Feb. 3, 2003
Ole Miss Head Coach Rod Barnes
We're excited about this week, and the great opportunity we have ahead of us. In our first game this week, we are playing a very talented Auburn team that a lot of people overlooked coming into this year. Most of the coaches in this league knew they would be a good basketball team because of their talent and experience. They also have a great coach in Cliff Ellis, who has been successful throughout his career. They are just another team like all the rest in the Western Division that are fighting and jockeying for position in the standings. We will have to play a good basketball game to be successful.
(What has helped Auburn this year?)
First of all, they have more experience. They have players like Marco Killingsworth, Derrick Bird and Marquis Daniels - who are one of the top players in the league - that have played together. This is the second year that they have had the nucleus of their team. They have Kyle Davis, who has been healthy this year, and his shot-blocking ability has helped their defense. Also, some people counted Auburn out before the season started, and you can't do that with a team that has talent like Auburn. They are quickly gaining everyone's respect.
(On Justin Reed's perimeter game)
He has worked hard on his perimeter game. I told him that would be a part of his game that would develop as time goes on. He came into our program as a post player, and he has developed his game. He has gained more confidence. It's not a surprise to me what he is doing on the perimeter. He has worked very hard, and is taking advantage of playing inside and outside. I expect him to continue to be consistent because he can score points a lot of different ways.
(On shooting few free throws the last two games)
It (shooting few free throw attempts) happened to us against Mississippi State because they played zone against us. We didn't attack as much because of it, and we settled for too many three-pointers early in our possessions. We didn't try to get good penetration or get the ball inside. At Vanderbilt, we're still wondering what happened. Shooting 20 more free attempts is a lot in men's college basketball. We just need to continue to attack the basket. We know that on the road we expect not to go to the free throw line a lot. It's a tough situation, and officials are humans also. Hopefully, when we get to Auburn, we'll get to the free throw line more, and keep them off the line. Basically, we've got to play better basketball.
(Is defensive reputation hurting Ole Miss?)
They started talking about the way we play defense last year, and I don't know why. I've never complained about anyone - the way they play. As I tell our kids, we have a reputation, and that's good because people expect that. We're giving them what they expect and that is a hard-nosed, physical basketball game. We've had times this year when we've played like that, but not enough. I've told our players we're not going to get away from what we do. If there is something wrong with the way we play, I'm sure someone will comment on that. I think it is good for your program that it has a trademark, and we're going to continue to do that. If other coaches complain, that is something that they will deal with because we're not going to change.
We'll go into the Auburn game and be very aggressive on defense. I hope we can keep our players from getting into foul trouble. We're not going to change. Some coaches - not necessarily in this league - say things hoping that you will change.
(How does getting quick fouls take players out of the game?)
It hurts, and our guys are concerned about that at times. Derrick Allen's two fouls early in the Vanderbilt game took him out of the game, and he was unable to get back on track and that hurt us. That (playing pressure defense) is what we do, and Derrick and David Sanders have to make adjustments. If we get two fouls, we've got to be tough enough mentally to understand that I'm coming out of the game right now, but when I get back in, I'm going to back to playing the way we play.
When you are trying to build on something like we are doing with our defense, people are going to try to break it down. They are going to try to make reasons so that you won't continue to play like that. We have to stick by our guns. We went zone the other night, and I dreaded every moment of it. We had to play zone, and hopefully we won't put ourselves in that position Wednesday.
(On Auburn's Marquis Daniels)
He's playing better and has more of a complete game. He's a lot more patient. They have a team now that is experienced and they work a lot better with him. He's got great size. He gets the rebound and pushes it up the floor. He can pass the ball and shoot it. He's an all-around good basketball player. He can cause problems for you. I thought we did a good job against him, and our success came from not only from the guy guarding him but others guys helping out on him. We were able to get that help because they had inexperienced guards and Kyle Davis got in foul trouble last year. When you lose help on your team, it hurts your personal performance and that's what happened last year with Daniels.
(On Brandon Robinson)
They are bringing him back in the mix. He's played a lot since he's been back. He has played at the three and the four, but it depends who's in the lineup. He's going to play a lot. He will probably play the four most of the game Wednesday. They try to take advantage of you because they have two players that are about 6-8 in Robinson and Daniels. Whoever your smaller player is guarding, that is the guy that they will try to put on the post. We've got to be concerned with that.
(What's the magic to get consistency from the players?)
I wish I knew because we're having inconsistencies when you least expect it. David Sanders struggled early and then went on a roll, and you're thinking here we go. Then, he doesn't shoot the ball well. I expected the game from Emmanuel (Wade) Saturday because he practiced well on Friday. I've told our guys that we have to focus on everybody being at their best. It was unfortunate that we lost a couple of guys the other night. Derrick is out of the game because of foul trouble, and David is not playing well. That's two of your starters, and that puts you in a tough situation. They (Vanderbilt) did a good of guarding Aaron Harper, and they were focused on stopping him.
Starting a freshman point guard, I've said we need great play from our off-guard position, and we need that from both David and Emmanuel. It's been a challenge to this coaching staff to find that consistency. When we do get both going, we'll be one of those teams that people will be talking about.