What do you think the prospects are for the UNC team this coming season?
For anybody who is writing Coach [Williams] off and this team, they are crazy. They have a young kid, Tyler Hansbrough, who is an animal. If I had been here with Tyler and Marvin [Williams], we'd have been a heck of a front line. That kid can play; he's going to be special. Bobby Frasor is really tough, and Marcus Ginyard is going to surprise a lot of people too.
One guy I've seen take the leadership role and do things that I haven't seen him do in a long time is David Noel, from the weight room, to getting guys to play pick-up, to getting guys to go out and run on a Saturday afternoon. He's taking this as his last shot, and he's trying to make something of this. This team can be a special team. They don't have that one guy who is everybody's All-American, but they have a lot of guys who are scrappy and can play. That's all you really need, five guys who are going to go out there and bust it every night. The one thing you can bet on is that Carolina will compete every night.
Have you played against any of the freshmen?
I've played against all of them. The first day I came back, right before the draft. I took the four freshmen against everybody else, Raymond, Marvin was here, and we didn't lose a game. Those kids can play. They know how to play. Bobby Frasor is going to be a special kid here. He can play the two, the one, whatever it takes. Quentin is getting better. Reyshawn Terry is going to be really good this year. For anyone who is writing them off, I feel sorry for them because they will surprise a lot of people.
(From football practice earlier in the week.)
When is the last time you played basketball with the guys?
I played with those guys about a month ago at the Kenny Smith Camp. Some other guys like Alonzo Mourning came down, stuff like that. We played some pick-up games for the kids at the camp.
What has been your impression of the new guys?
Those guys are talented, Danny [Green], Marcus [Ginyard], Bobby [Frasor], especially Tyler [Hansbrough]. Tyler, he is a hungry guy inside. He is a fearless go-getter. I watched him go at Alonzo Mourning. Every time he had a chance to go up and dunk on Alonzo Mourning, he took it. He didn't make any--Alonzo is an experienced big dude--but he went at his chest every time. He is going to go to work for Coach Williams really hard. Marcus, Bobby, and Danny are talented on the wing. They will take a little more time to get acclimated to the ACC, but they will move fast and help contribute to the team.
I understand that you have a good Tyler Hansbrough/Jerry Stackhouse story from pick-up games.
We were playing pick-up until about 10:00 p.m. We were coming down the court, and Jerry switched off on Tyler. Tyler got the ball in the post and did a little wiggle 1-2. When he turned into Jerry, Jerry went to smack his arm to knock the ball out of his hands. Tyler went up and through him and dunked on him--boom!
If you are around Tyler for 24 hours, he might say 10 words to you or to anybody. He's a quiet guy, but he's a beast on the court. When he turned, went through Stackhouse and dunked it, he just screamed out 'WEIGHT ROOM!' and walked off the court. Everybody was like, 'D--n!' He just walked off the court.
Everyone knows about the seven players who either graduated or entered the NBA Draft from last year's team. What is your impression of the freshman in playing pick-up ball this summer?
There is one guy I think they call 'Psycho.' He's all right. He's tough, he plays hard. I was joking with Coach, 'You ready to do it again?' He kind of took a pause and said, 'If they catch us, they better catch us fast,' because they have some talent here, and there are some big-time recruits coming in next year. We're not conceding anything, but obviously coming off the championship and losing the caliber of players that they had, I think it's going to be a little re-tooling for them, but I don't think it's going to take long to re-tool at all.
There is a rumor going around that the guy you mentioned dunked on you in a game this summer.
(With a suspicious look on his face) Nah, that didn't happen. That didn't happen. I blocked his dunk. That might have been the misquote - I caught it. He did play well. He's about 6-8 and likes to turn around and dunk. He's raw, and I think working with the big man coaches getting some moves - he really doesn't have any moves - it's all raw strength and bruteness right now. It will go well for him.
So he needs to hit the weight room, I guess.
He's been stronger and tougher than anyone he played in high school. Now, he's going to meet some guys at this level that he is not going to be able to man handle like that. It's good to have that mentality. I had that mentality coming in - it's a mind set. When you come in with the mind set thinking you are the toughest and the baddest, you may not be, but at least the guy who may be better than you are knows he has his work cut out for him.
What have you seen from the returning players this summer in pick-up games?
I think they have some things to work on, but I think they can do it and surprise some people. The key to the season for me is Reyshawn Terry's development. He's a very skilled player and it is his time.
What have you seen from him that makes you think it's his time?
He can play. He can shoot the ball, he can put it on the floor, he's athletic, and last year he had a lot of guys in front of him. Now it is his time.