At first glance, Martin seems to be stepping into a better situation than his predecessor. A closer look at the returning personnel, however, emphatically reveals the opposite to be the case.
Crunch these numbers:
- Pearl inherited eight scholarship returnees. Martin inherited seven.
- Pearl's eight returnees had combined to play in 449 career games. Martin's seven have combined to play in 359.
- Pearl's eight returnees had combined to make 216 career starts. Martin's seven have combined for 65.
- Pearl's eight returnees had combined to score 2,660 career points. Martin's seven have combined for 1,565.
For those keeping score at home: Pearl's 2005 returnees boasted 90 more career games, 151 more career starts and 1,095 more career points
than Martin's 2011 returnees.
Moreover, consider what some of the players Pearl inherited accomplished:
Chris Lofton wound up being a three-time All-American, leaving as the school's all-time leader in 3-point baskets and No. 4 on the all-time scoring list. He was voted to Tennessee's 20-man All-Century team in 2008.
C.J. Watson, tabbed second-team All-SEC in 2006, ranks second on Tennessee's all-time assist list and steals list, 17th on the all-time scoring list. He is currently wrapping up his fourth season in the NBA.
Dane Bradshaw, another member of Tennessee's All-Century team, was voted captain of Sports Illustrated's All-Glue team in 2007.
JaJuan Smith earned second-team All-SEC recognition in 2008 and ranks 20th on Tennessee's all-time scoring list.
Whether the seven returnees Cuonzo Martin inherited will feature two All-Century players, three top-20 scorers, a three-time All-American and an NBA player remains to be seen, of course. It's unlikely but possible.
Regardless, here's a player-by-player look at what Pearl inherited from Buzz Peterson entering the 2005-06 season:
- Major Wingate, 6-10 junior, 59 career games, 23 career starts, 254 career points
- Andre Patterson, 6-7 senior, 84 career games (counting 53 at UCLA), 43 career starts (counting 21 at UCLA), 476 career points (counting 247 at UCLA)
- Stanley Asumnu, 6-5 senior, 83 career games, 18 career starts, 296 career points
- Dane Bradshaw, 6-4 junior, 59 career games, 13 career starts, 189 career points
- Jordan Howell, 6-3 sophomore, 19 career games, 0 career starts, 21 career points
- C.J. Watson, 6-2 senior, 89 career games, 88 career starts, 966 career points
- Chris Lofton, 6-2 sophomore, 31 career games, 31 career starts, 410 career points
- JaJuan Smith, 6-2 sophomore, 25 career games, 0 career starts, 48 career points
And here's a player-by-player look at the returnees Martin inherited from Pearl heading into the 2011-12 season:
- Renaldo Woolridge, 6-9 senior, 68 career games, 16 career starts (6 as a freshman, 10 as a sophomore, 0 as a junior), 192 career points
- Kenny Hall, 6-8 junior, 60 career games, 4 career starts, 177 career points
- Jeronne Maymon, 6-7 junior, 23 career games (counting 9 at Marquette in 2009), 0 career starts, 73 career points (counting 36 at Marquette)
- Cameron Tatum, 6-6 senior, 104 career games, 44 career starts (4 as redshirt freshman, 6 as sophomore, 34 as junior), 806 career points
- Jordan McRae, 6-6 sophomore, 9 career games, 0 career starts, 18 career points
- Skylar McBee, 6-3 junior, 64 career games, 0 career starts, 206 career points
- Trae Golden, 6-1 sophomore, 31 career games, 1 career start, 93 career points