Everything Rick Barnes said about tonight’s game against Florida

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    Vols head basketball coach Rick Barnes met with the media on Monday morning to preview Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Gators.

    Barnes discussed the difficulties of facing the Gators, the play of Josiah-Jordan James, Tennessee’s smaller lineup, why Yves Pons has struggled to score the ball, Florida replacing Keyontae Johnson, UT’s ability to create shots, needing to rebound more consistently and much more.

    Here’s everything Barnes had to say:

    On sophomore guard Josiah-Jordan James’ streak of not turning over the basketball since the second half of the Alabama game:

    “I think every day he’s here, he gets more and more familiar and more and more comfortable knowing what we’re looking for as a team. He’s basically playing every position on the court and when you do that it gives you a better grasp of what’s supposed to be happening at every position. I think that helps his vision to know what he’s looking for. And the fact is, he works hard and puts his time in. He really takes a lot of pride in studying the game and doing all of the things you would want him to do as a coach, but it’s just a matter of time — he wants to be the best player he can possibly be and he’s going to continue to work at it in every way that he can.”

    On the difficulty of replacing a key player like Florida has to do with Keyontae Johnson:

    “It’s really hard, because you spend your entire offseason working that way. You formulate your plan with how you want to proceed and Keyontae for them is a huge piece of what they do just like Lamonte Turner was for us last year. Then, when that happens you feel like you’re starting over again, because so much focus has been put on such a key player. As coaches, we always think of the ‘what-ifs’ but with that said, you’re going to continue to build your program around the players you think can lead and help you. Then, when situations like that happen with key players and they’re not with you, you really feel like you’re starting over. And, not just with you, but with the players too, because they get comfortable having a person that they’re counting on who’s one of their big leaders. It’s someone who in key situations is someone you play through and someone we look at, so it affects everyone. Not just from a coaching standpoint, but with the players too in that you have to go back and almost start over. It’s also not just physically replacing that person, but the mental side of it too and how you approach the team, give someone a chance to step up, but that person may not be quite as ready as the person you lost. So, now you have to go back to figuring out how to shape your team with the other players being given larger roles. They’ve been hit with a lot of different things too and Keyontae was a player — I mean think about what people around the league thought about him. We’re just thanking the good lord that he’s ok and healthy. But, what they’ve had to go through has been very, very tough.”