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Rick Barnes explains how Tennessee can improve in 2018-19

Always looking to get better.

Wright State v Tennessee Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

You’ve got to love Rick Barnes. It doesn’t matter if his team is coming off of a five win season or a thirty win season. Tennessee’s head coach just wants to get better at everything. That’s the exact message he delivered during his latest media availability.

“We still think we’ve got to be better defensively,” Barnes said in typical Barnes form. “We didn’t reach the goals that we set for ourselves last year from a defensive standpoint. We were close, but we didn’t get them all, so we want to get better there — we think we can be better there.”

It would take a pretty outstanding effort in 2018-19 to top Tennessee’s defensive production, which ranked 24th nationally in points per game allowed. The Vols also finished 6th in defensive efficiency, according to

But Barnes delivered his most interesting and accurate comments about his offense.

“We’ve got to be a better offensive team. We would like to get to a point to where we’re not relying on one or two guys,” Barnes said. “I mean we’re gonna have guys that we’re gonna play through and everyone knows that, but we want our other guys — we tell them sometimes there are some guys that hide. We don’t want anybody to hide.”

For just about the entire regular season, if Tennessee didn’t get solid performances from either Grant Williams or Admiral Schofield, they likely weren’t winning that game. The Vols made that formula work last season, but their ceiling will be capped if no other consistent threat emerges.

Guys like Jordan Bowden Jordan Bone, Derrick Walker and John Fulkerson come to mind here. Tennessee needs those plans B, C and D to be ready to go. Unfortunately for guys like those mentioned above, they disappeared in big stretches of the 2017-18 season for various reasons.

“We want all of our guys to get after it,” Barnes said. “Go back to Kyle Alexander getting hurt in the NCAA Tournament. We needed someone to step up in a big way and we didn’t get it.”

With another offseason of development and some added post-season experience, Barnes might just have someone ready to step up when it counts this time around.