First and foremost as a leader, with so many young guys. Half of our team are freshmen. It will be important for Will and I to provide leadership and guidance for these guys. They are great learners. They are picking up a lot and absorbing everything already in the first few months of being here.
I have to do what I've done since I've been here. I have to work as hard as I can and help out any way I can and contribute any way I can. I have to give my best every day in practice, and, if that translates into minutes in the game, then I'll do my best.
Every team in the ACC is going to be younger this year, it seems. Do you think that will make it more competitive?
I think so. It seems like every team across the country is getting younger and younger with guys turning pro. Going back t having six freshmen, with teams getting younger and younger, I think that will help us that much more. A lot of teams will be in the same boat that we are.
A few months ago we talked about the atmosphere surrounding the program. You said that you felt like it was moving in the right direction. How does it stand now?
Things are great. I think from the spring, through the summer, and into the fall, we have grown closer as a unit – not just as teammates, but with the coaches as well. There's the stopping by in the office to chat for four or five minutes, "How's your day going? How is schoo?" and stuff like that other than it just being a player/coach relationship. It's more on a friendly basis. Maybe we grab lunch one day, during the week, just to catch up, and stuff like that. I think our relationships have grown stronger, and I think the communication level is better."
How important is that?
It's very important. I think guys feel if they have something on their mind that they can talk to Coach Doherty about it or Coach Wojcik or anybody and not keep it to ourselves. If somebody is having a rough day or having a problem with something, now I feel like they think they can express themselves and speak their minds, whereas maybe that wasn't the case in years passed.
Is that a result of having a badk season or of people speaking out?
It's probably a combination of both. Guys want to get things right and get things back to the way they have been here for a long time. Guys are making a concerted effort to develop relationships. The communication flow is so big, to be able to talk and express opinions and not fear anything. If something is on your mind, you can express it. It makes he atmosphere a lot healthier.
Back in August, you mentioned wanting to be a part of Carolina's resurgence, but with so many young faces, chances are that it won't all happen in one year, yet you only have one year left. How do you balance drive and motivation with patience?
We are going to approach every day like we always have. We just have to try to get better each day and do the best we can. That's all you can do. And we have to approach each game the same way.
What have you seen from Raymond Felton in preseason work outs and in pick-up games?
He's a great player. He can do everything. He can penetrate, shoot, pass, and from point A to B, I haven't seen to many guys as quick and as fast as he is with the ball. He makes his team mates better. It's not all about scoring with Raymond. He involves his team mates, and sometimes, I think he can be a little too unselfish. If he has a bucket, he would rather see his team mate get a dunk or something. I think that is a very admirable quality.
What about Rashad?
He is a tremendous athlete. He's very confident in his abilities. He can do a lot of things. He can rebound, shoot, defend. And I think that's the case with all these guys. They have so many different abilities as just freshmen. They can do so many things: pass, handle, shoot, defend. I don't see many weaknesses among them.
Will Sean May help inside?
I think so. You can see we aren't the tallest team. His size and agility and ability to play basketball will definitely help us out.
What do you expect to see from this team in the first few weeks of practice that you didn't see last year?
Energy and excitement. We've been playing pick-up and doing individual work-outs and lifting every since we got on campus. I think everybody is ready and excited to get practice started. Guys are ready to get this going and are excited about Midnight Madness. I think it will carry over for the whole year.