KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT/SUBMITTED) -- Coach Cuonzo Martin addressed the media Wednesday in preparation for Saturday's game against Austin Peay at Thompson-Boling Arena (12:00 pm, CSS)
"First I would like to say congratulations to Coach Summitt on the Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the year, it is certainly a great honor. It is well worth it. Also congratulations to Cam Tatum. He is getting his degree on Friday, so it is exciting times for us. The hard work he has put in over time, he has paid his dues and it's paying off for him. I am really happy for him. He is really working toward being a successful young man so I am proud about that. I think our guys are certainly making strides, really improving. We have had a really good couple days of practice, guys are competing, great spirits. If you look at the league stats, I don't really get caught up in the stats, I think our guys are really doing some good things, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Scoring and shooting it, really competing. I thought we made strides as a team against Pitt from the standpoint I thought we defended in a game where it was a grind it out type of game. I thought we did a good job of defending and keeping our composure. Also shooting at the 45% clip, which is not a bad thing in a game like that, in a game like that. So I thought we did some good things, we just came up a little short. Trae Golden is playing well, I think he is first and second in the league at assists a game with 6.1 a game, averaging 16.3 points a game. Jeronne at seven plus rebounds a game is doing some good things, continuing to be assertive on the offensive side of the ball. We have to get him more aggressive consistently. We are doing a good job of scoring the ball."
(Talk about Jeronne and what you say in him when you first got here)
"Well I say Jeronne in high school, he was playing on the wing, a 190-200 pound wing player. So I knew who he was, obviously he has picked up weight and he is bigger and stronger. But he is a guy who can pick up the ball and play on the perimeter, he plays the power forward for us, but he is an inside out guy. I think the key for him and the next phase for him is to be consistent, but to also develop that perimeter shot and have confidence in that shot because we want him to shoot that shot from the three point line. But to confidence to take and make them when he is missing them."
(Do you think you might be a litter better thus far in the season and what area do you think you need improvement?)
"I think we are better from a scoring standpoint because we find a way to score points without a lot of low post scoring. Cause I don't really consider Jeronne a low post player even though he is inside out. But I think we have to get the ball inside more, to get to the free throw line more than anything. But not necessarily throwing into the big guys, but also have the dribble getting in the lanes and making plays. But I think the low postproduction, getting more scoring from that standpoint, even on offensive rebounding to get the ball in the basket. For us I think to be consistent on the defensive side with a level of toughness, when teams are making runs, teams are making shots, we turn the ball over. But to be consistent on the defensive side."
(Talk about how Jeronne is responding after the Pitt game and his matchup)
"Oh, he's been fine and once the game was over, I don't put a lot of stock in it. We just say execute our game plan the next day in practice. I don't put a lot of weight on them like that from the standpoint he let us down, because it is a collective team effort. We lost as a team; it's not one guy. I have never been that kind of guy to put that type of pressure on a player. In order to improve you have to accept individual matchups and challenges when you try and take that next step as a player. But he didn't win or lose the game for us. They did a good job of rebounding as a team, 17 offensive rebounds."
(Have you seen more consistency with Tatum?)
"Oh, without a doubt, I think those guys are doing a good job. I think Cam was impressive. To see a guy get 10 rebounds in a game and all the defensive rebounds because there was an emphasis on it for us. So Cam went into the game and carried out those assignments for us, getting rebounds. I think Jordan has to do a better job of going to the glass and getting rebounds and being physical. But I think they are making strides."
(Do you think it was Kenny Hall's best game?)
"I think it was his best game because he rebounded the ball. Once again for a player I don't put a gauge on how many shots they are making or missing, but I thought he did a good job of posting strong and I thought he did a good job of rebounding the basketball. If he can get eight, nine, ten a night we will be alright."
(On shots falling finally for Kenny Hall)
"I think the key when you watch Kenny on film, it's more the footwork and putting himself in a position to score the basketball than the actual shots. He has a decent touch, especially facing up and making shots. But we spent a lot of time watching film on him with his footwork more than anything. He put himself in a position to get those shots off."
(Talk about what you are getting from Yemi and Dwight off the bench)
"I think the past week or so, the past two weeks Dwight has made the strides to really earn minutes. Just having a level of confidence and just understanding what is expected on both ends of the floor. Playing on both ends of the floor, rebounding the basketball. Really just repetition on both ends of the floor with Dwight more than anything. I think with Yemi offensive reps, spacing, and timing. When things are sped in situations up we are calling stuff on the fly he has to respond quickly. He is a very intelligent guy. It's just the terminology he is getting better. Defensively I think he is ready because he is more ready. He is getting rebounds."
(Do you need a game like Austin Peay or do you not look at it like that?)
"You know for us they are all important. And I have never been one to say this is an easier game for us because the approach is all the same. When you allow yourself to let up that is when you fall short. For us it is trying to win a basketball game and doing anything to be successful."
(Do you think Maymon's 32 point 20 rebound game has put pressure on him?)
"I think as a basketball player if you allow that to happen then that is the next phase for him to grow as a young man, a basketball player. As a coach once again I don't even take about it. When it is over it is done with. I just say good job, good job rebounding. We talk about the points. I think the rebounding is a hard thing to do. But if he is putting that pressure on himself that is part of his growth as a young man to take that next step. Because as a staff we don't really talk about it outside of saying great job."
(Talk about being 3-4 against a tough schedule compared to 6-1 against an easy schedule)
"I like to think it will help our guys. I do, because you see have seen some of the best and there is probably not many better you won't see. But some teams have better talent than others, some might have a little bit more, one team might be ranked has a great low post scorer, one team might have four perimeter guys that shoot 40% from three. But it won't be anything that we haven't seen, we won't be smacked in the face from a standpoint these guys are really good. Our guys understand that, they know the approach they have to take into games. It's just a matter of us playing with a level of confidence and a level of focus, as well as a level of toughness from start to finish."
(What have you seen from the players as far as confidence?)
"I agree with that I really do. Like as I said as a staff we really feel like getting on the plane going to Hawaii we could really win that tournament. We really believed that. I just think as a player you have to go through it. You can pick things here, a breakdown over here; you emphasize this and all of the sudden you let up in this area. I just think it is a part of your growth as a team more than anything. I wouldn't say it was a team necessarily had better talent, I just think it was a part of the growth, us trying to process it, trying to win games, who is the go to guy late in the game, who gets the shot, who gets the stop, who is your defensive stopper. I think that is it more than anything outside of this guy is a ranked team or this guy is a great team, I don't think that is the issue. I think so they play with a level of confidence and as a coach you try and encourage our guys. I don't really talk about a lack of confidence. Everything with us is positive, toughness, energy and ready to go. It doesn't matter who we face."
(Talk about how you can use the defense from the Pitt game as a teaching tool)
"I think that the thing that we have made the guys understand more than anything as a staff, we have to play with a level of toughness and you have to carry out assignments on the defensive side. But we also show that 97 points, 80 something points, you don't win games. So you have to defend in order to be successful."
(What do you consider a good assist to turnover ratio for your point guard?)
"I think 3-1, anything 3-1, 4-1. I think those gauges are always good. We spend a lot of time in practice being pressured, being in pressure situations. Two guys running at you, one guy is constantly covering you, in most cases he is probably fouling you. Where you won't see that pressure in a game, but if you do see it you are able to deal with it. You should be able to handle pressure. I think for us turning the ball over, I think we are 12.3 right now, so we are getting it down. I would like to be at ten or below. It's just not making those fancy passes, I think that is the biggest key for us."
(Do you keep track of your plus minus on your players?)
"Not really. As far as minutes played or production on the floor? (Production) Not really, you know Coach K did that a little bit in college. Sometimes you find out with minuses it's your best player so not really I don't."
(Talk about what Cam brings to the team and getting his degree)
"Well I think that the degree is the most important thing. I know a lot of times when you are involved with sports at a high level we somewhat take that for granted, I think that is understood. But not many guys get their degree and that is not their focus. I think he has done a good job of making that his commitment and getting his degree. Understanding the importance of getting his degree and on the court it is just one of those deals where you have to buy what the coach is selling. I think he has done a good job with that, really understanding that let me do what coach is asking in order for me to be successful and the team to be successful. That's why you see the results in him. He is playing with a level of confidence, just feeling good about himself, he's playing hard, and he's accepted the role on the defensive side of the ball, really being a defensive stopper. That's a good sign to see for a senior."
(Talk about the advantages of having a point guard who can score 30 a game and the balancing act of scoring and passing)
"It's really for him reading the defense more than anything. I talked to him again yesterday when you are the point guard and you have the ball in your hand, you are in control of the game. It's picking and choosing your times of shooting and scoring because for most point guards he can get four to eight points a half at the free throw line especially when we are in the bonus. Knowing when to get fouls, we spend time on learning how to get fouled. Getting in the lanes, shot fake, shot fake, seeing the big guys, feeding the big guys when you are running it. Those things are important for his future as a point guard. When he leaves college he will never be a two guard or small forward. So that is his future, understanding that you can still score and be successful. I think for him to take it to the next step and be at that next level of an elite guard at this level he has to become a better defender."
(Where have you seen Golden's progress most?)
"With his decision making he is getting better at that. That is not an easy thing to do when guys are running at you, you have pressure on you. And you haven't played with your big guys a lot. I think that is most important knowing when to hit his big guys in his stride and get them shots. Because a lot of big guys they can't catch the ball on the run in tough situations. So knowing when to get those bigs in situations to be successful."
(Do you think Golden's decision making is something he still needs to learn down the stretch?)
"I just think it's his growth as a player. I know I made those mistakes when I was a young guy. But the thing I appreciated more and where I gained the most confidence was when coach K came back and watched film with me. I just think understanding the last situation was him slowing down to allow Jeronne through because of a flat play that we run. I don't know if you saw Jeronne come up on the side of him, he kind of brought his man in there, but I don't think it was necessarily Trae Golden. Once again one play doesn't win or lose a game for us."
(Have you seen signs of Kenny Hall being able to be more productive as an inside scorer?)
"I have. I think one for us getting him the ball, posting up strong and him getting low. But also the key for him is the footwork, the body balance, and the lower body strength. That's all the strength and conditioning department for us. Certain type of weight lifting techniques that we need to improve on for him. But I think it is more of his body technique than anything."
(Do you changing anything up this month since it is slowing down?)
"Well like I said this past week or so we have really put our motion offense in. It's consuming, it cuts the movement, it's understanding reads, so it's not a lot of set plays being called. You have to be able to read the defense. That's not an easy thing. I thought the guys at the last two guys have done a good job of spacing and trying to read the defense. So that has been the focus. Also the principles, the same stuff we have been teaching defensively. We don't change a lot this time of year. The only thing is the practice is kind of shorter and lightens up somewhat. Other than that, you stick to the script."
(Does this movement offense help with situations like the Pitt game?)
"Oh without a doubt because the guys understand, they understand the offense, where guys strengths and weaknesses are, where your low post scorers are. When you penetrate you pitch because we have played with each other enough to understand that. We also have other plays in our sequence that you might run depending on who is hot in that situation."
(What does Woolridge have to do to get more minutes?)
"I think the biggest key with Renaldo is to just continue to play hard and understand what is expected on both ends of the floor."
(Is the zone something we might see this year against certain teams?)
"Only if we feel like it is to throw a team off balance. But it isn't because we feel like we are giving in and like I have said we have had it in since we have started practice. Regardless of who we have played against, but maybe to throw a team off but it won't be because they are scoring the ball because we have to defend."
(What do you expect on both ends of the floor for Woolridge?)
"To be able to play inside out, to play hard, to rebound at both ends of the floor and that is probably the biggest thing for him. To rebound at a high level in traffic on both ends of the floor. He can play inside outside. With our offense, like Jeronne you are inside or you are outside. So when there are opportunities to be inside you are inside. When you are outside shoot the ball."
(Has Richardson made progress, is he a guy that you need to improve?)
"Oh yeah, with him it is just playing hard. Being a defensive stopper because he is built to do that. Like I tell all the guys your gauge has to be defending and rebounding. How hard are you playing. Don't gauge your performance on how many shots you take, or how many shots you get or how many shots you score."