Readers weigh in on Rick Barnes' postseason shortcomings with Tennessee basketball | Adams

This week's survey question for my literary contributors?: The Tennessee men’s basketball program has flourished during the regular season but repeatedly has fallen short in the postseason under Rick Barnes. How do you explain that?

David writes: Not sure, aside from “that’s basketball.” Teams tend to peak at various times in the season. The trick is to do so at tournament time.

Teams consistently in the top 8 or 16 have previous years of top-flight recruits who collectively overcome lower performance or “peak” years.

My response: Agreed, there’s a matter of luck in tournament play. Nonetheless, some of the best coaches still tend to win multiple championships.

As many good seasons as Barnes has had at multiple schools, he has made only one Final Four.

Marie writes:  If Rick can’t get this current team to the elite eight, then it’s time to pack up. I get so excited and truly believe and then…they’re back on the bus coming home.

Hopefully, this is the year. At least I got to see Santi and Josiah for another season. The more games they win the longer we get to see this fun team. I hope the chance doesn’t slip through the net this time.

Bill writes: I think Barnes' style of "being really hard on the players" only goes so far.  Yes, it's effective in the early part of the season, but I think it wears thin as the players endure that pressure day after day deep into the season.

I believe he has to meter in a pretty good dose of praise for what's being achieved and back off the constant negativity of "WHAT ARE YOU DOIN?" after every turnover, missed shot, nonsensical foul.  To me, this atmosphere causes players to play with a fear of "I don't want to screw up" rather than experiencing enjoyment of the game and being focused on playing like winners.

My response: No coach was tougher on players than the late Bobby Knight. But even the hard-driving Knight said he backed off at tournament time.

Colorado Mark writes: Why ask me. Ask the guy who is getting paid multi-millions what his thoughts are. Obviously, if you are getting paid millions of dollars TO COACH, then you must have some clue.

My response: I have a clue this team will fare better in the postseason. But I have been wrong before about UT tournament ventures.

I tend to be overly optimistic. That’s just my nature.

Shemp writes: He is a great guy and coach but he just can’t instill the killer instinct.  I don't know why, but good shooters regress under Barnes.  I don't know if he wears then out with defense,  or doesn't work enough on offensive play sets.  One guy left and went to UNCA and averaged 24 points the next year.

My response: Barnes has hadn’t a player at Tennessee as talented as Dalton Knecht, though. He poses all sorts of problems for defenses and could give the Vols the postseason scoring boost they need.

Glenn writes: Barnes’ teams fail to match their offensive intensity with their defensive efforts. It is doubtful they will make any future Final Fours.

We’ve already seen how they matched up with Purdue, Kansas and North Carolina - three potential Final Four teams.  The Vols will be improved by March but so will they.

My response: The Vols are due for an incredibly lucky streak during the NCAA Tournament. But that could be me holding a glass that’s half full.

Vols Mark writes: At first, I thought it was a lack of postseason game experience but now I feel like it’s a lack of adaptability by Coach Barnes. He doesn’t seem to have the flexibility to adjust strategies, tactics, and coaching styles.

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My response: Maybe at tournament time, he should forget the word “defense” and stress offense. His team won’t forget defense. Muscle memory has been well established.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or Follow him at:

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Readers: Rick Barnes' postseason shortcomings with Tennessee basketball