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Everything Rick Barnes Said Before Hitting the Road

Below is everything Tennessee basketball head coach said regarding the Vols' upcoming matchups against Colorado and Texas Tech.
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The Vols will head out west to play Colorado for a Saturday matchup before heading to Madison Square Garden to take on Texas Tech.

With the first actual road game of the season coming up, Rick Barnes touches on where the team is at and his thoughts on the upcoming matchups during Thursday's local media availability.

Everything Barnes said on Thursday is below. 

On how he balances trying out different rotations while also building team chemistry…
"I think with what we do in practice every day with the competition and the fact that we're always mixing teams, matching things up in practice and flipping jerseys, the guys understand each other. I think we're still, as we're going through this, learning good rotations that we feel comfortable with when guys are out there. We try to keep some older guys out there sometimes earlier in the year, but now that we've got some experience with most of these young guys in general, we can sort of do what we do in practice every day where we're not really concerned with the lineups that we have. We know that the guys we put out there know what we're doing and what we need to get done. The chemistry takes place a lot in the locker room too. I think it goes back to leadership from our older guys and our younger guys as they continue to understand the game, understand how valuable minutes are and realize too that it's a long year. A lot can change. As long as they'll continue to work and put the team first, good things will work out for everybody."

On having to scramble this time last year to schedule teams like Colorado and how unique it is to have a road game and neutral site game within four days of each other…
"I think it is unique. You're right. This time last year, we had made up two of those games that we had scheduled on the fly last year, obviously UT Martin being one of them and Colorado being the other one. We were thankful that they were able to do it. Last year, Tad (Boyle) was able to come here which helped us because we were coming off just having a couple days of practice prior to that. It's been unique. Going on this trip, I think it's going to be a big week for us. We're playing two outstanding teams. It's really a true road game here early and then obviously, a neutral site game up in New York. I say it every time we go out, we have a chance to learn something about ourselves and see if we can continue to do what we need to do to get better. Hopefully, we'll continue to find something out about us in these next two games."

On if he wants to shoot 20-30 3-point shots per game…
"I think it varies. Early in the year when we were playing, John wasn't with us. We were playing as much through the post because we were still working on developing those other guys to do that. Plus, we're playing teams that were way back in there, giving us that shot. I think to create confidence and get guys to shoot the ball, we tell them all the time, 'If we're open, we're going to shoot it,' We take great pride in the work ethic that these guys have put in to become good shooters. We don't have a set number. We want open shots. They're hard to come by, but when we move the ball the way we want to move it, we think we'll get those opportunities but we don't have a set number. Early in the year, the reason the numbers were that high was simply because we weren't playing inside as much as we would like to have that balance. We're getting there now."

On Jonas Aidoo working himself into a position to make contributions during games…
"The best way I can answer it for you would be with his practice habits, it will be what he does in practice. He has shown us here in the last week or so that he is still behind because of time missed, but we do know that he can help us, and we think, like I said earlier, it's a long time between now and the end of the year. He does give us something that we don't have out there most of the time out there, his great length. I mean every day in practice he affects shot when he is out there. As he continues to get himself into the kind of shape that we need him to be in speed wise, and play at the pace we are playing at, I think we'll be the best determining factoring. Arguably the most important thing is understanding our defense is capable away from the basket. Realizing he is going to have to get out there quicker, he can't give up separation when his man runs from under him because he is going to be in a lot of ball screens as much as we talked about our guards learning how to play ball screens, these young guys. Same is true for post guys, and you give up great separation coming out from underneath the basket. It's hard for those guards to do their jobs, and when you're playing from behind, it really puts you in rotation every time. I think that once he really gets that part of it down and continues to do what we need him to do on the offensive end, I can only tell you this, we have confidence in him, but he is going to have to get there quickly."

On Uros Plavsic and what he likes and what he feels Plavsic needs to improve on…
"Well, we like what he does in practice, and what we want to see is him do exactly what he does in practice. As opposed, I mentioned it the other night, sometimes he gets in the game, and I think he feels he's looking to score more than he does in practice. Obviously, all the shots around the rim, I mean they're not easy those aren't 'gimmes' by any means. When the traffic is going on there, and you have to play in tight space, I like to see not just him, but all of our guys finish more of those shots around the rim. If he would just do what he was normally does every day in practice, he has to cut down fouling, because he gets himself in fouling trouble by leaning a little bit more than he should at times or using his upper body more inside trying to play post defense that way. If he would just do what he does in practice, there's no doubt he will continue to help us."

On Colorado and what to expect…
"One, Tad (Boyle) does a terrific job with his teams. They are explosive offensively, a terrific inside player that can create all kinds of problems for you, and we are going to have to collectively as a team guard, which I think we are capable of. Last year, they played a lot of 2-3 zones, so we will certainly expect to see that some because it has definitely stifled us in some ways. We were up, had a pretty good lead, and they fall back, which they would do anyway. So, we are expecting to see some of that and with that said, it's about us trying to see what it's going to be like with our first real road game seeing how we respond to it."

On Kennedy Chandler so far this season…
"What I like now is after he didn't have such a great performance against Tennessee Tech, where we didn't feel he had prepared the way he needs to prepare, the next couple of days were what we're proud of because he did. He understood everything. Every game counts. Even when you've had the success that he's had, not to start feeling too good about yourself and not thinking you have it all figured out. Not that he did that, he's just young. He showed great character and great discipline after the Tennessee Tech game. He fought back and really worked in practice. The other night, defensively, was arguably the best effort he's had all year. He's really trying to do the things that we want to see him do. Kennedy has the chance to be as good as he wants to be, but there's going to be a price you have to pay to get there. We have confidence in him that he wants to do it.

On Josiah Jordan-James' status…
"I don't know, I haven't talked to Chad Newman yet today about it. He goes through some of the warmup that we do in practice, but he hasn't had any contact in practice yet. As I said, we have so much trust in him and he will let us know when he thinks he can be effective out there doing whatever it is he can help us with. He's doing his part in any and every way he can to keep himself into shape, taking care of his body, staying engaged with game plans, helping those guys and being the leader that we talked about he and those older guys being for our team this year."

On playing in Madison Square Garden…
"Even through the years after leaving Providence—obviously every year having the Big East Championship there and we were fortunate to win it our last year at Providence—Clemson, Texas wherever we've been, we've always felt it's been very important to play up in the northeast. The one thing I've learned after leaving George Mason and going up into New England, is just how big basketball is in the northeastern part of the country. People love it up there. I think it'll be really a great thrill for our guys to walk into Madison Square Garden, as we know it's the mecca of college basketball. I'm not sure what it's going to be like traveling into New York this time of year. It's always been a very vibrant area and city and somewhere that I've always enjoyed going back to. We're going to play a team in Texas Tech who's finding their way. I watched them play last night and they had a great game against Providence College. For our players, if they don't know what it means to play in the Garden, I think that once they get up there and start thinking and talking about the history of it, they'll realize it's something that they should hold special."

To watch Rick Barnes' Thursday availability, watch the video at the top of the article.

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