Opening remarks -
We had two great wins since we spoke to you guys last time. I felt we had a wonderful weekend with the ’57 and ’82 anniversary teams, so the last few games have been really good and we’ll have to see what happens next.
On Reyshawn Terry’s senior leadership and improvement on defense this year -
I think defensively, he’s better in every way – every facet – and especially when he’s really concentrating. Sometimes his concentration isn’t what I want it to be, but when he’s really concentrating on the defensive end of the floor, he’s been really good. That’s been there for the most part of the year. That’s the one thing when the ball hasn’t been going in the basket or the offense hasn’t been as smooth for him, he’s been able to guard really, really well for us. As far as leadership, he has provided leadership for us. He, Wes Miller and Quentin Thomas – all three have done a good job with that. But the most significant thing is his play that has enabled me to put him back in there without any problem is on the defensive end of the floor. But it’s a lot more fun for him when his shot is going in for him on the offensive end as well, and when he hits the backboard and does the rebounding.
How has Terry improved since he was a sophomore on the 2005 national championship team?
Light years. If you look at the numbers you can see those, but defensively it was a struggle for him. Right now he has a chance to be the best defensive player in the country.
Is this the time of year when that experience starts coming into play?
Well, I think that it does, but I think the only game that it has been significant is the Duke game last week at Duke. I’ve been fairly pleased with the way Tywon [Lawson], Brandan [Wright] and Wayne [Ellington] have come along defensively as well. I just felt like the whole picture at Durham last week required having (older players) in the lineup last week. They did a good job for us, and it was probably the most significant thing for us.
With such a well-known freshman class, are the upperclassmen overlooked somewhat?
I think so. What they accomplished last week, people didn’t expect them to do. They’re still very effective players, and they’ve done just a great job of putting their arms around the freshmen – even some of them that have taken some positions and playing time away from them. They haven’t let that turn into jealousy or anything except what is best for our team.
What do you need to do defensively versus Virginia Tech in this meeting?
Regardless of what they score, we need to score more. I’ve never been a guy that’s gotten caught up in what they’re scoring, as long as we’re scoring. We’ll go up and down and get a lot of possessions, teams are going to score. If I was only concerned about how many they were scoring, I’d walk the ball down the court and run the shot clock down every possession. For us, we can’t turn it over and give up easy ones, and we can’t fail to box them out and give them second and third opportunities. I think those two things are what hurt us up at their place. We did not do a good job of taking care of the basketball, and that led to easy baskets. We didn’t box out; that led to easy baskets. We took bad shots, and that led to easier baskets for them. So, I don’t think our defense was nearly the problem up there as our offense was. But people are going to score on us. I mean teams are scoring 65-70, but we like to score 85-90, so again, I’m not just concerned about that number unless we have less than they do.
On Wes Miller -
He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around as a coach, assistant coach or high school coach. I’ve never been around anybody who can dominate him on the number of workouts that he does, because he works as hard as he can possibly work. Sometimes you worry in the off-season – when he’s working out two and three times a day – how his body is going to hold up. I think what is most impressive is that when he came here I told him it was going to be difficult for him to ever play. But if you want to be part of our part of our program and work really hard, I think we’d love to have you. And he worked really hard and became extremely important. I think his play last year was crucial to our success and surprising people with as much as we accomplished. I think he was crucial to that. And now, to turn it around this year and have someone move into his starting position and see his minutes go down, and yet he’s still working as hard as he can possibly work. And on top of that, it hasn’t been easy for him. His shot hasn’t been going in, but there has never been any doubt about where his goals are and never any doubt about his work ethic. If he’s the biggest problem I have, I’m the luckiest coach in the world.
On Lawson “getting it” now -
I think that when he gets to a certain level of understanding what we want all the time, then after that, you can see even more improvement, because it becomes instinctive play.