How are you feeling, and how is the injury?
I'm almost 100 percent. I'm like 90, maybe 92 percent, somewhere around there. I feel good.
How much fun was it to be out there today?
It was fun, but we just wanted to get better, to play well but mainly to continue to get better overall as far as conditioning, knowing all the plays, and being about to get out there and run so I think we did a good job of getting better.
How are you all adjusting to the change to Coach Williams' style of play?
We're adjusting really well. The only real adjustment is conditioning. You've got to be in great shape to be in this type of program. High speed, running on offense and defense, so we're getting there.
How did you feel shooting the ball out there today?
I'm a shooter, and shooters have to shoot the ball. I rely on my teammates to get me through the tough times, because they just keep getting me the ball in a position to score. As long as they do that, I'll keep on doing what I do.
You seemed to play a fair amount at the point guard slot today. How do you think that went?
Yeah, I want to play the two, the point, I just want to contribute to the success of my team. Wherever the coaches want me to play I will do my best to help the team.
How is the adjustment to all the running, both offensively and defensively, going?
We've been running very hard and we have to get accustomed to the running to play the way coach wants this year. We're not there yet.
On the last breakaway, we were wondering if you were going to dunk it…
I'm not a flashy player (laughing). Two points is two points, and I want to make sure to get the two points.
How do you feel the change in style is going thus far?
You've got to be able to fight the fatigue to play this style. We've learned that in practice. It's going well.
How did the freshmen play tonight?
The freshmen did well. They still have a lot to learn, it is still new to them but I think they did pretty good today.
What is one thing that really stood out that you were able to learn from tonight?
That we have to play hard every possession. We had some possessions when we didn't deny the ball, or allowed offensive rebounds, and they got some easy baskets out of that.
Given those lapses, how was the defensive play tonight?
Oh, we've come a long way. I think we're doing a much better job of pressuring the ball and getting into passing lanes. Feels a little better.
With Noel out, how was the rebounding effort from your perspective?
We rebounded OK, we've just got to do a better job of boxing out, holding those box outs once we have them and attacking loose balls.
How much of a benefit are these exhibition games to the team?
I think there's a lot of benefit in these games. We get to play together as a team, and play against new players.
How much of a role have the assistant coaches played thus far during practice and the preparation for this game?
They are all very important. Coach Williams isn't the type of coach who has to say everything, if any of the other coaches has something to say they jump right in when they aren't running it. They'll come right over and say it. They all help all the time.
How is the thumb and how did you injure it?
I ran into Reyshawn Terry. I'd laid the ball up and was running back on defense and ran into him and hyper-extended it, all the way back. It's doing ok. I'm actually headed to the doctor right now to see when I'm going to have my surgery. It will probably be on Wednesday.
Has it been hard, being unable to write in class, etc.?
Yeah, it's been really hard. I haven't been able to do anything with the right hand. I've been working a lot with my left hand, which is good because hopefully it will come back much stronger.
Have you been practicing at all?
I've been doing everything with my left hand. I've been running with the guys, trying to stay in shape. I've been doing a whole lot of work even though I'm out.
Are you able to lift?
I've been lifting only with my left side. The left side of my body is going to be really big, and the right side will be flat. I'm going to look silly (laughing).
Was it hard to sit out of this game, being from Durham?
It was rough, because there are a lot of really great guys that play for North Carolina Central and I know a lot of them, so it would have been great to play against them. It is ok, everything happens for a reason and I'll just have to take it one day at a time and do the best I can with it.
How hard is it for you to sit on the sidelines and watch?
It was really, really hard. I can't just watch a game and not feel anything, especially when it is North Carolina and all the guys. It's one of those things I'm going to have to get used to and just deal with it.
How did you think the players stepping in for you did tonight?
Oh man, those guys did great. Reyshawn, Bohlander, those guys playing well is going to help us now without me able to play and especially after I get back.
What are your impressions of tonight?
We've got to give a forty minute effort, especially on defense. We're still laying back at times, guys got tired, let fatigue set in and gave them a little run at the end. We've got to go hard all forty minutes, really put our mind to it. We've got to do that for all forty minutes each and every game. We can't have lapses at the end of the half, we have to do it all game.
How will the loss of David Noel change things?
Nothing really changes except for missing him and depth, because he can play four positions. He can play the two, the three, the four, and at times last year he even played the five for us. He's strong, athletic, he can jump out of the gym, he can move out on the perimeter and shoot. He's very versatile. It's a big loss for us, but when the guys who fill that up get to play and he comes back, it's going to be great. He'll come back strong and be even better.
You seemed to ding your shoulder, are you ok?
I feel good, my neck hurts a bit but I'm always going to suck it up. I'm fine, it's no big thing. With this season coming, I'll be back here playing tomorrow. I'm feeling good.
Defensively, where was this group before you started practice this year, and where are you now?
When we first stepped on the floor we were letting passes go everywhere. We weren't denying, were weren't playing help-side. Part of that is because of pick-up ball in the summer. After about a week of practice, Coach Williams made you get on line every time they made an easy pass, so we've stopped letting them make easy passes. Right now, I feel we are doing some great things and really coming together on the defensive end.
Are you starting to build some habits and do the things he wants you to do?
Definitely. In practice, that's all he preaches--don't commit any major sins. Box out, get a hand up every time, finish your defensive assignment every play. That's his biggest thing and that is sticking in our head now.
You were out last year, tried to come back, you've been practicing. What's it like to play against someone else now and be healthy?
It feels great to get out and beat up on somebody else, instead of each other in practice. For me it was great because it was a game atmosphere--the first one in a long time. I don't even really consider Duke because I was all over the place at that game. It was great to be out there, great to be with my teammates, and we have four more days until we play again--I can't wait.
You are one of the big guys on the team. Can you keep up this pace?
I can go at that pace. I love going at that pace. I think a lot of people are shocked to see me move the way I am now. The biggest thing right now is I need to play better. I'm not shooting the ball well and playing well, but we have two weeks before the first game, so I'm going to try to get it under control by then.
What's it like to have David out?
David is an incredible player. For him to be out six to eight weeks is tough for us. At the same time, it helps the depth of our team if Reyshawn can emerge or Justin can get some minutes, Byron can get some more experience. When Dave comes back, he'll be an animal. It will help the depth of our team.
What is the scouting report on Justin from what you've seen in practice?
Bohlander, he's good. Only thing I say about J.B. is he's really skinny, but he can play. You guys can see it out there. He doesn't care how big you are--he goes at me in practice. The kid's a warrior, and he'll be good in this system.