Opening remarks -
“It was a pretty good [week] wasn’t it? … Last Wednesday over in Raleigh was a fantastic thing for our kids. They came out very focused right from the start, made shots, challenged shots by the Wolfpack and just kept going. Played the entire 40 minutes. Couldn’t have been happier. … It was impressive [at NC State] – I’d like to bottle that up. … Everybody would have expected a letdown [against Maryland], and I think in some ways we weren’t as sharp, except on one end – they were completely focused and tried extremely hard on the defensive end … I’ve said many times, sometimes shots won’t go in the basket, but you can compete if you play on the defensive end and we did that yesterday.”
On Wednesday being Senior Night -
“It’s an emotional night for me. David Noel has meant so much to this team. Before the season starts, as a coach you always wonder about what problems you could have and try to have some plans in place in case those problems do happen. I’ve seen many times where a guy gets to be a senior and thinks it’s his turn. Especially in a situation like David where Raymond, Sean, Marvin and Rashad left and sometimes those seniors think it’s their turn and try to do things they aren’t capable of doing. And David Noel has been as good a senior leader as I’ve ever been around. That’s one good thing, but the second thing I’m most proud of is he went through a stretch of 4-5 games that he didn’t play as well, and people started wondering if he was feeling the pressure, and he bounced back. And that’s really difficult to do. When things start going south, it’s hard to get things turned around and I’m so proud of him for what he’s done. … David Noel has been something special.”
Who graded out the best against Maryland?
“Bobby Frasor was the defensive player of the game – I think the top three were Bobby, David and Reyshawn. And in fact Danny Green was 0-for-5, but it was one of his better defensive games. So we were happy with what the guys did.”
Any chance for more minutes for Mike Copeland?
“Michael Copeland still has to do it in practice. We would like for him to get more minutes, but he’s got to be able to do it on the defensive end of the floor. The other thing is that if you play Michael more, you play Tyler or David Noel less. Michael did some nice things and we hope he’ll keep it up, but the big rascal from Poplar Bluff and the guy from over in Durham are playing pretty doggone good as well.”
What have David Noel and Byron Sanders been through at North Carolina?
"It's been a rollercoaster for them. Even though they didn’t have that one year that everybody regretted happening when Jawad, Jackie and Melvin had to go through the 8-20 season. Their freshman year here was 19-16, not making the tournament was difficult for them, but since then they’ve really done a good job and been great leaders. It’s going to be a sad, sad time for me to coach them a last time in the Smith Center because they’ve been so special.”
On Senior Night’s ceremonies -
“We honor them and try to introduce their parents before the game … I’ve said many times that I steal things from people, I’m not very innovative and everything I have that we do, it’s 99 percent from Coach Smith, but I’ve taken several things from Bobby Knight. Many, many years ago he started allowing senior to speak to the crowd after the game and [we started doing it at Kansas] and it was such a thrill and the kids did such a good job. … So after the game we’ll allow David, Byron, Will and Thomas to talk to the crowd and say some things and I hope people will stay around for it.”
With the recruits you have coming in next year, how do you balance the minutes with the guys you have now in terms of keeping everybody happy?
“I think with the quality and character of the kids we have, we’re going to try to emphasize our team. If our team does well … I always say, the teams that win, their players get the awards and rewards. And that’ll be our focus -- what’s best for our team. We have such high character kids that they’ll focus on that. It’s something I’ll worry about and think about next year, but we recruited quality kids and quality players and I think it’ll work out fine.”
On the play of Miller, Frasor and Thomas –
“Wes is a kid that I said to one of the writers that he’s not gifted in many areas – size and all that stuff – but the Lord gave him a big, big heart. He worked extremely hard in the offseason on every phase of his game. But his defensive play, being able to stay in front of the basketball, and bother the dribbler without allowing the dribbler to look past him and he’s gotten much, much better chasing guys around screens and being there on the catch. He’s graded out positively in almost every game we’ve played and he’s hit some big threes for us."
“I’m not worried about Bobby Frasor. One of the things he’s done a great job of is understanding when to shoot and when not to shoot. As time goes along he’s going to become a better shooter, but right now he isn’t shooting worth a darn. But yesterday I talked to him before the game because Maryland double teams Tyler with the guy guarding Bobby, so I told him to look for your shot or at least make them think you’re going to shoot. He knocked down two big threes for us. … He’s getting better and he’s going to be a big-time player for us.
“Quentin is playing better. He went through a very difficult time period and has regained his confidence. We try to push people and at the same time give them confidence. Turning the thing around into a positive direction has been really helpful to us. Yesterday everybody that came in off the bench did something positive for us and that’s what we need. … Quentin played better defensively, too.”
How many teams do you feel the ACC will get in the tournament this year?
“It would be a crime if only four teams from this league [made it]. This league is so strong and all year has been beating up on each other. But I do believe this league deserves more than four in the tournament and if it comes to that then it’s truly not the best 35 at-large teams.”
On left-handers and whether UNC has any coming in next year -
“Sometimes it is a little unusual to start a game when you’re all of a sudden guarding a left-hander – but I don’t know a left-hander has an advantage other than that it’s a little bit unusual. We do have Brandan Wright, he shoots it left-handed of the incoming recruits – he’s the Sam Perkins look-a-like and hopefully he ends up playing that way, too. …. He’s got a chance – he really does.”
On playing Virginia next -
“They’ve got tremendous guard play and are really confident. Coach Smith just called me last night and he was worried about them being fired up since they lost this weekend and I said, ‘Coach, we better be fired up because we lost to them last time.’ David Leitao has done a great job with them. Singletary, J.R. and those guys in the backcourt, we’ve got to do a great job on them … and we’ve got to get the ball to Tyler inside without those guys hanging all over him like they did up there.”
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