Can you discuss the concerns still occurring with the team despite the recent success?
“It’s still the rebounding part. As long as you have Reggie [Bullock] and P.J. [Hairston] and those guys emphasizing it... We’re emphasizing it to them and as long as they’re getting the emphasis and putting it into their game, you’re going to be alright. Still our rebounding numbers are nothing like they were earlier in the year. What I’d like to do is have the best of both worlds and have the offensive capability to shoot the ball from outside in multiple positions and still rebound the ball.
"So we need to do that. We still have got to do a better job of protecting the basket and not letting teams shoot higher percentages against us either from the three point line or around the rim. This is probably and I haven’t looked at stats because frankly it makes no difference but it’s probably the worst defensive field goal percentage in conference play that we’ve ever had. And you know it’s a scoreboard. They keep score and if you allow teams to shoot a good percentage, it usually hurts you. We’ve got to do a better job of that, there’s no question.”
In terms of generating offense inside is that something you may have had to forgo a bit this year?
“Well no, we’re still trying to get it. We’re just trying to get it we’re just trying to get it by dribble or pass either one. We’ve had some games where we’ve dribbled the ball to the basket and made lay ups. As long as you’re getting some inside scoring; it doesn’t have to be by a 7-foot-1 guy with one eye in the middle of his head and smelly armpits. I mean it can be anybody else that can get the ball into the basket area. So we’re still emphasizing that and we have to emphasize that to have good balance.”
Comments on UNC’s recent ability to force more turnovers:
“Well, we’re more active. We have a greater sense of urgency and if you have a 6-foot-5 guy guarding a 6-foot-9 guy you better get some sense of urgency out of it from a quickness standpoint and harassing kind of standpoint. Our turnover margin is probably better than it has been but you know we didn’t the ball over hardly at all last year. I don’t know what it was but you look at it and looks like that is pretty good. There are tradeoffs but I still think defending and not letting the other team shoot the high numbers is more important than anything.”
With the addition of P.J. to the starting lineup the rotation has gotten tighter. Are those two connected or did it just work out that way?
“No, it’s like I told you guys so many times you get tired of hearing it. I thought about it for about five or six games. We knew they were going to be tradeoffs but then after the Florida State game staff met in the locker room after the game. We met on Sunday for a long time. I told them what I had been thinking about and that was part of it and so that’s why we stuck with it for awhile and we’ll see what happens.”
What made you decide to shorten the rotation?
“I didn’t like what we were doing. I don’t know that there is one single thing but when we were sitting there making decisions I said I’m thinking about doing this also. It was no light bulb that went on. I just didn’t like what we were doing.”
Thoughts on the upcoming game on the road against Clemson:
“You know, I’ve watched those two where they lose to Miami on a last second shot and lose to N.C. State on a last second shot. You flip those two games and it’s a whole different scenario for them. They have played very well at home. They’ve had some tough losses at home and on the road. They’ve played a lot of people really close.
"We can’t feel fat and happy because we won a home game on Saturday. We’ve got to try to keep playing and down the stretch the teams that emphasize and focus on each game as it comes they’re the teams that generally do well. If your play is up and down you’re not going to be very successful. We’ve got to focus on Clemson and their team and playing the best we can play. Hopefully we play better on Thursday night than we did on Saturday.”
Is it difficult for Hairston to front his defender in the post and is that a concern going forward?
“It’s a skill that you have to practice and you have to work on. We do it more with the big guys. Then all of a sudden he’s one of the big guys. So we haven’t coached him that much. We talk to everybody about how to play defense in the post and running around to front the post and we work on it in certain stations periodically throughout the year for everyone. But with big guys we do it almost every day.
"Well, here’s a guy who two weeks ago we said you’re a big guy so he’s had a crash course for two weeks and that’s it. And he’s trying to catch up in two weeks playing against one guy who has done it his entire life. It’s not going to be something that’s going to be very easy.”
Comments on Joel James’s health:
“He’ll play tomorrow. We had to have a big oxygen tank the day before because he was about to suck all the oxygen out of the whole building.”
What are some issues you see with the state of college basketball and what are some ways you would go about fixing it?
“The bus stop issue we’re not going to be able to fix because we can’t fight the NBA. You can’t fight that culture, the money, the pay checks, the cribs, cars and those kinds of things. You can’t fight that culture so you might as well forget trying to do that. I think what we can do is get people to understand that this college game is pretty doggone good. You can really enjoy it with the fans, the players, the coaches…I mean I’m loving the college game now just as much as I did fifteen or twenty years ago when I’m on the court with my team. It’s just all the other junk around it that is not as much fun. Focusing on what college basketball is.
"You know we’re not the other guys. We’re part of a college environment. It’s fun. People keep saying we’ve got to do something about stopping the kids from rushing the court and I say well why? I mean it’s fun. You need to be careful and not go wacko or anything like that but last night we saw two pretty big upsets and I think that is good for the college game. I don’t think that teams losing when they get to be number one is bad for the college game. I think parody that the media hates to talk about or anything I think that’s good for the college game. Gonzaga’s got a chance to go to number one. I think that’s great for the college game and not just because Mark (Few)’s a good friend. It is so competitive and where you play and who you play you have a chance to win by one or you have a chance to get beat by fifty. It varies from game to game. The fact that teams are losing once they get up there in the race for the national championship is wide open. I think that’s great for college basketball I really do. The only time I like it better is like 2009 when I thought we were clearly the best team and I like that part. I think the college game is in good shape.”