Rick Barnes: Consistency Will Be Key To Vols Moving Forward

You’d think Rick Barnes would have been at a loss for words after Tennessee’s upset defeat against Oregon State in the first round the NCAA Tournament. But he wasn’t.

Instead, Barnes had plenty of words, but couldn’t come up with an explanation. The Volunteers were the fifth seed, the Beavers the 12th … but it was Volunteers who came out flat and looked like they barely belonged.

“I was really surprised, the freshmen especially,” Barnes said of Tennessee playing tight at the start. “They looked like being here in the NCAA Tournament was something they probably grown up watching. They were out of character.”

Barnes said he tried to let his team play its way out of it — something that it started to do, but by then, it was too late.

“And you keep thinking about calling timeouts, but sometimes you feel like the more timeouts you call, the more they tighten up,” he said. “You’re just hoping they’ll get going and get loose, make some shots. But we didn’t. Never really got the flow that we wanted.”

The Volunteers, of course, were without forward John Fulkerson, who suffered facial fractures in the SEC tourney vs. Florida. But Barnes indicated Tennessee will need more inside effectiveness, and especially consistency, moving forward.

“I just told the team you don’t ever take this for granted. I’ve had more former players text me about how they always remember me talking about getting here. It’s not an easy thing to do that,” Barnes said.

“And for all that we’ve been up and down with this year, obviously John Fulkerson has meant a lot to our program, he was a big part of our team coming in. Yves Pons, when John goes out, things shift to Yves, where he can’t quite be as effective because he’s our secondary guy that we play through on the inside Now he gets all eyes on him. And the freshmen, they had their moments, but very inconsistent. That was a problem for our team.

“If you look at our team all year, it was the inconsistency. Not really knowing from game to game what we were going to get. If you ask me, that’s the most disappointing thing because to be a championship-caliber team, you have to be more consistent. You can’t turn the ball over the way we did at times. And you’ve got to be able to rebound. But when you don’t have that inside presence, again, (Friday), we had a couple offensive rebounds but not anything like we need to have when you’re not shooting the ball the way we were.”

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.

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  1. Disappointing way to end add ent season, but I’m not surprised without Fulkerson. That guy is Mr. Intangibles on the court, and you simply can’t replace him. I’m pleased with the overall direction of the program under Barnes. UT is one of the top programs in the SEC now year in year out, and once in a while we can make a deep tourney run. Sometimes the breaks just don’t go your way.

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