Rod Barnes Q & A before Florida game

Ole Miss will try to snap a three-game losing streak overall, while highly-ranked Florida will be out to stop a two-game road losing skid.

Rod Barnes: It's a great day. I'm excited about this week. We've got our work cut out for us. Florida is a really good team, probably the surprise of our league for most of this year. They played well in their last game against Vanderbilt. We're coming off a tough loss against LSU. This game will again come down to kids making big plays. Hopefully things will go our way. Florida can shoot the 3 and their frontline is impressive. They're probably the deepest frontline in our league. (Gator sophomore forward) Corey Brewer has been hurt, but we expect him to play. We've gotten word that (Gator junior guard) Lee Humphrey (who has started all 20 of the Gators' games this season) will probably miss this game (with injury). But we'll prepare as if he will play. As for ourselves, we have to play with the same energy and enthusiasm and confidence that we did last Saturday. If we do that, we have a chance to win this game.

Q: After looking back at Saturday's game with LSU, do you have any additional thoughts?

Barnes: After looking at the tape, I saw a lot of areas that we could have done a better job. I saw some things we did really, really well. But we have to look at some things with our zone offense. It's the same ole story. Four or five passes and we turn it over. Then four or five passes and we make a great decision or a 3. We have to be better in that area. We went over that with players, we looked at the tape. I call what we do in some of those situations carelessness. When we get a lead, we get a little lax, and we discussed that. We had a (10-point) lead and they went on a 24-5 run. Four or five possessions we made turnovers. We didn't score when we had the basketball. We charted that before their run, they had one offensive rebound and we had one turnover. During that run, we had six turnovers and they had four offensive rebounds. That flipped the game for us. LSU was going to get some offensive rebounds, but we couldn't add to that with the turnovers. It all multiplies. We lost focus, and we can't do that. We're getting better and are closer to playing a complete game.

Q: There was a lot of talk after the game about LSU answering everything your team threw at them. Your team basically answered everything LSU threw at them, don't you think?

Barnes: Except for the last minute, they made big shots and plays and we made big shots and plays. That was good, because over the last couple of years, we couldn't get it done in a game like that. They just made a couple more down the stretch than we did. The thing I saw that was different than in the past, there was a while there that we made plays and continued to make plays. It tells me our level of confidence in oursleves and each other is getting better.

Q: Junior guard Clarence Sanders seems to be improving with each game.

Barnes: I talked to Clarence a long time (Monday) about where he is and where we need him to be and what we need him to do. He is understanding more and is becoming more comfortable. He understands this team needs him to score. He's looking for that more now. We've gotten some good results lately. He is disappointed he hasn't helped more. He feels better about what his job is, what his role is, out there now. He has accepted his role of coming off the bench and giving us some energy and some scoring. It appears we're getting closer to having a more set rotation now. Brian Smith has settled in to being our backup point. He's found a place he can shoot and score and run our team. We're finding some of those pieces now. We're bringing Trey Hampton off the bench, and we want to increase his playing time more. We're getting closer to those nine or ten players we need to go with. We're starting to play better and more cohesive now as we go along.

Q: You talked about how much confidence this team had after wins against Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi State. Three losses later, is that level of confidence still there?

Barnes: I get concerned about it. When you lose, it's disappointing, because you can only be disappointed so many times in a row before it affects you. But I still see some confidence from our guys. They know they can win. In the conversations I've had with them individually, they realize what they have to do more of now to help us win. I've seen a team upset that they haven't won lately. They hated losing to LSU Saturday. They are willing to do whatever it takes to win. What we have now is guys knowing they have to play better to beat Florida. They know we need to get a win. I've told the guys from the very beginning, because it happens in our league, that any team can win or lose. Florida has lost two road games in a row. There are teams that survive. Talent, staying injury-free. Those are important. You can't get too high in the highs, and too low in the lows. If you lose three in a row, you can't get down. We are the same team that went to Alabama and beat them. We're actually a better team now. But how we feel about ourselves, how we perceive ourselves, is huge. Our players feel they can win this game (against Florida).

Q: Any update on Dwayne Curtis' brother who was injured in the auto accident?

Barnes: Little bit better. They've gotten some responses from him, not big ones, but he has responded some. They say he is better. They were not getting responses at all, and now they are. So that is good.

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