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Listen to Audio (21:35)
On where this team is currently:
“We are developing. I honestly believe – I’m not just giving everybody a line – that this team will get better and better as the year goes along. It’s been a club that has faced a pretty difficult schedule. I’m not going to say it’s the toughest, but what I said after we left Puerto Rico is that basketball people probably would have picked us to have a difficult time in both of those games. Both of those teams made the tournament and had more players back. We didn’t make the tournament and had fewer players back. And then most people would say it would be difficult to beat Illinois at Illinois.
“But it is still North Carolina and we don’t want to accept that, and so it is a developing team and it is a team that every day in practice, we’re really working hard to try to build the foundation and get better at the same time. I don’t think you can ignore the foundation of what we believe in – freelance offense, running the ball, 22-defense, those kinds of things – but I do think that it is developing. I think the kids have really made some significant improvement on the defensive end of the floor, on our effort, on the intensity that we play with recently and we’re, regretfully, still a work in progress on the offensive end of the floor as well.”
How do you counsel Harrison Barnes not to put too much pressure on himself?
“I try to get him to understand, and he does – he’s a bright individual. I haven’t had to be taking up for him. I just didn’t think it was fair. He’s very bright, he understands that what he has to do is please himself and his coaches and teammates. He’s not pleased with the way he’s played, but it’s not going to be driven by someone else’s opinion of him. He’s not satisfied. Is he upset? I don’t know that he’s upset. I think he just understands that it might take a while. That’s the way I’m looking at it.”
How does John Henson break the ice at the free throw line?
“We don’t know. He shoots them great in practice. I shouldn’t say great, but we shot 250 free throws and I think John was 78 percent. So it’s like [Phil] Mickelson. All of a sudden, you miss a lot of those little putts. He’s got to get some confidence and I’m one of those guys that thinks the more you make, the more you make. So we’re talking to John about shooting more all of the time… Technically, he doesn’t have anything wrong [with his form].”
Is Kendall Marshall pushing Larry Drew at all?
“Kendall was, yes, but Kendall’s last two games have been his worst games. His assist-error ratio was much better before the last two games than it is right now. But again, you’re talking about a freshman and that’s the most difficult position because now, all of a sudden, he is playing against guys who are just as tall as he is and quicker. And at the high school level, Kendall never played against anyone like that. He might have played against somebody as tall or he might have played somebody that was quicker, so that one is the most difficult to grasp.”
Listen to Audio (7:58)
After three losses, where is this team at, in terms of progressing?
“It’s behind a little bit, obviously, with three losses. It’s not where we want it to be. I think we’re making good progress and we’re well on our way to being a good team, but at the same time, we have a long way to go. We’ve got to continue to work and get better and better.”
How is the mood of the team right now?
“It’s good… We all get along very well, so team chemistry is not a problem. We’ve just to be able to work better together on the court and play the full game.”
Kentucky is not as big as they were last year. Does that provide some opportunities for you inside?
“Yeah, definitely. They’re a young team, but they’re a very talented team – very similar to us. I think we’re going to match up with them very well, but at the same time, we’re still going to have to go out and play all 40 minutes. We can’t really have the streaks like we did last year where they went on a [28-2] run. You can’t ever have those and expect to be successful.”
Listen to Audio (7:09)
On Harrison Barnes:
“He’s a normal dude like us. He likes to hang out and likes to go places. One thing that is different about him is his love for Chipotle. That’s one thing he likes a lot. But he’s just a normal dude, like one of us. Obviously, he’s a hard worker and is very focused. That’s pretty much Harrison for you.”
What are you expecting from Kentucky tomorrow?
“A lot of drives. They’ve got some great young players and hopefully we can contain them. We’re going to try our best to just play hard. I think being a young team, if you can rattle them a little bit, that could bode well for our situation. That happened to us a little bit last year. So hopefully we can just go out there, play hard and get the win.”