Everything Rick Barnes Said Before Tennessee Travels To Vanderbilt

On how Tennessee used its bye week with no midweek game

“It really was unusual. I guess because (this) is when we used to play the Big 12 Challenge. And we tried to stay in rhythm, but yet tried to get rest, both mentally and physically for our guys, but it was different. But now we’re back into it from here on out, there’s no more open weeks. And both us and Vanderbilt had them this week, so I think it was good. I hope so.”

On what Tennessee’s young players got out of the open week

“They put time in. And like we always say, those young guys need all the work they can get. I thought they had a good attitude about it and they have put time into it. And we still need to get those guys (ready). But I keep saying it, we’re going to need them all at some point in time. And hopefully, this week has been a good week for them.”

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On the difficulty winning on the road in college basketball, so many ranked teams losing games on the road against unranked teams

“Well, one, I think there’s a number of things that go into it. Obviously, everybody’s going to look at the portal and say that you can get guys to do it. Sometimes maturity of the teams (is a factor). It’s hard to win on the road. Last night I walked in late with watching the end of the South Carolina women and LSU women. That was a hard game. It just a great win, obviously for South Carolina and a great atmosphere. And fans come, they want to come and support their team. And so I think when you go on the road, you know what you’re gonna get from every situation. And I can even say playing at home, it’s difficult. I mean, I don’t think anybody feels comfortable playing at home. But when you go on the road, you know that if you’re not taking care of the details of you’re going to get beat. And I think, again, whether it’s a trend in college basketball or not, it’s there. And it does seem like we see more of it. And I would have to think that it’s because the portal allows a lot of teams maybe to get older and improve the rosters.”

On the factors that go into a college basketball upset

“Well, I don’t think you can ever take away from the team that wins. I mean, if you lose the game, you got beat. Whether you can say, well, we beat ourselves. I think every coach after most games could look and say, if we did this or we did that, we could have won the game, we had a chance to win the game, should have won the game. But the fact is you didn’t because the other team did what they needed to do to win the game. And so I think the credit has always got to go to the team that wins the game because some way, somehow they, I’m sure it’s never been perfect anywhere, but the fact is they took care of the necessity with the details and the game plan, what they needed to do. And teams that, whether you call them upsets or not, you know, there’s such a fine line between winning and losing. I’ve often said that before you talk about winning, you need to make sure your players understand what goes into losing. Most of the time it is lack of effort mentally and physically and not taking care of the details.”

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On what stands out about losing

“Just dynamic backcourt play. I mean, maybe as good a back court combination as there is in the league. And you all know the respect that I have from Coach Stackhouse and the way he builds his program, and he’s had some tough luck, obviously. But when I look at it, someone was asking me the other day about him and I was just talking about one, he has great schemes. Really a lot of really good schemes. (They) Are playing some different defenses, multiple defenses. So you’re going to see some pressure, see some full court pressure. A little one-three-one, man defense and have shown two-three. But it’s what he does, not only with his schemes, but I think they do as good a job as any coach in the country at developing players the way they do. So obviously I have the utmost respect for him and what he’s doing there.”

On Jonas Aidoo’s progression opening things up for Dalton Knecht

“Well, again, Jonas is doing what I think we all know that he’s capable of doing. But I go back, it’s not just Jonas, it’s everybody. I mean the guys are on court there between Josiah, Santi and Z. I mean, they would tell you that. I think if you ask Jonas and Dalton that question. I think they would say what I’m going to say, that the things that Santi and Josiah and Z do is the backbone of what happens out there because of what they do defensively. And really the consistency on the defensive end, and even nights when, as we’ve talked about, not particularly shooting the ball well they impact winning, but we need them all. And Jonas, we’re going to need him to continue to improve. People are going to, certainly, we talked about it, there’s no secret. People will try to keep him from going over his right shoulder and he’ll have to add to it, which he can. He’s got it. But Dalton obviously is, I mean, what else can we say? He’s given us something that we haven’t had in a long time but we’re more about two guys that really I hope (we get) to a point where we can talk about 10, 11 guys being in the rotation.”

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On if there are challenges shooting at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium

“I don’t know that I’d say that. I mean, from a coaching standpoint, it’s different. From a playing standpoint. I don’t know if it is or it isn’t. But it is what it is and you deal with it.”

On the challenges of getting Tobe Awaka to play without fouling

“It is a fine line. It’s the ones that— he’s so aggressive going to get it. In his mind, knowing that, I can’t get this one, I got to let it go as I continue to keep going with it. Because we don’t want to take away what he does so well. And plus, some teams are sending two guys at him to try to keep him off the glass and he’s not going to stop. He’s going to keep going, but I think he’s got to know when he needs to pull back a little bit.”

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On how difficult it is to get him to walk that fine line

“I think it’s maturity and the same thing I would tell you about setting screens, illegal screens and getting out on the ball screen covers and being a step late and knowing when to let a guy go, whether you’re setting a screen or whether you can’t get out and get into the coverage. Just not giving those cheap fouls that are fouls that referees pretty much have to call because of where they’re at on the court. But the effort, again, I just think as he continues to grow the way he has up to this point, he’s just going to get better with all that.”

On if Freddie Dilione V has stayed patient while developing:

“Yeah, Freddie’s been good. I think he’s realized that he’s like all young guys come in, not fully (understanding) — Freddie’s no different than Cam (Carr) and Cade (Phillips) and JP (Estrella). You put ’em all out there together, guys that we think are talented and they wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think that obviously. But they don’t know what they don’t know until they go through it. And now they realize how hard it is to play the game the way it needs to be played. They all go through different phases of it where they get through that phase where, you know, okay, I understand it now, instead of thinking that they’re getting a bad deal and not getting a chance, ‘cause everybody’s got a chance from the first day you walk on campus, you got a chance to play and you gotta earn it. You gotta earn the respect from your teammates. And I would say that all those guys, Freddie, Cam, all of them, they appreciate the effort that these older guys give them. But they wanna play, which is a great thing. I’d be really disappointed if they didn’t want to play. And it’s just a matter that they continue to grow and know that again, we’re gonna need ’em at some point in time. We need ’em now, to be quite honest with you. ‘Cause I do think that if we want to be the team we want to be in the last six, seven minutes of the game, we need the guys that we close with, to be the guys where they have that other burst where they can really finish strong.”

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On what they hope the players who returned from learned about last season’s loss at Vanderbilt:

“It’s the end of a game. I mean, you know, I think back and (Julian Phillips) had a wide open dunk game dunk and missed some free throws, and then we left the shooter (open) in the corner. But every game, whether it’s that game or any game, we scrub it out, talk about it, and hope that you don’t make those mistakes again.”

On if he feels the young guys are close to stepping up and contributing:

“I do. And again, it all goes back to practice. You know, you wanna see a guy take a step forward, you don’t wanna see ’em go back a half a step or a step. And it’s consistency. And that’s where most guys come up short. You know, some teams you have to play ’em regardless, and that’s where a lot of teams sometimes are up and down because they’re having to learn on the fly. But this team, we got older guys, so these younger guys if they earn those minutes, it’s because they’ve earned it. And they’ve done it through being consistent in practice, understanding the role they need to be in and what they need to do in terms of our schemes and everything that we’re about. But like I said, we trust these guys, but it’s up to us to continue to help ’em get where we need them to be.”

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