Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes met with the media Tuesday to begin media day activities for Vol hoops.
The veteran coach is entering his seventh season at the helm of the Tennessee program. That program is in a position of turnover. The Vols are replacing seven players from last season’s team as well as assistant coaches Kim English and Desmond Oliver.
Barnes replaced his coaches with well thought after assistants Rod Clark and Justin Gainey and replaced the seven departed players with the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class and Auburn transfer Justin Powell.
Despite eight new players, Barnes has been thrilled with the camaraderie of his team. That togetherness is something Barnes said the team missed at times last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Just a totally different deal with our program, and we have always spent a lot of time together,” Barnes said. “Our locker room is a second home for all of us, and we do so much there together. Last year, we didn’t get any of that. I feel for the players last year who did not get a real feel of what it was about and what it should be, but this year has been a lot of fun. It made us really truly appreciate what we had before to be quite frank. This group is a group of guys that after practice, when we are in the locker room/lounge, you do not want to leave because you enjoy that camaraderie.
The Vols’ head coach also discussed his team’s defense, how they can be more consistent than last season and how NIL is affecting recruiting.