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Are you pleased with where you are heading into conference play?
I really am. I’m pleased and yet I would like to change some things like the Gonzaga game. But perhaps we learned some things there that have helped us in some ways. Am I satisfied? No, but I’ve congratulated the kids for what they’ve accomplished in the pre-conference part of our schedule. I told them they should feel good about that, but particularly for the freshmen that it’s quickly going to go to a completely different level than they what they ever imagined.
We have been able to stay relatively healthy – a few hiccups along the way – but we’ll really need to stay healthy now. We’re playing better defensively. We’ve had a tremendous attitude in practice. We’ve had some adversity with the Gonzaga game, and we’ve handled that well. So I would say I’m pleased, but not satisfied.
On freshmen’s reaction concerning upcoming ACC schedule -
These freshmen, they have no idea. Until you actually go through it, they have no idea what the old gray-haired fellow is talking about.
What do you attribute to the defensive progress?
I think it’s been the experience. We’ve worked on it every single day and we’ve emphasized it every single day. They have a much better understanding of how important it is. They’ve showed much more enthusiasm and desire to work at it even harder. If you don’t improve as much as we emphasize it, then we’re in trouble.
I’ve had some groups that were probably more advanced defensively. To go back to last year, I just love to have coaches’ sons with fathers where they’ve sat around the table and talked about the little things and how important they are. But Wayne Ellington, Brandan Wright and Ty Lawson were fortunate enough to have outstanding high school coaches.
On match-ups with FSU of concern -
From the teachings of Coach [Dean] Smith and Coach [John] Wooden, I’ve been one of those guys that have been concerned about us and not what the other guys are doing. Of the 14 teams we’ve played starting two big men, they have been bad match-ups for their four men. So I’m going to stick with what we do. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t change for a possession, but I don’t really get too much involved in the other team.
We’ve got the worst match-up we’ll have this year with (FSU post players) Uche [Echefu] and [Al] Thornton. They are basically perimeter players as their four and five men. It presents huge match-up problems for us, but I’m not going to play five perimeter players because it’s not the best match-up for them on the other end either.