Rick Barnes & Olivier Nkamhoua Media Availability Transcript

Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes Transcript
 
On how he would grade his team’s shot selection…
“We need to throw in the fact that we turn down shots. In shot selection I would probably rate it a 75 percent, because we want guys to shoot the ball when we are open. That is what we have done all year practicing. When they put it back in the holster and aren’t willing to shoot it, that usually leads to something not quite as good. We have showed them that obviously where we turn down really good shots to take a little more difficult shot. We just want our guys to do what we practice and what works. I have seen the open court; you have got to make those layups when you are struggling to make some shots from the perimeter or around the rim. Those shots are tougher than people may think but overall if you ask me to put a number on it, 75 to 80 percent probably.”

Vols HC Rick Barnes / Credit: UT Athletics


 
On what he thought about Ole Miss shooting 50 percent on 3-pointers and what are their rules on helping defense when it comes to the 3-point line…
“It changed during the game, we are a very heavy help team, as you know. We like to make plays in the gaps but Wednesday was the first time all year that we faced someone that got hot. Looking at the percentages coming in, we obviously want to play percentages throughout our scouting report. They got hot and no one has done that this year up to this point, which was a great thing for us. We learned from it, we talked about how we do that and what do you do when a team has two guys. You had Matthew Murrell hitting a couple where normally there is a heavy help line. When you have a guy that’s capable of rising up and you have to shave back a little bit. During the game once we said ‘OK, now we are going to adjust what we need to do here because you got a guy who is really feeling it,’ we did a terrific job of it coming down the stretch. Throughout our entire game with our defensive packages, we got a lot of things we could adjust to but like I said that was the first time all year that we played someone that it looked like the basket was the Atlantic Ocean had opened up for him.”
 
On John Fulkerson not playing during overtime and what he needs to see from him…
“Energy and effort. He has to understand that he is in a league now where coaches have seen him for a long time, and he has to adjust and adapt what we have been telling him for a long time. When he can get the ball and space to work, I believe it creates a problem. Personally, if we were playing against him, let him get down there and get his back to the basket against guys that weight 30 to 40 pounds more. We have told him that, the other night it was strictly based on energy, effort and being productive.”
 
On the offense struggling in games and if it is the same thing that they keep struggling with…
“It is, it all gets back to lack of execution from the start and piling it on top of you to where you are making yourself, not only are you playing against your opponent, but you are playing against yourself. It always gets back to the details, taking care of the details where we should know where our shots are coming from. We should know what to do to get in position and get those shots in a position to go rebound it. If you go back, it is just being inconsistent with the details throughout the game. It should never be like that way at the start, the way we started that game with the three turnovers we had, no way should that happen at this time of year. So, you ask the question. We are locked in defensively, but we must have that same attitude on offense. It is different, you can script some things in terms of when you play against your opponent. The offensive side is totally different, you have to react to them, like the other night changing defenses. If you go back to it, they had a simple game plan. It was not their changing defense; it was you are going to have to get somebody inside to go at us because we are not going to help down here that much and see what can happen. They pretty much stay with their shooters but with all that said in done if we would have moved the ball like we should, we would have had any better looks. We had some looks, but they could have been the kind of looks that we want inside and out.”
 
On LSU as a top defensive opponent…
“Well, they switch almost one through five and are willing to do that. They are very aggressive in terms of attacking the ball. They really go at it like that. They do have the pressure they use, the full-court pressure, two to one it. They can turn it around and match it any way they like to do it. But the key in any game when you are playing against an outstanding defensive team is taking care of the basketball. You have to get attempts. You have to hope you can get yourself to the foul line. You have to make them work and not let them have it knowing they are going to be very aggressive in terms of getting the ball. They are always swiping at it, digging at it, trying to break it away. You have to be strong with the ball.”
 
On impressions of Zakai Zeigler so far describing him as “fearless”…
“He is fearless. It is in his DNA. If I could coach that, believe me it would be the first thing I would coach every player I have ever coached. We knew he was a good player when we were able to get involved with him. Some of the things you do not know is just that. You used the word fearless and that is a great word to use because he is going to go at it. He has a short memory and is extremely competitive. He is hard on himself. He is going to continue to improve in many areas because he is a smart player. With his energy and effort in terms of what he brings, our guys have tremendous faith in him.”
 
On the potential to be the best defensive team at Tennessee…
“I think we have the potential to be the best in a lot of areas. We have to get everyone in the boat at the same time. We have a very unselfish group of players. They like each other and pull for each other but it goes back to improvement. Can we still get better defensively? We can. We have to continue to rebound the ball at a higher clip on both ends. That is really important because rebounding on the offensive end helps your defense. It helps the start of the transition. There are a lot of ways we can get better and we will work to that. Up to this point, these guys are not perfect but they are trying to do what we are asking them to do. It goes back to not everybody fully understanding everything at the level they need to. Honestly, most of the time during games most substitutions occur from the defensive end than the offensive end. We need everyone because every possession matters. We do not just say it, believe it.”
 
On his impressions of LSU …
“You look at them and they will rebound, run, given the opportunity they are going to shoot it. I think they play unselfish together. In addition, I think that Will (Wade) has a team he really likes because they are giving him effort on both ends.”
 
On how Jahmai Mashack being on the scout team has helped him…
“It has helped him a lot. It is teaching him that there is a lot more to the game than just playing. Having to learn multiple sets in a quick turnaround. When we go out with our scout team they come in and have to learn a lot of stuff quickly. I think that any time you can do that it continues to help. It has helped Quentin (Diboundje) and will help Jonas (Aidoo) in the long run. When he goes out and goes into the game, we expect him to bring the energy that we know he is capable of. He is a guy that can block out and rebound. He can score the ball but he needs to get settled in on the offensive end. Defensively, he did a great job the other night when we were down and floundering. We put him in the game and told him he had to change the rhythm of the game with your offensive rebounding. He then went out and got three of them real quick.”
 
On what he can take from the two overtime games that Tennessee has played this year…
“Bad shooting nights happen with everybody. At the highest level, when Mike D’Antoni was with Houston, they went something like 0-for-28 one night. After the game, he walked into the locker room and said ‘Guys, tomorrow they’ll go in.’ You can’t coach making shots but what you can coach is guys taking rhythm shots and shots they practice. The takeaway from it is what we have told our guys day one; if you play defense and rebound at the level we’re capable of, we’ll always have a chance even when you can’t make a shot. It happens some nights with every team, but you find a way to work through it. The difference between the Texas Tech and the Ole Miss game was the reaction of our players. You could look into the eyes of Santi (Vescovi), Zakai (Zeigler) and Olivier (Nkamhoua). The way Olivier was talking in the huddle and those guys had the thought of we’re not going to lose this game. They said we’re going to find a way; it might not be pretty but we’re going to get it done. That was the difference because, in the game against Tech, we just felt like who was going to make a play, who was going to do it. Santi’s play at half-court was huge when he hit that three. There were so many things there, but it was the defense on the other end where we were able to shut down some guys that were making some threes for them. We knew they were going to be in long possessions; when you’re playing against a team that is going to use the whole shot clock the whole time, when you’re down six it feels like 12. I told our staff that maybe Kermit (Davis) was happy with those shot clock violations even though you know he wasn’t, but they took two minutes off the game because I think we forced four of them. That is what postseason play is about because you’re going to have to play against different teams and different styles. For the most part, I thought our guys stayed locked in defensively the other night.”
 
On last year having great defense and an average offense…
“Well, if you get right down to it, you have two freshman guards going through things they haven’t gone through before at a very high level. You have Olivier being in a role he hasn’t been in before but the way he responded the other night keeps happening because he was locked in on both sides of the court. Josiah and Santi have been there before but the other three who were on the court at the end of the game were a new experience for them. It’s going to be a year where every game is going to be a learning experience for the two freshman point guards. What we need is guys coming off the bench, capable of making shots, playing defense, and being reliable. We want guys to keep climbing up the rope because I know that everybody on our bench at some point can come in and help us win games.”
 
Junior Forward Olivier Nkamhoua Quotables
 
On his reaction to Rick Barnes saying that against Ole Miss he talked on the floor more than ever…
“I would agree. I think early on in the game, my voice was louder and more into the game, and then later, it started showing that I had been talking the whole game and it just seemed natural. I just feel like I need to keep improving on my game and adding parts to my game and I think being more vocal is a big part that I need to bring.”
 
On if sometimes offensive struggles can be mental…
“I think 100 percent, offense can be mental and even luck. A lot of things can come down to luck, and that’s why we pride ourselves in defense because on offense, a lot can be affected by luck or other factors. Missing shots can easily get into anyone’s head and it’s not always easy to get out of that slump, but that’s why we are the type of team that we are, where we grind it out on defense and then all we go out there on offense with no pressure, because when we come down on the other end, we can get it back.”
 
On if he feels like it’s important for him to be a consistent scorer to complement John Fulkerson
“I think it’s important for our opponents to have a good post presence between me and Fulky, and between Uros and Brandon as well, I feel like it’s important that the team has confidence in that inside scoring.”

-UT Athletics

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