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What’s the biggest thing you could take from this game?
“It was good to get a look defensively to see what we can do pressure-wise. Chemistry-wise…just sticking together; I thought we did pretty well.”
What most impressed you seeing your team on the floor for the first time this season?
“Our composure under pressure. Our freshmen, and how they picked things up quickly and were together. I think we looked pretty good overall.”
How have things come together so far during practice?
“Since we started in the preseason, we’ve done a good job of bonding, and making sure when we start the season that nobody has any ‘nick-nack’ injuries, or anything that can hold anybody back from being on the floor. We’ve got a lot of depth, and I think it’s going to be good for us.”
Are you healthy now?
“I’m about 85 percent.”
What did you see out there that there wasn’t as much improvement?
“Taking care of the ball under pressure, but I think everything we need to work on will happen in due time. Just give us a little time and I think we’ll take care of everything.”
What have you seen from Quentin Thomas?
“He’s young, but those fresh legs will die down in a couple of months. He’s a great player. He has a great mind; he knows the game. He kind of reminds me of Shaun Livingston.”
Is it easier or harder to play with intensity knowing that the game is out of hand?
“It’s easy for us just to maintain our lead. I think that’s what’s important, not to let them get their runs in, and just capitalize on it and play sound defense.”
There were a lot of assists and good passing tonight. How does that make you guys harder to defend?
“I think it speaks for itself. The word ‘passing’ just speaks for itself. There was a lot of unselfishness out there on the court, and I think that is a big part of our team this year.”
What's the biggest thing you can take out of your first competition?
“First, we’re just happy to play somebody else, instead of beating on each other all day at practice. You just take all the stuff that we’ve been working on in practice and try to execute it for the first time against somebody else who really doesn’t see it coming. So that’s what we tried to do tonight and also focus more on defense as well.”
What did you do well and what did you not do well tonight?
“I think we guarded the ball tremendously well. It’s one of those types of deals where you go out and like Coach says, defense should never have an off night, no matter who you play. So we went out and tried to play the best defense that we could. We’re going to continue to do that throughout the year.
Did you see some of those things that you’ve been working on in practice
“Yes, definitely – the ‘help factor. We’ve always been able to guard the ball, especially in the middle of the court. But once somebody got beat, we had help and rotation with guys sprinting off the double team and things like that. Those are a lot of the things we were working on in practice and it showed in tonight’s game.”
How much did it help to have Marvin [Williams] out there?
“That was a tremendous help, because he played so hard. He plays defense, and that’s what Coach wants. He can also do things on the offensive end as well. So with him on the floor, it’s boosting our energy by giving our other guys a lot of rest. And it’s helping him to develop his game.”
What were your impressions of Quentin Thomas?
“Oh man, like I said, that guy has got the ball on a string. He threw a pass tonight to Sean that I was just in awe of. Oh my goodness; I was like…we might have another Raymond [Felton]. And he can definitely live up to it.”
Did this game help you prepare for the upcoming season?
“It’s just like practice almost. You can always just use these games to work on the things you want to work on against somebody else. Of course we’re going to see more talent and quote/unquote better talent when we get into ACC play and the regular season. But we take all of these games and we just use them to our advantage to prepare for those other games.”
What did you see out there that made you say, ‘We’ve got to get back and work on that?’
“I really can’t point one thing out, other than we need to get the ball out quicker. We didn’t really do a good job of that tonight. Quentin, being a freshman, really doesn’t know who is supposed to take the ball out. He took it out a couple of times.”
“This game gave us a chance to execute our offense, play defense and see how we play as a team.”
How would you assess how you did that tonight?
“I think we did a pretty good job. I think we played great defense and with a lot of intensity. I think we need to box out more. When we play good defense and make them take a bad shot, I think we need to box out better. And at times, we need to take care of the ball a little bit better. But overall, I think we did a great job.”
Did you see a physical difference in David [Noel] tonight?
“Oh yeah, Dave is 100 percent now. He got all of his weight back. He’s solid. He’s that tough guy that can do anything. He can play inside, he can play the perimeter. He can play defense, he can get boards, he has amazing jumping ability, he’s got a great jump shot and he can pass the ball well. He’s got so many things to his game, that to have him healthy, it’s going to help us out a lot.”
How do you avoid a letdown when you’re up 50?
“It starts with me. I’ve got to make sure I’m the leader on the court and make sure everybody keeps up their defensive intensity. I’ve got to push the ball up the court, and make sure we do everything right.”
On the improved team defense -
"For the most part, we’re so much better now than we were last year defensively; just guys are knowing where to be and actually talking."
Jackie was 7-for-10, how much more confidence do you have in his shot?
"It’s light years. When you come in the gym and see a guy work every day, that makes you confident in him. Just cause he hit a couple shots doesn’t mean anything, but we know Jackie put in the time and effort and he’s done a great job. He takes high percentage shots and gets the glass, gets a lot of layups. The three he hit, it looked beautiful and I told him I thought that’s the best I’ve seen him shoot since he got here, the way it looked coming out of his hands."
How does his improved offensive play help this team?
"It would add more depth to us offensively. We know Jackie’s a great defensive player and we have 5 or 6 guys who can put the ball in the hole at any given time. You add him to the equation and now our starting five is lethal. When you have a guy who’s your best defensive player giving you 10-15 every night, it means a lot – it adds to how good this team is going to be."
What aspects were you most pleased with the team’s play tonight?
"Just unselfishness. Coach Robinson said it in the huddle – ‘It’s easy to be unselfish when you’re up 40, but can you do it when the game’s tight and can you do it all season?’ And I think this team can. We were unselfish from the jump, it didn’t take us to get up 25. Things I liked most were our defensive intensity and our unselfishness."
On Quentin Thomas –
"Quentin’s a smooth player. Him and Raymond are total opposites. Raymond has that real fast high gear, and Quentin’s fast but he’s more of a smooth player, has great vision and can see everything. He hit me with one pass, and as soon as I came down I looked at Melvin and said ‘Oh my god, I didn’t expect that.’ Just for a young guy to come in and to have done as well as he’s doing is great."
How did Marvin do?
"He did great. I think he got frustrated a little bit with his first time out there, but he did a great job rebounding, played 20 minutes, got in front of the crowd and got a dunk. I just think this game was hard to assess because it was so up and down and there was no slow break or halfcourt offense."
We saw Marvin come in for you, is that the role we could see him playing a lot?
"They’ll play Marvin at the 5, Jawad at the 4 … you’ll see David at the 4 and Marvin at the 5 when me and Jawad are out. And I wouldn’t be surprised seeing Jawad at the 3, Marvin at the 4 and me at the 5. He’s going to come off the bench and be a real sparkplug for us. The thing he needs to remember is that we need him to come in and keep that level of intensity real high and it’s going to be hard at first. At some point he’s going to hit a wall, but the quicker he jumps over it the better this team is going to be."