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As close as you came to the Final Four last year, has that increased your desire and resolve to get this team there?
"It's almost impossible to increase it. It does sort of whet the appetite a little bit. It makes you have those dreams -- or nightmares -- and realize how close you were, but the bottom line was you didn't get there. If the kids have used that to motivate themselves to work harder over the summer, that's great. ..."
What do you expect from Deon [Thompson] in terms of stepping up in place of Brandon [Wright]?
"I don't expect Deon to step in there - I expect somebody to. Deon has some capabilities, he's had a good summer and a good fall, but didn't do as well in the conditioning test yesterday as Alex [Stepheson] did. If I sit here and say 'Deon has to do this or that,' that puts pressure on him and ignores Alex and Michael Copeland. We lost approximately 50 minutes a game from last year's team, so I put up on the board '50 minutes left our squad - who is going to get those minutes?' I do believe that Deon or Alex or Michael will be the other post player ... it's got to be one of those guys."
Is there a part in Tyler [Hansbrough]'s game where you see he can improve?
"I think he's going to shoot the ball better this year from facing, I think he'll be more comfortable shooting the ball facing the basket. ... I think you'll see development there. You'll see his assist-error ratio, his passing out of the double teams even better, he'll be able to handle the frustrations of being double- and triple-teamed more because he's more used to it. I'd say the No. 1 deal is the experience factor and then being able to shoot the ball more facing up as opposed to his back to the basket all the time."
What growth have you see from Ty [Lawson] and what does he need to improve on?
"I think if you look at Ty's year last year, I really thought down the stretch he played really, really well. ... I think that gives him confidence to do an even better job. The experience of already knowing what we're going to ask is going to help him. And I think you see a big jump from freshman to sophomore year and where you'd see the biggest overall [jump during a career]. ... He's got to improve everything. His assist-to-error ratio was fantastic, but I want him to make better decisions. I want him to be more aggressive and force the tempo, speed more and do it under control. There's a fine line there and he can do more. And we have a couple things in mind to help him in those situations. Every player has to improve everything. Wayne, for example, has got to get stronger and be better defensively."
Does it all start with defense this year - even more than usual?
"That should be the one place we should see the most improvement. Last year we had 11 freshmen or sophomores. ... Being more experience on the defensive end will really be a great emphasis for us and a place we'll see a very significant improvement."
How is Bobby [Frasor]'s health with his foot?
"In the conditioning test yesterday, he passed his tough time. I said, 'Did that bother your foot?' And he said, 'No.' So I expect him to do everything that everybody else does."
What do you see for Marcus Ginyard this year - and just how important is he to this team?
"Marcus is a good leader naturally - it's instinctive for him, the things he does and says. That part of it will be good for our team. I'd be shocked if he doesn't develop into one of our great leaders. And he's worked pretty doggone hard on his game."
What is Quentin Thomas' health status heading into the beginning of practice?
"It'll be interesting because yesterday he sat with me on the sidelines and watched the conditioning test. We've got to get his knee going again so he can get back out there. Hopefully he can do a few things early in practice and our goal is for him to be able to go full speed by November 1. He's not ready to go full speed yet. It'll be interesting to see how quickly that develops. He's just a marvelous young man that the other guys have a great deal of respect for."