get a tech from those guys. I thought there were some questionable calls at Alabama as well. As hard as you’re playing, you’re trying to compete and as tough as it is to win on the road, you’ve got to give guys a fair chance. I thought some of those calls; I thought they were ridiculous to be honest with you. I said you can’t win ball games like that. Then if it’s going to be played that way just call it on both ends of the floor. I just think you have to have some consistency in that department.”
Why he hasn’t been discouraged by the tough start:
“Because this is my home. This is where I plan on being for a long time. This is not a pit stop for me. This is a destination. This is where I plan on being.”
On needing the fans to keep supporting the team:
“The guys are going out and competing. The last thing they need is for the fans not to be there. That’s the worst thing that can happen to these guys.”
If Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson’s on-court antics go too far:
“When I was a player that didn’t bother me. The best way to stop that is beating him. As a ball-player you expect that. Our guys in the summertime, you talk trash to teammates. That wouldn’t affect me.”
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