Vols’ Martin preaching hard work
Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2011 7:03 pm
By BETH RUCKER
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — When Cuonzo Martin accepted the Tennessee coaching job in the spring, he knew he only wanted players who were interested in working with him. So he gave the veteran Volunteers the choice to leave if they weren’t committed to playing for him.
Two signees left. So did Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson, who had their sights on the NBA draft even before former coach Bruce Pearl was fired. Everyone else stayed.
“I said to those guys when I took over the program, ‘You’re more than welcome to do what you need to do if you don’t feel happy about what we’re trying to do.’ I gave the same speech in June, I gave the same thing in July,” Martin said. “I think as a ballplayer, when you want to be successful, ‘Just give me the blueprint coach. I may not like doing it, but if that’s the blueprint for me to be successful as a young man, then I’m all for it.”’
While most of the offseason attention on Tennessee basketball was focused on NCAA violations committed by Pearl and his staff, Martin quietly has been working hard to put his own mark on the program. That means making the Vols’ tougher and more invested in the program with harder and faster offseason workouts.
After the 2010-11 season ended with the Vols’ 75-45 meltdown against Michigan in their first game of the NCAA tournament, senior guard Cameron Tatum thinks he and his teammates were ready for the extra intensity.
“I think that helped a lot of guys grow up,” Tatum said. “The way the season ended last year was something that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.”
Published in The Messenger 10.13.11