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What have you seen from your team since the loss at Virginia Tech?
Two things. One, we’ve gotten better – more attentive. We came out very ill-prepared to play that day. Then when it came easy the first couple of minutes, I think that made it even worse. But since then, I think we’ve had a much better focus when we leave the locker room. We understand much more what it is now when somebody hits you right in the mouth early, so we understand that can happen. And then we’ve been very fortunate. We caught Clemson, for example, when they couldn’t make a shot. Then we turn around and go to Arizona, and they couldn’t make a shot. We are better defensively, but I’m not going to sit here and try and say that was all our defense. One-for-23, I don’t think Arizona made a three until the last minutes of the game. So it has been a combination that we’ve been better, and we’ve been very lucky.
When did you first meet Sidney Lowe?
It was my first year here. I was on a recruiting trip. I went up to DeMatha and Coach Morgan Wooten, whom I had seen at a clinic a couple of times when I was a high school coach…he didn’t know me by any means… I was on my first trip to DeMatha. I watched Sidney and Derrick [Whittenburg] both play. I watched him play and we sat down and visited them for a few minutes. I thought Sidney had a chance to be a big time player, and I didn’t think Derrick was any good (laughs). I’ve gotten to know Derrick maybe better since then. At that time I just thought Sidney was a quarterback, a leader, a guy that made his team better. When you start talking about the characteristics you want out of a point guard, those are pretty close to the top. There’s no question I thought he was going to be an outstanding player.
Was it pretty disappointing to lose him?
It was my first year here. It was hard, because I didn’t exactly know what happened. I think it was we were recruiting John Paxson, Jim Braddock, Raymond McCoy, and Sidney Lowe; I think they were all seniors.
Knowing what type of player he was, does that help you prepare for him as a coach?
No. He’s not the same body type as when he played, but if he was out there and had the ball at the point guard position, I would be very concerned. I think it really helps him that they came back and played well against Virginia Tech.Coaching against him you worry about him as a player on the court. Coaching against him, you worry about how well he prepared his team. How he gets them completely ready to play North Carolina. I have admiration for him after a great win at Virginia Tech. State proved to me they are 34 points better than we are, because they beat Virginia Tech by 11, and they were kicking our tails by 23 at one time.
How did your Coke commercial come about?
I’ve had a relationship with Coca-Cola for a long, long time. I’ve done a couple of small things for them. I was asked at the NCAAs last year about being a corporate sponsor, and they asked me to speak at some breakfast meetings. So I did. They asked me to repeat the story involving my mom. Before I knew it, they called and asked me if I would be willing to do a commercial. It was unbelievable. I thought they would bring one camera and someone holding a mic. They brought 55 people. They set up a tent outside. They took over the Smith Center. I told them I was not giving them five hours. The commercial was only 28 seconds. So it got to two hours and 30minutes. At 15 until 12 o’clock, I told them I was going to go jog.
It was something that is a true story. It’s something that is emotional for me at times. It was very emotional the first time I saw it, but it came off better than I expected.