Knoxville, Tenn. (UT Sports)-- On the eve of Tennessee's regular-season opener, UT head coach Rick Barnes and senior guard James Daniel III spoke with the media in Thompson-Boling Arena to discuss the team's progress during the preseason.
The Vols on Friday will face Presbyterian for the second-consecutive year to begin the 2017-18 schedule. The contest is slated for a 7:01 p.m. ET tip. The game will not be televised, but fans can catch all the action online through SEC Network + (WatchESPN).
"It's important that we jump out to a good start," said Daniel. "We want to come in and impose our will on defense. It's always fun to play under the lights, and it brings out the best in players."
Daniel, a graduate transfer from Howard, had a solid preseason, averaging 4.5 points, four assists and two steals in 20 minutes of action per game. In the final seconds of Tennessee's exhibition win over Clemson, he stayed composed to beat the Tiger's full-court trap to find Admiral Schofield for an easy basket to seal the victory.
After going 2-0 in the preseason, the team is clearly ahead of where it was heading into the season last year, but there is still work to be done.
"I don't think there is any question that we are ahead of where we were at this time last year," Barnes said. "We still have to get better because we aren't where we want to be. We want to see everyone play every minute like it counts. We have to play hard every possession and for 40 minutes. No one guy can do that, so we need everyone to be ready."
Heading into the season, the team understands what Barnes and the coaching staff demands out of them. The Vols have made progress this preseason, but they have continue putting in the work, especially now that the season is about to begin.
"I want to see us continue to improve," Barnes said. "We are doing good stuff, but we have to continue getting better. We are playing against a team with a new coach. We are going to have to explain to the team tonight that last year's game was closer at one point than the 40-point outcome. We hit a couple of threes to help stretch the game out.
"Anytime you have a new coach come into a situation with good players, they will play with fire and enthusiasm. From our standpoint, we have to pay attention to the details. There isn't anything that we don't need to improve."