Oct. 10, 2012
“I’m excited about Friday. We’ve been able to have team workouts and individual workouts and so forth. I see our guys improving individually and collectively. I thought we had a great summer, great fall. I think our guys’ attitude going into Friday’s first official practice is really good. Obviously we have the new arena, which brings some excitement as well. I think our fan base that has been so important to this program, I hope at least, is starting to get a little re-energized because that’s so important for us to reestablish this program and where it was before and where we want to get to down the road. I love practice, and I love when practice starts. It’s going to be a great weekend. I know our guys are excited as well which is very, very important for us to continue to take some of the steps along this process that we’re in right now.”
On summer workouts
“I thought that the NCAA got that right, even if it’s just two hours, as a coach, and I think the players would agree, maybe it’s even better if it were four hours or six hours, but two is a good start and us being able to be in the gym with them with a little more contact, a little more direction. If they’re only working out those two hours a week, that’s not enough. They have to do stuff on their own, but those two hours that we’re with them give them that direction. Again, the difference between most teams, there’s a few outliers out there, for most teams it’s leadership, chemistry, competiveness, toughness. Chemistry has to be constantly built, and I think the summer workouts with us in there and with them doing a lot of stuff on their own have definitely helped that.
On players taking pride in their defense
“I think we’re in the process of getting better. If you looked at an area that we needed to improve in, and I can name quite a few, overall defensively, we have to be better. I think we were seventh or eighth in defensive field goal percentage in the ACC. You like to be in the top four in that. The area that we need to improve upon is our defensive field goal percentage from the three-point line. I think we were 12th in the ACC in that. We need to do a much better job in our overall defense and pressure, our intensity, and our sense of urgency. One area that we were very good at is our rebounding, though. Our defensive possessions need to end with rebounds. I think year two, our defensive energy will be much better, and I think our freshman have come along and done a good job picking that up.”
On beginning you second year
“If you remember last year’s press conference, I downplayed the fact of not having a home court and all that. I simply did not want our guys to look at that as a negative. That was difficult. It was hard, maybe even more so than I originally expected. That’s changed now. That’s going to be important, but not nearly as important in the fact that our returning guys have a year of understanding what’s important now in this program and what’s important now on a daily basis. We’re still in the process of trying to establish an identity for this program, and everyday you have to build on that identity and figure out where our strengths are. There’s no feeling out anymore among those guys where they’re trying to get a grasp of things. They know now, and we’re part of the process where we have to start doing it on a daily basis.”
On expectations for the freshmen
“I think when it comes to freshman, number 1, the only expectations those guys need to meet are mine. So many times nowadays in college sports in general, expectations for incoming guys get way overblown. Guys are doing things well and growing as young men and students and players, and they feel like they’re failing because they’re not meeting those expectations that were overblown to begin with. Those guys need to understand that they’re in the middle of a process, too. Those guys have done a tremendous job prior to even getting here in terms of getting on campus early and working out and getting a feel for things. They’re a little bit ahead of schedule when it comes to that, but they’re still freshmen. The most important thing that they learn is to compete every single day, which as you know a lot of times high school players don’t have to do, especially as highly talented as those guys were. If they do that, then that’s the first step of being consistent and that’s so important for a freshman.”
On perimeter shooting
“One of the things that we did a poor job on last year was creating shots for each other, that mentality of taking great pride in getting someone a basket and hitting the next open man. I think we were 300 out of 338 in assist per game and around that same level in assist-to-turnover margin. We have to do a better job in taking care of the ball and a better job of creating shots. I think we’ll shoot better, if we have the mentality of looking to get someone else a basket. It’s amazing, some games we shot the ball well, and it was a direct proportion to the assists and our ball movement. I think our guys have improved in those areas in our shooting, and those guys and their mentality will make us a much better offensive team.”
Do you have a feel for the team’s offensive identity?
“I think that one of the things that we were able to establish towards the end of last year is maybe we were more of a post presence. Again you win with high percentage shots, and how do you get those high percentage shots? You get them in transition. Best way to score in the post is in the open court, and we’ve got to do a good job with our guys running. All four of our big guys can run. You have to make sure that you’re getting offensive rebounds. We have to be a much better offensive rebounding team. Programs I’ve been associated with have always been tremendous in getting second and third opportunities. There’s nothing more demoralizing than getting those second and third shots. We have to do a better job of that, and I think we will. Do we have a better feel for where some points will come from? I hope so. I think we’re still evolving when it comes to that. Are we going to be a completely inside-outside team? We shoot better when we go inside first, so you hope that would be the case. That means some guys have to step up to because that’s a new responsibility for those guys, too.”