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What’s tougher to learn – the playbook or the dance moves?
The dance moves, definitely. Mrs. McGrath did a good job teaching us – we had a week to prepare – but we got it done. … It was a lot of fun, learning all those silly moves and things like that …
… But you were the only one wearing that [drag outfit] …
I did it last year and they said everybody was begging for it back so they wanted me to do a guest appearance this year as well so I went ahead and did it.
How excited are you to have your hand healthy and start a new season?
It’s back to the old “D.” All I can say is that I’m ready to get it going, I’m excited, like Coach said everybody is excited about this time of year. As long as I can keep it going throughout the whole year, that’s all I’m worrying about.
Fans are chanting national championship already –
Yeah, we’ve been breaking it down as national champs. That’s the expectation we have for this team and I don’t think it should be anything less.
Does it take a certain confidence to get there?
If you don’t have that – if you don’t go out thinking you can beat anybody, then there’s no need to break it down. In doing that, it’s kind of putting us up there saying we’re here now and we’ve got to go out and prove it.
What did you think of your teammates on the dance floor?
Some of those guys have two left feet - I’ll say that. A lot of us can dance more like hip-hop kind of style, but what we were doing out there, that choreographed stuff, people had a hard time with it.
What was it like doing that sort of thing?
That’s right up my alley – I’m a silly dude anyway. Outside of basketball I act silly 24/7, so it was right up my alley for me and wasn’t that bad.
What would you say about the early performances of the freshmen?
They’ve both been great, especially Marvin. He’s a beast, that’s the only word I can find that describes him. He goes hard every time and you saw a little bit of that out of him today. Quentin, he has the ball on a string – he can do anything with that basketball; he makes spectacular passes all the time. Once they get to learn the system I think they’ll be pretty good.
Quentin seemed real smooth with the ball –
He’s definitely silky smooth. He’s not the type of guy that’ll be that fast, but at the same time he knows what he’s doing and he gets the ball where it needs to be gotten.
And Wes Miller?
Wes is going to be our shooter. He gives us the deep threat ball and he’ll definitely be our shooter for this year. Melvin, Rashad, Raymond – all those guys, adding Wes into that mix is definitely going to pick up opportunities a whole lot from last year.
What did you think of his imitation of Roy?
Oh, man, that was 100 percent great. That’s all I can say about that. I was having a fun time laughing behind him doing that Roy skit. That thing was funny – he did that the best I’ve ever seen.
Are there any leaders emerging on the team?
I feel like I’m a leader in a sense, but one of the guys who has stepped up the most is Jawad. He was our “leader” last year, but I think he’s definitely taking more to that role since he’s the senior, has three years under his belt and he wants to go out like everyone else – as national champs. I think he’s taken more to that role than anybody else.
He was on fire tonight from three-
Yeah, he’s been working on that all summer. Deep threes and things like that – he shoots a lot of them in pickup games. And he told me before we went out that he was going to shoot a lot of them and he did it.
Whose game are we going to be most surprised at their improvement?
That’s going to be tough, because we have a lot of guys that have improved so much over the summer working on the little things coach wants us to work on. The biggest improvement was Reyshawn Terry because he’s got a year under his belt, is ready to go and worked on his game hard over the summer. He’s become more acquainted with the style of play that we need him to do and he’s definitely becoming a great player.
How well did David pull off that dress?
He’s going to be an actor some day – he’s good. We had a lot of fun with that tonight. He wanted to come back and do the “Divine” Noel thing again and it worked out great. I asked Coach Haase if it’s the best they’ve ever had and he said “hands down” it was the best.
Talk about what you got out of the USA Basketball experience-
That just helped me get ready for tomorrow. Only reason I did it was, you can’t turn USA Basketball down. I don’t think anybody in their right mind can turn USA Basketball down. I was so excited just to play and my dad played. It made me get in shape and it made me really work this offseason and it’s looking like it’s going to work out for me.
What are you looking to do more of this season?
Just be more physical, stronger finisher, and run the floor a little bit more. People probably would say “He wasn’t doing that today” but the big thing today is to not go out there and get hurt and to be able to practice tomorrow. My biggest thing this year is doing the same things I did last year, but be more dominant and be more physical.
What about all the expectations for this team going into this season?
There’re a lot, but the only expectations that matter are the coaches and ours. We have the same expectations as most people but we’re more realistic about it, we’re going to take it day by day and see where it ends up.
Whose idea were the suspenders?
That was Coach McGrath’s wife and it was a great idea, it was funny – hilarious – and we had a great time doing it. Next year we’ll get another chance to do it again.
Are the expectations fun or is it pressure?
It’s definitely fun and sometimes it can be nerve-wracking, but we don’t pay attention to the outside world really, we just look at what we know we’re supposed to do – our expectations and the coaches expectations. We know we’re not a national championship team right now, but come April we could be. Come March, when it’s time for one and done, that’s when we need to be ready. We don’t need to be ready right now.
How excited are you that it’s finally here?
I’m so thrilled. As soon as we came out, that’s when it started. We know we have to go for our first practice tomorrow, but we wanted to set the tone right and just go out there have a little bit of fun tonight and get ready for tomorrow’s practice. I’m thrilled – this is my junior year, I didn’t have much of a freshman year, last year was an experience in itself and I’m just thrilled to be here.
How much will added depth help this team?
It’ll be a tremendous factor. You can see Coach fluctuating with the lineup a little bit starting some young guys, getting some experience in there. We’re pretty much an experienced team now. The thing now is we have no more excuses left to use and that’s my philosophy on it – we’ve used every experience now so let’s go out and prove it.
After the rollercoaster ride you’ve been through, now entering your fourth year, how excited are you to come in with such lofty expectations back to the program?
I’m excited. I think me, Jawad and Jackie deserve something like this to have a great season because we’ve been through the worst that Carolina’s ever been through and we endured through that so we ought to be here for the success at Carolina this season
Are you getting a chance to enjoy that or are you too focused to do that?
We’re just focused on making it happen because it’s not going to happen just because we think it. We’re going to have to put in extreme work and make it happen. Everyone is aware of that and everyone’s ready to do it.
What did those down times teach you about life and basketball?
Tough times don’t last, tough people do. In life you’re going to have ups and downs, but you have to have faith and believe in something bigger … that’s life, everything’s not going to go your way.
What’s it like to do those skits out there?
It’s fun, it’s different. I tip my hat to those dancers and actors who do that stuff because it’s tough to do. I try to keep my cool and dance at the same time. That’s very tough.
What grade would you give Wes Miller’s Roy impression?
A-plus-plus. It was great. He was tremendous.
On the added depth -
Guys can go even harder now and not worry about being tired because we’re deeper and I think that’s a big part. That was our downfall last year, we didn’t have guys to fill in, but now we do.
How’s Quentin Thomas looking?
He’s a great ballhandler. The things he does and passes he makes, I’m like ‘Woah.’ He’s a great talent and I think he’s going to help us a lot.
What do you think of the lofty expectations?
Hey, we love it. We just have to put in the work and make it come true.
Is it experience? Luck?
I think its experience and luck, but most of all it’s hard work. You’re not going to go anywhere unless you work hard. You’ve got to set high expectations and goals, but you have to work extremely hard for it. Everybody can say we’ll be national champs, but if we don’t work hard we’re not going to get there.
You pretty excited about getting started?
Very excited. Coach Williams said, when we were in the huddle after the scrimmage, “See you guys tomorrow!” with a big ol’ smile on his face.