Change for Vols smooth thus far
Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 7:08 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER AP Sports Writer
By BETH RUCKER
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Volunteers know it will take time to adjust to their new coach, Cuonzo Martin. Things are off to a good start so far, though.
“It’s been pretty smooth,” sophomore forward Kenny Hall said. “We all had our own individual meetings with the coaches, and we’re all pretty confident in what (Martin) has in store for us.”
In addition to meeting with Martin and assistants Jon Harris and Kent Williams, the players also participated in their first two workouts with their new coaches this week.
Hall said he respects Martin’s background growing up in a tough neighborhood in East St. Louis, Ill., and playing in the NBA, and junior guard Cameron Tatum said he appreciated the way Martin has communicated with the players so far.
“He communicates with us in a sense that he can relate to us, but he also communicates to us in a very disciplined form,” Tatum said. “He wants everything to be very structured and everything to be very hands-on and pinpointed to a T. I think it’s going to be very great for our team.”
The intense workouts Martin has led this week? Those may take some time to adjust to.
“They were pretty tough,” sophomore guard Skylar McBee said. “It was very up-tempo, a lot of cardio. Coming off this little break we’ve had, It’s time to get in shape.
“I think that’s what it was about, getting our legs working, getting us in the shape that we need to be in.”
Martin was hired March 27 and has been working on getting to know the current Vols, identifying recruits to target during the April recruiting period and filling out his staff.
He can have contact with recruits again on Thursday after a brief dead period and plans to meet first with Kevin Ware and Chris Jones, two players who signed with Tennessee in the fall but have asked to reopen their recruiting after Bruce Pearl was fired.
Tuesday Martin announced he had hired Nebraska’s Tracy Webster as an assistant and was considering keeping Houston Fancher, who was interim coach after Bruce Pearl was fired, on staff as director of basketball operations.
In addition to Nebraska, Webster has coached at DePaul, Kentucky, Illinois, Purdue and Ball State and played guard at Wisconsin. Fancher previously coached at Appalachian State and was Pearl’s video coordinator.
Martin said he’ll eventually watch a little bit of film on the current Vols to get a bit of an idea of what he has to work with for next season.
“The film doesn’t lie, so that’s an assessment, that’s an evaluation when we watch the film,” he said. “But the film doesn’t tell me who are the starters, who’s coming off the bench. My gauge will be when we start practice on day one. Those guys determine who the starters are. You work hard, you’ll have an opportunity to play. For me, my gauge is always playing hard, playing defense and going to class every day.”
Tatum said the team is optimistic about what lies ahead with their new coaching staff.
“Just the way that they teach it to us was a little different than the prior staff. I’m not saying the prior staff was bad at teaching, it was just a little different,” he said. “I think the way that they were teaching us is going to serve every player individually a lot better. I think you’ll see a difference in the players’ development.”
Published in The Messenger 4.6.11