The men’s basketball team hosted its annual media day on Wednesday in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Coach Cuonzo Martin spoke on the upcoming season expectations and practices ahead. He emphasized the hard work the team has put in, leading up to practice that starts on Friday.

The offseason workouts mainly focused on the defensive side of the ball. With Martin in his first season, he has emphasized defense. Players have said that they may go practices without seeing a basketball.

“I think the focus for us and our workouts have been 80 percent on the defensive side of the ball,” Martin said. “We spend a little time with skill workouts.”

With the official team practices starting, the team will begin to work on shooting more in practices. Another major change for the Vols is the different offense. They will be running the motion offense this winter, involving more screens for players. Martin believes the offense will be successful this next year if the players continue to work with it.

A few players that Martin stated were some of the main leaders through the offseason are sophomore Jordan McRae and junior Kenny Hall. The two have stepped up and are leading the team with only two seniors.

McRae has accepted the leadership role for the team in the offseason. He continues to show the team how to act on and off the court.

“We have a lot of young guys and they started looking up to people,” McRae said. “I was one of the people they looked up to and coach Martin told me if I am going to have people follow me, I have to lead the right way.”

Players are excited for practices to begin because they know it will be the next step towards the first game of the season. Martin said they will open up practice with team defensive drills because that will determine the team’s success this year.

“I think the energy is definitely there. We’ll see how that goes once we start hitting it three hours a day,” Martin said. “We’ll see if the energy stays up, but it’s been there thus far, and that’s been a fun thing, a pleasant thing to see for our staff.”

The roster is another question that will be answered when the Vols take the court Friday. Martin believes that they will have an eight- to nine-man rotation throughout the season. Along with the rotation, Martin said he will play whoever earns the spot, not who was starting for the team last year. Everyone will have to compete for starting positions.

For Martin to come and take over a program and to get players to buy into what he was teaching was a challenge he conquered.

“At first, just getting used to differences was hard,” Hall said. “All of a sudden getting used to someone new, that’s not the easiest transition. Trying to get the flow of everything, to find out who the coaches are and what they expect of you.”