Vol Hoops Media Monday (3/11/19)

Rick Barnes Transcript 

On the loss to Auburn costing Tennessee a chance to clinch the title:
“I think you have to learn it as a learning lesson in terms of the game of basketball itself. There is no question about that. Then you do have to put it behind you to get ready for conference tournament play. The fact is we didn’t do the things we needed to do to win at the end. Not to take anything away from Auburn because they did a good job doing what they do. We just – too many turnovers, shot-clock violations, you name it, that led to easy baskets. That is the learning situation. You would like to think where we are and what we have been through, we wouldn’t make those type of mistakes this time of year. But we did. Shot selection. I think we missed the front end of two one-and-ones. All those are big plays. You don’t ever stop trying to learn from your last game, but you do have to put it behind you and move forward.”

Credit: UT Athletics

On the goaltending controversy:
“I do think – I have talked about goaltending and basket interference. I think anytime points are rewarded, they have to be earned. That is something I have talked about. I don’t think you can just give points or take points away unless you know exactly what it is. Me, personally, I would like to see that.”

On why Tennessee shot so many threes:
“I don’t know. I can’t answer that because that wasn’t our game plan at all. We talked about it. You go back and look at the losses we’ve had, we’ve done that. I can’ tell you why because we keep talking about we should know who we are and what we are doing. I can’t explain that. I really can’t. We talked about what we needed to and we just settled. We shouldn’t do that.”

On if the team has moved on:
“Today will be our first day back together. They were obviously disappointed after the game, which you would expect them to be. We will come in today like we do and we will take a really good hard look at this game and the things – it really goes back to the other three losses we had this year, they pretty much played out the same way, with too many threes and not getting to the foul line enough. There’s a big discrepancy if you look at our four losses in terms of how little we got to three free-throw line and how many threes we took that were shots we shouldn’t be taking without at least probing and trying to get fouled. You look at the discrepancy at what our opponents shot at the free-throw line in the losses and what we did, it’s a big discrepancy. That’s from settling for threes when you shouldn’t.”

On how to have success in the SEC Tournament:
“I think it’s eagerness to play. You have to want to play, embrace. Know that you work hard all year. I don’t even know who we’ll end up playing obviously. Whether it’s someone you’ve already played twice or getting ready to play for a second time, the familiarity is so much, you know each other so well. It’s hard. You just hope your guys, again, like any other game, are locked in knowing that it is a tournament. If you want to continue to play in the tournament, you have to win. But it will always get back to doing what you’ve done when you’re playing your best basketball. Plain and simple. You have to stay together, stay focused on the game plan, not letting the emotion of the game overwhelm you. You just have to stay locked in to playing good basketball.”

On if conference tournaments need to exist:
“I do (think so). Because I think it’s good, I do. There’s obviously a lot of fan interest generated by it. I get it, I do. I also think it makes March what it is. Teams that maybe didn’t have the year they thought they would have. Conference tournaments are the beginning of NCAA (Tournament) play. Because there is a bid at stake in all these conferences. I think even now the Ivy League, who obviously hadn’t done it for the longest, now they have a four-team tournament to determine that. You can really look at the conference tournaments really being the first rounds to get you part of it. I get it. I think it’s good because I think the players enjoy it, for the most part. I’ve been around it long enough to know there are some teams that after the regular season, they’re done, they want to be done with it. We all see the things that can happen, the upsets that can happen here or there. Like I said, I do think conference tournaments are the start of the NCAA Tournament, because those bids are there to be had.”

On the LSU situation:
“I don’t know enough about it. But I would like to think that whatever is going to happen, the right thing will be done. What I mean by that, the No. 1 thing in the spirit of competition is everybody plays on a level field. We know this isn’t the first situation that has come up in college basketball that’s gone on. If you’ve been in this business as long as I have, you’re not naive about any of it. You’re not. You like to think for the best. You’re always thinking about the student-athlete. One thing I will tell you, not everybody does the things that are out there sometimes, that are being said. There are a lot of guys in this business that have done things the right way for a long time. I’m not saying they’re perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I hate it for our game, I really do. I think this game has been great to so many people and what it does for so many. I just hate to see a cloud over college basketball. Hopefully going forward, and the only way it’s going to get solved, if someone is found guilty they have to pay the price, plain and simple. I believe you’re innocent until proven guilty, but if you’re proven guilty there is a price to pay and you have to pay it.”

On Lamonté’s struggles: 
“I think he’s pressing too hard to make a three. Again, you go back to his games, we wouldn’t have won the Ole Miss game without him and all his mid-range action. I think it’s simple. I think he’s taken tough shots, and when you take tough shots, it puts more pressure on you to make a shot and in your mind you’re thinking, ‘I need to make a shot,’ which is not the way you think to begin with. You just want to play good basketball. I’ve said before, players can shoot their way into slumps and put pressure on themselves by taking shots they shouldn’t take. He’s done that, there’s no doubt he’s done that, but he has to recognize that he’s such a better basketball player than thinking he has to make a three. Lamonte Turner can affect the game in so many ways if he never made a shot. He’s become one of the best defensive guards in the country the way he can disrupt a game. The way he’s making plays for his teammates, it just gets (hardest) for him when he starts trying to make shots from behind the arc. That’s when he doesn’t play as well.”

On being prepared for tournament play after the final stretch of the week:
“I do, and we knew coming down the stretch that we were in that gauntlet kind of schedule. I think I go back to the beginning of the year, I mean, I don’t if you had asked me at the beginning of the year to put a number of wins on our team what I would say. When you look back at where we are today, these guys have a lot to be proud of, and the fact that we’re disappointed is a good thing for our program. We had a chance to be a part of back-to-back championship regular seasons, but it’s hard to do that. The fact that we were in it, I’m proud of our guys for putting themselves in that position. You’d like to be the kind of program that’s there, knowing that every year it’s hard to get it done. They put themselves in position, which is a great thing to do, and we came up short. Not to take anything away from our opponents, but we had to fight. They fought hard this year and now we just have to get ready for the tournaments and see how we can do.”

On scouting for the SEC Tournament:
“Again, our coaching staff is as good as anybody in the country at preparing for our opponents. We’ll have them scouted. They’ll watch all the games, they’ll go back and they’ll have all that done before Friday because we’ll start talking about — regardless, this time of year, you pretty much have seen it all. It’s a matter of executing what you need to do in your defense and your offense. That’s what it’ll get down to.”

On interior depth:
“No, I’m not (concerned) because Fulky and Derrick are playing. What hurt us Saturday more than anything was Admiral getting in foul trouble, and we didn’t get to play the small lineup any in the first half. That hurt us on the front line.”

On Yves Pons not playing at Auburn:
“It’s just a matter of where we are at this point in time. This time of year, you’re trying to do everything you can. We have confidence in him, we do, but we just felt like what the situation was Saturday, and Bowden got it going pretty good, but he’s helped us and he’ll continue to help us. Same as Jalen. He didn’t play for a while, but he came back. We’re going to need all these guys, we know that from a year ago when we lost Kyle Alexander in the tournament. We’re in a better position than we were a year ago if something does happen that can we handle it better.”

On balancing the double bye:
“The fact is you do have to balance it, but you have to try and keep an edge there. You want them enthusiastic more than anything. The fact that we travel over there helps a little bit with it because it will be a different venue we’ll practice in. What we know with our team is we’re not as sharp when we take a long time off in terms of not practicing. We’ll come back in today, we’ll scrub out that last game and do what we always do the day after a game — go on the court a little bit. Tomorrow we won’t do anything and then we’ll start preparing on Wednesday the way we would two days out with our schedule, so we’ll try and keep it as close as we can knowing that we’re going to have a chance to play three games. It is a time here that is a balance. You have to try and keep everybody sharp, but I think mentally more than physically. I don’t think our team is going to get in any better shape, we just can’t lose our conditioning, which we won’t. We can keep that by what we normally do, but the mental side is what you’re more focused on right now, that guys will stay locked in mentally. There’s a lot going on this of year with a lot of outside chatter and noise and you just hope that they can eliminate all that and stay focused on the task at hand.”

On the team needing to get back in the right offensive flow:
“I think our guys, if you ask them how we need to play, I think our guys understand what we need to do. Defensively, we weren’t as good Saturday as we’d been the previous 3-4 games. We gave up some baskets that you can’t give up, transition there was some switching going on and we let a guy get behind us for an easy layup. You can’t let somebody run behind you when you know there’s not anybody back there to guard the basket, I don’t care who you are. We had those kind of plays, which we hadn’t given up. We gave up some plays Saturday, we had a guy at the end of the half run right through two guys that were just standing there letting him dribble right by, those kind of plays. We could go back and we could put together a great highlight reel of when we’re playing great basketball. We could put together a great highlight reel, whether it’s playing against a zone or man, doing this defensively. But the fact of the matter is it’s got to be a habit of understanding that it goes back to, I can’t explain those plays we made Saturday. I really can’t, because you’d like to think that we wouldn’t make those plays, but they need to see them so they can understand because you never stop teaching, you’re never going to let these guys think that any of that’s acceptable in terms of trying to win a basketball game, but it’s just this time of year everybody looks at college basketball and I don’t think there’s any drastic changes you make. It’s a matter of just continuing to try to get better at what you’re trying to do. I think they do understand as a team when we’re playing our best how we play. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it when it counts.”

On if there is an advantage playing in Nashville and the expected fan turnout:
“I was really impressed with our fans a year ago in St. Louis, and I love the fact that Nashville’s where we have our tournament. It’s obviously easier for most teams, most every team to get there as opposed, last year St. Louis did a phenomenal job with that tournament. I like and hope that we do get a great fan support. Talk about our fans, I love our fans, I don’t think there’s anywhere, any better. The fact is, it’s close enough that we should expect and hope to get a great crowd.”

On the importance of the SEC having a team in conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament:
“I think you could talk with both of us [Tennessee and Kentucky] about it. I mean, why not? I mean, I’m hearing them tell me that there’s talk that other (leagues) might get three. I mean, this league has been unbelievable. I’m not sure Kentucky’s gotten the respect they’ve deserved all year. After they had that one tough loss against Duke. But you think about it, they’ve been terrific all year. I just, again, for our league, I want to see our league do well. I still don’t think our league gets the respect that it deserves. I mean, you look down this league, with the coaching in this league. I mean, the job that Frank Martin did this year, the fact that Kermit, the job he did. Mike White, too. I mean, those guys have had to deal with a lot of different things to deal with, and I could keep going with guys. I just think this league, again, I can’t, … it’s hard for me to imagine there’s one better, to be quite honest with you. I’d be disappointed if somebody in our league didn’t come out with a No. 1 seed.”

On preparing for postseason play: 
“I think it’s all of it. I mean, obviously we know in sports that sometimes you matchup with teams better than others, but the fact of the matter is it doesn’t really matter. It’s been proven now. A year ago, a 16 beat a 1. A 15 can beat a 2. You know, a 14 can beat a 3. All that’s been proven, so the fact of the matter is it’s about going into the tournament having great respect for any team in the tournament, because if they’re there, they’ve had a great year. And if they’re there, they’re playing well this time of year. And you’ve got teams in there, maybe like a South Carolina team that has 14 or however many — I don’t know how many — losses they have, but when you finish fourth in this league, that speaks volumes. There’s nobody that wants to play South Carolina. I can promise you that. So the fact is it’s about playing basketball. If the matchups are good or bad or whatever, you’ve just got to hope that your team has been through enough this year that regardless of who you’re playing, whether you end up playing against a team that plays a matchup zone or a team that plays a zone like Syracuse plays, that you’ve seen enough and you’ve worked hard enough that you can handle whatever situation is thrown at you. That’s what you hope your regular season has done for you.”


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