Is there a way to rebuild your team’s confidence level despite the early ACC struggles?
“I think there is something about confidence. I think I probably said that it speaks more to stress. The kids feel the pressure of North Carolina basketball that they’ve got to win regardless of who they’re playing and they’ve got to do this and got to do that. We’ve got good kids. You have a choice. You can take guys who are not really good kids who don’t give a blank about what anybody else says and during the course of the game I’d like to have that kind but the other 21 and half hours of the day you’d like to have the kids that are really good kids. They do care about what people think and if you play at North Carolina you care about what people say about you. I don’t read the newspaper, I don’t know how to read the internet. I try to stay away from about everything I possibly can and just focus on doing the best job I possibly can so we’ve got to talk to kids about letting that stuff go. Any pressure that we put on us, let’s put it on ourselves, the stress that we feel because we desperately want to be successful. We try to focus on those good things and get them to understand that we are going to get better. We have no chance to get better if you get stressed and worry all the time. You’ve got to put that junk behind and focus on the next play, next game or whatever it is. You’ve got to learn from your mistakes. I love it when kids hurt when they lose because it means that it means something to them and that they do care. We’ve got to take it from that stage and learn from our mistakes and keep trying. To me, I’m going to be down 10 times and I’m going to get up 11. We’ve got to get that attitude over to the kids.”
On coaching mentors throughout career:
“…Coach Bobby Knight, Coach Knight has been great to me for many years. I try to steal things from all those guys. Eddie Sutton, Jerry Tarkanian - I went to their practices. Bob Huggins, I went to his practices one time and Hugs one time had a great line, he said: 'You know we can really be good friends because we’re not going to recruit against each other because I don’t recruit the kids that you recruit and you don’t want to recruit the kids that I recruit' kind of thing. All of those guys I’ve tried to steal things from. Coach (Dean) Smith was very innovative. He had the original ideas and tried to do so many things. I’m a copier, I love seeing what people do, but when I think of the mentors I think of Coach Smith and Buddy Baldwin. I also think of John Thompson and Bob Knight and those people that have been so helpful to me.”
What’s the growth and potential possible for your team during the second half of the season?
“You know it’s hard to pick a record. You’ve heard me say before I never like to do those things but last season we started out 0-2 in the league and we finished 12-6 and it was a great run with some great road wins and a very difficult last game home loss against Duke. I think that team made some changes and they accepted it and we really got better. That’s what we’ve got to do right now. At that time last year I didn’t think 'wow, we’ve got a chance to win x number of games' but we do have a chance to get a heck of a lot better and we do have a chance for the kids decide to invest more. I shouldn’t have to coach effort. I should have to coach how we’re doing the things we’re asking them to do so the kids have to invest more. I have to do a better job but we’re not folding up the tents by any means. We had a good, solid hard practice the other day and we’re going to do some more of it this week.”
Has the move to more time at the point guard position hurt Marcus Paige’s scoring ability since the return of Leslie McDonald to the lineup?
“Well, the numbers would say 'yes' but I happen to think that it’s not that. Marcus and I have talked about it and share the same opinions. He’s a very accountable kid, he’s a kid that everybody would love the more you get to know him. After the Wake Forest game, I said 'Am I wearing you out, are you playing too much or is it a stamina problem?' and he said he just had a terrible game. He didn’t play well at Syracuse. He scored in the second half some but he didn’t play very well. He’s a tough kid. He’s a tough-minded kid. I don’t think that is the issue. We’ve looked at the numbers. You can make a case for that, there’s no question about that.”
On Joe Holladay’s first season of retirement:
“Well right now we’re 0-3, he’s enjoying the dickens out of it. I think he’s enjoying it right now more than he ever has. Joe and I have a chance to talk. In fact, we walked together one day last week and I think he’s enjoying himself. He’s enjoying being able to see his grandchildren and trying some new and different things. I’m going to tell on him a little bit, I think he’s been to 18 classes on the use of a computer and I think that’s pretty impressive. I told him I might like to do that because I can’t turn mine on. I can text somebody with my phone but after that I’m ridiculous. I told him that’s something I liked to do but I think Joe’s doing really well.”
On Joel James and his stalled progress this season due to injuries:
“There’s no question that the knee injury delayed his progress because Joel needs to play more. Whether it’s pickup games, behind the building in the dirt, he just needs to play more. He started playing as a sophomore (in high school). One day people were telling him what to do and he’s frustrated and his head’s spinning like a top. I said 'Joel, do you want me to be your only coach? and he said 'Yes' and it’s one of those kind of things. Dexter Strickland said he started playing when he was six and J.P. (Tokoto) said he started playing when he was five. Joel started playing when he was 16 so it’s a tremendous opportunity missed when he doesn’t practice and he doesn’t get to play. At the same time, he got hurt in Saturday’s game. You notice I didn’t play him down the stretch. He said he could go back in and his body language was not looking right. He got hit in the groin and it was really bothering him a great deal yesterday but today he came out and he practiced. Every day he misses it bothers him because he’s trying to catch up. He had a good practice today in that he worked extremely hard and hopefully he won’t be too sore tomorrow.”
On recruiting the 2014 class:
“Yes, we are still recruiting other people in that class. If you’re not doing something very well then you need to bring somebody in that does it better. We’ve got some deficiencies right now and those kids we have coming in we hope will cure some of those deficiencies.”
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