About the state of the team and the specific problems we've been talking about ad naseum.
After each of Barnes' answers I'll give you my thoughts on the matter. Think of it as "My Take".
Jan. 27, 2010
On if he is pushing the panic button after two straight losses:
"We go back to each game and look at the mistakes we have made. We know we have got to improve on some things we keep talking about. The most disappointing thing from the UConn game is we all agree that was our worst defensive effort of the year. Offensively, we started out doing some good things. But then we settled back in and just were not passing the ball for good shots. Those things can be fixed, and we will be OK."
I think what he's saying is that we had better movement on offense in the first half, but I'd argue that UConn's turnovers led to more points than pure ball and player movement on our end. Defensively, I agree wholeheartedly, that was the worst defensive effort I've seen in years from a Barnes team. We played horrible away from the ball defense, didn't hedge screens, didn't bump cutters. Nada. Make no mistake, Doge Balbay's on ball defense covers up a lot of warts away from the ball.
On Dexter Pittman’s role on the team:
"Our guys have to look for him. I think we are not looking for him as much as we did earlier. When he is out there, we need to make sure we are aware of him. Now whether we can get the ball to him all the time is another thing. It is a combination of him doing his part and his teammates doing theirs."
Tranlastion, there were times Pittman had his defender pinned and we didn't enter the basketball. Also, he's kind of saying Pittman needs to be smarter about fouls so he can keep his ass in the game.
On Dexter Pittman’s ability to become a better passer:
"Dex can pass the ball. There is no question about that. I think the most important thing with him is where he receives the ball. When he receives it in certain areas of the floor, he knows he has to be a passer. He needs to catch it where we want him to catch it. When he gets deep post-up position, he knows he needs to be aggressive and score."
The question is specious to begin with. Yes, it's important for Dex to be able to pass out of double teams, but when he's not getting the ball or being doubled without the ball, it doesn't really matter if he can pass. He could be Magic Johnson but who cares.
On what you are most disappointed in during the last two games:
"I think each game is different. Even in the win against Texas A&M, we weren’t very good offensively. I thought we played hard in the A&M game. We certainly played hard enough in the Kansas State game to win, but our offense did not allow us to win. We came back and spent two days where we were very good in practice. Then we had good but not great carry-over early against UConn, but better than we had been. But we had our worst defensive performance of the year."
Coach speak. Pass.
On Dexter having time to develop counter moves:
"The thing is Dexter does have counter moves. He just has to use them. He has to have enough confidence to go to them. Dexter has really worked at this game where he can do a number of things. He is going to have to continue to develop the confidence to use those kinds of moves."
Again who cares. He doesn't need an up and under, a fadeaway jumper, or a shot over his right shoulder if he's not getting the ball. I'd love for this question to be relevant at some point in the season because it would mean teams were taking away his drop step dunk or catch and baby hook game. The problem is he's not getting touches. When he gets 15 attempts in a game again, I'll worry about him channeling Kevin McHale.
On the guys’ emotions after two losses:
"Our guys know that they are better than what they have played the last few games. I think they are disappointed. I talk to them about this all the time. You have got to know what goes into winning, but you’ve also got to know what goes into losing. In the UConn game, we had a 10-point lead early in the second half that was erased in a matter of 20 seconds, and it was all because of turnovers and plays that we couldn’t give up. You can’t go for steals on the perimeter and give the other team an easy basket. You can’t turn the ball over when you’re taking the ball out of bounds and give up a three-point play. You can’t give up those plays. But like I said, the attitudes of these guys are the same as they have been all year. I’m sure they are disappointed, but I know they will come back and continue to work. We’re still at the end of January right now, and we have plenty of time to get better."
Everything is coach speak but the bolded sentence. He's talking about playing more sound on the wings and focusing more on keeping players in front instead of pressuring off the ball. We've talked about this tweak in the defense for weeks now so I'm encouraged that Coach is hinting at it in an answer to a throw away question. That means we're emphasizing it in practice. I'll say it again, we have the athletes and size on the wings to effect shooters by just keeping them in front and playing sound. It's time to utilize this strength.
On J’Covan Brown’s recent play:
"I think the biggest thing is that when he misses shots, he lets that get him down. That’s just being young. He’s too good a player to let his shooting affect his whole game. But I think that young players do that. Even some older players do that. When they miss some shots, they put their head down for a second and don’t get back in transition on defense. There is nothing wrong with missing a good shot. That is part of the game. For the most part, his shots have been good shots. They have all been shots that we have wanted him to take. I think right now he doesn’t feel confident on the offensive end. But he is too good a player to let that get him down."
I think it's probably a good idea if we give Brown some positive affirmation any way we can give it. Give him some more ball handling responsibilities, start him, ask him to be more of a leader on the floor. He needs something to get him out of his own head so he's just going out there to play basketball. Show him film of whining to the refs interspersed with film of him making great plays. We need him to step up badly as combo guard/creator.
On Texas Tech:
"I think Pat Knight does as good a job as anybody in our league. They’re playing really hard, and they’re tough and gritty. They’re running his offense the way he wants them to run it, and they’re competing. Again, he’s continuing to build that program the way he set out to when he first got out there. I think he’s done a great job. This is not an easy game here, and it’s not an easy game there. We know that they are an extremely hard team to play, because of their movement, their cutting and their screening. Defensively, we are going to have to be a lot better than we were against UConn."
Yep. If there was ever a team that was going to test your off the ball defense, especially the importance of positioning and guarding various cuts away from the ball it's a Knight coached team. I hope we counter with wholesale switching that allows our athletes to get out of their own heads and just play ball. UConn was actually a pretty good test of what we'll face tonight on defense.
Thoughts on Rick Barnes' comments?