Will P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald be traveling this weekend?
Was that your decision?
What does it say about Dean Smith and his reputation of treating every player equally regardless of their capabilities on the court?
“I think it says an unbelievable amount about his care for people and understanding the differences in people but still wanting to treat everybody fairly. The guy who’s the last man on the team does the best he can do everyday of practice just like the best player. I tell mine all of the time, every team I’ve ever had has had walk-ons. Every single team and I think there’s only been two or three where there’s only been one guy. Usually it’s more than that. I tell them if I eat steak, you’re going to eat steak. If the leading scorer eats steak, you’re going to eat steak unless you choose not to because now we get steak, chicken, fish and all sorts of stuff.
"I do treat the kids like that on the squad and I thought that it builds camaraderie on the team. I think it’s really good for everybody. I also tell them if I get mad and they’ve got to run 10 suicides or 33’s as we call them then if the leading scorer has to run 10 33’s then you do also. I’m not going to do that. If you were to ask every one of our walk-ons they would tell you that is something that they really appreciate and I did get it directly from Coach Smith. Once I became a head coach then you get that feedback even more than you do as an assistant.”
Is there anything in particular you’ll take away from the ceremony yesterday in honor of Coach Smith?
“Yeah. I don’t want this to be a political message. I have my own beliefs but I was really struggling when I sat down as to how I was going to handle it. I think I said last week that I was so thrilled for the event but so sad that Coach couldn’t be there to enjoy it and understand everything that was going on. I think deep down he would have really been proud of this.
"So I’m sitting down there and I’m really struggling with the mixed emotions. I was really thankful for the way President Obama went through the introduction of the 16 winners. He had comic relief. The humor that he injected into it sort of took me out of that bad place I was in. I hear people talk about those kinds of things now but I was not in a very happy, jovial mood. I think President Obama, needless to say, he didn’t do it for me by any means, but it was really something that I’ll never forget.
"Then I started thinking about what a great happening it is for his family. I focused on the really positive side so much better and I’ll get more from that probably than anything else.”
How do you feel like your team performed in the half court against Belmont?
“You know it’s really strange because the Holy Cross game I thought we were terrible offensively so many times. In the Belmont game, I thought we were a lot better offensively. We got a lot of good shots. We had a lot of plays where we moved the ball two or three or four, five, six, seven, eight passes and got the shot we wanted. We got to the offensive board. We got some points on second shot opportunities.
"I was pleased. Not satisfied by any means and I won’t say really pleased. There’s a big difference in pleased and really pleased. I was pleased with what we did on the offensive end of the floor. The defensive end of the floor was 180 degrees the other way. I was not pleased at all. Then when I looked at the tape you see worse. It was a strangeness to it because I thought we did make some strides and were much better offensively against Belmont but defensively we were not there.”
Comments on free throw shooting:
“I know we were really good in ’09 because we had five guys in the game who shot everywhere from 75 to 83 percent or something like that. We practice free throws in ’09 exactly like we did in ’10,’11 and ’12. If two guys make 81 and 84 percent on their own then I can’t simulate what their thought process is in a game. We’ve got to be able to handle that. We do shoot them. I always say we’re more than likely going to shoot more but I also think it’s a problem and that’s something we realize. I didn’t think we were going to realize it to the extent that it was.
"That will go down as one of the two worst free throw shooting performances of any team I’ve every coached. You’ve got to try to make sure we correct the technical problems and then hope we can give them some guidance to take care of the mental problems and go from there.”
What have you seen from Richmond so far this season?
“I watched half of that tape (against Belmont). It should get our guys’ attention. The team that beat us lost to the guys we’re getting ready to play next. Chris (Mooney) does a nice job with his team. He always has. They play more of a half court game. He doesn’t try to slow it down but they’re patient and try to move the ball until they get the shot they want.
"Defensively, they play a little bit of a matchup zone at times. They play a sagging man to man. They switch defenses on you a little bit. The matchup is probably what you’re going to see for the most part. Their two leading scorers are their point guard and the first guard off of the bench so they do give those guys some freedom. They haven’t shot it great from the 3-point line yet so we’ll have to see what happens but Chris does a really good job.”