Video & Transcript: Tennessee Respects Hawkeyes
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Tennessee student-athletes Jordan Bone, Admiral Schofield, Lamonté Turner, Grant Williams and Kyle Alexander as well as head coach Rick Barnes. Questions for the student-athletes first?
Q. Lamonté, I know you guys have said — you guys have allowed 15 3s in the last two games, and you guys have said guys are just hitting tough shots. But do you think part of that is you guys allowing teams to get in a rhythm early and kind of getting things going?
LAMONTÉ TURNER: I think in those games our offense has taken tough shots, not getting the shot we want and not making them work, kind of leading out to them opening the floor and kind of driving a kicking, and them getting the momentum. So I think it’s our offense that kind of leads to stuff like that.
Q. Grant, what are your thoughts on Tyler Cook, Iowa’s power forward? And what have you seen from him if you’ve watched him this year?
GRANT WILLIAMS: Very talented. I’ve known him for a couple of years. Tyler is very athletic. He’s dominant in the post. He’s developed his game a lot. Tremendous respect for him. He’s done a lot through EYBL and everything. He’s always been a talented player. It’s exciting to play him.
Q. Jordan, that was a good question about knowing other guys. Generally with teams you match up against, how much do you know them because of AAU days or playing with them somewhere, maybe in the same area as you did in high school? Any team in particular that you play, how many times do you run into guys that you know other than matching up with them during the course of the year?
JORDAN BONE: I ran into a couple of guys. I have a lot of guys that played on the circuit with me in AAU days. I’ve seen a lot of familiar faces. I’m not really sure how to put names with them. But I’ve definitely seen a lot of familiar faces.
So I just think it’s really exciting to show how important AAU is and just playing the circuit, getting that exposure. Now, just seeing everybody all together on this large playing field of NCAA basketball, it just means a lot.
Q. Jordan, now that you’re back at this stage, have you at all thought about or maybe it’s distant memory, that last shot last year against Loyola?
JORDAN BONE: I’ve gotten a lot of questions about that Loyola game. I mean, I feel like moving forward from that. You know, it’s definitely something that you remember. I kind of use it as motivation during my offseason.
And I feel like this team kind of uses moments like that, not just Loyola specifically, but just tough losses and just kind of being in the trenches, we kind of use that as motivation in order for us to be the team that we are today. And I feel like it’s very important to use moments like that as motivation to make it better.
Q. Grant, along those lines, unfinished business, I think, is a key motivator for a lot of teams at this stage. How much do you feel that this group takes that personally?
GRANT WILLIAMS: I know for us, the type of competitor that we are, that we’re going to come in with the mindset that we’re going to play every game to the best of our ability. But there’s always that extra motivation because we’ve never been counted on, we’ve never been boosted up. Every time we have gotten up, everybody wants to see us fall down.
It’s just a matter of being who we are and embracing that. We understand that we’re doing this for each other and not for anybody else. So that’s the motivation that we have.
Q. Admiral, you’ve had a lot of — obviously had the big shots last night. You’ve had so many games this season where you’ve come up big down the stretch. Is there one moment you can point back to in your collegiate career that’s helped springboard you into the leader you’ve become today?
ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD: I think the biggest moment that helped me as far as leadership would be the Georgia game two years ago, missing a game-winning opportunity for my team, and just seeing the disappointment on our faces when we knew our backs were against the wall.
And I just thought that from that point on, I was going to do everything I could to help lead and be an example of what winning looks like. And I just think from there on, not just me, I think everyone sitting at this table did a great job of just instilling in everybody in our program that we won’t be denied anymore from what we’ve been working hard for because we’ve been putting a lot of hard work in I’d say from that moment and also Coach Barnes running us a lot. But I think that was a big motivator for us, too, to stop losing so we didn’t have to run as much.
Q. Kyle, how much fun are you guys having up here together, just as a group, getting to experience the tournament and everything that kind of goes into it? For some it’s kind of the last go-around here. Just love to know your answer on that?
KYLE ALEXANDER: I’m having a great time, personally. I love these guys, probably the funniest group of guys I’ve ever been around in my life. It’s always a trip. But, no, we’re having a great time enjoying this. Some guys it’s their first time. It’s great to have worked so hard that we got a chance to be back here together. So I’m loving it, enjoying it. And I just hope we make it last.
Q. Jordan, how much more do you think you’re prepared because of last year and just for this moment —
(Cell phone ringing).
JORDAN BONE: (Laughter) That was my home boy. Sorry about that.
To answer your question, I think we’re very prepared. I feel like moments in the past kind of helped us get to this point. Even yesterday, yesterday was tough playing against Colgate. But I felt like they prepared as well for a team like Iowa.
They’re very similar. Even though Iowa is bigger, much more physical, it kind of gave us a taste of playing against Garza, that can hit the open shot, playing against random motion offense, just being on edge. I felt like they got us prepared for tomorrow.
I feel like, all in all, we’re just ready to attack tomorrow. We’re ready for this situation. We prepared. The preparation has been very important getting up to this point. So at this point we just have to execute and do our game plan.
Q. Admiral, a guy like Luka Garza who can pop out and hit those shots, how do you defend people like that? And maybe have you gone against guys like that earlier this year that you can kind of compare it to?
ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD: We’ve gone against a lot of teams that have what we call a prototypical stretch 4, a guy that can step out and space the floor offensively. But it’s March. Like I said yesterday, seems like everybody’s percentage goes up at least 10 percent in March.
So all you can do is really make the shots as tough as possible. And, you know, the game is never perfect. And they’re a talented team. Luka Garza, he hit three yesterday, but his percentage doesn’t say that he’s a big-time 3-point shooter. But it’s March, and guys are competing and players make plays around this time of year. So you’ve got to respect everybody’s ability to shoot the ball, especially a team like Iowa.
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And their pure motion offense is great because they give a lot of, get into a lot of different actions and space the floor and get their guys good shots and good looks and move the ball well. Basically you just gotta communicate at a high level. Nothing is going to be perfect, but you can’t beat yourselves by giving them extra possessions or giving them offensive rebounds and things like that.
So they’re going to hit their shots. We’re going to hit ours. And we’re both going to compete, and it’s going to be a good game.
Q. Lamonté, this time of year the officials are also officials that you don’t necessarily know from the SEC. Do you find that it is a different game depending on the officials that you have?
LAMONTÉ TURNER: Yeah, definitely for a guy like me that likes to get up and pressure the ball, gotta get a feel of what these officials call, like, the different type of calls they call, like hand checks and stuff like that.
So at the beginning of the game, Coach always tells us to get a feel for everything. That way you’re not getting silly fouls and stuff like that. So I think that’s definitely big around this time of the year.
And being older guys, you understand that different officials have different type of calls and stuff like that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
COACH BARNES: Questions for Coach.
Q. You’ve given up 15 3s over the last two games. How much of that is a concern for you going forward?
COACH BARNES: Some of those have been unbelievable shots. I don’t think we could defend it any other way than we did. They’re going to make some of them, but some of the shots that all you can do is just get as close as you can, try to contest a shot without fouling. And some of those are really deep 3s. And we’ve played two teams that have shot it great.
But when you can win a game in the NCAA Tournament when a team makes 15 3s like that and the crowd is pulling for them, I thought we showed the maturity we needed to show. But us — it’s not that we’re not trying to defend the 3-point line, it’s not. You’ve got to give them credit. They’re making the shots.
It’s not like they’re layups either; they’re making shots from very deep range and that’s part of the game. And that 3-point line is a great equalizer in some ways.
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Q. You guys are pretty much in the exact same spot you were this time a year ago. How much more prepared do you think your kids are to handle what’s going to happen tomorrow?
COACH BARNES: I think they realize, this time of year, how it’s a matter of executing, doing what you have to do and having a lot of respect for your opponent, which I know they do. And it’s about, again, this time of year teams know each other. You know your own team. Every player should know his role, what he has to do. And you want to see your players do what you’ve asked them to do all year and do it at a high level. And know that it’s going to be hard because teams right now should be playing their best basketball.
Q. You said you’re not guarding the 3-point line, but maybe you’re guarding personnel more. Does it make it more challenging when you have four shooters on the floor at a time like Iowa?
COACH BARNES: Yeah, we played Auburn, they had five. So it’s always a challenge when you have to guard the 3-point line. And then you throw in the fact that Iowa has an inside game, too, where they very much will play inside/out. But if they get good looks at it, they’re going to take it.
I don’t think they force a lot of 3s. And the last two opponents, they were going to live on that 3-point line. I don’t feel that Iowa feels they have to live back there. But certainly our last two opponents that’s what they were willing to do, shoot 30, 40 3s if necessary. And that line is there, and you’ve got to deal with it.
Q. It’s been there 32 years. Can you have imagined the evolution that we are here today and talking about taking 35 or 40 of those?
COACH BARNES: Again, I looked at last night when I was watching the tape and they’re experimenting right now in the NIT with moving that line back. And I bet they made 10 of them yesterday behind that line. And so maybe we should think about moving it back even further. But the fact is it’s been good for the game and it’s helped our game. Teams go in it sometimes knowing they’re going to shoot 30, 40 3s.
Q. Is there a mid-range game anymore?
COACH BARNES: We believe in that. We do. We believe in that. And a lot of people want to either shoot a layup or shoot the 3. But we still believe there’s a place for the mid-range game.
Q. How important is Kyle in this particular matchup, keeping him on the floor, of course, with Garza and then Kriener also, big athletic bigs?
COACH BARNES: I think it’s important. But I think all our front-line guys, Kyle, Grant, I think Derrick Walker will have to be ready to play and John Fulkerson. And Kyle actually played — did a good job yesterday. He really did. And we got what we felt like we needed to go with some offense and we went with the small lineup that that’s really one of our most efficient lineups.
But we need Kyle. We’re going to need him tomorrow. And we’re expecting him to give us a great effort and do his job.
Q. Looked like Iowa changed its defense a lot, plays, will work a lot of zone. Just how important is it that you play inside/out, not get lured into settling, like you say?
COACH BARNES: I think it’s important that we flow, that we play. Yesterday they were back in there as far back as you can go. And I think that we’ve got to work hard at taking the slack out of it, get the ball moving and do the things that we do.
And we’ve been good against zones all year, really. And we just gotta continue to do what we’ve practiced all year and the way that we’ve played. But we’ve got to get our post guys working better than they did yesterday.
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Q. Admiral had said that the springboard to him being a clutch shot-maker and leader was the Georgia game in the SEC Tournament. Do you agree with that?
COACH BARNES: What did he say?
Q. He said the springboard for him to be able to make big shots now and lead the team the way he does was that Georgia game when he missed the 3. Do you agree with that or what do you think about his growth as a big shot-maker and leader?
COACH BARNES: What I think of him is the time he puts in the gym. He’s in there working and working and working. He’s worked as hard as any player I’ve seen from the time that he started to where he was a very erratic 3-point shooter and he wanted to shoot it, but he didn’t know when he should shoot it.
But he’s put so much time in working on his shot. And he’s one of those guys, when it leaves his hand and he has his feet set, you think it’s going in.
Q. Yesterday you said you think the team was anxious. Do you think that was just a matter of it being the first game of the tournament and do you expect it to continue tomorrow?
COACH BARNES: No, I think the hard thing in this tournament is just getting started, obviously. And I think when you play the way we started out playing and — but we weren’t really aggressive as we were making some shots early. And then, I can tell you, they made some tough shots. I mean, it’s not like — we gave them some, where we broke down in transition.
But the fact is you’ve got to give them credit. They made 15 3s. I’m telling you they were pretty tough 3s to make. But I do think that we were a little bit anxious, and maybe wanting to get back to where we have a chance to play again today, whatever it may be.
But I expect us now to come out and realize this is like playing a conference game against anybody in your league where you know you have to be ready to play and hope that we can play well.
Q. Is it about finding your rhythm, you think, after a little lay-off?
COACH BARNES: Yeah, we played on Sunday. We had three games in three days. And we played three games — I don’t know how many hours — we knew coming into this we had to get our legs back and get, more than anything, get our bodies back.
And so we didn’t do a lot coming into it. And I think some of it is getting your rhythm back and getting back to playing. So, but now we know what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to go out and execute.
Q. I know that you’re busy, always preparing for the next game, but this time of year do you watch a lot of basketball? Do you watch a lot of other games?
COACH BARNES: I don’t. Personally I don’t because I don’t want to get sidetracked on anything. I want to stay really locked in. But I don’t watch a lot during the season, normally. I just don’t do that because I’m just going to — because I tell our guys that we’ve got to stay locked into what we’re doing.
I watch a lot of film of us. We film practice, and I do a lot of that all the time. But I’ve got a great coaching staff that we’re always — they’re doing their jobs with scouting and they know what they need to do. But I just don’t watch a lot of it this time of year, maybe because I feel like I’m in this hotel for a long time, I flip back and forth and all that and watch some here or there.
But I don’t like watching a lot because I don’t want to get my mind going in directions and thinking about things other than what I should be thinking about.
Q. Do you think your players, are they basketball fans, do they watch a lot?
COACH BARNES: Oh, I think they watch everything. I think they’re involved with it. But yet that’s part of it, too. It’s a great time. It really is. And like prior to coming here we were back there watching the LSU/Maryland game, like that. But I don’t have the patience right now to just sit down and watch a game from start to finish unless it’s got something to do directly with us.
Q. I know you started your career back here with Gary Williams and Fran Fraschilla and those guys, I think you were on that staff?
COACH BARNES: Fran took my place.
Q. That’s right. I wondered if you saw this locale and took stock of your career. You had a hell of a career and where you were when you were a very young coach in George Mason and those places. How are you different now in dealing with this circus than you would have been back then?
COACH BARNES: Well, first of all, after our game yesterday, I thought back immediately to 19 — I think it was 1979 — where Fran McCaffery and Sherman Dillard and I were working the University of Maryland basketball camp together. And so we’ve known each other for a long time. And one of the very first players we signed at George Mason was Sherman Dillard’s brother, Ricky. And we’ve known each other for a long time.
And coming through here, the year I was here, I’ve told people maybe the greatest coaching job I’ve ever been a part of was watching Gary Williams, what he did my time one year with him here. But you learn a lot. I think as a young head coach you try to — you sometimes can put a little more pressure on your team than you probably need to.
COACH BARNES: Because you want to win. And you realize, one, that it’s not something you ever take for granted. I mean, there’s a lot of teams now that — the thing is to get to this tournament every year. That’s got to be your goal.
And the way our business has turned into, it seems if you don’t get there, good things don’t happen to you. Or happen for you. But I think you learn and you learn — I think as I’ve gotten older the biggest thing I’ve learned is to trust my players more as much as anything and know that their hard work they put into it, and you’ve got to let them play the game and you can’t joystick it all the time and think you’re going to try to control every possession. And as a young coach I was probably guilty of that.