Knox County Commissioner R. Larry Smith, a noted collector of University of Tennessee sports memorabilia, plans to ask commission to honor the University of Tennessee Men’s Basketball team and Coach Cuonzo Martin in a meeting this month.
The item popped up on the commission agenda for April.
“It’s been a rocky road for him throughout the year, and early in the season, there was a question whether he was even going to be a coach,” Smith said of Martin.
He’s correct, at least from the fan’s chair. An online petition to replace Martin circulated as the team was a tenuous NCAA bubble team in late February. Then the Vols ran deep in the SEC and NCAA tournaments.
“You’re in a tournament sport, and they peaked when they’re supposed to,” Smith said.
Yeah, they did.
I watched the last game with some football fans – who probably hadn’t paid much attention to Martin’s team throughout the year – when they had the heartbreaker against Michigan. I still don’t think his feet were set, for the record. (Footnote to fans, be careful not to refer to the men on the men’s team as “boys.” It just doesn’t sound all that, ah, open-minded. Also, Martin doesn’t tend to burn timeouts during the gameplay and often doesn’t interrupt the game, even when the team is having a bad stretch.) I digress. Back to Smith.
He thinks that Martin’s job is in good shape for now. Smith has moved past that discussion, even.
“We’re watching, number one, that Jarnell (Stokes, a force inside who could give Windex a run for best glass-cleaner) decides to stay. A lot of the season next year will depend on that,” Smith said.
It may be more than just Martin to take the honor, too.
“What I’d like to do, is do this presentation, maybe take it and give it to the team as a whole,” Smith said.
It sounded like he wanted to pump up some morale after the year in which the fan base nearly turned on the program – before the season was even over.
“It was as stressful for the players as it was coach Martin and the coaching staff,” Smith said. Here’s our crack basketball beat writer Ben Frederickson’s year-ender on the team.
Smith also plans a similar resolution for the UT Women’s Basketball team and Coach Holly Warlick. They had a good showing in the tournament too.