Feb. 22, 2010
– Opening Statement
“It was great to see Derrick Favors play without foul trouble Saturday. He played a great basketball game, and our team played very well. I thought we had a very good week last week. Unfortunately we didn’t get the win on Saturday, but I would say that we are probably playing the best basketball of the season right now.”
On expansion of NCAA tournament field to 96 teams:
I am for expansion of the tournament, I am not sure what the number should be, but I just think it makes sense because in 1985 you had 285 teams and there were 64 teams in the tournament. Now we have 340 and more parity then ever. It is definitely a reward to the student-athletes.
On if there is a disconnect with fans, who are against it in polls:
“I’m not sure. I think what happens is often people will propose it in a way that coaches are trying to save jobs and things like that. I think they often overlook the young men that play the game. I look at football, and I see 50 percent of those teams going to bowl games. The argument is made that those are minor bowls, but when I see those kids win those bowl games I see a lot of emotion and joy. I think the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament is a big deal to these kids.
“The coaches theyy talk about that are “losing jobs” or “trying to protect their jobs,” even if they lose their jobs, they go on and get another coaching job someplace else and enjoy the tournament. I look at a guy like Larry Shyatt, who was let go from Clemson, now he is on the bench at Florida. He’s won two national championships, and been to a bunch of NCAA tournaments. But maybe one of his teams at Clemson could have gotten in with a larger field.
“Again, I think people overlook how much parity there is in our game. You have some very deserving teams, a couple of years ago, Syracuse, left out. They were clearly an NCAA-worthy team. Those kids didn’t have the opportunity. They have as little as one or as many as four or five years to take part in what many would call the greatest sports spectacle in American sports. It’s easy to point out that coaches are trying to cover their tails, but there is a bigger story out there than that.”
“You know there was a time in Major League Baseball when only two teams made the playoffs. I’m a huge baseball fan, and now we have eight teams in there. I think things evolve, and I think you have to respond to where things are going and the game is moving toward more and more parity.
On Zachery Peacock coming through in the clutch:
“The thing about Zach is that he is an extremely hard worker. I always tell kids you want to work on something enough, so when you are in that situation, it’s not new to you. You just go on automatic pilot. Guys that I have been around, like a Zach Peacock, who make big shots or make big plays, are gym rats. I’m sure there is some fortune that goes into it. But at the same time, you had to have put yourself in that situation thousands and thousands of times, so when the opportunity does arrive it is nothing new, you just go out and do it.”
On Derrick Favors staying out of foul trouble and being more effective in games as a result:
“That’s the whole thing, the foul issue has been a real concern. I have talked to people, in fact I talked to John Clougherty (ACC men’s supervisor of officials), about what we can do. Obviously Derrick has got to, as he gets more experience, understand how to avoid ticky-tack fouls. Honestly, I wish they would allow him to play a little more. But when Derrick stays out of foul trouble, he is a game-changing player.”
On the benefits of having a week off after such a heart-breaking loss at Maryland:
“I don’t think our guys are stewing on it, because our guys really played well. You got to give Maryland credit. Hayes made a terrific pass with a big, active defender on him and the kid caught it. Then he threw it up and it went in. I think initially we felt great disappointment and shock, but once we got into the locker room, we talked about what we did and how well we played.
“We are playing our best basketball at the right time of the year. Now we will be disappointed if we don’t come out and play with that same level of energy and purpose on Saturday. It has been a long season, I think taking two days off – we took off yesterday and we are going to take off today – are a good thing for our basketball team. And we will get back on it Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to get ready for Boston College. I expect us to play a great game on Saturday, because I think the guys really went back and evaluated and felt good about their effort.”