First, about the game, I think we did some things better. We are not the same basketball team without Rashad McCants. We were not the same basketball team without Raymond [Felton] in the second half. At the same time, I was pleased with some of the things we did. Defensively, we were better tonight than we were last Friday night. I challenged us to try to run.
The first part of the game we were sort of tip-toeing through the tulips instead of trying to play extremely hard and force the issue. After we got that out of our system, the only thing we did is we missed a lot of easy shots. We got the ball around the rim several times and had some wide open shots that we didn't make. I loved Mt. Olive's competitiveness. They kept coming back at us and making shots. That part was really good for us.
Going down the line, I was really pleased with Marvin's [Williams] activity. I think he was into it. He's a unique youngster that, when he makes a mistake, he knows it immediately, he's concerned about it and feels badly, but he still keeps playing. He doesn't get down.
Sean [May] got more minutes tonight. I like the way he goes to the free throw line and shot the ball there. He needs to make a little bit better decisions. Sean's had a lot of little nagging things bother him, but I think he's had a good preseason.
Jawad [Williams] I thought did well.
Raymond [Felton] is just so much better at true quarterback this year than he was last year at this time. The other night 12 assists, one turnover--two turnovers, I forget what it was. His shot didn't go in--1-6 the other night, 1-5 tonight--but he really has been shooting the ball well, so I'm very pleased with him.
Quentin [Thomas], we tried to give Quentin, Wes [Miller], and Melvin [Scott] each a four-minute stretch in the first 12 minutes the second half. Q was the point the first four, Melvin was the point the next four, and Wes the point the next four, trying to give all of them a chance.
All in all it was, I always say, a glorified practice, but those days are over. Seven days from now we tee it up and it means something, so we better have improved, and I think we have. The good thing is we have Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, travel on Wednesday, practice Thursday before we play, so we have five more days to try to get better.
The thing about Raymond, you've got the release. That's the reason I didn't play him in the second half. We needed to give those guys an opportunity in crunch time, playing with the other guys who will get the most minutes. We are very disappointed for our team and for Raymond, but basically what it is you see right there [in the press release]. Steve [Kirschner] asked about having him come in here, but what else can he say other than that? He's extremely disappointed right now because he realizes now that he is not going to be able to help us in the next game. If somebody gives me a great reason to talk to him about it, I'll listen to it, but it says it right there.
He played in a league that was not sanctioned. He thought it was sanctioned; someone told him it was sanctioned. I'm disappointed in the people that run the league because they shouldn’t do those kinds of things. But they had passed the word around that it was sanctioned, but it was not. But Raymond made a mistake, as well. We tell players that they have to get permission. Raymond did not do that. He took the word of other people instead of getting permission from us.
NCAA took one game away from him, we appealed it; we lost the appeal. The ironic thing is that if a youngster does have permission, then they probably would have not penalized him. But he did not have permission from us. I think if he had asked permission and done it the right way, we would have found that the league was not certified and it would have not been a problem. If a youngster doesn't get permission, but plays in a league that is not certified, there is no penalty. But Raymond didn't do what he was supposed to do and he knows that. I personally don't think there is any sense beating a dead horse. Anybody got a good reason to have him come in here?
When did you first know he had played in the league?
It was several weeks down the line. I can't tell you exactly when it was. He told me this summer, and I said, 'I'm assuming you checked with Coach Holladay,' because that's what they were told. That night is when he went over and found out that it wasn't sanctioned.
Do you know what team he played for?
Nah--Hogan's Heroes. (sarcastically)
When did you find out the NCAA was going to suspend him?
We had a conference call with the NCAA November 4th. Was that last Thursday? It was last Thursday, whatever day that was. It was a 30-minute conference call with our compliance person, Amy Herman, Dick Baddour, Jack Evans, our faculty athletic rep, Raymond, Coach Holladay, and myself.
Do you think Rashad will be OK to play on Friday?
That I don't know. They did an MRI yesterday. It's his left shoulder.
I'm mad at him. It was bothering him anyway and he dunked the dickens out of it in the game last week left-handed and it hurt him even more, so I told him he has to have better savvy than that. They don't really think anything is there, but he has pain. He went out and shot before the game tonight, and like every great shooter, it doesn't hurt nearly as bad when you're shooting the ball. I'm hopeful is the best way to put it. I'm hopeful that we'll have him. Dr. [Tim] Taft is out of town and is probably ready the MRI tonight or early tomorrow morning.
Going to Santa Clara next week--I know you still have practices left--do you have an inclination how you will replace him. Would you use Melvin or Start Quentin in his first college game at home?
You know, I've done that before, but it's hard to do it at the point position--it really is. But Jacque Vaughn started his first game, Kirk Hinrich started his first game, Aaron Miles started his first game, so I guess I have a history of doing that. Right now I don't down--that's just being honest. That's why we tried to go four, four, and four in the first 12 minutes of the second half.
In what little we've seen of Quentin Thomas, it looks like he's coming along nicely, but you see him every day. How is he doing?
'Coming along nicely' is OK. It's a tough position to learn. Raymond has been beating the nonsense out of him every single day, making life tough on him because Raymond is so powerful, he knows what's going on. Every time Q calls a play, Raymond knows what he's doing. Raymond is making it tough on him. I do believe this: every who is guarding Quentin, it's difficult to be that much better than Raymond Felton, so he's had great preparation.
I want him to be more aggressive; I want him to value the basketball. He threw that pass down the court to Jawad. They had 17 players and three managers surrounding him, and he still tried to throw the ball down there. You've got to make better decisions than that. Am I pleased? Yes. Am I satisfied? No. But he better grow up a lot between now and Friday.