Advertise with usContact UsRTI Team

Everything Rick Barnes Said After Loss At North Carolina

Rick Barnes
Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball lost its third consecutive game on Wednesday night as the Vols fell 100-92 at No. 17 North Carolina in the ACC-SEC Challenge.

North Carolina’s offense blitzed the Vols’ usually stout defense from the start and Tennessee never had enough to truly climb back into the game.

After the loss, Tennessee coach Rick Barnes discussed the poor first half, Dalton Knecht’s injury and much more. Here’s everything Barnes said after the loss.

More From RTI: Three Quick Takeaways From Tennessee Basketball’s Loss At North Carolina

On updating the injury to Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht

“He stepped on somebody’s foot, turned his ankle. It looked like he got it pretty good because he’s the kind of guy that, he bounces back. And for him not to get up, he, he got it pretty good. Looked good when I saw the whole thing. He stepped on somebody’s foot and rolled it.”

On Tennessee’s performance in the first half, giving up 61 points 

“I told our team at halftime, it’s the worst basketball half (from a) team I’ve ever coached. Never seen a team that has the ability that we have that can be that bad in the first half. I thought that, there’s no doubt I knew that North Carolina, Hubert (Davis) would have them ready to come out and really be aggressive and play hard. I thought we were stagnant. I thought we had guys, and mostly the older guys, getting beat off the bounce. Didn’t follow our scouting report, how we wanted to play, giving up the shots we gave up in the first. As when we came back (in the second half), we didn’t give them up. And still with all that said and done, the bottom line is at some point in time, we’ve got some open shots that we’ve gotta knock down. And a couple free throws there at the end would put us back in it.”

“But I’m really proud of Zakai, thought he really did a good job, and I thought he got back to being where we wanted him to be. And thought Cade Phillips gave us great minutes. Really proud of Josiah (Jordan James). Played way more minutes than we’d like for him to play, but he was the one guy from start to finish that I thought was ready to play. (He’s) been in these games and knew and acted like he’d been in the games like this. And Jonas (Aidoo), we’re going to establish Jonas. And I truly think Jonas is gonna play his way this year to being one of the best post guys in the country. And hate that, again, he got some foul trouble there early on.

“But I’m proud of those guys in the second half that fought back, but the first half, I mean, it was awful. And I can’t tell you anything other than (that). Again, I don’t wanna take away from Carolina, they made shots, thought they executed their stuff, what they did. And it’s hard to coach when you got a lead like that. I thought Hubert did a good job, but they were really hurting us. They hurt us in transition. They capitalized on all 12 turnovers. When you turn it over 12 times, they scored 24 points. can’t do that. 

“But, again, I think Hubert and his staff did a really good, obviously a better job than I did, getting them ready to start the game. But proud of our guys fighting back the way they did, and really, we put ourselves in position to win the game. We just missed some shots. When you fight back like that, you gotta make some of them.”

On Tennessee’s defensive failures leading to open 3-pointers for North Carolina

“Poor rotating. We know their shooters are. I mean, the stats sheet tells us all that. We were, again, that’s the thing I talked about with our guys, the start of the game was toughness and, and discipline. We weren’t disciplined in the first half. We were leaving guys that we shouldn’t leave. And it’s just, to be honest, I was baffled to be quite frank with you. And I’m just like watching it. And I told the guys at halftime, I said we’ll have a chance to win this game and we’ll just get back to being who we’re supposed to be and guard. And I think that, and I’ve said it before, I think Dalton is a guy that can really score, but he’s gonna have to learn to adjust to different teams the way they play him. But we got him into ball screens. We got the guys up there that we wanted to try to go after and guys did a pretty nice job with that. But they’re too good a team to spot it like that at home. But again, really proud of those guys in the second half. The same guys that gave up the lead pretty much got us back in the game for the most part.”

On using Dalton Knecht to bring the ball up the court

“Well, it depends on who he’s guarding. If he’s guarding a guy that’s maybe a little bit quicker, you wouldn’t do that. We could dribble hand -off with him and getting that way and they started doubling. We were playing a little pitch and get game with him. He made some really good plays. We just said,’Hey.’ I’ve been around and you get to know your players. You felt like he made those threes from our out-of-bounds situation and you could tell he was starting to get going. We were just gonna let him get it and put him in a high ball screen with Jonas. They adjusted to trying to double to get out of his hand. I thought Jonas made some great plays out of it, spraying it. Our guys, I’m just proud of the fact they fought back because I didn’t recognize the first half.That’s not to take anything away from North Carolina because Hubert (Davis) does a great job and this is a great program with great tradition and a home crowd, a good crowd. We’re gonna play in arenas like this all year. That didn’t affect us. It really didn’t. We’ve been in those kind of things. It was just our mindset to start the game. I’m still baffled by it to be quite honest. It came out of nowhere and it was like, who are these guys that we are sitting here coaching? Because we haven’t been like that —  I’m serious. I don’t think I’ve had a team look like that in nine years.”

On Santiago Vescovi’s poor performance, only playing four minutes in second half

“Consistency. I mean, I just told the team that the one thing that I’m really, really guilty of is complacency. I can’t stand it. I don’t care who it is. And, to be honest with you, (if) we hadn’t got back the game he wouldn’t have played. I don’t care who it is. I’ve been like that my whole career. I think it’s a privilege to play this game. And, again, we can’t score 92 points and him not have a point. I mean, we gotta know what we’re gonna get. I said it to, I think you guys last week, we’re looking for consistency and we’re gonna make, we can shoot the ball, and we’re gonna, we’re gonna make some of those shots. I mean, we can’t get some of those dialed up better. But it’s gotta be consistent. You look at he, you look at the plus minus, and that’s somewhat has to do with the game. Two guys we counted on Z(akai) and Santi plus-minus wasn’t where it needs to be. We need those guys, but we need to know what we’re gonna get every single night. From everybody, not just those guys. And it was, again, you gotta put it on me. I thought we had ’em ready and we didn’t for the first half. But again, I’m proud of the fact that they fought to get back in it.”

On JP Estrella not playing after a transition defense miscue

“Yeah, we spend every day working on transition defense. Every day. Every day we do it, but we specifically did it with North Carolina. We know they like to run and we know they like to pass ahead. So when that happens, you gotta kind of extend your transition out a little bit. And we worked two days, nothing but kicking out our point guard to get back down there. And again, he’s young but those mistakes can’t happen, especially when that’s his sole thing that we’re asking him to do in the game. To get back in transition and uh, do that job. Ball screen defense for those young guys, again, I can’t say enough about Cade. I mean he’s got so much respect from his teammates because the one thing they know he’s going to do is go in and battle. And that’s the guy that we thought we were gonna red shirt and he’s earned his right to be on the floor and he’s gonna get more of an opportunity to do it.”

On what they need to do to avoid a start like that moving forward

“Man, I don’t know. That’s a good question. Maybe I should just get two technical fouls and go to the locker room and not watch it. I don’t know. I mean it was pretty tough, man. I’m sitting there watching like, what are we doing? I must have said that 20 times. What are we doing? You know? And it was so uncharacteristic and they do, they really, they know what they’re looking for. They can shoot it, but the threes is not what hurt us to the start of the game, and they’re gonna make some shots. I mean, they got good players that can shoot the ball. It’s just the way we did it. Our breakdowns, and again, what bothers me more than anything is getting beat off the dribble the way we were in the first half. I mean, they’re gonna score the ball. I mean, they’re well coached team. They run really good schemes. But it was tough. Tough to watch. It really was.”

On if he leaves more discouraged from the first half or encouraged from the second half

“We’re good. We’re a good team and it seems like we, I mean, you think about from the time we started going to Michigan State, Wisconsin. We’ve done a lot of traveling, but that’s not an excuse. I’ve always said you can’t win big games unless you get in them. But I also will tell you this, I just wanna be there in March. And I think what we’re going through right now is going, we played three really good teams with three, arguably the three best post players in the country. And I think what’s come out of this for us is I think Jonas Aidoo finally believes what I’ve told him. He’s got a chance to be as good as all those guys and be a factor once we can throw that ball inside like we did today, and just gonna open up more for those perimeter guys.

We did spend time doing that. And Jonas is talented. He’s gonna get those things and tonight was a game that Tobe would’ve been a factor in the game. But we got enough. We had enough. They outplayed us but we need everybody to get better. Which we will. I’m disappointed ’cause I wanna win every time we go out. Of all the games we played this 20 minutes. I mean, again, I’m baffled to be honest with you. I think I’m gonna make ’em watch every possession of it and let them tell me what happened because,  again, I’ve never seen those guys in nine years. I’ve never seen one of our teams do that. That’s as talented as this group is.”

Similar Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet Us