On last week's loss to Indiana and win over UAB:
“For us it was definitely a mixed week. We didn’t play very well at all up at Indiana. They’re a very good team. 17,000 people were going crazy. It was a wonderful college atmosphere except I was on the other end of the score. I didn’t like that much, but it was a big time game for us and we didn’t step up and play the way we wanted to play and then turn around against UAB and Jarod [Haase] and Bobby [Frasor] this weekend was an emotional thing but we shot the ball well in the second half and that was the story of the game.
“We've got to play better. We originally were going to give them Sunday off and I changed my mind and so we practiced and we practiced again today and we’ve done some things that I think is going to help us, but we got to play better.”
Was shot selection the biggest culprit as far as why you struggled offensively against Indiana?
“Well their defense was stronger than our offense and so then what you do when you panic is you shoot the ball. I told them I’d rather them eat it or something like that. If you take bad shots, bad shots usually lead to run-outs for other teams. Turnovers always lead to run-outs, but bad shots lead to run-outs as well and so it was something that their defense was much stronger than our offense. We turned it over a few times as well, but we took bad shots.”
What was the difference against UAB when your team shot 72 percent in the second half?
“Well UAB is not as good as Indiana. We were playing at home. Those are the first two things to start with right there, but the first half was really choppy. We weren’t smooth. We weren’t in sync with what we wanted to do offensively. Second half it got to be a little smoother. They went zone for a couple of possessions and we made three in a row and all of a sudden our guys got more confident they were going to make a bunch of them.
"We had the right guys shooting the three point shots. We were 7-of-11 and no one took one except for Reggie [Bullock], P.J. [Hairston] and Leslie [McDonald] and so those are your best shooters shooting the ball, but being honest and this is nothing against Jerod’s club, but Indiana is better and playing in front of 17,000 people that would like to choke you to death is a little bit more difficult than playing in front of our crowd that is hoping we do well.”
What is going on with Marcus Paige’s shoulder injury?
“It feels better today. They determined he’s just got inflammation or irritation of the bursa sack in the elbow. Took X-rays today, the x-rays were negative so they feel good about their diagnosis of what it is. He did have better range of motion today than he did yesterday and it was better yesterday than it was Saturday. I’m hopeful that by Wednesday he’ll be able to practice and then be able to play this weekend, but for the game the only thing he could do was shoot. He couldn’t dribble or pass and it’s like I told you, I don’t really like point guards that can’t dribble or pass. All they can do is shoot so we decided there wasn’t any sense pushing him the envelope a little bit too much with him, but he’s feeling better each and every day.”
On Dexter Strickland filling in for Paige on Saturday:
“Again, in the first half it was so choppy. It was just like, ‘What are we doing?’ But then Dexter got a little better feel of the game going on in the second half and things got a heck of a lot smoother. Dexter did well, but if you understand what he did it’s even better, because Dexter had a project presentation, part of his final exam, for one of his courses.
"He was gone all Saturday morning. He did not come to shoot-around. He did not come to pregame meal. It was a six-hour performance thing with two things that he had to do. It was over in Raleigh so he is leaving Raleigh to come back for the game at about four o’clock and that’s when he finds out that Marcus is not going to play. For all of a sudden just bam like that he thinks he’s going to guard somebody and now he’s guarding somebody else that he thinks he’s going to be playing the two. He played the point for five minutes a game, now he’s playing the point guard for 25 minutes a game so it was a drastic shock for him and for Dexter to do as well as he did I was really pleased.”
How does playing a smaller lineup change what you’re trying to do?
“Well for us, especially in the UAB game and you could even go back to the Butler game when we made a tremendous comeback on them, but what we did on the defensive end of the floor [with] a smaller lineup is we were quicker and we were more aggressive with our traps so we made a comeback on the defensive end of the floor. We just didn’t make a couple of shots and then when we made a mistake defensively Butler made us pay. They were 7-of-9 from the three point line in the second half and we were down 29 and cut it to six even with them going 7-of-9 from the three point line.
“[In the UAB] game, they went small and it was a more difficult matchup for us. They were pushing the ball. It was more difficult for Joel [James], Desmond [Hubert] and those guys to get involved because of the pace of the game. We’ve had players in the past like Tyler Hansbrough who could slide his feet so well. I didn’t care how small the other team went because he could really guard anybody and so we didn’t change at that time. We kept our advantage with the size, but right now it’s a battle. Do I go small to match them or do I try to stay big and use our advantage there, but our big guys that give us the advantage are so young it’s not really much of an advantage right now so it did help us a little bit and it’s a really good shooting team. You have Leslie and Reggie and P.J. in a lineup all at the same time that’s three guys who can shoot the three point shot and it did help us, but we got to get it where we can have Joel and Brice [Johnson] and Desmond and James Michael [McAdoo] and those guys having two big guys in the lineup a lot too.”
What is your philosophy on guarding the high ball screen and could this be a team that presses more than previous teams?
“There are four ways we try to cover the screen on the ball and it depends. It’s too complicated to go over, but it depends on what is the problem. The guy dribbling the ball or the roll guy so you have to make a decision who is the biggest threat and then that helps you determine how you’re going to handle it. We have a regular way of handling the ball screen. We go over the screen and under your teammate and the guy guarding the screener has to make a high hedge and then you go from there and see what is coming. The other three people have to get involved, but it depends on who it is.
“We played Gonzaga in ’09 and the slip guy was a problem so we squeezed and went under and they didn’t bother us. For Villanova the guy would stop behind the screen and shoot it so you got to play it different there. There is no set way. In the NBA they have 73 ways, because those coaches got to earn their money and they yell out and the players do the crap they want to do most of the time, but for us it does change depending on what the threat is and, again, the roll man, the screener, is he the problem or is the dribbler the problem?
“Smaller lineup does not mean we’re going to press more because if a smaller lineup is Ty Lawson, Marcus Ginyard, Raymond Felton, Bobby Frasor, those kind of guys with great savvy and speed and quickness that’s something. We don’t have that and just because we’re smaller doesn’t necessarily mean we’re quick enough to start going and pressing people. Dexter is not an instinctive defensive player. Bobby Frasor was. Marcus Ginyard was. Dexter is tremendously athletic pushing the ball, jumping and those kinds of things. Marcus Paige is not a tremendous athlete, but has tremendous savvy. Leslie McDonald is not a tremendous athlete. Reggie Bullock is not a tremendous athlete. P.J. Hairston is not a tremendous athlete. They’re not Harrison Barnes, Vince Carter kind of guys.
“We may play more zone. You just got to find out something kids can do and that’s one of the things we’ve been working on the last couple of days is being able to change our defenses a little bit more.”
You don’t play a lot of zone. That’s a pretty big statement from you.
“I’ve already practiced zone twice this year. I’m serious. We did. Twice. I’ve had years before where we never practiced zone and we might play it in a game and just to stand out there and look different and see if it would screw up the other team. This team, if you think about it, if we go small how are we going to handle the other team if they have two big guys? That’s difficult for J.P. Tokoto or P.J., which would be the guy who would come in and play our ‘four’ spot. If you go zone you got a chance to maybe help each other inside a little more if they try to post you up, but we’re probably going to try to start changing defenses a little bit more like I used to do.”
Have you had any contact with Stilman White and is the plan still for him to rejoin the team after his mission?
“Yeah the plan is still there for him to rejoin the team. He just recently started this fall. We haven’t had any contact with him the last couple of weeks. I think when they get out they’re limited to certain times that they can call or text, but I think he came to at least two different football games. I think he was here for Late Night and I think he left right after that, but he’s a unique young man and it’ll be interesting to listen to him talk about his experiences.”
I know it has been a tough transition so far for Kendall Marshall in the NBA and now the D-League...
“Well it really has. I’ve spoken to Kendall a couple of times. Spoken with the people with Phoenix and they really still, and I’m convinced they are being serious and being sincere about it, have tremendous dreams and hopes for him. It’s just right now it’s a tougher situation and they want him to get more playing time on a professional level instead of staying there and playing two or three minutes a game or not playing in a game and they don’t see him developing.
"It’s a different path. It’s not the path that you want. When you leave college early to go to the NBA you would like for it to be smooth and have some playing time immediately, but it hasn’t happened that way for Kendall and so it’s just something that he’s got to fight through and I think he’s going to be there for nine games and hopefully it will help them.”
How do you integrate basketball during the upcoming exam period?
“It is difficult. One day this week that we have practice scheduled we have twelve players having exams that day. We’ve had to change a little bit. We moved some things around. Moving them up so I can go recruiting. Moving it to where we don’t practice at all because of exams so it is a tough schedule and we don’t know until like the week before because of when the schedules come out as to who’s got exams at certain times so it is something that is hit or miss a little bit, but we’re going to play Saturday and hopefully it’ll be a great day. Hopefully have some good practices before then. Hopefully the people will go out and see our national championship women’s soccer team at Carmichael [on Thursday at 5:30pm]. I’m hoping we’ll honor them at the Smith Center one day at a game there too, but just a great job by them and Happy Holiday’s to everybody and we’ll see you again next week.”
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