March 1, 2010
– Opening Statement
“I think we are continuing our development, and playing pretty well. (Iman) Shumpert had a great game on Saturday, and Derrick Favors followed up a very solid game against Maryland with a very solid game against Boston College. But overall I just like how our team is starting to play more consistent basketball. When we take care of the ball, which we have done the past couple games, we are pretty efficient offensively.”
What are your thoughts on expanding the NCAA tournament field?
“I am certainly in favor of it, just because the number of teams playing Division 1 basketball has expanded from 285 in 1985, when they put the tournament at 64 teams, to over 340 teams now. There are certainly more deserving student athletes today, because of the expansion of teams in Division I, and also the larger number of good players and teams out there. I am definitely in favor, but I don’t know what the number should be.”
The two teams that will be playing for the ACC regular season title Wednesday night (Duke and Maryland) are the two most experienced teams in the league. Does that surprise you and can you talk about that in relation to the youth you have tried to work in and the prospects for the future?
“It doesn’t surprise me, especially when you have veteran perimeter players that take care of the basketball. When you take care of the basketball and take good shots, you really have a chance to win any game in Division I college basketball. For instance, in the first 12 minutes in the game against Boston College, we turned the ball over one time. We played extremely well and had a double-digit lead. For the rest of the game we turned it over 19 times. At the end, we had some really silly turnovers that allowed Boston College to get back into the ballgame. So I guess, long story short, when you have veteran guard play and take care of the ball you have a chance to be there at the end of the game and have a chance to win.”
Speaking of veteran guard play, Maryland has (Greivis) Vasquez and Duke has (Jon) Scheyer. Do you see them as the key influences on those two teams?
“Certainly to me they are very important, but I don’t think you can downplay the contributions of guys like (Eric) Hayes from Maryland and (Kyle) Singler and (Nolan) Smith from Duke. Also, you have to recognize both coaches. Watching their teams play over the years, you definitely grow in admiration for both coaches in how hard their teams play and how well they execute. Year in and year out they have their teams right there.”
What has been the difference in Iman Shumpert’s game? He went scoreless for two straight games and now has really come along well. Is it something mechanically or is it shot selection?
“I think it is simplifying things. Iman is a guy that is unselfish to a fault. At times I think he tries to do a little too much. I think it really boils down to, “Shoot when you are open, and pass when you are not.” When he keeps it simple, he is so talented. He has become a tremendous player that can have an impact on the floor both offensively and defensively. He has been one of the best defensive players on our team and maybe in the league all year. But the key to consistency offensively for him is just keeping it simple.”
It seems compared to 10 years ago they are not as many traditional centers. Is it hard for a coach to find a 6-10 or 6-11 kid that wants to play a traditional center role? Or do those guys think they are power forwards?
“It is hard, that is why a guy like Derrick Favors is so unique when he comes in and says one of the things he does best is rebound the basketball. I think the skill development of that game has certainly improved over the years but one of the downsides to that is everybody thinks they are a skill player. Everybody wants to face up and shoot 15- and 18-footers, and put the ball on the floor. The other part of it is deals with the kids leaving early for the NBA. The guys that are truly big, physical guys that can go down there and command double teams and rebound the ball they go off to the NBA very fast.”