Big Orange Caravan kicks off

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The Tennessee Volunteers Big Orange Caravan got a kick-start in Blount County Monday evening at Maryville College when a trio of Tennessee coaches addressed a small group of fans and media.

With the semester coming to a close, student athletes prepare for a relaxing trip to their hometowns between the spring and summer semesters and expectations very from coach to coach.

"We have a couple of guys that are finishing up for finals tomorrow," Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Once they finish up finals they go home. I hope they get away and I recommend they get away. Then June 3 is when we start our first workout."

With semester grades set to come to light in a matter of hours, Martin isn't expecting any surprises from his 12-man roster.

"I think they will be fine in the classroom," Martin said. "I will be surprised if we have any hiccups in the classroom. They put forth a great effort. I will be surprised if we have any hiccups in that area."

Martin, who was a standout player for the Purdue Boilermakers, understands the rigors of a long season and knows his players need a break.

"The thing about it, as a coach, it is a long season," Martin said. "I was one of those guys that never got out of shape because of my knees more than anything.

"I loved to play. It is not a case of, you have to run 10 suicides if you are out of shape (when you come back). I automatically assume guys will be out of shape when they go away. It is not a bad thing now, but it also tells you something about a guy that comes back out of shape."

Tennessee head women's basketball coach Holly Warlick
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
Martin is also trying to use a recent NBA mock draft by Draft Express to motivate Tennessee forward Jerrone Maymon, which has Maymon as a second-round draft pick in 2013.

"He should be insulted then," Martin said. "That is what I tell him. If he is excited about it then we have a problem.

"There is no reason why he can't be one of the best players in America, but I don't think that is what you play for. I think you play to be the best college player you can be and all the other accolades will fall in place."

Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley was also on hand to address swirling concern about academic issues surrounding the Vols football roster.

"It is final exams now and it takes another week," Dooley said. "There are always several guys that we are nervous about going down the stretch and the reality is you lose one or two every year and hopefully we won't, but that is kind of the nature of the beast."

Dooley, like Cuonzo Martin, understands the need for his players to get a break from football following an exhausting spring schedule, which wrapped up with a week of tough workouts with Tennessee strength and conditioning coach Ron McKeefery.

"They need a little time off before we turn our attention to the summer program, which is big eight-week, pretty intense training session," he said. "Some of them will be in mini session getting a little extra schooling and most of them will go home, relax, clear their mind and get ready for summer."

Just 18 days after being thrust into the role of Tennessee Lady Vols head basketball coach Holly Warlick was on the podium as well and assured the fans that her main focus has been recruiting.

"We have to get kids in here to make things happen," Warlick said, "To be a great coach you have to have talent. Our first priority is recruiting and getting young women in here to play our system."

With former head coach Pat Summitt now acting as Head Coach Emeritus, Warlick is still getting a warm reception on the recruiting trail.

"(The reception) has been great for Tennessee and myself," she said. "I have been here so long everybody associates Pat and myself with the University of Tennessee, so that has been a huge positive. It has been a great reception."

Stay tuned for more updates as the Big Orange Caravan rolls through Tennessee and surrounding states.

Chris Price is a staff writer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously an intern for the site for two years before graduating from the University of Tennessee. He joined the InsideTennessee team in 2009.

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