One of the many story lines today is the reunion of Virginia head coach Tony Bennett and one of his former Virginia players, Taylor Barnette, who transferred to Belmont following the 2012-2013 season. Obviously, it won't exactly be a reunion of embracing arms, as the two teams go head to head to advance to the Round of 32.
Now at Belmont, Barnette finds himself as a starter, averaging 29.6 minutes, 10.7 points, and 1.3 assists to 0.8 turnovers a game.
So of course, yesterday's press conferences of the two schools had a heavy focus on Barnette. Here's what the media had to ask, and what Barnette and company had to say:
Q. Taylor as you look at the UVA defense, there were games this year, the Louisville game, they gave up 14 points in the first half, and you watched the film. Where do you see an opening, and do you think the fact that you guys shoot so well could be the equalizer?
TAYLOR BARNETTE: UVA, they're the best defensive team in the country, and Coach Bennett is a very good defensive coach but Coach Byrd has a good game plan and he's going to have us well prepared and we're going to run with what he thinks best is going to work against their defense.
Q. Taylor, can you compare and contrast the styles that, obviously you know Virginia's style, obviously know Belmont's style, how different are they?
TAYLOR BARNETTE: Very different. I mean, Virginia is a pack-it-in, seem to slow-it down team and grind-it out game and we like to get up and down and run. It's kind of a contrast of styles for sure so it should be fun to watch.
Q. Taylor, tell me about what you remember from your time at Virginia and what it's going to be like when the ball goes up in the air and you're going up against some of the guys you used to practice with every day?
TAYLOR BARNETTE: It's going to be fun, I'm excited, no matter who we play I'll be excited. Those are some of my best friends from freshman year of college. It will be interesting and it will be fun, and I have a lot of respect for that program and Coach Bennett and all those guys, so it will be a lot of fun playing against them.
Q. Taylor, the Virginia players all rave about how much they love playing that defensive style. You know best, do they really like it and what style do you like?
TAYLOR BARNETTE: I trust those guys. If that's what they say they like, then that's what they like. I was very blessed to be able to play at Virginia and I'm blessed to play where I am now and I'm thankful for that.
For the Coach: Q. How much of an asset is Taylor having come from playing for Coach Bennett and really understanding how their defense works? How much of an asset is it for you guys getting ready for this game?
COACH BYRD: Well, some, we obviously have asked Taylor some questions and he's offered opinions about things, but here's the real difference: If you watch Virginia on video, you already know what they do. They're one of those programs that do what they do and they do it great and they do it consistently and they're not going to change. We're not going to see a 1-3-1 zone tomorrow, we didn't get ready for one. We're going to see a really good man-to-man defense and a team that doesn't do a whole lot of different things on offense. Certainly enough to prepare for, but it's right there for you to see, and I think most coaches admire that kind of program more than any. Somebody that will just go in and tell you, this is what we're going to do, this is how we're going to do it, we're going to do it so good that we're going to beat you, and that's what they do.
And from Coach Bennett:
Q. Taylor Barnette on Belmont used to play for you and it's kind of ironic that he meets you in this game, player that you coached. What's that like for you to face a player that you used to coach? And have you had a chance to talk to him what would you tell him?
COACH BENNETT: Yeah, well, he had a huge reason why they're here. The shot he hit even at the game before. Taylor's a good young man and I'm happy for him and I know he really likes Belmont and his sister still plays at UVA and it's a fine family. He's done a real good job for them. As you were asking that, I was thinking had I ever coached against a player that had transferred. I don't know that I have.