The following is Ole Miss men's basketball head coach Rod Barnes' Q & A from his press conference Monday afternoon. The Rebels are 13-3 overall and 3-0 in Southeastern Conference play. Ole Miss plays at Georgia at 4 p.m. (Central Time) Saturday in a game televised on FSN/SUN.
Barnes: It was a good game Saturday. I thought our kids played really well when we had to. It was a big win for us. The thing I probably got out of it the most was that when Mississippi State made runs, our kids still seemed to be confident. As I said Saturday, I still can't speak enough about Dwayne Curtis and what he's been through (with his brother in an auto accident last Wednesday night) and also what he was able to bring to the game after a very tough week of dealing with his brother's situation. We were off Sunday and will be off again today (Monday). We look forward to getting back on the floor Tuesday.
Q: What is Dwayne's schedule this week? Is he going back to Illinois? What is the situation with him?
Barnes: Right now he is planning to stay here. We've heard some improvement on his brother's situation. As of right now he will be here with us until something changes.
Q: Did you get any congratulatory calls after the win last Saturday over MSU, and how was your Sunday?
Barnes: Most of the calls came Saturday, and a lot of them were former players congratulating us. I had some family that called. So it wasn't overwhelming but it was good. Some of our former players were here, and that was good. They were excited about it.
Q: This is your open week. Is it a good time to have a week between games, or is your momentum going so well that you'd rather play a midweek game?
Barnes: I think it's good for us. When you're 3-0 a lot of times you want to continue to play. But this time, I just think for our team it's a good time for a break for us. First of all with Dwayne going through his situation, and then having a great win at Alabama and having a close win against South Carolina and then playing our rival in Mississippi State, emotionally I thought our kids probably needed some time off. We've still got a lot of work to do, things to correct, improvement on offense and defense. So not having a game this week shouldn't hurt us from a confidence standpoint. It gives us a breather. It's been an exciting time the past 12 to 14 days. So now we can get prepared for two straight road games (at Georgia and at Arkansas). This comes at a good time for us recruiting. We can get out on the road and we're 3-0, and that's a good thing. Hopefully we won't be too rusty when we start the Georgia game. But we'll be rested and well prepared for it.
Q: How is Dwayne handling the stress that he's been placed under with his family situation?
Barnes: He's handled it well. I admire Dwayne for that. In the Mississippi State game, there were some breakdowns mentally on his part. But I realized what he's been through and that probably contributed to some of it. He's a better defensive player than what he showed in that particular game. To come back and get the scouting report (Friday) and go through what he'd been through, I'm sure there was some stress there. But he's well rested now. Our guys and coaches are looking out for him and taking care of him and making sure he has people around him. That's been good. And also his family has been very supportive of him and trying to keep him away from the day to day things going on with his brother. Coach (Tracy) Dildy has been in contact with them a lot, and he also is helping Dwayne.
Q: What is his brother's status?
Barnes: He's still in a coma. The swelling around his brain has gone down some and also the fluid in his body. They say that is getting better, but he has not made any signs of improvement as far as coming out of the coma. The doctor said that was good at this stage, that the swelling is going down and that over the next 36 hours there should be more and better response from him.
*** Editor's note: As of Tuesday at 12 noon, there was still no change reported in Jarrod Curtis' condition.
Q: Talk about where you feel Trey Hampton and Xavier Hansbro are in their development in the program so far.
Barnes: Xavier has not been shooting the ball as well in practice. Some of his (lack of playing time) has been matchups with other teams. Trey continues to get better. He has not been as aggressive but he's made some plays for us. They're both learning and are excited about getting more chances to contribute. They've done well in spots and have practiced well. You will see more of them as the season goes along.
Q: Talk about being 3-0 and if this is where you thought this team might be at this point.
Barnes: I see a lot of confidence out there. We're much more confident than I thought we'd be at this point, and that has been a big difference. Todd Abernethy is playing well and leading. We're getting good leadership now from Londrick Nolen. This team has a lot of work to do and a long way to go. But we're on the right track. Probably the biggest difference for us has been that we've focused more on our offense this year. Whereas in the past we talked so much about defense and stressed that, this year we worked harder on our offense in the preseason and early part of the season. I think that has paid off for us.
Rod Barnes: "I see a lot of confidence"
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