Head Coach Rod Barnes Quotes On Upcoming Games

Jan. 6, 2003

Opening Comments/Quotes on South Carolina game
First of all I would like to thank God for another year. I'm excited about the conference season, and it's going to be great. We've got some really good teams in our league, and we've got a tough task of going to South Carolina for our first game. This is the team that we had problems with in last year's SEC Tournament, losing to them in the first round.

It's going to be a physical game like it always is with them. They have a really good team, and have played some really good teams this year. Hopefully, we can go to their place and get them to play our type of game. If we can do that, we feel like we have a chance. It's a great opener for our conference schedule.

(Last few days of practice)
We've worked extremely hard. We went twice Thursday, Friday and Saturday and took Sunday off. Our kids improved. We got a chance to get back to the basics. I tried to help the team get in the right frame of mind of the type of intensity we're going to have to play with for the next 16 games. I think we'll see a better basketball team this Wednesday than the last time we played (Dec. 31). We'll have a more confident team because our kids have been through some tough practices.

(In what area has the team grown from the last game)
The biggest area is getting back to what we do. We've been known as a team that plays hard and physical. We're not the biggest team, but we do attack and are more aggressive than what we were the last half of December. We've gotten that back.

(Match-up with South Carolina's Tony Kitchings)
Obviously, Tony gave us problems last year in the conference tournament, but I thought we did a good job on him when they came here last season. It's going to depend on what type of game it is, and hopefully, it is our type where we can get up and down the floor and try to create some easy opportunities for our team. We have to try to beat their big people to spots on the floor to be effective. If it gets into a game where it is totally halfcourt and turns into a power game, then that is there game. Whoever determines the tempo of the game - which is much harder to do on the road - is the team that is going to be successful.

The match-up with Kitchings is going to be a tough one for us, similar to every other team in the league, as far as looking at inside play.

(Talk about the SEC)
The thing about this league that has stuck out the most is that we have a lot of very good teams. Our conference is balanced on the up side. There has been time that this league has been balanced but no really good teams. We have some good teams, and then there is not much of a drop off in the next tier of teams.

In the West, Alabama and Mississippi State are top 10 or top 15 teams. In the East, you have Florida, Georgia and Kentucky that are also top 15 teams. In the next tier, you have LSU, Auburn, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and us. It's going to be a season where if you win a road game, it's going to be something special. And, if you don't play well at home, you're going to get beat.

(On Jan. 11 Tennessee game)
It's a good match-up for us. Tennessee is not a team that is too tall or too big for us. (Head coach) Buzz Peterson has a team that is disciplined and works very hard on the defensive. They have one of the best post players in the league in Ron Slay, and that should be a great match-up against Justin Reed. They are two of the best forwards in the league. Jon Higgins is a scorer that will be matched up against David Sanders.

This is the team in the SEC that we match up with the best. But, the bottom line is that you have to be prepared to play every night out. These 16 league games bring a tournament-like atmosphere. If you've watched any conference games the past couple of days, you can see the intensity level is higher. That's what gets you excited about this time of the year.

(On Ron Slay's play)
Ron had to sit out most of last year with an injury, and when guys are away from the game, they seem to get hungrier. Tennessee needs Ron to score. In the past, they have had Tony Harris and Vincent Yarbrough who could really put the ball in the hole on a consistent basis. They had so many options to go to the past few years. This season, Ron is option No. 1, and he's handled that role well. He presents a problem for defenses throughout the SEC.

I like Ron because he plays with passion, emotion and excitement. It's fun to watch, but not necessarily coach against. He's done what you're supposed to do. He waited his turn, stayed in school and now it's his year.

 

 

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