Feb. 15, 2010
I thought we played a good game on Saturday night against a very hot Wake Forest team. We had a chance, but we missed some shots at the end. In assessing the video and looking at some of the things we did in the game, I thought we did some really good things, some very positive things, and I just hope we carry that into Tuesday night.
You mentioned the hot streak Wake Forest has been on. Obviously, you saw first-hand how disruptive their defense can be at times. What are they doing so well on that end of the floor that allows them to be so successful defensively?
“They are really long, and they anticipate around the basket really well. If you come there and expect to shoot over those guys, you can forget it – they are blocking shots. They really put pressure on you to move the basketball to get good shots. And when we did that on Saturday, they force you to shoot the three well, and then you have a chance for two to three really good looks at the end of the game that didn’t go well for us. They have a point guard, (Ishmael) Smith, that puts a lot of pressure on you getting to the basket, and creates a lot of easy baskets for their guys – that was really the difference in the game in the last five minutes.”
What’s your philosophy with recruiting players that are only likely to be there their freshman year?
“Well, if the young man is someone that can be admitted to our school, and handle the academic rigors and compete in the ACC, I think you have to recruit them. No one can predict if someone is going to be here one year or two years and so on. There is an awful lot of speculation, in my opinion too much speculation, about how long certain kids are going to stay in school. I can think of kids in my 10 years in the ACC that I remember when they were coming in, everybody had them out in one or two years in more than one instance or occasion, they were there three years.
“I was talking to my friend from New York this morning about a kid named Felipe Lopez, and everyone knew he was “one-and-done,” and it puts a lot of pressure on those kids, and they don’t enjoy their experience because of so much speculation. At the end of his career, Filipe Lopez was in school for four years. We can all sit around and try to predict the future, but what you have to do is try to assess each kid as an individual. If you see a kid that can come to your school and do the school work, and certainly can compete basketball-wise in your conference, I think you have to take them, and then at the end of that year, you have to reevaluate everything.”
You’ve had a number of those guys that have come in and left in your decade in the league. Those “one and done” guys – are they helpful or hurtful to the program?
“I don’t think that it hurt us. There are other things that have hurt us. Chris Bosh helped us. Thaddeus Young helped us. I wish we could have had Javaris Crittenton for another year. He and I still talk today. In the case of Chris Bosh, he’s gone on to have a great career in the NBA. He’s a real role model for people up there in Toronto. He’s the face of that franchise. It’s great to have him associated with Georgia Tech. And the same with Thaddeus Young – he has done a great job for the Philadelphia franchise, and he’s been successful. I don’t think that has been a problem. Would it have been nice to have those kids for three or four years? Absolutely.
But, I think we also all have to be realistic in that basketball is different than football and baseball. In baseball, if you don’t come out of high school, you’re in school for three years. I think in a lot of the kids’ cases, that’s a good thing. But reality is according to the NBA, a young man can leave after one year. We as college coaches, we deal with it. I don’t think it’s a big deal. I’ve dealt with it three times. If you look at our program, there are other things that have hindered us, not that.”
Can you talk about the struggles that Mfon Udofia is going through? He seemed to be playing really well a couple weeks ago. Did he hit a freshman wall or something?
“I’m sure that is some of it. If you look around the country right around this time every year you see that the freshman hit that wall a little bit, and he has somewhat. The great thing about Mfon is that he is a really hard worker, and he is a very determined young man. I think he will fight his way through it, and he will get back to playing great basketball again before the season is over.”
You counter-balanced that when Moe Miller came in and gave you a really nice performance Saturday. He’s a guy that hasn’t contributed that much all season. Can you talk about that?
“I am very happy for him because obviously this hasn’t been very easy for him. He’s been positive, he’s been a team guy, and in practice brought a lot of energy. On the bench he’s been very helpful talking to the younger guys, especially. It was great to see him get an opportunity and more important for us, he really did a great job to steady his team. Glen Rice, Brian Oliver -the three of those kids really got us back in to the ball game after Wake Forest got off to a great start Saturday night.”
How do you look at UNC now from the first game you played, and how has it changed?
“They are playing smaller obviously because of the injuries they have had in the front court, the injuries they have suffered. They are still a very talented team, but I listed to Leonard earlier before I got on, and he is right they are a very talented team, they are just young. I have been saying for the last month they are not a team that people are going to want to face come the latter part of the season, and I think that latter part of the season starts now. So to answer your question, I am not excited about facing them, but we’ve got to get back to playing well again, and I thought we did that on Saturday. Hopefully we will carry over our solid play on Saturday to Tuesday night.”
You talk about the play of Miller and Rice. Saturday against Wake Forest you had 40 points, 17 rebounds, 8 assists, and 9 three pointers from players that came off the bench, is this one of the deeper teams you’ve had?
“I would say so. We are a little erratic because while we had all the production off the bench, our starters struggled on Saturday night, they really struggled. In order for it to be what I call a deep team I think we’ve got to get production from almost everybody that plays. I don’t think we got that on Saturday, but it did show you that our guys are starting to get that type toughness and grit from possession to possession that I want to see in our basketball team. We’ve showed that at times this year, we haven’t shown it on the road. I would say that Saturday was the first time this year that I though we showed toughness and determination. With 7:50 to go, we’re up by two, and we hung in there and again in the last eight minutes we got some great looks at the basket and it just didn’t go down for us. I really was encouraged by what I saw just from a determination factor, but we have to get more consistent playing great throughout.”