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Tony Barbee Talks to Media About Georgia Matchup - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Tony Barbee Talks to Media About Georgia Matchup

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On Georgia senior forward Yante Maten and the challenges he presents …


“He’s a lot like (Thomas) Welsh from UCLA. Although Welsh was 7-foot, Maten is about 6-9, 6-10, but he plays that big. He shoots it from the 3, he can score with either hand in the post from either block, he’s putting it on the floor better out of the high post now than he has, and he’s one of those guys that seems like he’s been at Georgia for 20 years. He’s gotten better, better and better every year. That’s why he’s a 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) guy. He’s one of the best players in the country, not just in our league.”

On Kentucky’s post defense …


“It’s been OK. It’s been OK. We’ve got some young guys in there and it’s been up and down. When we’re engaged, when we’re locked in, because we are so long and athletic, we’re pretty good in the post. But just like any other team, when you’re young and you’re not locked in and not engaged, you’re going to have some slippage. So, we can’t against this Georgia team because they’re good, they’re big and they’re experienced in the post – and not just with Maten. When you look at (Derek) Ogbeide, he’s another guy it looks like he’s been at Georgia for 20 years. So, they’re experienced along that frontline, they’re big and physical, and they both can score.”

On if it’s “par for the course” that UK’s freshmen don’t know who Maten is or if that’s concerning …


“No, par for the course. I mean, you got a first-year freshman. He wasn’t watching college basketball like we would in terms of scouting reports and things like that. Georgia is a team that, they’re probably – PJ (Washington) and any of our other freshmen – haven’t seen on TV a bunch. So, it’s to be expected.”

On the best thing he saw out of Kentucky from Friday’s 90-61 win over Louisville …


“The defensive intensity was back. I mean, that was the biggest thing. There was some slippage in that UCLA game. Coach (Cal) talked about all the factors that could have played into that slippage – none of them excusable – but we got back to being who we have to be as a team. This team is no different than last year’s team or the year before, when you’re playing so many young guys you’re going to have some inconsistencies, some up and downs defensively, intensity, rebounding, all those things. But then you watch these young guys grow as the year goes along, and then as we get into late January, February and into early March you want them being consistent. So, yesterday’s effort is what we want to see as we continue to grow more and more and on a consistent basis.”

On how difficult post defense is as opposed to on-the-ball or help defense …


“Well, post defense, or perimeter defense, when you’re guarding the man who has the ball is easier to teach because you’re engaged. When you’re coaching young players and you’re away from the ball – it’s the biggest thing we’re preaching with this young team – is you have to be engaged away from the basketball because (in) college basketball the defense is team oriented. There are so many good players, so many players who are skilled at different – like, we talked about Maten. He can score inside, he can score outside, he can score at the midlevel. There’s no one player that can guard him. No one player last year could guard him. As good and physical as Bam (Adebayo) was, he couldn’t guard him. It was a collective team effort in all three of our games against Georgia that helped us guard him. Just like this year’s team, we’re good individually on the ball. It’s collectively when you have to be engaged and we were not engaged against UCLA for whatever reason. But, we were very engaged yesterday against Louisville. So, if we can continue to grow in that area then our defense will get better and better.”

On Jarred Vanderbilt’s status …


“No new developments. Everything is the same.” 

On if there is a timetable for when you consider not playing him this season …


“That has not been discussed. So, it’s hard to say. It’s probably a question for Cal.” 

On his involvement with the zone and close they are to being a really good zone defensive team …


“Well, I think we’re a good zone team now. If you look, you know it was effective in us getting back into the game against UCLA. When we went to zone it got our momentum going. Same with Louisville. There were some points in the game where we had some fouls, we were struggling trying to guard Louisville a little bit and we went to the zone and it slowed them down. There’s only so many things a team can do against a zone. If you practice and develop your team in them being engaged collectively the zone is no different than man. When you look at our attributes with our length and athleticism and our IQ, we can be a very – we could be one of the best zone teams in the country. So, when you see our man defense grow and then you have our zone there when we need to change things up if a team gets going, if a team has an offense that we struggle to guard, or an individual that we struggle to guard, zone is always there for us to go to if we need a change of pace.” 

On why Calipari is opposed to zone defense …


“It is very simple: accountability. He sees man-to-man that I can look to each individual and you are accountable for this guy and this area, where zone he doesn’t believe that. So, I’ve been with him forever and we didn’t play zone when I played for him or worked for him as an assistant at other places. So, it’s just always been his philosophy of defense is man-to-man. You’re individually accountable and collectively you are accountable and he can see that better than I guess he could in a zone.” 

On if Calipari is softening on that philosophy …


“He is. He is. He sees the length with this team and sees how effective it is. I mean, we’ve had some deficiencies with a guy like Tyler Ulis in a zone. Obviously, he could be a liability just because of his pure size. Where now when you have Hami (Diallo) and Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) at 6-6 out front and your wings are 6-9, 6-9 and Nick (Richards) at 7-foot in the middle or Sacha (Killeya-Jones) at 6-10, 6-11 in the middle, now your length makes you difficult for any zone offense to see over, see around if they’re trying to drive through.”

On the SEC this season being improved and whether that’s a good thing for this team …


“Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, we always joke as a staff that we want everybody we play to be bad. But, that’s not the case in this year’s SEC. There’s not – you look at one team in this league and you can say that you’re going to go win that game. You can’t say that this year. Every game is going to be a challenge, and that’s maybe not good for us, but it’s good for the SEC and the overall perception of our league.”

On if it’s a sign of anything when a team double teams on defense …


“Yeah, it’s a sign of a couple of things: There’s a good player that we’ve got to take away and take away from their team’s strength. It’s also, you can watch some big guys on tape, and they might not be dominant scorers, and you say, ‘Well, why are they doubling that guy?’ Well, he’s not an effective passer either through traffic and through a double team. So you see a team double there’s quite a few reasons why you can go double other than he’s just a dominant scorer and we’ve got to take the ball out of his hands. Sometimes you create turnovers from a bad player by doubling him because he can’t pass out of it.”

On playing so many games at this time of year and if he’s concerned with that …


“We’re not concerned about the flow of the schedule; just concerned that we’ve got so many young guys. You wait for them to hit that point and it usually happens around the so-called Camp Cal, which is what we’re in right now where now it’s no school because it’s not in session. It’s basketball two and three times a day. This is where you see this team grow, and Coach Cal’s teams have always grown a ton during this time because of the amount of work we’re able to get in with the guys individually, collectively, all those things. That’s where we’re in now. You see us come back from a Christmas break and you see the results of Camp Cal going into that Louisville game. Now hopefully we can keep that going and sustain it as we get into what’s gonna be a difficult conference season for all teams, not just us.”

On playing 48 hours after an emotional game …


“I think for anybody, especially players, you’d rather play games then practice. So hopefully we can just build off the momentum we had a short 24 hours ago.”

On Georgia freshman forward Rayshaun Hammonds …


“He’s gonna be a terrific player. I mean, he’s long. Any left-handed player is difficult. Trying to guard left-handed players, they’ve got several left-handed players on their team. He’s gonna be a fantastic player, and he plays well off of their guys who seem like they’ve been there forever – (William) Jackson at the point and the two bigs that we’ve already talked about. And you’ve got (Tyree) Crump coming off the bench, so they’ve got some veteran pieces, but you look at their young pieces that they’ve got in their program, including Hammonds, (Nicolas) Claxton, those guys, they’ve got some good pieces that go quite well together.”

On what a Mark Fox team looks like when it is playing well ..,


“Discipline and tough. I’ve coached against Fox forever. From my UTEP days when he was he was at Nevada we played a couple times, and obviously being at Auburn those four years I had to coach against him at Georgia. He hasn’t changed a whole bunch. He has his system offensively and defensively and he demands his players execute that system. That’s why he’s been one of the best coaches in this league for the past few years.”

On Mark Fox saying Georgia’s offense is more efficient even though J.J. Frazier is gone …


“Well, when you’ve got a dynamic player like Frazier, sometimes those guys tend to break off the offense because they can go get it by themselves, i.e. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk. I mean, you go Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis, you go down the list of guys we’ve had, you’ve got your system in place, but those guys are so good, sometimes they can take the ball and go get a bucket. Well, Frazier, you look at the game he had against us last year at Georgia, he had 40-something points. I mean, those guys sometimes don’t depend on the offense. Now they’ve gotten back to being efficient with their offense and the system and the patterns they like to run and guys kind of know where they’re going to get their touches. Frazier, if they were struggling, he could go get 25 if he needed to to win the game.”

On whether, as a coach, he would rather have the efficiency or a guy who can just make it happen …


“You want a collection of both. You want a collection of both. That’s when you’re really good.”

On what makes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander so effective on his drives and how he is able to get the ball to the rim against shot-blockers …


“He reminds me of, when you look back at some old-time players, he reminds me of a Rod Strickland. Kind of an awkward basketball build. Shai’s got the perfect basketball body. He’s long, he’s got a short torso, long legs, long arms, and he’s really crafty with the ball. He doesn’t depend on athleticism to score at the rim. He can finish at a lot of different angles. That was Rod Strickland. He could get to that rim and there would be three 7-footers swatting at the ball and the next thing you know, the ball is going in the basket. You’re like, ‘How did he get it in in there?’ It’s the same thing with Shai. You watch Shai against a terrific frontline that’s leading the country in blocks collectively and then they’ve got the second or first leading shot-blocker in the country, he had no fear going in there because he knows how to use angles and knows how to use that rim to protect and finish no matter who is in there. So he’s kind of the ideal guy when you look at him with his game, driving that ball in the paint, able to finish the ball right hand, left hand just as effectively. So he’s a difficult guard if you let him get downhill and get to that rim.”

On if that ability by Gilgeous-Alexander is something you can teach or instincts …
“Instincts. Instincts. Instincts make a fantastic coach and he’s got a lot of great instincts.”
 

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