Blog Entry

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

Posted on: March 27, 2011 8:28 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2011 8:37 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine

The news just became official: The University of Tennessee has moved quickly to fill the coaching vacancy left by the firing of Bruce Pearl, and has hired Cuonzo Martin of Missouri State.

Martin is a 39-year-old former Purdue player, a product of the Gene Keady coaching tree. Martin played for Keady from 1991-1995. His NBA career was over in 1997, and by 2000, he was back in West Lafayette as an assistant. That led to his hiring as head coach at Missouri State in 2008.

The hiring of Martin works on a couple of levels for Tennessee. First, Martin seems to be a good coach. Second, he looks like a genuinely good person.

If Bruce Pearl was the slick, popular car salesman, Martin is the humble church deacon. He may not entertain like Pearl did. He most definitely will not appear shirtless and painted orange for any reason. What he will do is win coaching awards and speak from the heart about what it takes to be a good man. We know this, because he gave this moving speech after being named Missouri Valley coach of the year this season:

Only the most cynical fan could look at that and think that Martin is anything but a genuinely decent man who will fly the Vols program straight and be a good mentor to his charges.

That's how we know he's a good man. We know he's tough, because he's survived a bout with cancer at age 26. How do we know he's a good coach?

Truthfully, the evidence is slim, but all good. He learned from Keady as a player and assistant coach. He worked with Matt Painter, the current Boilermakers coach. No doubt both can and did vouch for Martin in the process of the coaching search. When Missouri State was looking for a replacement for Barry Hinson in 2008, they tabbed Martin, and he turned the mediocre program around quickly. His first season was an 11-20, injury-riddled mess, but the team did manage to beat Arkansas in the non-conference season before sliding to 10th in league play. The next season, the Bears were 24-12 and 7th in the MVC and played in the CIT. This past season, Missouri State went 26-9 and won a dramatic final home game over Wichita State to claim the school's first regular-season Missouri Valley title. The tourney title eluded the Bears, who made it to the second round of the NIT.

So, admittedly, in some ways, this was a cosmetic hire. Martin doesn't have any direct head-coaching experience with the NCAA tournament, and his bio is short. But the University of Tennessee has been in a world of hurt over the past three seasons, with scandal dogging the football and basketball programs. To get ahold of a man who has a spotless reputation, a direct and forthright manner, and the potential to right the reeling program quickly is about as good as the Vols could have done under the circumstances.

We'll know more about what Martin will have to work with (and against) when the NCAA has its say in upcoming months. That's when the transfers will likely start and recruiting will become difficult. Martin knew all of that coming in. Tennessee backers are going to have to have a lot of patience with their athletic program over the next few years. But they can rest assured that Cuonzo Martin has a plan, and he won't embarrass them any further.

All things considered, that's a big win for a program that has been dragged through the mud recently.

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Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: March 28, 2011 12:11 pm

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

Since: Dec 24, 2007
Posted on: March 28, 2011 11:35 am

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

Cuonzo had better work out for Hamilton's sake. Otherwise, the Vols will be looking for a new AD. Hamilton's job is definitely dependent on this. He's made so many embarrassing gaffes. 

Since: Mar 24, 2011
Posted on: March 28, 2011 10:33 am

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

Good for Zo.  Being a Missouri State fan means that if your team is succussfull, you will probably looking for a new coach every 3 - 5 years. We are used to this.  Martin will be good for Tenn. and most people in Springfield hope that Tenn. will be good for Martin.  Also, how funny is it that Martin, who had been contacted by Missouri-Columbia, took less money and went to a program that is possibly facing sitff penalties instead of going to mizzou.  Martin also went to a school that ranks men's basketball as the fourth most important program in the athletic department.  1. football 2. women's basketball 3. spring football practice 4. men's basketball. He could have been #2 at Mizzou.

Since: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: March 28, 2011 10:13 am

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

I like the hire....lets be real, unless your a coach at one of college basketball dynasty schools, ( theres about 5 of them, we all know them ) you can't recruit the great players unless you have either Pearls charisma or your a young black coach.....Since Bruce Pearls don't grow on trees, I love the hire, from what MSU people say, he's a great recruiter, and alot of Missouri people were wanting him so that says something...

Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: March 28, 2011 9:15 am

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

I liked Pearl and felt he could have worked through his problems.  But I think Tennessee hit a home run with this hire.  His track record is thin, but watch out.  He will do real well.  This is a good man.

Since: Mar 30, 2009
Posted on: March 28, 2011 3:46 am

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

And both were way down the list of candidates. Be real.

Since: Feb 23, 2008
Posted on: March 27, 2011 11:00 pm

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

job 1: keep tobias and scotty in the fold
job 2: keep ware and jones in the fold
job 3: get scotty's head right
job 4: get tatum straightened out (or just out)

Since: Nov 24, 2007
Posted on: March 27, 2011 10:35 pm

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

I know a lot of Missouri fans had him on their list. Good hire and it was smart at act quickly, he may have gone somewhere else if the Vols had waited

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: March 27, 2011 10:06 pm

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

Who the hell is Eric Angevine? He's more anonymous than Cuonzo Martin!

Since: Mar 27, 2011
Posted on: March 27, 2011 8:46 pm

Cuonzo Martin will be good for Tennessee

I see some really good similarities between Coach MArtin and Coach Dooley.  Both appear to be men of high values that have a blueprint for the process of building a respectable program and guide young men in their life maturation process.  Good things will come of this I do believe.  Congrats to Coach Martin and Go Vols!!


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