How frustrating is this investigation and the fact that it’s taking away from the excitement of the start of the season?
“It is what it is. Everybody is trying to their best. We’re trying to move along. We just go with it and do the best we can.”
How did you spend the days between the last game leading into the one tomorrow night?
“We did not practice Saturday because it was such a late game on Friday night. We came back Sunday and had a long practice. We practiced Monday, gave them Tuesday off, came back and practiced yesterday and we’ll have a practice today. We’ll try to go really hard and try to get some things done for Holy Cross. We’ll see if we can back peddle as fast as we run forward since they scored 122 last night we need to be able to do both.”
Do you select a holiday tournament based on the field or just for the tournament itself?
“I always commit to playing in an event before I have any idea who the field is. I generally go by sunshine as much as anything. I like to play in Maui so we try to do that every four years. You get a little bit of a feel about who the field is but I never know who’s completely in something before I give a decision, yes or no. I do like the events. I think we’re working on one that will begin next year but I don’t think it’s official yet. We don’t have any signed contracts. No, next year is Bahamas and that’s a pretty good field. As a matter of fact, it looks very similar to the field we’ll have two years later in Maui so we’re on the same rotation as some of those teams.”
What do you think you need to see from the center position to solidify that fifth starting spot?
“That’s a good question. It’s an easy answer because what it is somebody’s got to step forward and say they’re better than everybody else but that’s hard to do. Last time the fifth spot which most of the time would be the five spot. Last game if you add Joel (James), Desmond (Hubert) and Kennedy (Meeks) stats together it’s a pretty good stat line so I need all of them to continue contributing like that. It makes it a little easier somewhat if one guy steps forward but I’ve had teams before where we’ve had three guys rotate in the big spot. We had Drew Gooden, Nick Collison and Wayne Simeon and those three rotated through the two spots. I’d like to have that kind of success that we had with those teams. We need to rebound the ball. We need to play better defense around the rim and that’s the two biggest things we’re looking for from them and if they happen to score then that’s fantastic.”
Comments on Theo Pinson:
“Well there’s a lot of private things I can’t say that he’d laugh about if he hears that comment. He’s really a basketball player. He makes instinctive plays. He’s 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 athlete but he knows how to play. He really does. I saw him play one game where he was just almost belligerently screaming at the guy to throw the ball inbounds faster. It hit Theo’s hand like it was off of a ricochet board and he threw it about 50 feet and the guy laid it up. He saw the play developing and he was foul line top of the key extended on the sideline. He was really screaming at the guy, ‘Throw me ball.” As soon as it hit his hand it goes another 40 feet and the guy catches it and lays it up on the other end because he’s out in front of the whole team.
"The instinctive ability, the savvy that he has…He’s really a good defender and has the opportunity to be a big time defender. His shot it getting better. The easiest way to describe it is I just think he’s a basketball player.”
Which half of play in the first outing resembled the Tar Heel team you expect to see on the floor this season?
“I have no idea. I would love to say the first half but we played better then we have in any day of practice. The second half we played about as poorly as we have in any day of practice. Probably somewhere in-between is the real team but hopefully we can push them each and everyday to try and get closer to that first half. It was pretty basketball. In the second half, human nature is that you don’t have the same kind of motivation and the same kind of concentration. It’s just what it is. Still as a coach, you try to fight to make sure you can get that. We were really unselfish in all of the marginal passes that went through and turned into layups. The second half the marginal passes turned into turnovers.”
What has J.P. Tokoto shown in practice to make you feel more confident in his play on the court?
“He’s shown everyday in practice exactly what he showed in the game. There’s some oh my gosh and some more oh my gosh. He’s four to one assist to turnover ratio, five for six in the first half and zero for five, one to four assist to turnover ratio in the second half. It was great for him. I think he really enjoyed the first half. I think he had fun. I think he understands what he can do and now he’s just got to keep the concentration and discipline to make sure he plays like the guy in the first half and not the guy in the second half.”
What type of lesson does P.J. (Hairston) and Leslie McDonald sitting out teach your other players?
“Well I hope it doesn’t have to be that kind of lesson but I think everybody feels for them. They’ve been great teammates through all of this. They’ve been wonderful in practice. They’re pushing the other guys. They’ve been quality teammates everyday. I think everybody feels for them right now.”
You had said a couple months ago about P.J. and Leslie that you hadn't learned anything through the media that you hadn't already been told ... is your understanding that the guys were entirely forthcoming and truthful the entire way through this?
"I think I can stand on the same statement because I haven't been privy to information -- it's not my job, not my position kind of thing. I think it's unfortunate for the kids, it's unfortunate for everyone involved."
Do you feel like you should have more of a role in this?
"No. It's too time consuming. We have people on our staff here, and I assume people at the NCAA, that are doing it 8 hours a day at least and sometimes more. I can't do that if I'm going to be the coach."