“We had a great week record-wise last week and I think our team got a little bit better. We’ve got two road games this week at North Carolina State and at Virginia Tech. We’re anxious to see if we can keep this going but we know that everybody is pushing toward the end of the year.”
What was your reaction to Adam Silver saying that the draft age limit being pushed to 20 was a priority for him?
“First of all, I think it’s important for us to understand that it’s not our rule, it’s the NBA’s rule. I hope that we can get together and work together in a lot of different ways, including this one. But I do think it’s something we should understand that it’s the NBA’s rule and we live with whatever they say.”
On improving free throw shooting:
“The bottom line is you’ve got to keep practicing free throws. If there’s a problem with technique, you’ve got to try to coach it and try to change the technique problems that are there. And then I think you don’t dwell on it too much because psychologically it’s probably a bigger problem than it is mechanically. For us, that’s the way I’ve attacked it forever. In 2009, golly bum, we made so many free throws it was unbelievable. We really had good free throw shooters. I think you can improve a guy and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Do you think the hand-check and block-charge rules have had the intended effect thus far?
“It’s a good question and I don’t think I have a great answer for you. I apologize… We have to be careful because you have to let players and officials and coaches get used to rules before you start changing them again before they even have a lifetime. I’m not so sure we gave the arc enough time before we changed it again. The people on the rules committee are the most serious people I’ve ever been involved with. I was on the rules committee for six years and they really take time and are very diligent about what they’re trying to do.
“I don’t think we’ll see any changes drastically or quickly because I do think you need to allow people to make changes. The gather question is difficult, but the block-charge call is difficult regardless of whether you make it where the gather starts or where the guy leaves the floor. It’s the hardest call there is and it will always be the hardest call there is, but I don’t see any drastic changes until you give a rule a chance to see if its going to be successful or not.”
Do you see things sliding back to last year’s standards with the hand checking?
“I think every year you start out with great intentions and game slippage is what Coach Smith used to call once you get in a game you don’t execute as well as you do in practice. And I think there’s a season slippage with officials that they do have to keep reminding themselves. I’m sure the coordinators and supervisors keep reminding them about what’s supposed to be called, but I do believe each and every year, as you get down closer to the end of the season, it does get to be more physical.”
Where has your team’s recent consistency come from?
“I think it’s each and every day of trying to keep pushing that issue of defending, sharing the ball, taking the best shot, rebounding, boxing out. It’s what we go to practice for every day and I’ve got a great group of kids, who in the good times were listening, but in the bad times they were listening even better trying to get better. I think that’s what has been our thing.
“Basketball has changed so drastically that we could lay an egg here in the next two weeks or the next month – who knows what’s coming next – but I think you have to give credit to the kids for continuing to listen to the coaches and trying to get better and trying to become more consistent. And I think that’s something as coaches we look for a lot. Needless to say, our group was not very consistent early in the year, but we have gotten much more consistent recently.”
What are your thoughts on J.P. Tokoto’s passing ability? He’s second on the team in assists.
“Well, he is a really good passer. The problem is sometimes he doesn’t see the defense. If you look, he’s up there pretty high in turnovers, also. His assist-error ratio is the most important thing. But J.P. really is a good passer. He can see openings that some people don’t see. The problem is sometimes they may be a little too small and he still tries to force it in there. The ratio of how many assists to how many turnovers you have is the most important stat. He really is a good passer and he’s willing to try just about any pass there is.”