What is allowing James Michael McAdoo to have such success this season in the ACC?
“He’s becoming much more efficient. With James Michael, I’ve always talked about one of John Wooden’s great quotes that I love, it was 'Be quick but don’t hurry.' James Michael always rushes things and I think that he’s settled down a little bit there. We talked to him about shot selection because a guy in his position at 6-8 is supposed to shoot a great percentage because you’re going to get some dunks, too, which he does. At the same time we’ve talked about 'don’t turn the basketball over' and I think he’s done both of those. He’s shot a much a better percentage and has handled the ball effectively. One of the best plays of the game yesterday is we got the ball to him and he makes two or three dribbles and makes the right handed bounce pass in the first half to Leslie (McDonald) for the layup on the fast break. He really has been very efficient except for at the free throw line and I’m just that guy that keeps thinking they’re going to start going in even more because his free throw percentage in conference play is about as bad as I’ve ever seen, but he’s still really played well. Again, I’m one of those guys that thinks the free throws are going to start going in.”
On Kennedy Meeks starting and his play of late:
“He’s done some good things. I think I’ll go back to the Boston College game, in fact I got mad at James Michael because they’re driving us to the basket and we’re fouling them on the other end and then we’re getting the ball in the post and everybody’s shooting turnaround fadeaways and avoiding the contact. I took James Michael out and put Kennedy in and well I threatened him—I was trying to think of a nice way to say it—I told him if he got the ball and didn’t take it to the basket, I didn’t say I was going to kill him or anything like that, but if you get the ball and you don’t take the ball to the basket then just come over here and sit down. We’ve got to be more aggressive and he did that, particularly in the second half in the Boston College game. He’s shot a good percentage in the last three games. He’s gotten better defensively. I think he’s worked harder. He was really one of the bright spots up in Charlottesville and as I’ve said he’s probably one of the best passing big men I’ve ever coached. Rebounding the ball and giving us a challenge for the other team to defend inside. Last year we went through the whole season basically not having any inside scoring, Kennedy gives us that.”
How much does it benefit your team to have a scoring threat down in the post?
“Well, you go back and you look at all the great teams that North Carolina’s had, we’ve had a chance to win a national championship and the two that we’ve won since I’ve been here we’ve had Tyler Hansbrough and Sean May. Everybody’s got to get back there and try to get the ball out of that area. Both of those guys got fouled a lot so then you can score with the other team at the end of the game with the other team's better players not being in the game. It opens it up so much for your shooters. Last year we had such great shooters and if we’d had an inside scoring threat then it would’ve been even better than it was. This year we need to have that and I think so far Kennedy’s the best at it and James Michael and Brice (Johnson) are doing a better job going to the basket as well.”
On Leslie McDonald’s struggles in conference play and improvement against Clemson:
“I think he’s been rushing his shots, been pressing, being a little off balance and not having a good grip on the ball. He missed one in the first half diagonally across from our bench in the far corner and it was Nate’s (Britt) fault because Nate made such a poor pass that it was down on his knees so he sort of fumbled it. We talk all the time about hitting guys in the shooting pocket or don’t shoot it but Leslie thought he had a good enough grip on it but missed it. His shot selection was much better and I teased him a little bit today. I told him he looked like an offensive guard because he’s 227 right now and I said it’s not that big of a deal but I think you’d be better between 215 and 220. Then he gets hurt and everybody’s laughing like crazy at him during practice because it was a cross court pass and he went up and intercepted it so I just looked away and then all of a sudden I turn around and Leslie’s laying on the floor. Everybody’s just laughing and I say which line got him because he tripped up on a line and sprained his ankle over there but he was all right. He came back in at the end of practice. We’ll be concerned about it a little bit tomorrow.”
Any issues with the team’s travel plans to Atlanta due to the possibility of inclement weather?
“We’re aware of it. We’re monitoring it. Brad Frederick is in charge of travel and he’s already speaking to the people at the airlines. We’ve made some adjustments so that if we needed to change practice tomorrow and whether we go later or on a bus or whatever so we spent some time talking about it today. We even alerted the team to some possibilities.”
Do you tend to tighten up your rotation as you enter conference play and the season progresses?
“I think I’ll answer the same way because I believe it -- not really. I let the guys throughout the preseason determine who’s going to play the most and those guys play the most. The difference is this year that in a couple of spots nobody stepped up and said 'that’s my position, you can sit over there and clap and I’ll clap when you come in to give me a breather for a couple of minutes.' Normally in the first five weeks of practice I pick out who’s going to play the most minutes and they choose by what they do in practice. They win that spot.”
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