On the status of the team coming off three straight wins:
“The kids are playing well. We’re doing some nice things. We’ve still had some of those moments during the game where I turn a little grayer over there and get a little older, but at Georgia Tech we were not very good in the first half. In the second half, it could’ve been as good of basketball we’ve played all year, but as you’ve heard me say a thousand times, everything looks better when the ball is going in the basket. We did some good things defensively down there as well. In the North Carolina State game on Saturday, in the first half I thought we were really active defensively and we were fortunate because they missed some shots that they would normally make. The second half, it was like pulling teeth out there that don’t want to be pulled, but it was still a great win for us. Three wins in seven days, I think anybody would take that but it just means that last week was really good and now let’s see what’s coming this week.”
How does James Michael McAdoo energize this team on the court?
“James Michael has not been as effective at times as we’ve wanted him to be but we cannot say anything at all about how hard he is playing, how hard he is trying and how he’s involved in the game. He’s playing with a great sense of urgency. I’ve been really pleased. We’d love for the ball to go in the basket a little bit more but he’s really given us a big lift and I think early in the State game is an example of that right there. He’s really playing hard for us and he’s shot the ball well from the field until the State game so I’ve been really pleased with those things. Now I need him to do it a little bit more and a little bit better.”
On struggles to finish plays close to the basket:
“You know we just have to finish the play. We had an offensive emphasis of the day at practice yesterday to focus on the target. If you’re going to use the backboard then focus on that target. If you’re going to use the rim then try to focus on that. We spend so much of our time—some of it is our immaturity or our youth—looking where the defensive player is because big guys particularly are always worried about getting their shot blocked. I think we’ve got to focus on the target and we’ll finish more plays around the basket.”
On Leslie McDonald’s comfort level on the court as the season has progressed:
“Leslie is feeling a little bit more comfortable. All of our guys, I want them to shoot a higher percentage because that means you’re more efficient. I do think with each and every game he’s getting a little bit more comfortable.”
On Brice Johnson’s signs of development throughout conference play:
“Brice has the ability to score. He’s got to finish some of those plays around the basket as well. Today I actually stopped practice—I shouldn’t say anything about this but I’ll knock on some wood—I yelled over to Eric Hoots and I said, ‘Eric, I don’t know if you were paying attention or not but Brice Johnson just played the best defensive possession of his entire life.’ We need him to do that and if he can get better defensively and more involved defensively then it’ll help his whole game.
“He acted like he was possessed. He was talking on defense, he was helping out. He got up and denied a pass at the top of the key and denied a pass into the post. There was a big switch when they made a piston action play and he called that out and did it aggressively. I thought 'oh my gosh, what’d he have for lunch today' because whatever it was, I’m going to have the daggum stuff shipped in so he can have it every day for the rest of his life.”
On the three members of the 2014 recruiting class (Joel Berry, Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson) being named McDonald’s All-Americans:
“I think it has been in the past and I haven’t seen the official announced roster but it’s a 24- or 25-player team. We’re pleased, they’re three great youngsters. We’re really looking forward to having them here and I’m very pleased for them.”
On J.P. Tokoto’s foul trouble and the amount of fouls earned as an entire team:
“Stop reaching. Stop fouling. It’s an easy deal. You play defense with your feet, you don’t play defense with your hands. J.P.’s not the only one. We are committing more fouls than any team I’ve coached in 11 years we’ve been back here. It’s not even close. We have been at one time and I forget which year it was, we were number one in the nation for fewest fouls committed. As of a week or two ago, we were 217th. There’s 216 teams in-between there. James Michael is the same thing. I got very upset with James Michael. He runs out and gambles and fouls a guy who’s a 90 percent free throw shooter, 55 feet from the basket on Saturday. We try to work awfully hard to play without fouling and that’s one thing that this team has got to do a better job of.”
On Nike’s throwback edition jerseys set to be worn Feb. 22 against Wake Forest:
“Well, they don’t really look that different either and if they’re going to look like some of our old school jerseys then I’m always in favor of that.”
On the matchup with Maryland on Tuesday night:
“They’re the kind of team that you don’t like to play. They have five guys averaging in double figures. Four of the five guys were really important to their team last year. They have the experience. They can score, they guard you, they rebound and they had one guy who had 19 rebounds in one game this year. Mark (Turgeon) does a really nice job with them and he’ll have them fired up. He wants to come in here and beat North Carolina. They’re 5-4 so they’re ahead of us in the league. We’ve got to match their enthusiasm and our want to has got to be deeper than their want to.”
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