Barnes says Tshiebwe is ‘phenomenal’

Published 5:00 am Friday, January 28, 2022

Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes says Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe is ‘phenomenal.’ – Photo by Jeff Moreland

If you think Kentucky fans are enamored with what Oscar Tshiebwe has done this season, then pay attention to what Tennessee coach Rick Barnes thinks about Tshiebwe — and his 15 rebounds per game.

“There’s not enough you can say about Tshiebwe, with what he’s doing. The last guy that I heard got 20 rebounds as many times as he has was Marvin Barnes, way back in the early ‘70s, when I think he averaged that,” Barnes said. “But what he’s doing there is phenomenal.”

Barnes gave Tshiebwe the ultimate compliment before the Vols played UK — and lost by 29 points — when he said he wanted his players to play with the energy Tshiebwe does.

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“Is there a talent to it? Absolutely. The biggest thing, I think, is a tremendous want to do that. Because it’s hard. When you’re getting that many rebounds, I have enough respect for the coaching profession that when other teams have played against them, they made a conscious effort at keeping him off the offensive boards,” Barnes said.

Barnes said that Marvin Barnes once told him he wanted his teammates just to block out and he told them he would get all the rebounds.

“And he did, pretty much. I’m not sure how Kentucky is doing it, other than the fact that Oscar has a tremendous passion and drive to go get it. You admire it, because you want that from people,” Barnes said. “I think he understands the importance of it. What’s he’s doing, he’s got to (understand it). I’d like to get some of our guys with that mindset, to do it night in and night out like he’s done it.”