Tennessee Vols morning report: Rick Barnes talks first week of practice

Tennessee fans cheer during an SEC football game between Tennessee and Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.Kns Tennessee Ole Miss Football
Tennessee fans cheer during an SEC football game between Tennessee and Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.Kns Tennessee Ole Miss Football /

We’re not even a week into October, and the Tennessee Vols are loaded with news. Football is obviously, rolling, but men’s basketball is starting to pick up too. Both made a good bit of news Tuesday to show that fall really is in full swing.

Our morning update on Rocky Top leads with interviews in men’s basketball and football, which include assistants, a head coach and players all talking. It was a day of heavy media sessions, and we’ll recap it all here.

Beyond those two sports, though, we’ve got a scheduling update in baseball to bring you along with a preview in volleyball in women’s tennis. There are also awards in soccer and swimming and diving, so it’s a loaded day for news. Let’s start with basketball.

Rick Barnes, assistants talk preseason – Ben McKee, GoVols247

A week into the preseason, Tennessee Vols men’s basketball head coach Rick Barnes along with assistants Justin Gainey and Rod Clark talked about the start of preseason. Here’s how Barnes assessed the team so far.

"“They’re certainly working hard together, and we know we’ve still got work to do. We’ve got to improve. There’s not an area that we don’t have to improve in, but certainly some ones that we’re really concentrating on: our ball screen defense has got to be better, and we’ve got to do a better job of really guarding the basketball. Offensively, the way we like to play, protecting the ball, but overall it’s been a good week, and I’m happy with where we are right now."

Gainey said depth is the biggest difference between this year and last year. This is his explanation for that.

"“We’ve added a couple of guys that can score the ball inside, and not necessarily post guys, but, you know, Tyreke (Key) and Julian (Phillips) are two guys that you can kind of give it to in there, and they can score. What’d be probably the two biggest differences in this year’s team and last year’s team, obviously losing Kennedy (Chandler) is big. It’s huge, and so that would be another difference, is guys stepping into new roles and filling that point guard spot.”"

Clark discussed the culture of the program after his first year as an assistant under Barnes. This is how he described it.

"“We’re lucky to be in a program like we are. Coach Barnes lets us know early on that this is a family environment. He wants our wives around. He wants our kids around.”"

Assistants, players talk LSU – Ben McKee, GoVols247

One day after Josh Heupel held his weekly press conference, Tennessee Vols football linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary and quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle spoke to the media along with defensive end Byron Young, wide receiver Jalin Hyatt and safety Jaylen McCollough. Halzle discussed what Hendon Hooker has done so far this year. Here’s a bit of what he said.

"“Hendon’s playing at an extremely high level right now. He’s earned everything he’s getting. That guy puts more time in preparation than anyone I’ve ever been around, and you’re seeing all that pay off, and it didn’t start in-season – it started in January. When he decided to come back, he was making an effort to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country, and right now that’s what you’re seeing, is the fruit of that labor, because he is playing at an extremely high level right now.”"

Jean-Mary compared LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels to Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson. This is how he described them.

"“They’re very similar — different body types. Obviously, Anthony (is) a little heavier. He’s in the 230-plus range. Jayden is probably a little slighter but still runs as hard and is as elusive. We obviously didn’t do as great of a job as we wanted to versus Anthony, so that’s been a big point of emphasis for us, is trying to keep the quarterback contained.”"

Young also talked about Daniels and what it would take to contain his mobility. Here’s a bit of what he said on that front.

"“Going into this game, he’s the leading rusher for the team, so our No. 1 job is to contain him, make him uncomfortable. contain the pocket, make it less room for him to run, just keep him in the pocket as much as we can.”"

McCollough talked about defending Daniels from the back end and also compared him to Richardson. Here’s how he described them.

"“Those guys have a lot of similar traits. They both can extend plays. They’re both great athletes, so we’re just going to have to lock in on our keys, we’re going to have to contain him, bottle him up, force him to make throws from inside the pocket and play quarterback from inside the pocket.”"

Hyatt discussed the receivers being able to step up without Cedric Tillman. This is his explanation for that.

"“It’s just preparation. We knew we had to step up, especially with one of our big-time receivers out, and we just want to keep going with the preparation we’re doing each week and into GameDay.”"

Revised SEC baseball schedule released – SECSports

Weeks after having to fix the schedule due to an error, the Southeastern Conference came out with its updated baseball slate Tuesday. The Tennessee Vols baseball team begins play at the Missouri Tigers.

"The 2023 SEC baseball season will be comprised of four weeks of non-conference play followed by 10 weeks of conference series. The first weekend of SEC series is March 17-19, and the regular season concludes May 18-20."

Taylor Huff on Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week – Topdrawersoccer.com

Thanks to her efforts in the Tennessee Lady Vols soccer team’s first ranked win over the weekend, sophomore midfielder Taylor Huff was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week. Huff was named Honorable Mention on the site back on Aug. 30.

"Huff pulled the strings in midfield as Tennessee continued to pick up wins. Her calming presence helped the Vols to a crucial SEC win over Ole Miss."

Lawson Renie on College Soccer News Team of the Week – CollegeSoccerNews.com

While Taylor Huff was recognized by Top Drawer Soccer, junior defender Lawson Renie was recognized by College Soccer News. Renie was named a defender on the site’s National Team of the Week.

"Renie was a key part of a solid Tennessee defense that limited Ole Miss to a total of nine shots with only three on goal in route to securing a 1-0 shutout over the Rebels."

Cross Country rises in polls – ustfccca.org

For the first time since 1999, the Tennessee Vols men’s cross country team is in the top 15 of the  U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll. UT came in right at No. 15, and they are No. 1 in the South Region.

"This poll is conducted by counting votes from 11 member coaches – one from each of the division’s nine regions (who also do the regional rankings) – as well as two members from the NCAA Cross Country Executive Committee."

Men’s Swimming and Diving sweeps SEC awards – SECSports

All three Southeastern Conference Men’s Swimming and Diving awards for this week were won by the Tennessee Vols because of what they did at UNC Wilmington last weekend. Jordan Crooks was SEC Men’s Swimmer of the Week, Bryden Hattie was SEC Men’s Diver of the Week, and Gui Caribe was SEC Men’s Freshman of the Week.

"Crooks touched the wall in 19.36 to post the top time in the nation so far this season by .33 seconds. He earned his second victory of the day in the 100 fly with a 46.81 mark, which ranks second in the SEC and third in the country. Crooks was also a member of the 200 medley relay lineup (1:28.35/20.66), swimming the butterfly leg that took first place.…Hattie nearly recorded a personal-best on the 3-meter with a 412.30 score, which ranks second in the country and leads the SEC. On the 1-meter, he posted the top score of 324.65.…Tennessee’s Gui Caribe, a freshman from Salvador, Brazil, won the 100 free (43.86) and finished second in the 50 free (20.22) during the Vols’ win at UNC Wilmington. Caribe was also a member of the 200 medley relay lineup (1:28.51/19.92), swimming the freestyle leg that finished second."

Women’s tennis set for ITA All-American Championship – WeAreCollegeTennis.com

With the men’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championship still underway, the women’s is set to begin Wednesday. Two Tennessee Lady Vols will take part in the event: Rebeka Mertena and Esther Adeshina.

"Since 1983, the ITA Women’s All-American Championships have featured the nation’s top NCAA Division I players and have been a pioneer in women’s college tennis. In addition, the event has created milestones that have directly influenced the popularity of women’s collegiate tennis over the years."

Volleyball to host Florida – UTSports

At 8-7 and 2-1 in the SEC, the Tennessee Lady Vols volleyball team will host the No. 15 ranked Florida Gators Wednesday night. First serve is set for 7 p.m. ET, and this is the start of a three-game homestand for UT.

"Tennessee continues its homestand against South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8-9. Saturday’s match begins at 4 p.m., while the first serve on Sunday is slated for noon."