Jimmy’s blog: Barnes discusses scheduling, COVID and attendance at TBA

By Jimmy Hyams

Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes joined the media via zoom Wednesday. Here are excerpts from his comments:

*Barnes said UT won’t play Memphis in Nashville or Wisconsin in the Nov. 11 opener. That game could be rescheduled for next year. He said he still hopes to play Gonzaga `somehow, somewhere.’

*The SEC announced this morning that UT will host Kansas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge Jan. 30 at Thompson-Boling Arena. It will be the third year in a row for the matchup, both won by Kansas. Barnes said he likes competing against Bill Self’s teams: `We want to be in those games. We want to play one of the best schedules in the country. It’s a challenge but those are the kinds of challenges we look forward to.’

*Barnes said attendance could be less than 25% capacity in the indoor 21,678-seat arena, and he regrets that Kansas won’t get the `full experience’ of TBA. `I don’t think there’s any better arena to be a part of.’ Barnes said he’s unsure when the non-conference slate will be released, after thinking twice it had been completed.

*Barnes is unsure if UT will play in the bubble environment in Orlando in late November: `We’re counting on it, but it’s not set in concrete yet’ adding `every day something seems to pop up and makes us adjust.’ He hopes to have schedule finalized in a couple of days. he said he’s considering a four-team bubble event, like other schools are proposing.

*Barnes said he has 4-5 guys that can play point guard and that is particularly important when you’re unsure from game to game who is available to play. He said UT should be better at guarding the perimeter, scoring off the dribble and rebounding. He also likes the team’s defensive abilities.

*Like most programs, Barnes said some UT practices have been interrupted twice by COVID.  He said he had just 8 players for one practice. Yet, he likes the team’s chemistry and cohesiveness and the leadership of Yves Pons and John Fulkerson.

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