Monday, March 28, 2011

Tennessee Hires Cuonzo Martin

(Photo: University of Tennessee Dept. of Intercollegiate Athletics).

Last week, Tennessee fired embattled men's head basketball coach Bruce Pearl. And just as Virginia Commonwealth and Kentucky were punching their respective tickets to the 2011 Final Four on Sunday evening, Tennessee announced that Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin had been hired as its new men's basketball coach (more here).

Cuonzo Martin is a native of East St. Louis, IL. He played on two IHSA championship basketball teams at East St. Louis Lincoln High School. Following high school, Martin went on to Purdue, where he played for legendary coach Gene Keady from 1990-1994. In the 1994 Sweet Sixteen, Martin set a Purdue record for three point shots made in a game when he completed eight three pointers against Kansas. After playing professionally in Italy and in the old Continental Basketball Association (R.I.P.) for a short time -- with a seven-game sojourn in the NBA sprinkled in along the way -- Martin returned to the United States and successfully battled cancer. With his health improved, he joined Keady's Purdue coaching staff in 2000. After eight years as an assistant at Purdue, Cuonzo Martin accepted the vacant Missouri State coaching position in 2008.

With his move to Tennessee, Cuonzo Martin becomes the fifth active former Gene Keady assistant to helm a high major college basketball program. Other active products of the Keady/Purdue coaching tree at high majors include Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt, Bruce Weber at Illinois, Matt Painter at Purdue and Steve Lavin at St. John's.

Cuonzo Martin is a good choice for Tennessee. He's a young, up-and-coming coach who has been successful at the helm of one of the better Mid Major programs in college basketball. Missouri State won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season race this season, but were left out of the NCAA Tournament when they failed to win the MVC tournament. It's worth mentioning that in Martin's three seasons at Missouri State, none of his teams made it to the NCAA Tournament. That's notable, since Martin replaced Barry Hinson, who was fired by Missouri State after his teams made four consecutive N.I.T. appearances, but failed to make the NCAA Tournament -- even after finishing with back-to-back 22 win seasons and top 40 RPI ratings. Hinson's failure to lead the Bears program to the NCAA Tournament was widely believed to have been the deciding factor behind his ouster. Drive and Dish thought Martin was a good choice for Missouri State when he was hired. And there's no doubt that he's done well in his brief stay at that school. But it's hard to see how his stewardship of the Missouri State basketball program has been a significant improvement over that of Coach Hinson. Aside from having the aforementioned young, up-and-coming coach aura working for him, his on-court results appear remarkably similar to those of the man he replaced.

Nevertheless, congratulations are in order for Cuonzo Martin and for Tennessee. Tennessee has replaced a severely ethically-challenged coach with a new coach who's widely thought of as a good dude. But Coach Martin has his work cut out for him. On the positive side, Tennessee has good facilities, a great arena and outstanding talent on its roster. But after scandals incurred by Pearl and former football coach Lane Kiffin, Tennessee athletics will presumably be under the microscope of the NCAA (or at least they should be). And one would expect (or perhaps more accurately, hope) that some level of sanctions will be placed on the Tennessee athletic department -- and on the basketball program specifically -- by the enforcement wing of the NCAA. If NCAA sanctions come to pass, Martin will face an uphill climb at Tennessee. It's also worth bearing in mind that, as is the case at all SEC schools not named "Kentucky", football is king at Tennessee. Despite the Volunteers' recent hardwood success, men's basketball will probably always take a back seat to football (and even to women's basketball) in Knoxville. Remember, early in his tenure at Tennessee, Bruce Pearl was so desperate eager to drum up support for men's basketball by endearing himself to Tennessee fans that he donned body paint and joined the student cheering section at a Lady Volunteers basketball game. Tennessee men's basketball eventually did become popular during Pearl's reign, but the Vols were usually ranked between 10-15 in the AP Top 25 during that time. Fan support for men's basketball is a relatively new phenomenon at Tennessee. It remains to be seen if it will survive Pearl's departure.

Along those lines, it's worth noting that in 1997, Kevin O'Neill resigned as basketball coach at Tennessee to take the same position at Northwestern. At the time, Northwestern was hardly an attractive job. But O'Neill was eager to bolt Tennessee for a Big Ten school -- apparently for ANY Big Ten school -- because men's basketball was little more than an afterthought at football-crazy Tennessee. The irascible O'Neill continually clashed with an athletic department that he characterized as disinclined to devote adequate resources to the men's basketball program. Tennessee replaced Kevin O'Neill with Jerry Green, who was replaced by Buzz Peterson, who was replaced by Bruce Pearl. Now Cuonzo Martin replaces Pearl.

Kevin O'Neill left Tennessee more than a decade ago, but it remains to be seen whether the difficulties he had getting adequate support for men's basketball from the Tennessee athletic department are entirely a thing of the past. Cuonzo Martin apparently thinks they are. He'll soon find out for sure.


wrigleyville illini said...

please dont compare him to clown shoes bruce weber. i really like this guy. i hated tennessee when satans spawn pearl was there. but i love them now that they hired cuonzo. just dont mention bubble bruce weber's name dude. if hes anything like weber tennesee is screwed. the last thing anybody needs is another reject from the frikkin keady coaching tree.

fire bruce weber, hire brad stevens or shaka smart and bring back chief illiniwek!!!

Butler Bob said...

Boooooooooooo Digggggetty Deeeeeee Deeeeeeeee!!

Mr. Clinton. It be beein a pleasure be travelin to them Hot Springs and be beein at them Koa Campground. Steemer and I be lookin for them Carp for them grill. My wife be beein makin them fire and Bertha Jenny be sittin in them ham-ock all them time. Just come and be askin for them Steemer and Bobby them be beein organizin them pickup Jacks games. Bertha Jenny be wearin them peach colored moomoo when you be needin them word with her. She be needin lots them time with them soaps back at them home and be full them tears then after. We be headin soon to them Houstin for them basketball. When you be beein in Indiana stop by Monon and Bertha Jenny be servin you them Peacon pie.

We be havin them agenda in them Houstin. First we be seein them asteroid. Then we be looking for them tall Chinese basketball player. Them folk be beein good at them Jacks. It be takin them natural gifts be beein good at the Jacks. I be givin them tips to them folk I be meetin on them road but they be needin them hi concentration. Then we be watchin them Butler be beatin them Williamsburg Colonial Debit Card School they be drinkin them Whiskey and Muur. I be keepin them eyes peeld for them espn folk. I be bringin my Sunday best outfits them ntire trip for them Shelley Smith be approachin round them corner. Then I be practicin for them moment we be meeting like them folk they be looking through them tel e scope for them asteroids. Then we be watchin Butler be beatin them Burbin drinkin Fried Kitties or the connvicts dogs from them pound. Then we be cuttin down them nets!!! Teeeeeee Heeeeeeeeeeee!!! They be playin them one shinin moment and be grabbin them Shelley Smith on them floor and we be a smoochin!!! Teeeeeeeee Heeeee!!! We be cuttin down them nets!!! This year them real school and not them credit card pay schools. uh huh. uh huh. Butler. We Be Cuttin Down them nets!!!

Cindy said...

So typical, I can't meet a man who doesn't end up in jail or has an addiction. Cuonzo Martin is kind of cute. Is he single? Can you writers tell me anything about him. What kind of food does he like? What are his goals? Thank you so much!

wrigleyville illini said...

If Matt Painter goes to Mizzou, does clown shoes Weber go to Purdue????? Does Purdue have the cash to get Stevens???? Does Stevens leave Butler for W. Lafeyette?????

Hopefully Painter goes to MU, Markerface Weber goes to PU, and we get Stevens.

Fire Weber, shell out whatever it takes to get Stevens, and bring back Chief Illiniwek!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BTW......Cindy.......thats not exactly a flattering pic of Counzoo Martin. Not sure what u mean that hes kinda cute. Im definately better looking then him.

Hail to the Orange and Blue!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Does Butler Bob still hang with his possee and yoddel?

Is thisthe same Butler Bob from here?

Is that what B.B. really looks like?

Butler Bob said...

Booooooooo Digggggetttty Deeeeeeeeeee Deeee

We be beein in the Houstin and be lookin round for them espn folk. I aint be seein them Shelley Smith. I be polishin them shoes every hour that she be seein them best sides of them Bobby. You be seein them pictures of me be beein in them County Fair. That be beein me. Since Bertha Jenny be makin them fine pea con pie and livin with us I be addin them tire to my belly. I be noticin that I be needin to be alterin them Jacks teckneek when I be in motion. It be beein them precise sport.

They be burnin them toast here in them Texas. I aint be listenin my wife when we be findin them Flyin J here and I be looking for them toast. She be tellin me that we aint be needin be orderin them toast and them waffles. I be wantin them and I be beein burnt. It be makin me thinkin about them basketball tournamint. Them Butler kids be drinkin them carrot juice and be seein them rim better than them other pay credit card schools that be drinkin them Whiskey and Muur like them Williamsburg Colonial Debit Card School, them Everglades Swamp Dwellers, them Whiskey Drinkin Northerners, them Bottomless Pitts, them Ole Communins. That's why we be beein consistintly in them Final Four and them other schools be worryin about them credit cards. uh huh. uh huh. Like my wife makin them toast perfect Butler be seein them rim perfect. uh huh. uh huh. That's why we be cuttin down them nets!! * gettin excited WE be CUTTIN dOwn ThEM nETS * unpackin them tap dancin shoes we BE cuttin DOWN them NETS!!! * Boogyin round them campfire WE BE CUTtin doWN thEM nETS * Walkin on them coles WE BE CUTTIN DOWN THEM NETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cindy said...

It was fun partying and watching Long Beach St. compete in the 90's. Alma Mater whoo hoo!

It looks wide open. I've been keeping up with the tournament. I'm rooting for the winner of the Virginia Commonwealth v Butler game. Go underdogs. Whoo hoo!

Hey wrigleyville illini. Can u post a pic. I'd love to hear what you're all about.



wrigleyville illini said...

OMG!!!!! Holy friggin carp!!!!!! I don't beleive it. Its just like i won the lotto power ball!!!!! Word on the street is Bruce freakin Weber to Oklahoma!!!!!! Weber to Oklahoma!!!!!!!!

Announcement on Friday!!!!!!

Per Illini HQ:

I cant believe this!!!!!! Greatest. Thing. Ever.

Seeya bubble boy!!!! Dont let the door hit your clown arse on the way out, coach clown shoes !!!!!!!!!

Brad Stevens...........come on down!!!!!!!!!!!!

Butler Bob said...

Booooooooooo Diggggetty Deeee Deeeeeee

Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga CHOO CHOO!! Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga CHOO CHOO!!!! That sound be beein heard round them country once again. That sound be beein sweepin through them NCAA Tournamint. Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga CHOO CHOO!! Chugga Chugga Chugga CHOO CHOO!!!! That sound be beein them train them Butler that be stormin through them tournamint. Butler be beatin them pay credit card schools and be cuttin down them nets!!

We be beein looking for them asteroid and I be keepin them eyes open for them Shelley Smith. She be beein busy with them interviews. I be preparin for them moment they be playin them One Shinin Moment and we be celebratin and Butler be cuttin down them nets!! Teeeee Heeeeeeeeeee I be grabbin them Shelley Smith and we be a smoochin!! Them pay credit card schools be wonderin why their payments aint be goin throuugh while them real home grown Butler be cuttin down them nets!!

We be beein by them campfire. There I be tellin about them Drive and Dish and them days them Tokie Wartooth be passin through them Monon. Them folk by them fire in them Texas be beein interested in them Football and be talkin about how they aint be beein the same since them oilers movin out from them city and then they be showin me them two step that I be incorporatin when we be celebratin on them court after we be cuttin down them nets!! I been tailorin them ole suit and be beein ready for them disco-ball be comin down and we be dustin off them ole moves. Me and my wife be beein in them ole times on them dancefloor boogyin. these days she be been busy in them beaute salon and findin them right color skeme for them skin. Bertha Jenny be sittin in them ham-ock them time. I be sayin come and be sittin round them fire. She be buyin them daniel steel books and be beein in them. She be askin Daisy by them front desk for them portible tv for them soaps. She be needin be polishin them moves like in them bell bottom days she be boogyin to them T-Connection and then she be findin them man. Then I be havin more time be lookin for them Shelley Smith on them espns.

Them Williamsburg Colonial Debit Card School be payin theyre way in them tournamint and and be focusin on them whiskey and muur while them Butler kids be beein focused on them basketball and them library. They be drinkin carrot juice and be seein them rim lots better. uh huh. uh huh. Butler. We be cuttin down them nets!! Aint no pay credit card school like them Smookie Dookies, them Williamsburg Colonial Debit Card School, them Everglades swamp dwellers, them whiskey drinkin northerers, them bottomless pitts, or them ole communins gonna be buyin no trophy. uh huh. uh huh. Butler. We be cuttin down them nets!! I been dustin off them ole tux that be beein in them attic and be ready be bringin out them ole dance moves * gettin jiggy with it wE Be cUTtiN DowN TheM NetS!!!!! * doin them texas two step * yeee-haaaa we be cuttin down them NETS!!! * ridin them mechanikal bull WE be CUTTin DOWn thEM NEts!!!

wrigleyville illini said...


I didnt know you knew Tokie Wartooth. Who knew!?! I mean, if were talkin about the same dude and all, Toki Wartooth used to blog at PainttheTownOrange, but he moved up to a career in professional blogging. He ditched the old incognito moniker and is now blogging under his real name ~Joe K.~ at Hail to the Orange.

btw, he's all over the Weber to Oklahoma rumor:

Bring back the Chief!!!!

Cindy said...

@ wrigleville illini, you are a typical male. You clam up when a girl shows you some interest. You'd rather contact some hillybilly than respond to a lady.

@ blog-writer, tell me more about Cuonzo Martin. Is he single? Does he have an agency I can contact him through? What kind of hobbies does he have? Has he ever been in love? I need details!.....

Cindy said...

btw, does anyone know where Dr. Rockso's in jail?

wrigleyville illini said...

Weber to stay in Chambana, per Kent Brown (Illinois SID), per Illini HQ, per Stu Durando, etc.


When the rumor leaked out that Weber was goin to OU last nite, I was actually happy for the 1st time in 5 years. Now my whole world just came crashing down.

I guess well know for sure tomorrow.
I wont be able to rest til I know for sure. This blows!!!!! If Weber stays, I give up.

wrigleyville illini said...

OMG!!!!! If the rumors are true, we are screwed. Rumor is Richmond left school. If we don't have JRich next year, we finish in the bottom 4 of the B1G. I can't say I blame JRich tho, anythings better then playing for clown pants Weber. Fire Weber now. Hire Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart.

Long live the Chief.

wrigleyville illini said...

First Weber announces that hes staying (total attention whoring b.s. IMO, cuz I never really believed OU would of ever wanted him anyway), then the rumor about Richmond getting booted out of school, then Oklahoma makes it official that Bruce markerface Weber isnt going there when they hire Lon Kruger, then it ends up being friggen cold and rainy on opening day (i ditched work to freeze my arse off at Wrigley), and to top it all off with a turd sandwich, the Cubbies lose. Did i mention that it was cold and raining all day???

Total. Effen. Horsecrap.

Fire Weber, throw $5 mil a year at Butler's Stevens (whatever it takes to get him here), or throw $2.5 million at Shaka Smart (whatever it takes to get him here), and bring back Chief Illiniwek!!!!!!

Butler Bob said...

Boooooo Diggettty Deeeee Deeeeeeee

Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga CHOO!! Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga CHOO CHOO!!!! Them folks be beein used to them sound consistently runnin over them pay credit card schools in them tournamint. Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga CHOO!! Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga CHOO CHOO!!!! That sound be beein them Butler train that be steamrollin them competition. On Monday
that train be arrivin at them We Be Cuttin Down Them
Nets Station. Teeeeee Heeeeeee!!

Mr. Wrigleyville Illini thank you for them where a bowts from them Tokie Wartooth. I be seein him passin through them Flyin J now and then. He ain't been by for them Pea-con pie. I be beein in Danville for them Jacks tournamint. I could bring you some indian arrows that be been duggin out back. That may be beein them interest for you. If you be passin through stop on by in Monon. Them folks be knowin ole Bobby them Jacks player. Bertha Jenny be beein in them house like them security guard they be havin at them Wal Mart.

I be buyin them colon at them Wal Mart since I be smellin like them campfire. I be needin be bringin them A game like them A Team when them Shelley Smith be comin round them corner. Bertha Jenny been forgettin them toothbrush in them Hot Springs Arkansas. My wife thunk Steemer be leavin them cap in them van. I be defendin poor ole Steemer. My wife be beein like them birds in them Hitchcock movie when she ain't be havin her way.

Soon Butler be beein havin theyre way with them Williamsburg Colonial Debit Card School that been paying theyre way in them tournamint. Then we be winnin them final and be CuTTin down Them nETS!!!! Teeeeeee Heeeeeee. I redid them ole tux and be beein polishin them shoes. We be boogyin under them court when they be playin them One Shinin Moment and I be seein them Shelley Smith and we be a smoochin!!!! Teeeeeee Heeeeeee!!! We be cuttin down them nets!!! wE bE cUtTiN dOwN tHeM nEtS!!! Butler. WE BE CUTTIN DOWN THEM NETS!!!!!!!