Everything Rick Barnes said about Friday’s game vs. Oregon State

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    Vols head basketball coach Rick Barnes met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Tennessee’s opening round matchup against Oregon State on Friday night.

    Barnes discussed what the week in Indianapolis has been like, the latest with John Fulkerson, what he’s seen from Oregon State on tape, how Jaden Springer is playing, his team pushing the tempo, the colors in his closet and much more. Here’s everything Barnes had to say:

    These quotes were transcribed by Tennessee’s Sports Information Department.

    On what the week in Indy has been like and John Fulkerson Update:

    “We are certainly in the NCAA bubble. They have got this thing locked down in the way you would expect it to be. They are doing everything—from the time we got off the bus and arrived here to the way we went through the protocol and have gotten settled in. We are starting to get settled in now. John is day-by-day and that’s where we are with that.”

    On what he saw differently from Oregon State during Pac-12 Tournament:

    “They are a really well coached team. They have a lot of different sets they like to run. And, you’re right, they shot the lights out going from seven in the regular season to 10 or 11 in the conference tournament. They have a balanced and strong inside game, they have good size and active post players. For their guards, the rim is big to them right now. They shot it well, they played well, they played hard and it looked to me like they really extended their defense to get more aggressive that way. From what I’ve watched, I’m just impressed that this time of year and right now they’re playing great basketball and they’re best basketball of the year. For them to do what they did to get here is really something to be proud of.”

    On if he worries about playing teams wearing the same color and passing to the wrong team:

    “No, because there will be different colors. I’ve had to adjust to the color orange a little bit. I’ve been at three different schools with the color orange and I can tell the difference from place to place. No, there will be a team with a light uniform and a light uniform and I don’t think there will be a problem with that.”

    On what his closet looks like having coached at three schools whose primary color is orange:

    “I have no orange sport coats. I was given one while I was at Clemson that I don’t use now. I had a burnt orange one that I don’t use and I don’t have a Tennessee orange one. I’ve never been big on that. I’ve never wanted the attention to be on me and my staff when we go out to coach a game. The fact is, orange is a good color, I like it and the one I’m wearing now is my favorite. You had mentioned to me about us being concerned about throwing to the wrong orange, sometimes I’m just hoping we can throw it to ourselves. If we can do that, I’ll be happy.”

    On focusing on how much success they may have getting to the line on Friday:

    “I think it’s always important to get to the line, but I also think it’s important to not let them get there. They have some players that shoot a very high percentage from the free-throw line. So, for every game, we’ve tried to put an emphasis on getting there, not only to give us a chance to score, but to also try to get fouls on teams and to get to their bench. That’s an important part of this game for sure and in looking at their free-throw shooters, they’ll try to do the same thing to us.”

    On if pushing the tempo will be important:

    “We always try to force tempo. We’re always trying to push it. Once the game starts, I would like to think that we can play it the way we’d like to play it, but games aren’t like that. You have to adjust when things get going. Things like foul trouble and the way guys are playing can alter the way you’re playing and you have to make those adjustments. But there’s no doubt that as a team we’d like to get out and go and we need to do a better job in open court situations. We had some opportunities in our last game out that we didn’t convert. If we’re going to get out and go like that, we need to make sure we’re going to get something on the other end.”

    On how Jaden Springer is playing right now:

    “First off, he’s working hard defensively. We need him to do that, but we also need him to be aggressive offensively. We need him, Santi and Keon to stop leaving their feet to make passes. We have to cut down on turnovers. We have to do that, it’s that simple. Sometimes our opponent has something to do with it, but more times than not, we put ourselves in tough situations where we try to do too much and turn the ball over. This time of year, you can’t do that. I don’t think at any time to be quite honest with you. When you go back and look at the games where we haven’t played well is when we’ve turned it over. We were fortunate in our last game where we had 19 and Alabama had 17. But, we just have to do a much better job of taking care of the ball.”

    On how the guys are spending their time in the bubble:

    “It’s tough as you would imagine, but we understand why we’re doing what we’re doing. To be quite honest and frank, do you feel bored? I think everyone does. I think every chance we get to get out, whether it’s to get out to a court and shoot or get outside—and we will be allowed to get out for the first time since we’ve been here to go for a little walk. It’s been tough, it has been and if you think about it, we still have another day to go. We’ve been moving and out, but today will be the first time we’ve actually been able to walk outside since we’ve been here.”

    On the matchup with Oregon State:

    “I’m impressed with their balance. I think they have some post players where I really like the way they play. They’re aggressive and I like what they do. It’s a team that truly understands their role and what they do. I think the guys they need to shoot, they do a good job of getting them involved and they do a nice job of everyone understanding what their job and role is. They do have an inside-out game. They’ll mix their defenses. They’ll play a 2-3 zone on out-of-bounds plays, then they’ll match out of it and play man-to-man. They can also do a combo press and if they want to they can press at three-quarters court, so if you get behind they can extend it. They play a 1-3-1 and we’ve seen all of that this year, but I also don’t think we’re going to show them anything they haven’t seen. When you go through a year of conference play, you get to see a lot of different things. It’s just the fact that this time of year, with the way their playing, what they had to do and the mindset they had to have to get into this tournament. They knew they had to go to Vegas and win and they did it. They did it by shooting the ball well, getting what they needed from their post players and they made it tough on their opponents. Beating UCLA, Colorado and their in-state rival in three days is quite impressive.”

    On how the bench has been over the last four or five days:

    “I think we have a good group. I said that I was really proud of those guys and how ready they were when we went to Nashville. We know that this time of year we need all hands-on deck and ready to go. We went over to the gym on Sunday, because they wanted to get in the gym. Normally we wouldn’t do that, but they wanted to do it and the main thing is that they wanted to get out and do some things. So, we’ve let them lead us a little bit here, because we think the most important thing this time of year is the mental side of it. I also don’t think there’s a single team that doesn’t wish we were playing tomorrow. That’s because of being in the bubble and doing what we’ve done all year. But, we still have another day or two before we tip it off, but our guys are in a good place. I do know this, they’re looking forward to getting outside, I do know that.”

    On how the team handled themselves at the SEC Tournament, and if the games in Nashville had an NCAA Tournament feel to them:

    “There’s no doubt that the games we played in there were high-level. They felt like NCAA Tournament games. There’s no question about that. I thought that both of our opponents and our guys fought their hearts out, understanding the premium put on each possession. You’ve got to fight for each and every one of them. You’re not going to play perfectly, but you’ve got to play hard. Florida played hard. We played hard. Alabama played hard. This time of year, teams aren’t going to still be playing if they don’t play hard. It’s plain and simple. Oregon State plays hard. They play hard or they wouldn’t be where they are right now. I was impressed in the fact that I thought our guys, going back to a week and a half before we got to Nashville, got really locked in, asking questions during scout and all of those types of things. Would we be further along if we had played a regular season? I think everybody would. If you go back and look from the beginning. We didn’t play the exhibition game. We didn’t play the scrimmage. I think we were down six non-league games. I was impressed with our guys’ approach to the last two weeks.”

    On if he or any coaches that he has spoken are concerned about how guys will perform after getting settled in a new routine with COVID-19 protocols in mind:

    “Yes, and to be quite honest, it’s a grind what we’re doing. We haven’t done this all year. I don’t think we’ve been locked in like we have from the time we got off the bus on Monday around five or six o’clock. Now it’s Wednesday. We can look out the windows, but we haven’t been outside. I think it’s hard on everybody. I think it’s hard on every team that here. I’ve said it before, I think we’ve got to thank our players, the players around the country and administrators for getting us to this point, knowing that once we got here, nobody knew exactly what to expect. I think it’s being done the very best way that it can be done, to try to make sure that things move the way they need to move. With that said, is it difficult on everybody? Yes, it’s different, even with all that we’ve gone through this year. I think the SEC and everything that we’ve done has been terrific, but it’s not like this. We’re in a real bubble right now. We have our floor. We walk from here down to our eating room and back. We didn’t do that for the first 36 hours. Today will be the first time that we get to get outside and get a little fresh air.”

    Ben McKee is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and has a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. He covers Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, and the Lady Vols for RTI, and he's also the host of the RTI Podcast. You can also hear Ben on the morning sports radio show "The Swain Event." He's the producer and co-host along with former Vol wide receiver Jayson Swain.