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Postgame Quotes

Jan. 21, 2012

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Opening statement

“First thing, congratulations to Cuonzo (Martin), who I recruited. He was a great kid and, obviously, he’s evolved into a coach. He’s done something we haven’t done – he’s gotten his kids to play hard. We’re not playing very hard.

“It was a physical game, very well-officiated in my opinion. I had no problem with the officiating whatsoever. It was very good. They allowed the game to be physical and they were more physical than us and, thus, they won the game.

“We have no post setup. I’ve been talking about that. They made some big plays and defended us pretty well. Mainly they just dug, scratched and clawed, which was exactly what we said they were doing. The first thing a coach needs when he gets a program – I don’t think Cuonzo needs my advice; I’m not very much in a position to give advice about teams playing hard – his culture is developing. We thought on tape they played very hard and they played harder than we did. That’s how they won the game.”

On 50-50 balls and hustle plays

“I’m not sure about 50-50 balls but getting knocked off the post all the time – those are physical plays. It’s a battle of will in basketball. The rebounds were fairly close to even, so somewhere along the line I guess we’re getting a couple of loose balls. No, just the actually physical play. You get bumped on a screen or you’re going to set a screen and you stay on it or you back off and it’s not worth it – those kinds of plays. Boxing out on a foul shot, not posting.

“We talked about getting the ball in the post but who are you going to throw to? Alex (Oriakhi) occasionally made a presence known but no one else made a presence in there. They had plenty of presence in the post. They out-worked us, they were tougher than we were and they won the basketball game.

“You can win a lot of games that way. He’s obviously got something going. They are a young team. (Jarnell) Stokes was terrific today. Their team, though, was terrific. Their team stayed together, they ran their stuff and they were much more physical than we were in a game that was equally officiated. So we had just as much right to be physical on them and we weren’t.”

Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

(Opening Statement:)

“I thought it was a great atmosphere. I thought the crowd did a great job supporting. They had great energy. It was also a good night to support Pat, what she brings to the table in that house and what she’s done in the last 30-plus years. I thought it was a wonderful night across the board.

“From a playing standpoint, I thought we did a good job defensively again. We’ve gotten a lot better in that area and are taking pride in defending, holding a team like that with really good guards and physical bigs, the way they rebound and the way they score. I thought we did a good job of really challenging shooters and boxing out, which wasn’t an easy task because you look at those guys. They’ve got some big guys when you get up close to them.

“I thought Trae (Golden) probably had one of his better games all season. Even though he didn’t score much, I thought he did a great job of running our team in a lot of areas. He was communicating with the guys ... I thought he did a tremendous job of really executing.

“One major concern I thought we did a good job of was not turning the ball over. I think we had eight in the first half and finished with 10. That’s where you give yourself a chance to win, by taking care of the ball and be under control.

“I thought Jarnell (Stokes) did a good job once again. He had some breakdowns defensively, which is expected because he’s learning as we go, but I thought his energy, his toughness, his will to receive the ball and desire to score the ball really helped us get over the hump. I think our bigs are really playing some good basketball right now. It was just a good win for us and our program.”

(On decision to start Jarnell Stokes:)

“Well, it was easy from a standpoint of what we needed because I don’t want to take anything away from the other guys and what they’ve done. But it was easy from the standpoint that the guys have embraced him and that helps, makes the transition easy. But also, he’s a likable guy and you want to see him be successful. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t a shock to our guys. He’s just what we needed in the starting lineup to get us going.”

(On Stokes making in-game adjustments:)

“One thing he does is that he’s a very intelligent basketball player and we’re continuing to work with him as far as the feel to make those adjustments. You’re talking about a guy who on his high school team was shooting the ball over guys who were 6-5, 6-6 at best. Now you’re going against this level of talent and you haven’t had a chance to really go up against it every day in practice. And just to make those adjustments, use his body, his hip, his shoulder to get that shot up was a major adjustment for him from that standpoint.”\

(On Stokes’ rebounding:)

“I almost chewed him out a couple times on those boxouts. He did a good job going to get those rebounds, being physical, using his body. Those guys had length on him, so they were still coming over the back. I think the refs didn’t do a bad job of calling because they were getting up over our guys’ backs. It was legit. I thought he did a good job putting bodies on guys, especially when he wasn’t getting winded.”