Monday, January 02, 2017

Video/Transcript: UK Assistant Coach Tony Barbee Pre-Texas A&M Press Conference Interview

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Assistant Coach Tony Barbee

On what he’s seen from the guys in practice now that they’ve been scrimmaging more …

“This time of the year with the Camp Cal, even going back to the days when I played for Cal we did Camp Cal, this is where you see his teams markedly improve. The scary thing for us and for our opponents is that we’ve got so more room for improvement, individually and as a team. The focus is on scrimmaging. We’ve got so many young guys and so many guys that are inexperienced, being one of the youngest teams in college basketball. You get better and you improve at a faster rate through scrimmaging instead of drill work. It’s just the nature of these kids and their makeup today. So, individually guys are getting better and as a team we’re getting better in areas that we needed to improve in.”

On emphasizing rebounding …
“It’s twofold (on improving). Rebounding has always kind of been about a want to and a will to. There’s some positioning things and some technique things that we’re working on, but more than anything it’s just when that ball goes up on that rim, do you think it’s yours? We’ve got one or two guys that think that way. The rest of the guys have got to catch up to that identity. That’s what we’ve been focusing on.”

On Texas A&M’s frontcourt and its ability to rebound …
“Not just those two (Tyler Davis and Robert Williams), they’ve got one of the most imposing frontlines in college basketball, not just in our conference. They do a great job of running their offense which puts bigs around the rim for offensive rebounding. That’s why they’re one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country, and it starts with Davis. He’s averaging four – four or five offensive rebounds a game. So, it’s going to be crucial to block out, keep your man away from the ball, and then get our guys to go get the ball. Then at the same time we’ve got to get our guards rebounding. That’s one of the areas. Our guards are so big, so long, so athletic that they’ve got to use that to their advantage to go rebound. We’ve been focusing on Malik Monk in that area. He should be a guy that goes and gets five, six, seven rebounds a game – because he can. And he has the ability to. He’s one of the other guys that we’ve been focusing on too. He’s got to come help us defensive rebound.”

On Tai Wynyard earning playing time for his competitiveness on the boards in practice…
“Yeah, it’s a message. It’s no secret that we’ve got to get our big guys, our other big guys to catch up to the level of that Bam is. Obviously, not everybody is going to be Bam physically. But it’s not so much what Bam does physically as it is what he does mentally to approach the game every day. He is a wrecking ball on the basketball floor offensively and defensively. So, we’ve gotta get our other bigs, and Tai is one of those guys – he plays that same way. Now it’s up to Tai, can he catch up to what we’re trying to do scheme-wise offensively and defensively so he’s not behind on the floor and hurts us in that way. What he does give us is a physical – another physical guy like Bam who throws his body around and goes after rebounds.” 

On Bam Adebayo’s recent play and if he’s on the cusp of something great …
“He’s on the cusp. He’s there. He’s wherever you want to put him. His best days of basketball are still in front of him. He’s learning every day. He comes to practice to learn and to work every single day. I haven’t seen him take a day off since he’s been here. So when you’ve got that kind of physical talent and you have that kind of mental approach to the game that ‘I can always learn and get better,’ it’s scary to think where he’s going to be in the years to come.”

On being a coach that brings an SEC team into Rupp Arena ….
“Obviously it’s a big game. You’re talking about the flagship program in the SEC if not the country. Every other team in this league – you want to be in that position. You want to be the top dog. And to do that you’ve got to beat the best. It’s a different approach probably for your team. As a coach you’re mentally getting ready to come into Kentucky and play against one of Cal’s teams and play at Rupp (Arena).”

On Texas A&M always playing close games with them …“Well, Billy (Kennedy) does a great job with his team. First and foremost, with them it starts with defense. That’s why they’ve played our team so well – because of how well they played defensively and how physical they are. It’s why they’ve been one of the best teams in this conference since Billy’s taken over at Texas A&M. It’s going to be a fist fight. All of our games have been. They’ve been down to the wire, so we expect nothing less.”

On Texas A&M center Tyler Davis …
“Obviously he has size. It’s a huge factor, but he plays one or two moments ahead in the game. He’s always angling for position in the post. He’s always angling before a shot is taken to get offensive rebound position. It’s what makes him so effective down there. He’s very similar to Bam in that way. Bam thinks the game the same way. He’s always a step or two ahead of his opponent. That’s what the better players do. They see the game ahead and a little faster paced then other guys do.”

On Malik Monk balancing defensive rebounding and getting out and running …
“It’s why we’re one of the fastest teams in the country. We’re fast at every position. We’ve got so many guys that can rebound. We want to get that ball out and get it up the floor. Him being one of the fastest guys on the team – and he’s so effective in transition – if we can throw it up to him it’s a bucket or foul for the other team. He has to pick and choose his moments. Obviously it’s harder for him when he’s guarding a perimeter player to get defensive rebounds. So he’s got to have a balance of knowing when he can go get a defensive rebound, and when he has to go out in transition.”

On De’Aaron Fox …
“Very disruptive. Again, defensively he can be even more disruptive. We’ve been watching some tape with De’Aaron of Tyler Ulis specifically on the defensive end of the floor. Just thinking back to Tyler he was just a difference maker defensively, even at his size. He disrupted anything any other team tried to do. So we’re trying to get De’Aaron to see the game defensively in that same way. If you can get him to that level being 6-3, 6-4, long arms, athletic, quick, smart, intelligent – all those things – then he can take his game to a different level, too.”

On missing Tyler Ulis’ on-floor management …
“Well, he was savvy in that way – especially the experience he had on this level. Being a two-year college player, it’s funny to say that’s a veteran nowadays. So De’Aaron has those instincts as well, and then it helps that he has Isaiah Briscoe next to him in those situations. De’Aaron’s developing. Isaiah’s instinctual in that way so both of those guys have made us effective in those pressure situations.”

On if there is a particular guy he’s been impressed with during Camp Cal ...
“All of them, really. Every one of them is going two, three, four times a day. You can’t help but get better. And all of them are attacking it – attacking this process. None of them are shying away from it. And they all know individually they’ve got to get better because they’re striving for something individually, and then collectively we all know we have to get better so we can help each other going forward.”

On Cal being on Wenyen Gabriel pretty hard recently and if there is a “good cop” on the staff to help him along …
“[Laughs]. Yeah, we all do – and Cal does it, too. He’s one of those guys that has to get better for us. Derek’s gotta get better. Wenyen’s gotta get better. Isaac’s (Humphries) gotta get better. Tai’s gotta get better. Those guys have gotta step their games up. And Wenyen’s had his moments, but he’s a typical freshman. He’s going to be up and down. You just expect more out of our freshmen.”

On how much it’s just building strength with Gabriel …
“That’s a big part of it. That’s a big part of it. He’s playing against some older, strong, veteran players, so he gets moved out of the way physically from time to time. But for Wenyen, it’s not (a matter of) a want to; he’s got a motor that just won’t stop, and sometimes physically he can’t get to where he wants to be. But he’s improving every single day. I mean, he’s improved night and day from when he stepped on campus, so you project him out and he continues at this rate, he’s going to be a fantastic player.”

On how the players’ mindsets change with all these practices during Camp Cal …
“They know. You’ve got the veteran guys from Dominique (Hawkins) and Derek, (Mychal) Mulder). (Isaiah) Briscoe has been around now for a few years. They help the younger guys to know the expectations coming into this Camp Cal. You know the schedule from when classes end. That last final, you know you’re going to be in this gym 24/7 getting better. You’re getting better individually, getting better shooting the ball, getting better handling the ball, getting better watching film and watching yourself and watching your team. They understand the approach that they’ve got to have mentally is going to help them in the long run.”

On if they ship has sailed on playing a big lineup with Adebayo and Humphries …
“No. We’re working on a lot of different things. That’s the scary thing I keep saying about this team is there’s so many different ways we can get better. I know Coach has talked a little bit about playing – I know you say the other night with Mychal Mulder at the four – playing a smaller lineup. Playing without a big with Wenyen and Derek at the four and five. And then we’ve also been looking at a big lineup. So this team has gotta be versatile as we get into the meat of conference play and down the stretch – that we can play different styles against different teams, and playing big is one of them.”

On the different between Camp Cal now and back when he was playing …
“I don’t know if I can remember back that far. It’s similar. It’s similar. You’re in the middle of that winter break where there’s no classes and you’ve got that almost a month of no class. It’s the same approach. You might as well throw your – we didn’t have cell phones back then – but now you might as well throw your cell phone away and throw away your TV remote because you’re going to be in this gym getting better. That approach hasn’t changed.”

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