Tennessee Men’s Basketball Coach Rick Barnes jumped up to the podium today reeling off interesting stories about his thirty-six plus years in coaching and delivered current insights into his players and the lives of young men. He said he was just here today to tell us there is a big game tomorrow night against No. 1 Alabama at Thompson Boling in case we didn’t know it. He said he would rather not be at our club today coming off two close losses to Vandy and Mizzou but he said he was really proud of the effort the team had on Saturday as they lost in the last seconds to Missouri as they fought back and didn’t give up. He spoke to Santiago Vescovi on Sunday and tried to encourage him after the defeat. The coaching staff tried to point out to the players where they missed opportunities on multiple plays throughout the game rather than focus on what happened in the last few seconds at the end of regulation play.
Barnes is pleased to have a loyal fanbase here at Tennessee and to have the leadership team of Randy Boyd, Donde Plowman, and Danny White in place. Barnes likes being here in Knoxville and really thinks that Knoxville is a city for others to emulate across the country the way that we care for other people in our community. Barnes said the biggest influencers in his life were his teachers and coaches back in eighth grade and in high school in Hickory, NC and that’s one of the reasons he chose coaching as a profession. When on the recruiting trail, Barnes looks for players that have overcome diversity, that are tough, balanced, and unselfish. When the coaching staff meets with a prospective player and their parents, Barnes says we tell them all about our program, just like it is, and that it is not for everybody. But if they want to come to Tennessee, we won’t quit on them if they do their part within our system.
Barnes was asked about how he manages pressure as a coach and how he deals with it, and he says by prayer and reading the Bible. One of his favorite Bible verses is “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) He said it’s important to stay grounded and it’s important what you put into your mind each day. Along those lines, the team has a Power Talk before each game lead by FCA Director Chris Walker and Scott Jackson where they share key foundations and life lessons because as Coach says, “…..one day the air will be let out of the basketball.” A key marker of Barnes team this year, and in years past, has been their unselfish style of play. One key reason is likely due to the team motto, “INAM”, It’s Not About Me. Thanks Coach for taking time to be with us today and GO VOLS!!
Scribe: Alan Hill