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What Rick Barnes said after the season opening win over Lenoir-Rhyne

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Who doesn’t love a good Barnes presser?

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee cruised to an easy win in the season opener on Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling arena, downing Rick Barnes’ alma mater to the tune of 86-41. It was a pretty solid night for the Vols all around, but you know Barnes had some nitpicking to do.

Here are the highlights from his press conference.

On Yves Pons...

“I think everyone is happy for him because of how hard he works. He showed his athletic ability, and on defense he’s a guy that is getting better and better with that. We think he can be a difference maker. We like him guarding guards. We like putting him out there and letting him guard the point guard a little bit. His blocks were spectacular. He wants to do the right thing. I still think he can get out more in transition, and hit the open court for us. We can throw the ball to him and he can go get it.”

On Kyle Alexander...

“He’s a better player. When I look at our team, he’s a physically different player. He still has to get tougher with the ball. He’s got to learn to pop his elbow out and not take up space. He can shoot the ball. He’s a better free throw shooter than he showed tonight too. Kyle can shoot it. He took a three. He spends a lot of time in the gym, and he can make that shot.”

On Jalen Johnson and Lamonte Turner...

“I think they will both be ready Friday. Jalen tweaked his ankle little bit in practice last Friday.”

On Jordan Bone...

“He started the game and didn’t take a really good shot to start the game, then we came down and shot a quick three. Even in the start of the second half, I brought him in and said we’re 45 seconds in, do you realize what has just happened? And he was able to tell me, where a year ago he was unable to tell me. He’s better and when he plays off two feet he’s really a hard guy to stop because he’s fast and he’s quick. What we are trying to do is get him to utilize that speed more often, because we think he can do that on the defense end. We talked to him after our scrimmages where he should wreak havoc on teams away from the ball. With his poise on the offensive end, he had a command about him. He is surer of what we are looking for and I think he is more aware of trying to get guys going.”

On Grant Williams running the point...

“Grant will really help himself if he would take pride in a simple play. When he went to the point he just deflated the ball too much. He has to understand he has a job there where he has to get the team going. He can pass the ball, but he tries to make spectacular plays as opposed to making simple plays.”

On Grant’s rebounding...

“Grant can’t have one rebound in a half. It just goes to show in the second half he got six, but he should be getting six and a half. He gave up one rebound, and we should never give up free throw block outs, but we do it because of our ego. They think they are going to jump up and get it, but tonight we got out jumped twice. They have to do fundamentally what we teach and that’s something as a team we have to take more pride in.”

On Jordan Bowden...

“Well, I would say that he is our most reliable defensive guard. People ask me a lot of the time why he has been a three-year starter, and it’s because he always tries to do the right thing on the defensive end. He’s over there trying to be in position to help his teammates, he’s going to play hard, and offensively, the same thing. He tries to go for too much, and again, we want to make those tough passes. They will see tomorrow once we scrub this thing out. We want that ball inside, and we had a lot of chances to get it there, but we weren’t thinking that play ahead.”