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Martin’s Job At UT A Tough One

There won’t be many first-year coaches in the country next season who find themselves in a tighter spot than Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin.  In all likelihood UT’s new coach will have to deal with some sort of NCAA sanctions against his program.  He’ll also have to replace a beloved figure in ousted coach Bruce Pearl.  And he’ll need to do it with a roster that’s both small and thin. 

Oh, and he’ll also have to win over a fanbase that’s grown accustomed to thriving in basketball.

But with Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris going pro early, the Vols have lost their two top scorers from a year ago.  Martin is left with just one returning starter, one player over 6-8, and just seven scholarship returnees total. 

Making matters worse, two highly-ranked prospects won’t be in Knoxville next season either.  Chris Jones’ grades have forced him to the juco ranks.  Kevin Ware is considering Georgia and Louisville after backing out on UT, but his grades are iffy as well.

And did we mention the fact that many UT fans are blaming Martin for Harris, Hopson, Jones and Ware not wearing orange next year?  In reality, its likely Pearl would have been facing the exact same rebuilding job next season had he not imploded with a flurry of NCAA missteps.

Offense figures to be a major issue for the Vols next season.  At least according to John Adams of The Knoxville News Sentinel.  Oddly, Mark Wiedmer of The Chattanooga Times Free-Press writes just the opposite stating:


Laugh all you like, but Jordan McRae and Renaldo Woolridge — assuming “Swiper Boy” puts his musical career on hold long enough to finally earn the four years of free tuition, room and board the Vols have provided him — have the talent to become one of the more dangerous offensive duos in the Southeastern Conference.


Anything’s possible, but neither of those players could earn their way onto UT’s court with any regularity last season.  So it’s hard to picture them going from zeroes to heroes in such a short span of time.

Whether UT can scrounge up enough offense to win or not, Martin isn’t making any excuses.  “It’s just one of those deals (where) you have a bunch of guys that were role players and some guys who didn’t play a role.  So now it’s trying to find a guy that can be a leading guy, leading scorer, leading post guy, leading perimeter guy, guy that can run off screens.  Those things we have to find out as a staff.”

All while some fans unfairly compare his results to his predecessors.  After all, it was Pearl who burned Tennessee’s program to the ground.  Martin just inherited the mess.

 


14 comments
Mendog
Mendog

I like Pearl and I think what happened to him was ridiculous. Yes, he should have been slapped for the cookout. He knew it was wrong and still did it. Yes, he lied and tried to cover it up, but to give him the death penalty for that is overkill. This is especially so given the fact that his violations were all secondary violations. Lying is apparently a major violation, but coming clean on his own should ameliorate the punishment. In this case it did not. I sure an interested to see if CJT will be burned at the stake or crucified given his cover up of major violations rather than minor ones.

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

I have a feeling that the bulk of the punishment handed down will be given to Pearl, and not the UT program. Almost all of the "issues" pointed out in the letter were directed at Pearl and his behavior, and not any major issues with the A.Dept. Pearl's greatest sin was that he lied and tried to cover it up. If he had just owed up in the beginning to his actions, there would not have been any issues. It would have been scholarship lost, and everyone would have moved onto the season. He lied and tried to cover it up. There is no evidence that the department was privy or part of the lie. Since the major sin is lying, and that falls all on Pearl and his assistants, the punishment will be laid at their feet. Expect a multi-year 3+ show cause penalty on Pearl. I doubt UT is handed a post season ban. There could be some loss of scholarships. Nothing that the program cannot over come.

Vol Guest
Vol Guest

John - why do you say that "many UT fans are blaming Martin" for the fact that several players are not going to be on campus next year? I'm sure you've heard that from somewhere, but I am an entrenched UT fan who reads internet boards, listens to radio, reads articles, and talks to numerous fans, and that's the first I've heard of that.

Jimmy Hosean
Jimmy Hosean

Why, oh why, is Bruce Pearl beloved in Knoxville? He is responsible for bringing the program down to such a low talent level. AND he put UT in big trouble with the NCAA. Are UT fans still going to love this guy when they find out they have a 2-year post season ban and scholarship reductions? Pearl has done some good things in the past (NOTHING compared to Donovan has done), and he has now completely wrecked this program.

And don't say what this guy did were "missteps" John. He turned in another coach for breaking NCAA rules, then he breaks them himself, lies to the NCAA's face, and encourages other people to do so. And UT fans what him back? What for? So UT can get the death penalty?

Matt
Matt

This is the same article from '05, only with different names. The similarities from the start of Pearl career and Martin's gives UT fans hope that we can keep this ride going.

Lose our top scorers
04/05: Brandon Crump and Scooter McFadgon.
10/11: Harris and Hopson

Not able to Hold on to recruits
04/05: Tyler Smith and Jamont Gordon* (not a commitment, but Tennessee led for his services)
10/11: Ware and Jones

If Martin can coach like people say he can, UT will be alright.

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

It is what it is. I am sure that Martin and the assistant coaches will put the team in place to win. Remember - TBA can be a fierce place to play when it is rocking. As long as the fans support the program through these tough times, we will be alright. Remember the fans have an opprotunity to show that UT basketball was more than Pearl. If we once again rank in the top 5 in attendence supporting 'Zo and this team, it will send a loud message to all of those future recruits that UT Basketball is here to stay.

VandyFan123
VandyFan123

All that plus they'll be going up against Vandy (all starters returning, preseason top 15 team, 2 new 4 star recruits), UK (everyone knows lamb and jones are back w/ their new frosh class, easy top 10) and Florida.

UT's in for a rough year.

Guest
Guest

Another question is...how long do the fans give Martin before calling for Bruce to return? Bruce instilled those winning expectations for UT men's basketball and as a Vols fan, I'm not ready to give any coach a break for a down year (or years). Make it happen Coach Martin, I don't want to see the days of an empty TBA return.

Southern_Guy
Southern_Guy

With Hopson and Ware still being a question mark, Bruce (and perhaps the assistant coaches) facing a 1 to 2 year suspension, I doubt it would be a lot better if Bruce was still here. Without the coaching changes, a post season ban, reduction in scholarships and other harsher penalties were more likely. At this point the prospect with Bruce seem much worse than without him. Another question, How long would all these people who say they will not give Martin a chance and want Hamilton's head for firing Bruce be up in arms once the sanctions affected the program?



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