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Cuonzo Martin at Mizzou introduction: "I'm not in the business of waiting 3 or 4 years”

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This is your house now, Cuonzo. #LastTeamStanding is a strong motto.

Cuonzo Martin introductory press conference

Cuonzo Martin, “Mizzou is not just a national brand, it’s a worldwide brand.”

Cuonzo Martin
ESPN/SEC Network

Cuonzo Martin, "If Mizzou plans to keep me for 20 years, then I plan to be here for 20 years. This is it for me."

Cuonzo Martin
ESPN/SEC Network

Cuonzo Martin, “I’m not in the business of waiting 3 or 4 years. There’s no if, and’s or but’s about it.”

ESPN/SEC Network

Cuonzo Martin, "I don't think Mizzou's lacking for anything. I think we have everything we need to be the last team standing, and that's my goal."

Cuonzo Martin
ESPN/SEC Network

Full Press Conference Text

Director of Athletics Jim Sterk

Jim Sterk speaking at Cuonzo Martin’s press conference
ESPN/SEC NEtwork

Opening statement…

“I really appreciate you all coming out today. It is a great day for Mizzou Athletics and the University of Missouri, as well as the entire Columbia community and the state. We’re so excited to welcome and introduce Coach Martin, his wife Roberta, his children Chase and Addison and Joshua, who’s probably watching on the internet right now. Through this process, I’d really like to thank Chancellor Foley, President Choi, our Board of Curators for their incredible support throughout this process. It isn’t easy and a lot goes on behind the scenes. They were just so supportive for us to come to this day. Also, our general council, Steve Owens and Matt McNamee, I couldn’t ask for better support from the university, the system, our board, and all of you. I can only be successful if I have great people behind me. And I do have a great staff that works very hard. And also, a special thank you to my wife Debbie and all of our spouses. They put up with a lot on a regular basis, but then when we get a time consuming issue like this it adds to our crazy schedules and I just really appreciate her support and all of the spouses out there and significant others of our staff members. The university, as Mike said, we have a great tradition in basketball and it’s evidenced by nearly 1,600 all-time victories, 35 postseason appearances, 25 conference championships, and numerous All-Americans and All-Conference Tigers over the years. All of us want to see our program compete for championships and consistently play in the postseason and also represent Mizzou the right way on and off of the court. It’s often stated; it takes a village to raise a child. It’s no different in developing a championship level basketball program. It takes great support from the Chancellor, from the President, from the Board. It takes a great staff to support our student-athletes and coaches. And it takes a great community and region to attend, support, and create an atmosphere at the games. Not only just to support the players and the coaches that are currently there, but also future players that are dreaming about coming to Mizzou and want to come to Mizzou. That type of support also impacts the University overall with our enrollment. Our future students get a glimpse of our institution on the SEC Network. It helps create interest to all of our amazing academic programs and we’re able to showcase the University and get a glimpse and get people to inspire to come here. It also takes the right person to lead the program. He needs to hire the right assistants, attract high-quality student athletes, develop their talents to their full potential, and so that fans want to come and enjoy the games so it’s exciting and fun. As a land grant institution, in the great state of Missouri, the institution’s core mission is to engage and enrich the lives of every citizen of this state. I believe the athletics program at Mizzou has a key role in that engagement. And I take that mission very seriously. Today, we’re able to check out all of the boxes needed to develop a championship-level program with the hiring of Cuonzo Martin. Cuonzo, from the very start, looked like a great fit for the Mizzou community and our basketball program. I was looking for someone with passion, integrity, and experience. Cuonzo has been molded by his challenges in each step of his life and is strengthened and developed and prepared to lead this basketball program in this time of our history. You’ve heard many things about him, he was born in St. Louis, has deep roots in the region, he was a stand-out high school and collegiate player, coached at both high school and college, launched his coaching career as an assistant at Purdue before his first head coaching position at Missouri State. In nine seasons as a head coach in Division I, his teams averaged 21 wins per season with 7 postseason appearances. Each program Cuonzo has taken over has become better and increased success. In short, Cuonzo is a winner on and off of the court. I’m thrilled that Cuonzo and his great family are here in Columbia and atMizzou. I look forward to them meeting all of you. Believe me, I’ve bragged about you. This is the Show Me State and I know that since coming here you all have been so great and gracious to me and my wife Debbie. I expect nothing less and I know you’re excited to meet them. They are great, great, people and will lead our program to new heights. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome our new head basketball coach, Cuonzo Martin."

Cuonzo Martin
ESPN/SEC Network

Mizzou Men’s Basketball Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

Opening Statement…

“This is a special day for me. It just feels like home. This is one of those days that as you begin your coaching career, you start thinking, ‘will I ever get a chance to coach at a place like Mizzou?’ Now, to be home It’s a tremendous feeling. As you all know, I’m a Midwest guy and to be at home amongst family, friends, loved ones, and supporters throughout the state of Missouri is a great feeling for me. Before I go any further, the first thing I have to do is introduce my family and I have a lot of family here as you can see. My wife, Roberta, who is basically my right-hand, is a tremendous supporter and a wonderful lady. My oldest son Joshua, who couldn’t be here because he just came off spring break. He attends Purdue University so he couldn’t be here, so I imagine he’s watching. My other son, Chase, who is 15. My daughter Addison, who will probably be joining the gymnastics team. As well as other family; my mom, my brothers, my sisters, my uncles, and cousins. It’s just a tremendous feeling and so humbling for me. It feels like this thing has come full circle and I’m happy to be here. Also I’d like to recognize the people who were instrumental to me coming here. Chancellor Foley, President Choi, the board of curators, Jim and Brian. Often times, it goes unnoticed, but I thought they did a tremendous job, very professional and respected in the fact that I was at another university. They did an exceptional job and I really appreciate it. Now, we talk basketball. I grew up watching Mizzou Basketball. Norm Stewart was one of my favorites. I always watched my three favorites: Norm Stewart, Gene Keady and Jim Calhoun, because I felt like those guys where tough, hard-nosed, they demand a lot of their players, they worked extremely hard, and competed at a high level. They played with passion. They were tough coaches, so most times people called them old school, so I guess I’m an old school coach now. I loved the way those guys coached the game. Now, as we fast forward, I think this is a wonderful place, great tradition, great history. My best friend Melvin Booker played here. A lot of great players played here. Great facility. I don’t think there is anything Mizzou is lacking. I think we have a lot of things to be successful. I think we have everything we need to be the last team standing one day and that’s my goal. The things we have to do to be successful. Everyone talks about recruiting, but that is understood when you talk about recruiting student athletes, but for me it’s more than that. We have to have guys that understand the passion about being a part of this program. Guys that want to be successful not only on the basketball court, but in the classroom, I mean very successful. Not just to say ‘I got a degree’, but to have a successful career. I think that’s most important, and those are the things I learned along the way. My mom talked about that as a youth, but I didn’t really understand what it meant at that time. Now as a man the importance of being successful. And really trying to get our guys to understand not just basketball but in life because my goal for all of my players is twenty, thirty years down the road as successful men and that’s really important. The other step for us is in the community. We have to do a great job in the community, because look at this right now. I’ve never been in a place like this, with a reception like this. So give yourselves a hand. I appreciate that, and the one thing I want you all to know as you attend today. In order for great programs to be successful, of course you need good basketball, guys that want to be a part of a great program, but you need a great fan base and we need everyone on board. Even those tough times we need everyone on board, because you have to understand that our staff will do everything in our power to be successful and we will work to the midnight hour to be successful as a program, and we won’t stop until we’re the last team standing. There’s a lot of work behind it, and its done the right way with high level of integrity and character with good people. So you’ll be proud as a fan, of our staff and our players. We’ll do everything in our power to represent the right way, because it not just what we do on the floor, but what we do in life, and we apart of this community. I told these guys whether you like it or not, you are a part of this community and we have to make it work together. Even on those bad days when you thought I made a bad call or a bad play, stick with me, because we’re family, and that’s how we become successful. Just to have the opportunity, there have been a lot of good coaches to come through here, but just to have the opportunity to coach on the floor that Norm Stewart coached on. Even though it’s in a different arena, but just to be in his presence, because of what he meant and represented. How hard his guys played and I think his number 22 is retired. I wore 22 at Purdue, that’s probably why they gave me number one, because he’s the only guy who can wear number 22 around here. He’d probably beat me at one-on-one too. Again, this is a tremendous opportunity for me. I’m grateful for everything and I appreciate everything.”

On what makes Mizzou special...

“My wife and I, we weighed all the pros and cons, and outside of it being close to home, I just feel like it was a great place. I feel like you can be the last team standing here, with the fan base, the tradition, the history. I think you have a lot of things to be very successful. Being close to home was probably the last thing when we weighed the pros and cons. I just feel like it’s a great place with great support and I think the administrative piece was also key for me. I want to work with good people, in those bad days you have to be around good people in my opinion and I think we have a good group of people.

On being recruited by Mizzou out of high school...

“I didn’t make an official visit but I came on campus several times because, again, we didn’t have anybody from East St. Louis on the basketball team when I was in high school but we had several guys on the football team. And there were some guys that I grew up with that went to school here so we had some good times. They recruited me, they came to East St. Louis. My high school coach, Bennie Lewis, I loved him, he’s a great man – he wanted me to go somewhere else. But it was great, I thought they did a great job. They recruited me.”

On his team’s style of play...

“What we like to do, we like to play extremely hard. The one thing we talk about all the time is to play unselfishly as a team, to play together. Defend, rebound, and play as hard as you can play. Often times that’s easier said than done. I think you look at our defensive numbers, we’re probably top 10 or 11 in the country every year, so just taking pride in that part. Offensively, we put guys in the NBA but a lot of it has to deal with your skill level. My job as a coach is to put you in position to be successful. I tell guys all the time, I haven’t shot a basketball in 20 years so, my job is to put you in position to be a successful basketball player. But the things that we cannot compromise is defending, rebounding, and playing hard.”

On what makes this the right time...

“Every opportunity I’ve had as a coach, I felt like that was an opportunity to do my job. I feel like the most important part, is that you’re hired to do your job and to do it to the best of your ability. It wasn’t like I was seeking opportunities, but when this came about again, and when it presented itself, when I prayed through things, it seemed this was probably it for me if it works out. If Mizzou keeps me for 20 years, then it’s my plan to be here for 20 years, this is it for me.”

On timeline for decision...

“One thing I’ve mentioned out of respect, I really respect the way Mizzou went about it. Because often times, there’s a lot of conversations that take place behind the scenes and people calling which, if you’re occupied in another job, they shouldn’t call. So again, whatever they did they did it behind the scenes. And obviously my representation, probably the last week or so, made it clear that this was an option. For me, I don’t – maybe my wife does – but I don’t get caught up in what’s on social media. I don’t read any press clippings, I was just doing my job coaching the team. Then when they presented it, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I thought all the things worked out right, and it just so happened to be at home. I think that even if it wasn’t at home, everything was great, but now all of a sudden it’s close to home. And I pray that this is my final stop.”

On lessons from Missouri State days...

“I thought it was a tough job. To be totally honest with you, if there’s anyone that wants to get into coaching, don’t do it. I felt like that was the toughest thing for me as a coach, my first year at Missouri State. Wonderful people, great place, but I thought it was extremely hard just because your first time as a head coach there are so many unknowns. Often times, we have all the answers as assistant coaches, and then you move over one seat. There was not many people that I could communicate with, because you’re the boss, you’re supposed to have all the answers, you’re supposed to be right. We won 11 games that first year, and I thought it was tough. You have to fight, you have to work, you have to be around good people. And for me, even in choosing a staff, you have to have people who you can lose with. What I mean, of course no one wants to lose, so I’m not saying that. But on those bad days, we have to have a great relationship so we can push forward. Often times when you’re building a champion, you’re going to have rough patches here and there so I have to be around good people.

On Southeastern Conference basketball...

“It is a great league. You have three teams in the Sweet Sixteen right now. The one thing that I thought when I was in the SEC before is that I don’t think the league got the credit it deserved as a basketball piece. Often times, they would say it was because football was so big that they didn’t value basketball but you have great coaching and a lot of guys that played professional basketball. It was a physical league. I think it is a great league and I think the fans are supportive and there are great locations. For any league, you want to be the league with multiple teams in the NCAA tournament because you want everyone to have success and you have three teams in the Sweet Sixteen.”

On the current Mizzou team...

“They are wonderful men. I talked to them about an hour ago and they are obviously great guys. Without getting into the specifics of what we talked about, the biggest key is that if losing basketball games is the worst thing that they will go through in life, then they will live a great life. They are successful men. Coach Anderson could coach. Things happen and, as my wife says, losing is mental. We have to get better as a program and as a team but they are great guys. I told them to hold their heads up high and have character and integrity and we will get where we need to go. You have to walk a certain way. Don’t allow losing to dictate how you walk as a young man.”

On making things happen soon...

“We have a new slate here. I don’t know what the record was last year but they lost a lot of close games. Anytime you beat Vanderbilt by 20 and then things happen but it means you are good enough. We need to improve our confidence and get bigger, stronger and faster. There is work to be done. I haven’t looked at anyone else in the league and what they have or don’t have because I am consumed with our team. We have a chance to be successful and I am not in the business of waiting three or four years. We have to work to get it done because if you are physical enough to do it then we need to get it done, no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

On priorities in the upcoming weeks...

“I’ll be in tears throughout the night because my family is going back until my kids get out of school but I will be here solo working, which is fine because those first three weeks you will hit the ground running. I will pretty much be out in the Midwest recruiting but first and foremost, I will be with the players tomorrow and the next day. After that, we will hit the ground running.”

On recruiting philosophy...

“I try to stay away from clichés and soundbites to make it sound good. I try to be as sincere as possible. Mizzou is not just a national brand, it is a world brand. When we recruit, we are not just recruiting in the United States but we are recruiting across the world. I think we have to understand that we need to get the right student athletes to fit what we are trying to do. Recruiting is about relationships and working extremely hard. We have to build relationships and help them see what we have to offer. One of the things I want everyone to leave with as fans is that when recruits see our basketball brand on television and when they come to campus and this arena is filled up, it helps me do my job.”

On outside counsel when making decision...

“Truthfully, my counsel, because it happened so quickly, was my wife so give her a lot of credit for that.”

On the academic standards at Mizzou...

“I ask questions because it is a part of my job. When I was at Missouri State we graduated eight out of nine and at Tennessee we graduated 11 out of 11. At California, it was 10 out of 10. I try not to consume myself with anything negative or that slows me down.”


Jon Sundvold talked with Cuonzo Martin about becoming Missouri’s 19th head coach.


Cuonzo Martin Contract Details

Cuonzo Martin’s salary info
@BKSportsTalk

Year 1: 300,00 base + 2,400,000
Year 2: 300,00 base + 2,500,000
Year 3: 300,00 base + 2,600,000
Year 4: 300,00 base + 2,700,000
Year 5: 300,00 base + 2,800,000
Year 6: 300,00 base + 2,900,000
Year 7: 300,00 base + 3,000,000

Cuonzo Martin's incentive structure

$50K = SEC Champs
$25K = SEC Tournament champs
$25K = NCAA Tournament qualifying
$25K = Sweet 16
$50K = Elite 8
$75K = Final 4
$200K = National Champs
$25K = SEC COTY
$50K = National COTY
$25K = 25 wins
$50K = 30 wins

The big question about his assistant salary pool: $1.1 million to spread among six open positions in basketball department. No official word yet on who’s been hired for the three assistant coaching positions, although we suspect Tracy Webster who’s been a long time assistant for Martin, will follow him from Cal. Of course Washington Asst. Coach Michael Porter Sr. and Illinois Asst. Coach Jamall Walker have been linked to Mizzou due to their recruiting ties.

Of course, Martin was asked about the Michael Porter situation,

Missouri has the right to terminate Martin’s contract without cause for the first three year unless his team wins 20 games. There’s also a $10.5 million buyout Cuonzo would have to pay if he leaves before April 30, 2018.


The Antlers have a new dad: