Ole Miss Basketball Press Conference

Feb. 10, 2003

Head Coach Rod Barnes

Opening Comments
First of all, I would like to thank God for another week, another opportunity, another day. We've got a couple of tough games on the road this week. It seems like we just came off the road. It's a great opportunity for us to get back on track playing two ranked teams on their home floors.

Our team has been through a tough couple of weeks, but that's a part of life and a part of this game. We're working as hard as possible to bounce back, and that's all we can possibly do. There are no magic tricks to winning. We've got to get back to the floor, work hard and get closer together.

(Any positives from Saturday's game)
In the early going, we looked like a team that got hit. We didn't have some shots fall for us, and they made some easy baskets. It took us awhile to recover from their early lead. In the second half, we executed better.

Kentucky is a very good basketball team, after watching the tape from Saturday's game, I can't take anything away from their performance. We could have played better. When you play a team like Kentucky, you have to help yourself some, and we didn't do that. When they got the early lead, it gave them more confidence. We dug too big of a hole for ourselves against a good basketball team.

(Are you concerned about the mental or physical part of playing this week?)
We have to be concerned with the mental part. It had something to do with our game the other day. After we got down against Kentucky, a team that has won a lot of game or won recently finds a way to stop the bleeding. But, if you have lost close games like we have and get down like we did, it has to hurt your confidence.

The thing we can't do this week is allow that to happen on their home floors. The longer we can stay in the game into the second half, the better off we are. This week we are going to two places where if they get off to good starts, it will be two tough games.

(What's different about Florida this year?)
This season, they are shooting the ball a little more from the perimeter. Last year, they had Udonis Haslem, who get you a basket anytime inside. Whenever they would struggle offensively, they would go to him. They have good perimeter players in Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson. They have guys that can really shoot the basketball, and they are relying on that more than in the past. They don't have the inside presence of a Haslem. David Lee and Bonell Colas both are quality big men but they are not Udonis.

(Do you feel the team matches up better with a team like Florida?)
We always play better when we match up size-wise with our opponents. Florida is perimeter-oriented. They play up and down and shoot a lot of threes. We usually play better against teams like that. We played better against Auburn and Arkansas because of their lack of inside presence. It's a better match-up (against Florida) than it was against Kentucky. Florida, though, is very talented.

(How hard is it for the players to keep their confidence?)
It's not hard for me to focus because I realize that we have a chance until the last ball is shot. That's what I have to relay to our players. Our kids came out after a tough loss to Auburn and just didn't make shots against Kentucky. The character of our team was seen in the last part of the first half and the second half when we were down and yet they still continued to fight back. We got it down to 17 and 18 points, but a talented team like Kentucky is not going to let you get back up off the mat.

We're going to get back after it. I like our kids and their work ethic. Right now, we're just searching for a win. Somehow the coaches and players have to band together to pull that off. Our next two games are on the road, and what better place for us to get wins than on the road.

(How far are you from the level of defense you played last year vs. Florida?)
We're not playing as well on the defensive end now as we were during that time last season. But, we're not that far off. I don't know about "man-handling" Florida last year, but we played well against them. I don't know if we were having our way with them, but we shot the ball well and defended well. We're a decent defensive team right now, but we're not defending the way we're capable of. We're giving up too many easy baskets at crucial times, and we've got to correct that. I guarantee you that talk about us man-handling them last year is motivation for their players.

(What's the difference between urgency and panic?)
It's a fine line almost like love and hate. At times against Kentucky, I thought we did panic. In the first half when they got the lead, we took a couple of ill-advised shots. They weren't necessarily bad shots, but it wasn't great shot selection that you need against a great team like Kentucky.

I hope the players will follow my lead. I'm not going to panic. I've been here before, and if I continue to coach for a long time, I'll be here again. We've got to focus and correct the little things. You have to make sure the kids know that you believe in them and what we're trying to accomplish. As long as you do that, things will be alright.

(What did you get from the Florida-Alabama game tape?)
If they are shooting the ball that well, you have to be able to score. They are different from Kentucky. The way Kentucky defends can keep you out of the game. Florida is not a bad defensive team, but they are a great offensive team. You have to get to their shooters and defend on the perimeter. Florida was also coming off an embarrassing loss (Feb. 4 at Kentucky), so you could see the urgency in their play. I thought Alabama played well the first 10 minutes of the game, but then Florida got on a little spurt. When that happened, Alabama panicked a little. If they had a little more patience, then Alabama could have stayed in the game and would have been fine. Alabama took a couple of ill-advised shots and turned the ball over, and you go from six down to 14 down and that changes the complexion of the game. Against Florida, you don't want that to happen. You want to keep it as close to the vest as possible because when they make runs, they are big runs. They shoot from the three and push the ball in transition so well that they can score back to back to back. If you're not careful, the game can get out of hand. If it's a medium tempo game, we'll be OK. But, if it's up and down, you can play with Florida for awhile, but they will eventually run away from you. We don't want to get into that.

 

 

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