Ole Miss Head Coach Rod Barnes Weekly Press Conference

Jan. 20, 2003

OLE MISS BASKETBALL WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE

Ole Miss Head Coach Rod Barnes

Opening Comments
This is a big week for us and we realize that. It's a big week because we have two home games, and the coaches in this league realize how important home games are and to win those games. Our kids are excited to be back home. The last time we played here we played a good game, but we didn't finish at the end and lost.

We practiced Sunday and our kids were in better spirits. They're excited because Tuesday's game gives us another opportunity to play a ranked team, and hopefully get a win and move up in the conference standings. As coaches, we've emphasized this is another game. We can't get too high with the wins or too low with the losses. It's going to be a year where games can go either way so you have to come out every night and give your very best. Those teams that can stay consistent are going to be the ones that have great years.

We have to focus on getting better. From the Tennessee game to the LSU game, our team got better, and that what we want to continue to do throughout the year.

(On the team's improvement last week)
I saw the team improve in last week's practices, but until you get on the court for the game, you don't know what is going to happen. As a coach, you try to prepare your team the best you can, and once you get in the game, the things you worked on in practice will carry over. Obviously our problem was not being aggressive, and having an entire week to practice gave us an opportunity to put guys in situations and explain it to them and not have to worry about preparing for a mid-week game.

I saw some things that were better, but we're still not where I want to be. Even after winning the game at LSU, I feel our team is still not aggressive enough, especially on the offensive end. Hopefully, we can build on that going into tomorrow night's game.

(On Alabama coming in after a loss at Auburn)
Auburn didn't do any favors for us. Alabama is a team that needs a win, and when you need a win, there is a little more urgency. Alabama is a talented basketball team. You don't get ranked No. 1 in the nation and not be good. We're probably going to get their best game. We're going to see the best Alabama team, and to have a chance to win, we're going to have to play our best.

(On defensive adjustments from the LSU game to the Alabama game)
We have to work on defensive pressure on the perimeter because you don't want their guys to make easy passes into the post. Our inside guys are also going to have to defend earlier, and that has got to be a focus. There is a change from LSU because their perimeter players were playing well. Ronald Dupree and Torris Bright were playing well, and Darrel Mitchell was shooting the ball well. That forces you to spread your defense out a little and get to the shooters.

For tomorrow's game, we're going to have to get to Mo Williams because he is shooting the ball from the three (point line) really well. We have to try to get to the paint and help for the rest of their players. The burden is not only on our post players but also our perimeter players, because if we allow them to throw easy passes into Erwin Dudley and Kenny Walker, we can't stop them. If we can make them make bad passes and defend well inside, we will have a chance.

(On the last two wins over Alabama at home giving the team confidence)
I think it hurts us and helps them. We do have confidence that we can beat them, but it hurts us because the last two times they've played here, it's been easy. In the two games, the contests have been over with 10 minutes to go in the second half. That's not going to happen tomorrow.

Also, the last two years, we've gone into the game needing a win to get into the postseason and they were not in that position, especially last season when they won the SEC title. We've been talking to our players about the urgency Alabama is going to have. They need a win bad, but we need a win bad also. This year, with 10 minutes on the clock, it's going to be a ballgame and we've got to prepare for that.

(On the players wanting to finish strong at home)
When you look at this league, you don't worry about whether you are at home or on the road anymore. You can't be concerned with that. We have to be concerned with finishing the game. I feel like from the Tennessee game to the LSU game we did a better job of finishing. Hopefully, if we get in that position tomorrow, we can finish like we did at LSU.

So many people get hung up on home and away games. This year, that is not going to be the case. When we lost at South Carolina on the road, everybody thought the world was coming to an end. But, then I watch them almost upset Florida at home and South Carolina had an opportunity to win the game. There is no comfort zone any more at home, and that tells you how good this league is. I tell our kids that it doesn't matter what was done last year or two years ago. We're in a dogfight this year, and if you don't come out with a sense of urgency and attack, you are going to lose games.

There are going to be games that you will lose when you play well. We could play our best basketball tomorrow night and lose the game here in Tad Smith Coliseum because we're playing a great basketball team. We're not playing a team that was just picked up off the street and came over here and decided to play. We're playing a team that has been No. 1 in the country. If Alabama wins, we can't get in the dumps and say we've lost two home games because we have to play Arkansas Saturday. If you end up thinking your homecourt is your security blanket this year, you'll be last in the league. Tomorrow night, we need to forget that we're playing in Tad Smith Coliseum, and play with the urgency we did in Baton Rouge.

 

 

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