Here’s everything Barnes had to say following the win:
On what changed over the final 10 minutes of the first half:
“Well, I thought that once we were trying to figure out some substitution patterns, which we knew going into the game tonight that it was the first time we have had our team on the same bench. We talked about it long and hard trying to figure out what would be the best chance to give every guy a chance to play well when he went out there. We definitely lost some of our rhythm. We started having some defensive breakdowns where we were in some situations on the other end and we turned the ball over a little bit trying to do too much I thought. They went zone and I don’t think that’s what Tad (Boyle) wanted to do. But he was going to stay into it until we hurt it and we never really did it. We wanted to get the ball in the middle, the way we have always done with it. I thought once we started missing those shots, we had guys who were really hesitant to shoot the shots that we need to take. I thought it affected us on the defensive end a little bit where we got back on our heels. You know they are going to make a run. They are too good of a team. We came out and we got our transition game going and we were running and doing a lot of good things. Once we started our substitute pattern that we have had not had one bit of practice doing, I thought that caught up with us. That is to take nothing away from them at all because I thought it was really smart move from him to go zone. We haven’t had enough days since we were shut down to spend as much time on our zone offense as we have previously because we got shut down ourselves. We weren’t sharp there and we got very hesitant. That is something I am not really concerned about. My biggest concern still would be the fact we didn’t rebound the ball the way we have to to be the team we want to be. That is probably the biggest disappointment. We didn’t rebound the ball the way we need to.”
“You are right, Mike. That is what they do. They really are good at ballhawking. They will get in there and we talk about tackling the ball and getting a guy in your grasp and trying to take the ball away from him. Both those guys have that ability. I thought Jaden was good. He missed Friday’s workout not feeling well. He came back and I thought he really impacted the game. Both of them made one big mistake that they have to get out of. When they turn the ball over, they try to get it back and they let their guy get behind him them and we gave up baskets there.
“Defensively, they can do that. That is where we think they can help us. Between them, they had seven turnovers — half of our turnovers. Five of them were Keon and two of them were Jaden. That is the biggest thing. We try to talk to them in practice. They are both too good of offensive players to turn the ball over the way they do. Defensively, I thought Jaden was good. Keon had his moments, too, but then he had some bad moments where he turned it over and panicked and threw it away again. Those guys will be fine because they are competitive. Those guys have been hurt from the shutdown more than anybody. They were getting in a pretty good groove, then they missed two weeks. They were affected by it more than anybody.”
On if he thinks he’ll stick with the same starting lineup moving forward:
“I think we are still trying to figure out the best way to get a rotation going for our team. That is what we have to figure out. I was really proud of VJ. He has always been more of an offensive-minded player. He came out and did a really nice job on McKinley Wright, who is arguably one of the best players in the PAC-12 and one of the best players in the country. I thought VJ set a really good tone for our team in making him work. He got it going offensively a little bit. I look at it and I knew because of Colorado and the respect that we have for them, that we would have to play some guys some heavy minutes. Right now what you don’t want to do is let those young guys get out there and make so many mistakes that it lingers in their mind for a long time. We are trying to let them stay out as long as we could. We started seeing the patterns that develop in practice. You have to get them out. I could see the lineup staying like this for a while or changing. We have to figure out our pattern and we don’t have it yet. We don’t have it figured out yet.”
On if he thinks minutes will go down as depth develops:
“Yes, I do. There’s no doubt that we expect it to go down. We don’t really want anybody above 32 (minutes). We felt tonight with Colorado that they were going to force us to play experienced guys because we felt like it was going to be a really close game, which it was. Even when we jumped up on them early, we knew they would make a run to get back in it, and they did. It’s not fair to put those young guys in there in some tight situations early in the year because you don’t want to lose them with their confidence. The mistakes they made tonight, I think they’ll be able to look at it and learn from it. We need to get those minutes down.
“Fulky had not practiced since Friday, so I wasn’t surprised that he wasn’t very good. I kept telling the coaches, and they said, ‘I hope you’re wrong.’ I do think he responded at the end of the game and came up with a couple of plays.
“Yves struggled. He’s a senior and he shouldn’t ever be tentative out there shooting the ball and he was a few times. Rebounding the ball, (he did a) great job of rebounding the ball.
“EJ Anosike, I think for the first time out he did some really good things. He was shooting the ball in an area — we don’t want the elbow jumper, we want to be inside around the SEC (logo) and he just wasn’t aware of where he was on the court attacking against the zone. We want to use our depth, and this a game where we knew it was going to be tough. We would have loved to be able to play some guys some more minutes, but going forward we’d love to do that.”
On playing in Thompson-Boling with the different set up because of COVID:
“I do think it affects the guys who have been here before because they understand what Thompson-Boling Arena is like when you bring a team like Colorado in. It would have been a packed house. But the fact that we’ve been able to practice down here a little bit more, we’ve tried to do that, and I thought they did a nice job with the crowd noise tonight. I didn’t think it was overbearing. It was what it had to be. I appreciate the fans who were here. It is what it is right now. Our guys get out there and they start playing.
“People probably would be surprised to know that even when the building is sold out and it’s crazy in there, what goes on between those lines, we’re all oblivious to it until there are certain times where you feed off the crowd and you do all that. We’ll learn a lot from this, and it’s different. It’s definitely different. It’s a much different feeling. If you think about it, it’s December 8 and we’re just now playing our first game. I don’t think any of us knew exactly what it was going to be like. We’ve talked about it and they’ve seen enough games on TV to see some of it at other places, but it is definitely a different feeling, and that’s why I’m just glad that we’re going to be able to get some games going hopefully from here on out.”
On Yves Pons driving towards the basket when his shots aren’t falling:
“Well, you know what, we talked a lot to him about that. I think that’s where he’s got to have that feel, to know. They were going to let us catch it there (in the middle of the zone) and shoot it. We spent a lot of time in that area. I would almost venture to say as much as anybody in the country. That eight-, 10-foot range area there. We tell them if you go look for trouble, you’re going to find it. We just say shoot the ball like you mean it. There’s no reason to hesitate. We need to get a little more rebounding out of it. But if there’s anybody to blame for that, it’s me.
“We worked on a lot of things. We had two days of prep to get ready for these guys. We did hit the zone, because we felt like it was something they could throw at us, knowing that, hey, we had to get a lot of things going back, getting ready to play. Even though we know that Tad (Boyle) is not normally a zone coach, we know what he prides himself in. We’ll be better against it. We had a couple good plays. When we got back in control of the game it was with our defense. We got out in transition. Got more of an attack type mentality. We need to continue that when we get to the benches and guys come in. Some of these guys were tentative, like you would expect. We’ve got to get through that.”
On Vols assistant Kim English scouting Colorado as a former Colorado assistant coach:
“Whether Kim was there (at Colorado) or whatever, they had us scouted well. They knew what we wanted to do. They had us scouted well. Kim knows what they were doing, but he would’ve been able to do that whether he was with them or not. Like I said, I thought they did a nice job scouting us too. First of all, I think his (Kim’s) relationship really got the game on, to be quite honest with you.
“I can’t even begin to tell you what Mike Schwartz and Reid Sigmon have done to try and get a schedule. Constantly, still talking. Still trying to find a game we can get in at some point in time, so we can at least get to 25. But Kim did a nice job. I’ve said before, I don’t think there’s a better coaching staff in the country in terms of game preparation, getting guys understanding what we need to do to win. He knows those guys. He’s still very close to that staff. He’s got a great relationship with all of them. I respect them as much as anybody, because I understand the way, I know how Tad does things. And we need more guys in college basketball with Tad Boyle-type character.”
On Tennessee’s bench setup due to COVID:
“We got on our bench during one of the timeouts because we felt like when they made their run to get back in it, we were dead as a bench. And it’s different. But still, they should be very vocal. They have to be in it, doing what they need to do. But like I said, it’s the first time that we’ve been together on the same bench, benches around the court. It’s different, it really is. We’re trying to move people around during timeouts, so guys aren’t sitting beside each other. Guys are conscientious. I’m not, obviously, but people are, they’re working it. Trying to tell this guy to sit here, sit there. So it’s different, it really is. The timeouts are ok, because that’s kind of how we normally would do it.
“The bench itself, it’s just different. Like I said, that’s the first time we’ve done it. We had scrimmages, but we worked both ends and separated. To think about it, I’m trying to yell at guys to get in the game. And I look up and Uros is sitting on the baseline and I’m like, ‘You better get there and take your sweats off when you get there.’ Jaden, he was trying to take his sweats off, but he was going to have to run over there. So those were some things we’ll have to talk about. Where we have to make sure they get to the table first and then worry about (taking sweats off). The building is probably a little bit different. It’s probably not as warm. Doesn’t get as hot as normally, not as many people in there, you know? But the benches, I’m going to have to get used to that, too, because I was looking around, trying to see guys and I wasn’t sure they were.”