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On going into the ACC Tournament as the top-seeded team -
With this kind of season, I don’t think it’s as much as a target as if a team went 16-0 and win by four or five games. We went into Sunday afternoon not knowing if we’re one or fifth. But it’s still going to be a big target because it’s North Carolina. It makes no difference, because whatever it is, that’s the way you have to play it anyway.
On Tyler Hansbrough wearing a protective mask -
I’ve have other players wear them, and I’ve yet to have any player, other than Rip Hamilton, that’s ever liked wearing one. I’ve had players that we wanted to wear them, but that just felt flat out uncomfortable wearing them and wouldn’t wear them. I’ve had players take them off during a game. I don’t know what it’s going to be with Tyler until it happens. Today he’s going to be very limited in practice. He went in at 11:30 a.m. today to be fitted for it. It’s unfortunate the thing happened, but everybody is still focusing on a lot of other things other than the kid that got whacked. I don’t think that’s the way it should be.
Do opponents tend to go after him harder -
I could be. I think it’s the nature of the game. If you’re going soft and the other guy is going hard, you’re going to lose. So I think that does happen. There’s been at least two or maybe three excessive fouls on Tyler this year. I don’t remember any against anybody else. There’s been at least one intentional foul that was not called excessive. He’s that kind of player. He’s physical and aggressive. He’s not going to fake left and jump right over your head. It’s a working man’s game with him, so that means there’s going to be more contact. I’ve had someone tell me he’s a very difficult player to officiate, because there is so much contact; and I understand that. Yes he leads the league in his number of free throw attempts, but I believe he should have shot more.
Isn’t it the officials’ job to protect the players?
I think so. I’ve had some conversations with some people this year that I was concerned with so many things being let go, that there was going to be a time when something being let go was really excessive. Again, it is difficult to officiate our practices with him involved. I do think some things are let go (against) him, that wouldn’t be let go (against) other people. He is difficult. There’s collisions in practice everyday where one of my coaches is calling one thing and one is calling another.
How much difference is there between this team and the one that beat Arizona so decisively in February?
I don’t think there’s very much difference. You’ve got to look at the top of the league. We played Virginia at home. We played Boston College at Boston College and played very well. We played very well in both games against Duke. I would think Maryland and Georgia Tech had the best records in the second half of the season. We played both those games close on the road and could have won those games. Coming back from Maryland and Georgia Tech, I didn’t think we were that far from what we’ve been. It’s just the teams we were playing were pretty doggone good. So it was nothing to be embarrassed about.
Is this going to be a wide-open tournament?
It’s really difficult for a team to (win) four games in a row. I know of twice in the Big 12 when somebody came all the way from Thursday, but they were completely out of gas. So I think it’s really, really difficult. But I don’t have any problem picking eight or nine teams that could win this thing.
On Brandan Wright being named ACC Rookie of the Year -
I think it’s very well deserved. I think there has been some great rookies in the league this year. I think Javarris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young are sensational. Jon Scheyer, Gerald Henderson has really played well. The two guards at Maryland made a huge difference on their team. On our own team, I think Ty Lawson has been our most valuable player at times. Wayne Ellington has had his moments. So in the context of the competition that he had, I think it’s even more impressive. And I left out Brandon Costner at N.C. State. I think he’s had a phenomenal year. Wight has been very consistent for us. I was extremely pleased with the way he played Sunday. Saturday was his best practice of the year. It’s just been a fantastic year for him.