On teams that have a chance to win the national title:
“Every year, you can pick a number – are there 12 teams, are there 14 teams – that legitimately has a chance. Seven or eight of those are about the same all of the time and that’s the way I want our program to be. Ohio State is really good. In fact, I called Thad Matta [on Monday] and I didn’t get him, but I told him to fire his shooting coach. Because my gosh, if you can only make 14 out of 15 3-pointers, you ought to fire the dadgum guy. That’s what they did [on Sunday] against Wisconsin – they made 14 out of 15 threes. Most teams can’t make 14 out of 15 with nobody in the gym except them…
“I’m really impressed by Thad’s team. I’ve really been impressed by Pittsburgh’s team, really impressed by Kansas’s team. There are some teams that don’t have any holes. And we’ve had a couple of squads like that. In ’05 and ’08 and ’09, all three of those years I thought we didn’t have any big-time holes. And two of those years we were really lucky and played that way.”
How will the short bench affect the team heading into the postseason?
“I’ve always said I can play 10 easily and keep everybody pretty much happy. Nine is easier than five. And then you get down to eight and you start worrying if you’re going to have enough. There’s no question that trying to go to Greensboro and trying to play three straight days with eight guys getting the minutes, you worry about that. But I’m also one of those guys that I’m not going to coach on Friday night to save something for Sunday. If you do that then Sunday you’re sitting at home watching the game on TV.
“We have tried to do some different things with the substitution patterns right before TV timeouts to give the guys a little longer blow when we get them out like that. That’s something that we’ll continue doing. We’re still going to try to push the pace. One of the TV people asked me before the Duke game or maybe it was someone in the media at the press conference on Friday if I was going to try to slow the pace with only eight scholarship players. And I said, ‘No, it’s that old saying about we’re going to dance with who brought you, because that’s the way we play and that’s the way we feel comfortable.’
“There will be some timeouts and substitutions around the TV timeouts. And then the other thing is that once you get into tournament play, my gosh, it’s a whole different ball game because time outs start lasting so dadgum long. I can’t talk to them that long. I do not think of enough things to say.
“I would be willing to say two things. One, I’ve already said I’ll have more timeouts than anybody in history when I retire. The second thing is I bet you I finish my timeouts before any coach in America. ‘All right, get down and play defense, box their butt out, run.’ I can only say that in so many languages. You can’t say the same thing over and over… I don’t like to get together with my staff out there and pretend. Most of those guys are trying to figure out where they’re going to dinner after the game.”
On the news that no Tar Heels made the All-ACC first-team:
“I expected that. I think the true basketball fans and the knowledgeable basketball people would have expected that as well. The guys that did make it, they had great years, too. But the satisfying thing to me is that we had three guys on the second team and they finished sixth, seventh and eighth. And then we had a guy on the third team, so we had four out of the 15. I remember last year was the first time in North Carolina history that we had no one on the first, second or third team or on the defensive team or on the rookie team. So last year we got shut out. You’ve heard me say thousands of times that the teams that do well, the teams that win, their players get the awards and rewards, so I was ecstatic for that part. And I have nothing negative to say about those five guys that made the first team.”
Do you prepare differently for tournament games than you do for regular season games?
“You have to prepare a little differently. For example, we practiced [on Monday] just working on North Carolina. Nothing else. We’ll practice [on Tuesday] just working on North Carolina. Nothing else. On Wednesday, we’ll give the team the day off and then on Thursday, we will start a little bit after the noon game starts up there and it will be about North Carolina and then at the end, we’ll go in and we’ll know who won and we’ll look at the clip tapes. We’ll already have clips made up of both teams and then we will focus on them at that time. And then you don’t have any time to practice with your team and focus on anybody after that.
“We’ll play Friday. If we win, we won’t know until later who we are going to play on Saturday and we won’t have any practice in between. So it’s much more mental preparation than it is actually getting out there on the court and working on things you’re going to face during a game.”
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