On the injury to P.J. Hairston:
“Yesterday afternoon. It was right early in the practice. We don’t think, and I want to emphasize the word ‘think’, it’s anything serious or long term, but he sprained his knee. Didn’t feel like he could do anything in practice today and we’re coming so close to the end of the semester if you can’t play then stay home and study. It is one of those kinds of things and then Frank Tanner, we’re leaving two players really, because Frank Tanner is not going. He’s been sick. I was told that we think he’s not contagious still, but the same idea. If you can’t practice the day before and you can’t play in the game so, again, it’s close to the end of the semester and so stay here and get your body in shape. Don’t give anybody else any sickness and do what you’re supposed to do in the classroom.
“It’s a difficult thing for us because the one positive that we got out of the trip to Hawaii was the fact that we could go small and cause people some problems and that was with P.J. in the game as the four man. It was a difficult matchup for the other guys. He’s a very strong youngster. He’s a very good defensive player so he could guard somebody in the power forward slot and do a better job of that than anybody else we had. We found that out and that was a positive and the only positive I think from the Butler game to be honest with you so that does hurt us. In fact we had practiced Saturday with a small lineup and had a really good practice on Saturday. Didn’t have as good a practice yesterday, but it does hurt and P.J. would love to be going with us as well.”
How do you try and make up for Hairston’s production?
“It’s hard, because it means that everybody else has got to do a little more. That’s the bottom line and it’s hard to think in terms of going small, because he’s the only perimeter player that we’ve had spend time at the four spot and his skillset is what makes it more difficult for the other team to guard anyways, because he can drag their four man so far out on the court. J.P. [Tokoto] doesn’t shoot it as well so you can’t make those kind of changes and then go play the number one team in the country and think you know what the crap you’re doing so you might as well play with what you got and everybody else has got to step up a little bit.”
What else did you take away from the trip out west other than the small lineup?
“Well, it was strange, because I wasn’t happy at all. I really surprised my guys on Saturday because I told them I was really ticked and I’m not sure exactly what terminology I used. We had a big time practice on Saturday because we win two out of three over there, but the two games we won we should have won and then the other game we could’ve won if we had played well, but we didn’t play well and the Long Beach State game, it’s strange because after the Long Beach State game I think I said I was pleased with our toughness. On the road, road crowd and it’s a one-point game at halftime and we did some nice things. We executed, we fought hard, we really did some nice things and then against Butler I didn’t think we did those things so that was strange because I really felt like we took some steps with the Long Beach State game and took some steps in the other direction after the Butler game.
“They hit us right in the mouth, we didn’t respond the way we needed to respond and all of a sudden it’s 29. I told those guys 60-31 and I will take that to my grave. I’ll still see that, because I don’t look up at the scoreboard very often and I looked up and saw 60-31 and I can’t get that out of my mind. Everybody said ‘gosh that was a great comeback’ and we did some nice things, but if we had play with that sense of urgency the first 28 minutes we wouldn’t have been down 29 and at 12:05 I think is when it was that we were down 29 and with 1:05 it is a six point game and we missed two three point shots the next two shots that were very good looks, but the bottom line is they played much more aggressively than we did, they had much more intensity than we did and then all of a sudden it’s panic situation and we decided we better play with a sense of urgency, but I’m not into moral victories and I’d rather not be down 29 to find out if we’re going to be tough.
“I liked it when it’s Long Beach and we’re one or two points down in the first half and saw our toughness. I challenged the guys and we’re going in to play somebody that is awfully impressive right now. They’re shooting 53 percent from the field, over 40 from the three-point line, 74 from the foul line, five starters in double figures, 17,000 fans screaming for them so we got a major challenge for us but I’d rather it be that than Jones Angell University, because we’re going to come out and play our tails off and so we better see how we stand up to that team.”
On Reggie Bullock’s performance in Maui:
“I think he played better than anyone else on our team. Even in the Butler game he was doing some more effective things than some of the other guys were, but I think it was a good trip for Reggie. We need him to be offensive minded and I think he’s doing a little bit better job of that and he continues to get better defensively. One of the things we talked about – we wanted him to rebound the basketball a little bit more, because, again, we don’t have ‘Z’ and John Henson in there to get all those rebounds, but it was a better three days for Reggie than anyone else.”
Did the announcement that Maryland will move to the Big Ten surprise you?
“Well, it did surprise me. It was a total shock, but they’ve been a member since the league was formed. They’ve been a great member, but they don’t want to be here now so that’s okay. It’s the kind of thing that I hated because I think that the history and the tradition that we have in the ACC of all the schools or a bunch of the schools being together for a long time was great and Maryland’s been a great member, but the bottom line is they don’t want to be here anymore so that’s okay.”
On the future of ACC basketball with the additions of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame:
“I think it will be [as strong as ever] and who knows what is going to happen next. I could get in the car on the way to the airport tonight and we’ve gained somebody else or lost somebody. Who knows, but it’s what is going on in college athletics right now. It’s changing drastically and very quickly, but I think ACC basketball for the longest time has been the best league. For 50 years you take some years it’s good, some years it’s great, some years not so good, but over time it’s been by far the best league and I think when you start talking about adding Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse, those are three big basketball schools too. They have big time programs and they’re only going to make our league stronger.”
Who are you most comfortable with shooting the basketball right now?
“Reggie Bullock. Pretty easy, he’s got the highest percentage. More of them are going in. As I say, from the three-point line Reggie and Leslie. P.J. looks great and makes some, but I’d like him to make more. I’d like him to make a higher percentage than he does, but Reggie, and I’ll knock on a little wood here, when he pulls the trigger now I think it is going in. Leslie and P.J. can make a bunch of them. I think Marcus Paige is going to be a good three-point shooter for us as well.”
Is the team still being led collectively or has someone taken a larger role in that regard after a few games?
“Since we got back from Hawaii, James Michael [McAdoo] was more enthusiastic and more vocal than anybody else on the team the last two days of practice and that’s good. You want your best players to step up and do those kinds of things, but I still think it’s more a collective thing right now. There’s going to be a time that Marcus Paige is going to take over because of the position that he plays and the respect that everyone has for him mentally whether it is going to be this year or next year or the following year, who knows, but right now Reggie has a great deal of respect from his teammates, James Michael, Dexter [Strickland] throws in, Leslie throws in and it is still a collective thing.”
On signee Nate Britt:
“Nate is a quarterback. He plays the point guard spot similar to Marcus and Kendall [Marshall]. He’s a lefty. I like left-handed point guards I guess, but he has a great deal of savvy. He can shoot the basketball and last year we’re trying to go to the Final Four with our third point guard and our back up power forward as our guys that are going to handle the ball for us so I’ve always felt like you needed to have three really good point guards and Nate will be good for us and Nate shoots the ball, Marcus shoots the ball well so you can play them both at the same time and I think we’ll do that quite a bit.”
On signee Isaiah Hicks:
“From Oxford (N.C.) Webb. He’s 6-foot-8, athletic guy a little bit like James Michael. A little bit thinner. Great runner, jumper, can block shots, very athletic kid, 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 and, again, a wonderful kid that committed to us really early. I offered him a scholarship on a Tuesday night at 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock that night he said 'yes' and so just a kid who has loved the Tar Heels basketball program for a long time and will be one of those guys that is going to get involved quickly in the frontcourt with minutes played.”
On signee Kennedy Meeks:
“From Charlotte. The last two years they’ve played in the state finals. Won one and lost one and I like guys who play on winning teams and do those kinds of things. Maybe as good a passer for a big guy that we’ve ever recruited. His outlet pass – there are not too many people that can throw an outlet pass like Kennedy and the way we like to run I think that will be even more important that he fits in very well, but he can score inside. Built very similar to Sean May. He’s got to drop some weight and the whole bit, but I think all three of those kids are good students, good kids, the kind of kids that you want to be involved in your team and they love the idea of being a Tar Heel.”
Do Tyler and Cody Zeller have similar games in terms of the way they play and can that knowledge be helpful against Indiana?
“Desmond [Hubert] had it best. He knew Tyler very well last year. Practiced against him every time and knew that he was going to turn to his left shoulder and shoot his jump hook and he still turned to his left shoulder and shot the jump hook and made it. Familiarity doesn’t do you much good, but I do think they are similar in some ways. They’re both about 7-feet, both weigh about the same. I think Tyler ran a little bit better. Cody puts it on the floor a little bit better and takes it to the basket. Tyler shot it really quickly. Cody sort of gets it, reads the defense a little more, but they’re both very good but there are some differences in their game and I don’t think just because you have played against one brother it helps you play against the other guy. It’s on game night and it changes from Tuesday to Wednesday.”
On the freshmen matchup at point guard between Marcus Paige and Yogi Ferrell of Indiana:
“Well, I think it is a good matchup. Yogi is a penetrator, slasher, really quick. It’ll be a good matchup. Dexter will end up guarding him some as well as Leslie and some of the other guys, but I think that will be two of the better freshman point guards in the entire country.”
What will be the keys against Indiana?
“We need to have a toughness about us to get through the screens. We need to have a toughness about us on the backboards and, of course, we need to shoot a good percentage, but it’s one of those things we felt like we had some things that might help us and losing P.J. takes a little bit of that away, but whoever puts that uniform on has got to play their tails off tomorrow night or it could be a butt kicking.”