SEC Basketball Media Day: Tennessee

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin heads into his second year with the Volunteers amid heightened expectations following his team’s strong second half of last season.

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin:

On the difference between last year and this year:

“I think the guys did a great job of fighting and competing, wanting to be successful. We struggled early, because we were trying to implement our system, but you are also trying to get guys that hadn’t played a prominent role in the previous seasons or new guys to really understand and gel and play well together – and that’s not an easy thing to do, especially at the level we were trying to play and how we were trying to compete with a tough preseason schedule. I thought our guys did a good job – I think that Florida game at home really kind of propelled our team to have success. I think that probably jump‐started us, and the addition of Jarnell Stokes, I think when you combine those two things, I think we got off and running at that point.”  

On how the preseason trip to Italy benefited the team collectively:

“I thought the trip was great from the standpoint of the camaraderie of the team, being together. The talent‐level was great – we played four games, one and a half games were pretty good – I think the biggest thing we were trying to get out of that trip was the camaraderie of the team togetherness and I thought we established those things. I thought our guys did a great job of being around each other and having fun, and developing those genuine relationships.”

On the strengths of this Tennessee team:

“I like to think that if you asked me that 10 years from now, I would say playing hard and defending at a high level. Offense always can score, you got guys that can score and you have guys that can shoot and guys that are really good post‐players, whatever the case may be – you may score 70, 80 or 90, I don’t know; but you have to defend at a high‐level. I think that is the main thing for us. I want to score the ball, and when I was a player I shot the ball, had some fun shooting, so I like offense, and if you can make some shots then shoot, but we have to defend all the time and that will give us a chance to win the game.”  

Courtesy of SEC Digital Network