Everything Rick Barnes said about the SEC Tournament

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    Vols head basketball coach Rick Barnes met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to preview Tennessee’s appearance in this weekend’s SEC Tournament. Tennessee will play 5-seed Florida at 2:30 p.m. ET on Friday afternoon.

    Barnes discussed what it would mean to win the SEC Tournament, if his players realize what time of year it is, how the SEC Tournament can carry them into the NCAA Tournament, if he believes John Fulkerson’s performance against Florida last Sunday is a sign of things to come and much more. Here’s everything Barnes had to say:

    On what it would mean to win the SEC Tournament:

    “I think any time you can win a championship it means a lot. I think it sets teams apart. People recognize champions. As time goes by, they’ll bring back champions. To say championships aren’t important is not truthful, because the fact is, everybody wants to win a championship.”

    On how the SEC Tournament can carry them into the NCAA Tournament:

    “Once you get through the SEC tournament, then you’ll be going through a whole different tournament. You play on Sunday then turn around and play on Thursday — all those types of situations. I don’t know if there’s just one way to answer that, because sometimes you can say we benefitted from it, and other times you can say it wasn’t good. I remember the year we won the Big East championship at Providence. We came back and had to play on Thursday, and our guys were still in a celebration mood. The key is you’ve got to go one game at a time, and you’ve got to enjoy it, but if you don’t you’ve just got to get on to the next one. Your preparation is everything, but it’s not just physical preparation; it’s mental preparation.”

    On if he thinks John Fulkerson’s performance against Florida is a sign of things to come:

    “You hope. I feel like there were times this year where John had done some things in a game and it would get him going, but he still struggled at times with it. I thought most of the time when he struggled it was due to stamina. Being optimistic and positive, I hope it does. Nobody is pulling for him harder to carry over what he did Sunday than all of us who are involved with him. We want to see him do that, because we think he deserves it, but he’s going to have to do it.”