Ole Miss Basketball Press Conference

Feb. 24, 2003

Ole Miss Head Coach Rod Barnes

(Opening Comments)
We've got a tough game on Wednesday. Georgia is a very good basketball team, and they're really good on offense. Obviously, after the Auburn game, we've got to work on our defense the next couple of days to try and contain their offense. Ezra Williams and Jarvis Hayes are probably two of the best wing players in the league. They also have some very good inside players, so we'll have our work cut out for us.

We've got to work on defense the next couple of days. We're doing alright on offense as far as scoring, but our defense is allowing opponents to shoot too high of a percentage from the field.

(Is Georgia still playing 6 or 7 players?)
They are still playing six or seven players, with Jonas Hayes and Damien Wilkins coming off the bench.

(Has your defense slipped as your offense has improved? Is it frustrating?)
That first part is a true statement. I don't know about it being frustrating. It's obviously disappointing, but I'm not frustrated.

(Is your post play an area of disappointment?)
That is one area where I thought we would get better production. Our perimeter players are scoring and playing pretty good defense. We've given up too many easy baskets and too many second chances. The post is an area where we could have been better, but I've been disappointed with our entire defense.

(How much pressure is put on Aaron Harper and Justin Reed when you go to that small lineup?)
We've been more productive on offense and less productive on defense because we're giving up size. With Aaron, Justin and Derrick Allen, we are big enough. But, when you have Aaron, Justin and Emmanuel Wade, then we're not big enough. To answer your question, there is more pressure on the defensive end than the offensive end.

(Talk about Justin Johnson)
Justin Johnson has been working extremely hard in practice. Since Jonathan Loe's absence, Justin has been playing a few more minutes. It has helped his confidence to get out there earlier in the game. Justin can really shoot the ball, so the way he played against Auburn didn't really surprise me. He has shown glimpses of that since he's been here, but I thought the Auburn game was his best effort offensively and defensively.

(Talk about Trey Pearson)
The main problem with Trey was that he had played a lot of minutes. You are talking about a kid who started here in summer school, and as a freshman, he asked to come in and run a basketball team. He hit a wall and I thought he was tired and worn down. He had that week of rest, and we've taken some pressure off him by having him come off the bench. He's responded well. He's come out with a lot of energy the last two games, and has tried to assert himself more on the offensive end. That's what we've been looking for all year. But, when you are talking about young kids, you have to let the process happen and not place a lot of pressure on them. I've asked him to run the team and take care of the ball, and then to ask him to score also, that's pretty difficult. Trey has handled it well. Watching him in practice the last week, I've seen a little more excitement in his game.

(Will you stay with the same lineup?)
No, we won't stay with the same lineup. It won't be the same five guys. I promise you that.

(The small lineup has worked well in the last two games. Are you going with that as your starting lineup?)
There are going to be a lot of changes. We'll wait till Wednesday to see what happens.

(Talk about Georgia and their personnel)
Georgia has two guys on their team that many people don't talk about, but that I really love. The point guard, Rashad Wright, runs their team. He knows the game. He was placed on the floor as a freshman and has matured into one of the league's best point guards. Chris Daniels is a versatile player that can play inside and outside. He does the small things. He can pass the ball and he usually defends the opponent's top post player. He runs the floor and he's a tough match-up. They don't have a lot of depth, but they do have good chemistry. Damien Wilkins is another versatile player for them. He can play the point and can also post up.

 

 

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