Rick Barnes on Maui Invitational conference call

RICK BARNES
Opening Statement
“We’re obviously going to have a very young basketball team. We actually have nine new members on our team and one of them, Lamonte Turner, he sat out a year ago so he’s familiar with our program. We’re excited about our guys, we really are. We’re excited about this group. We’re going to have, when you think about upperclassmen, Robert Hubbs and Detrick Mostella. We have a fifth-year (transfer), Lew Evans, who came in from Utah State. That’s pretty much our upperclassmen.

“We’ve worked hard this summer. Our guys have worked hard, they’re making that adjustment. When you look at the field, I think it’s a great field. The Maui (Invitational) always has a great field. For us, it’s going to be an unbelievable challenge. When you look at Wisconsin, who they have coming back and the way they finished last year, making a run to the Sweet 16, we know that’s going to be an incredible challenge for us. Then we’re in that bracket with Georgetown and Oregon, two programs that we have great respect for. It’s going to be an unbelievable learning experience for our kids, our program, our players. I think tournament like this only help you to really, truly evaluate where you are. In some ways, reality sets in (as to) where you are. It’s going to be, again, I think our players will look forward to.

On playing at 9:30 a.m. local time
“Looking at the brackets and the time, 9:30 is early. Then I’m looking at the other bracket. If you lose a game, it’s 8:30 the next morning and then if you get in that loser side, 10:30 (on the third day), so you’re playing all morning games. Then when you look the other way, if you get through that first one it’s a 3 p.m. game, then 4:30. That’s the way it was bracketed out, that’s the way it has to be. I think players are resilient. It’s something, we get up early anyway and do a lot of work in the mornings, so I don’t think that will be that big of an adjustment. We’ll get there, get settled in and it’s the same for everybody. That’s the way it is when you travel to Hawaii. We know the time changes are different. Again, that settles in for everybody.

On playing Wisconsin during his time at Texas
“I’ve always had great respect. Bo (Ryan) and I, when we decided to do it, and when we schedule like that out of league, it really stands for having great respect for the coaching staff and the program itself. We had a couple epic battles. I can remember when they beat us in Austin. I remember Bo shaking my hand and saying, ‘I know it’s a tough loss, but believe me, we needed it more than you do right now.’ When we went up the following year and beat them when someone, Gary Johnson, banked in a elbow jumpshot at the end of the game, I was thinking the same thing. ‘We needed this a whole lot more than you did tonight.’ We’ve had some great battles.

“Again, we have great respect for the Wisconsin program, there’s just no doubt that Greg (Gard) still just does a great job. You watch they did last year the way they came on, for a guy that’s been with the program the transition was a great one. He’s certainly going to have many more years of great success.

On Tennessee’s nonconference schedule
“Schedule wise, I think it’s going to play out as one of the toughest in the country when you get down to it. We’ve always said that we don’t want to be there in a position — if we’re able to get ourselves into position to be in the NCAA tournament, which we fully expect to do — we want our schedule to mirror what a big-time basketball program should look like. I think to do that, you have to be willing to travel to play anyone, anywhere, anytime. So that’s what we want it to look like. We were just talking about it before getting on the phone, we want to be known for playing one of the best schedules in the country every year.

On Lew Evans
“Lew, as you would imagine, coming in a month later than everybody else, and them having a month of conditioning under them, he’s making that adjustment. He’s just what we thought he would be. He has a great feel for the game. He’s going to blend in just unbelievably with his teammates. They like him and they know he’s going to compete and bring some a skill level to us that we need. Right now the main thing is to get him in the kind of shape he needs to be in.”

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