Ole Miss Basketball Weekly Press Conference

Feb. 27, 2003

Ole Miss Head Coach Rod Barnes

(On changes in the lineup)
My changes now have nothing to do with putting sparks in some players. We just need to change. I've tried with what I've done for long enough now. You can only beat a dead horse for so long, and you need to try something else.

The changes have nothing to do with players being disciplined. We have looked at our team and evaluated, and from a coaching standpoint, it's time to make some changes. Whether the changes spark us - which it could - or not, we'll find out.

The changes are made for their sake. They are not intended to boost one player's confidence or light a fire under another. I'm not saying I don't do that sometimes. That's not my intent with these changes. Basically, we need change. We're going to try some different this week.

This is something I've been contemplating for the last few games, and now I feel like it's time to make the changes. After every loss and win, you evaluate your team and see how you can get better.

(Has the losing streak taken a toll on the team?)
Obviously, when you have lost as many as we have, it can get you down. But, I haven't sensed any negative feelings in practices. When you have lost as many close games as we have, you don't have the spark you had back in November or the start of conference play. Despite the losing streak, I've seen a lot of growth and maturing. We realize that we're all in this together. They have made mistakes, and I've made mistakes. We just haven't got the job done. There are no negative feelings toward each other. These changes are to give some players opportunities and we'll see what happens. Hopefully, everyone will respond in a positive manner.

After every game, I evaluate it. I don't just come out of the blue and say, "We're going to try this different combination." It's something that you look at over a couple of games and in practices. I'm the type of coach that I give the benefit to players that are experience and have been around. I believe in players that have worked hard, and I believe in loyalty. When players have been through wars and the ups and downs, I go with them. We don't live in that type of society now. The minute that something goes wrong, they want to dump you and change. That's not me. I believe in trying to do it until it works. I've given this enough time and it's time for a change. This is not saying that, after a couple of games and practices, some of the changes I've made won't go back to the way they were.

(On the Alabama game)
It's going to be a challenge. After watching their Tennessee game, Alabama is playing better. They are a talented team. They have two players - Maurice Williams and Erwin Dudley - who were up for SEC Player of the Year honors entering this season. They have had some setbacks, but they are righting their ship. Hopefully, we can go there and change what has happened to us recently. Here, it has been blowouts for us, and playing there, it's been blowouts for them. We hope to play well and come out with a win.

(Is Alabama doing anything different the past couple of games?)
I have watched a lot of tape on them. Kennedy Winston is a player that they are playing more at small forward and some at power forward. They are starting Antoine Pettway and Maurice Williams together instead of bringing Pettway off the bench. They are trying to get the ball in transition a little more and get easier baskets. The main thing that has changed for them is Kennedy Winston is maturing as player and he's a tough match-up. He can put the ball on the floor and he's long and athletic. He helps spread the floor and that enables to get more touches for Erwin Dudley. They are playing more zone now than in the past, and that may be because they are going small.

 

 

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