Head coach Rick Barnes talks season, bubble and more

Barnes met with the media over Zoom to discuss the upcoming season and the effects of Covid-19.
Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 12:45 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Head coach Rick Barnes met with the media over Zoom on Monday to discuss the upcoming season and the effects of Covid-19.

On the developments of other conferences opting not to play fall sports this year and if there has been any new communication between Barnes and the SEC:

On the team’s progress over the summer and if Barnes feels they are behind schedule:

On the conversation of if college basketball will go into a “bubble”

On Yves Pons and his decision return this season:

On how he has kept the team focused despite the unknowns of COVID-19:”We’ve got to play an NCAA Tournament. We’ve got to play it. If we don’t, it’s going to make it almost impossible for a lot of schools. I’m not talking about the Power Five. The money that some schools get, it might be $300,000, which is a lot of money for a lot of people. If they go two years without it—I just know we’ve got to have an NCAA Tournament some way, somehow. You can’t have an NCAA Tournament without having some kind of regular season. What we have told our guys is what I’m telling you: I think we’re going to play basketball. I think we’re going to play on time. We don’t know how all of this is going to play out. I know how far we’ve come since we started with this pandemic. I know how on our campus, we’ve had unbelievable leadership and I know in the athletic department, what we did this summer, our guys did a terrific job of really doing what we asked them to do. They haven’t really been in a locker room since they left in the spring. We do everything in Pratt (Pavilion). They have our chairs spaced out on the court up there. That’s where they dress. That’s their locker room for right now. When they’re in the weight room lifting, they wear masks. When they’re on the court, they don’t wear masks. We wear masks. We’ve told them, we’re going about it like we’re going to play and until they tell us not, we’re planning on getting ready for our first game against Wisconsin. That’s November (11). I think that they’re young. We’re going one day at a time. They’ve done that. They’ve locked into that. As we know, everything is so fluid right now that anything could change from day to day, but I’m a firm believer that we’re going to play basketball.”

On how different this past summer was from typical summers:”In terms of family, we weren’t going to travel. We pretty much hunkered down here in Knoxville because we weren’t going to jeopardize anything to go see our kids, or grandkids in Texas. So, we were here. We had a group of guys that we walked a lot with. I got into hunting golf balls. I lost some weight and did all that, but the fact is, I really tried to do what everybody else should have been doing. I took very seriously what was going on. We pretty much stayed here the entire time.”

On his coaching staff and transition with the effects of COVID:”They are the best. I’m blessed that I have the best staff and support around me. They were two years out in front of me on recruiting. They know what they’re doing, they’re experienced, they work well together, they help each other. They have taken advantage of zoom calls. They are on top of the players. I mean they are coaches. In recruiting, whatever they tell me to do, I do. I’ve said it before, those three guys I have right now are ready to head any program in the country. They work at it; they know how to deal with people. They understand players and work hard with players. They like being in the gym. With all that said and done they still put a lot of time in the gym with the guys. In recruiting and the nonstop schedule for them. Believe me, I’m thankful and blessed I have these guys because the chemistry with them is really good.”

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