Rick Barnes Press Conference Transcript (1.28.19)

Credit: UT Athletics

On if Lamonte Turner will be starting on a regular basis:
“I really haven’t given it a lot of thought to be honest with you. I would think now, yes, but I haven’t given it a lot of thought. A lot of it is based on matchups with other teams. Now, I’ll probably stay with it, but I really haven’t given a lot of thought to it. I thought he handled it well. I think Yves Pons has handled it well. I think Jordan Bowden’s handled it well. Like I said, I consider us having seven starters, and whatever we need to do from game to game, we’ll do that.”

On the environment when on the road as the No. 1 ranked team:
“We know it’s different. We know it is what it is. Teams have a chance to continue to build their resume, but I can tell you going to south Carolina tomorrow wouldn’t matter if we were ranked or unranked. Frank Martin’s teams are going to get after it and play hard. We were there a year ago, and I thought the atmosphere was tremendous. Every year we’ve been there it’s been a great atmosphere. Obviously, with the ranking that we have, it’ll add something to it, certainly. His guys are going to play hard, and they’re going to battle. I respect him so much, it wouldn’t matter if there is a ranking or not, his teams come to play.”

 On the amount of turnovers on Saturday:
“Being sloppy with the ball and being too careless. Those turnovers are the plays that make your defensive numbers go up, because you’re basically just giving teams points. If teams are going to score on you, you want them to have to earn it, but when you take the ball out and throw it away or go in sloppy with the ball, those kind of plays are going to lead to baskets for the other team. During our first timeout, I talked to them. I thought we were way too casual on the offensive end, and we weren’t protecting the ball the way we needed to. We had to fix it. South Carolina, like any basketball team, they’re going to thrive on your turnovers. They do a great job of their defense creating offense, so taking care of the ball is a must.”

On Frank Martin’s coaching and preseason rankings:
“I’ve known Frank Martin for a long time, and his teams are as tough, hard-nosed as anybody. I don’t care what his record is. There’s certain things that he’s not going to tolerate, and if you don’t play hard and do your job, he’s going to set you down. His guys go on the floor understanding how valuable those minutes are. Coaches really don’t care about preseason rankings. We all know that we do what we do, and we’ve all been around long enough to know that we look at our problems, but we also know that other teams have problems too. They’ve got things that they’re dealing with. The preseason rankings don’t really mean anything. I just know he’s got some guys on his team that were on that final four team, and it was just a matter of time before you felt like they would get things going. There’s other games, if you go back and look at, that they easily could’ve won, too. If you ask me if I’m surprised, I’m not surprised. If you ask me if they’re like our team a year ago, I don’t think there’s a any team in the country that plays any harder, works harder at trying to rebound the ball, play good defense, and will fight you for everything that you have. I think that when you do that consistently, you’re going to find a way to win games, and they do that. His teams have always done that.”

On how much of a problem Chris Silva is for the team going into tomorrow:
“He’s a problem for everybody. He posts up really hard, and he’s going to work really hard defensively. They work really hard at denying every pass. They want to make plays off the bounce, and they do a good job of helping, recovering and working early in the post. He posts up as hard and tries to get as deep as post ups as anybody that we’ll play against. We run very similar breaks, and it’s not going to be a surprise. He plays with a lot of tenacity, a lot of effort, a lot of energy, and he’s tough. It’s going to be tough to guard him. Both teams try to do a lot of the same things, and we’ll get down to how things go. Officials will be a big part of it, and I think we both know that.”

On how important Derrick Walker is behind Kyle:
“Probably the most important thing, because in this game, it’s going to be important. I thought Kyle really played hard on Saturday. He just didn’t get the best whistle, but he played hard and worked hard. We need John Fulkerson and Derrick to come in and really help. That may be as important as anything we do with our  team right now. Yves is going to continue to do what he does, and I think Jalen Johnson will be ready to play. But we need Fulky and Derrick a lot. Kyle needs them, Grant needs them, we all need them. What we need them to do is defend, rebound, set screens, and bring the energy that we need to come off the bench.”

On Admiral’s performance against West Virginia: 
“We all know that you are going to go through stretches where you don’t shoot the ball well, and the more pressure that you put on yourself trying to shoot it well. It just snowballs on you, and all we have asked him to do is get lost in the game defensively, let the offense work for itself and take shots when he’s open. He’s going to make shots; there’s no doubt that he is going to make shots. I think he has had two double-double games, where he hasn’t shot the ball well, but he has impacted the game in other ways. I think he can take a lot of pressure off himself by doing that, and when he starts making his shots and continue to rebound like he is capable of. There’s no question he is at his best when he is rebounding the ball on both ends. There is no question about that, but again, he works so hard at it. He wants to do well, he doesn’t want let anybody down, and he went through some games where he was letting the fact he wasn’t making shots affect him.”

On his team’s performance on the road so far this season:
“I’m good with the formula we have so far. It works. I don’t think I’ve ever had a team that has led from start to finish. It’s part of basketball, and it speaks to our league that this is a very competitive league. On any given night, anybody can win, and we know that. I think you go back to having a ranking, you expect to bring out the best in people. I think you are probably surprised when that doesn’t happen. It’s a 40-minute game, we have to stay locked in and just worry about what we need to do to execute and stay together and continue to understand as a group that we have one goal. That’s obviously to win the game but also to play the best basketball we can play.”

On his team’s rebounding the last two games: 
I think when you go back to these last two games, West Virginia is an extremely difficult team to outrebound. They are great at that. We had our hands on a couple balls that went out of bounds that should have been rebounds, so we probably would have been closer to being even. We are getting ready to play another team that’s puts a premium on rebounding. Everybody does, and we should be a team that wants to do that. We are too inconsistent getting to the offensive boards, defensively. Our guards stand around and watch too much. There’s a lot of balls that are going to be batted around, tipped around that your guards need to come and clean up and help you with. We still had some possessions where guys just stood and watched, expecting Kyle, Grant or somebody else to come up with it. Grant has to get back to rebounding. If you go back and look, he has had a couple games where he hasn’t had five rebounds combined, and that’s an issue. That’s something that he is going to have to look at himself and know that’s him doing his job, and I would say the same thing about him that I said about Admiral. When you are doing those things, normally the offensive side of the ball takes care of itself, so we need to be more focused and have more consistency on that as a group. The one thing about starting Lamonte is that we lose what Yves brings early in the game. Yves does a great job of doing that, but what we need there now would be Admiral, Grant and Kyle doing a great job there. When Bowden comes in the game, he is a guy we expect to attack the boards like Yves would. We expect Lamonte and Bone to rebound the elbows. We expect them to help us, and we need them to do that.”

On Kyle fouling out early: 
It was tough, and again, West Virginia ran some of those inside screens that are tough. In the post, when a guy starts moving, you have to get your hands off. On one of the fouls, I though he got fouled first and then tried to fight back around. That happens sometimes where the first one is missed then the second guy gets caught. I thought he actually had two of those where he was fighting for post up then got around then pushed back, and when he did it, he pulled an arm down. Another one across the lane where he definitely was in great position, and he put two hands on the guy coming across the top of the screens, which you can’t do that. Kyle’s going to keep battling, but he did he had a tough whistle Saturday.”

On South Carolina and the difference between conference and non-conference games:
“I think they do a really good job. They turn you over, get down and shoot it quick. They turn you over, and like any good team, they are capitalizing there. I think they are doing that well. It goes back to teams. We start out in different spots, and you think about it. We started out with a group that was pretty much intact. Frank Martin had some things to do to get them going, but he has done it. That is what you respect about an experienced coach being around, because they realize that it is a long season. They realize that the second part, and we are all down with non-league now and in conference play. We will have another conference tournament and postseason. I just think that it is getting everybody together, and it takes that sometimes when you are adding pieces to it. You rebuild every year whether people want to hear that number. No team is ever the same. This team we have is not the same team we had a year ago. We all had to go through some of those growing pains at times, but they certainly pick the right time to start playing well. They had a tough one this weekend playing against a good team in a very emotional arena. I think he has done a great job with his guys and getting them to understand to know what is needed to win.”

On having a number of teams being three point happy and if they are going to start playing the percentage and limit them:
“We are still trying to play our principles We are still going to try and guard the 3-point line, but we cannot really keep people from shooting the ball all the time. We can turn them over some. They are going to get shots up, and sometimes you sit there and look at the percentages and guys that do not normally make them, make them. As long as we are trying to play good sound defense, and contest shots. What we do not want to do is give the wide open shots, and we gave two that I can think of right here on Saturday where we gave up. We were in a four-man rotation and one guy did not rotate and they get wide open shots. It goes back to our defense. We still know we got to improve there with everyone being engaged the entire time. We have been putting people deep into the shot clock where the drive starts and we do not stand in front of the ball, or we get split on ball screens, forced into a rotation when the clock’s come down. Don’t particularly shoot the ball well without a conscious. Anybody that plays at this level is capable of making a shot, and we are always going to try and defend the line. Each game, our game plan is going to change a little bit by we are always going to try and take away what the other team does best which is hard to do.”

On the opponent shooting over 50 percent in the second half:
“Some of it is those turnovers. You get turnovers, and they dunk the ball. When you go back, we were shooting over 50 percent because we were getting out and getting those layups. You give up layups off turnovers and miss rotations, they are going to shoot a high percentage. We do not even get a chance to give our defense set, and that has something to do with it too when you get sloppy with the ball. Then game comes out, and when you are up big at halftime, you build a lead and teams start putting their heads down. You know you do not want to foul. You do not play defense the way you should. Teams that get to the rim because you are not on edge the way you should be, but there is a lot that goes into it at different times in the game. I would say one of the biggest reasons looking at it. I know we gave West Virginia 12 points, give them credit because they took it, we gave it two them and they scored. That is six baskets. You take those six away and it would bring that percentage down, but you cannot take them away because we made the mistake. They capitalized on it.

On his Super Bowl prediction:
“Who is in in it? Patriots and the Rams. Who is favored? I do not know anything about the Rams. I know it is hard to go against that New England team.”


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