"I think there's always a fear that you get complacent. You think that you accomplish something and say, ‘whew!' And then you forget to work. There's no question that I think about that every year. Some years there's even a greater sense of fear than others, but generally speaking, kids do get more enthused at tournament time, so hopefully that's what's going to happen here. I'm pretty straightforward with them. I'll say, ‘hey, we turned it around, but let's not look back and say the highlight of our season was a 2-3-4 week period in January and February.'"
How satisfied are you with Brice Johnson's progression this year?
"That's a bad word, because not at all. But I'm always pushing. He's got to play harder, he's got to do a better job defensively, he's got to do this and he's got to do that. And yet, he really does some good things that really help us. He understands all of those things that I said and he would probably say it the same way. Nine rebounds and 15 points, but I want more. I would hope that a player would understand that and think I'm trying to make him the best player that he can possibly be. The majority of players I've had have understood that. But he can – he's just at the tip of what I think he can do."
Do you have a little more pep in your step once you get to the postseason?
"I think so. I'm one of those guys – I operate on dreams and goals, that's what I do. I don't operate on sorrow. I do have big-time dreams and goals all of the time. Tournament time comes, that's when you can reach those dreams. Be led by your dreams, not pushed by your problems. We've all got problems. This time of year I think you should be really enthused about your hope and what you might be able to do."
Has there been a correlation in how well your team has played in the ACC Tournament with the NCAA Tournament?
"I like the way you said it, because whether you win or lose, I don't think that has a huge correlation. I really don't. I've used this before, but I think my teams have taken me to seven Final Fours and we've won the conference tournament one time out of those seven, I think. So I don't think there's a great correlation between winning, but I do think there's a great correlation between playing well. You gain some confidence."
How is Kennedy Meeks feeling?
"Yesterday he was okay. He told me he was still feeling poorly on Sunday, but yesterday he was okay. We just had a run-and-shoot kind of thing yesterday and lifted weights, and that's what we're going to do today."
Your teams are know for getting up and down the court and scoring a lot, but this team has been better defensively. Does it feel like a different identity?
"I do feel like it's a different identity because I'll use my word - I think we're slow. We are working extremely hard defensively to try to help us because we're not as offensively gifted as we have been in the past. When you shoot the ball in the hole, everything is just easier. In '09, we just tried to outscore everybody. I preached defense and we worked on defense and they just looked at me and smiled and deep down inside, ‘We're going to outscore them, why don't you leave us alone?'
"And then, all of a sudden, we got to the NCAA Tournament and they bought into it. And for six games, that was about as good of defense as any team I've ever had play. But we had that and the firepower and good things happened. But we don't really have that firepower right now, so we have to be better defensively. I don't know that we showed it the last two or three games, but I think for the most part we have been better defensively, yes."
Do you think a defensive-minded team can make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament?
"Yeah, but you've got to score. At the end of the year, you think of it this way – everybody's going to play a lot harder, really. It's a ‘play hard or go home' kind of thing. Earlier in the season you may be able to face somebody and they don't play as hard or they don't guard as well and you can just win the game. You're not going to win the game just by playing hard because everybody's doing it, so you have to be gifted and talented enough to put the ball in the basket, though, too. I'll put it to you this way – I've never seen a bad defensive team win a national championship. Every team I've seen win a national championship could guard you, but they could also score."