Who have been the best performers in practice so far this season?
“I think all of our players have improved. Deon has probably improved the most with his body, because he had a long way to go to get in the shape he’s in right now. But the two guys that have performed the best from day one are Tyler Hansbrough and Tywon Lawson. They have really done some nice things from day one. The other guys have done well in certain situations, but those guys have been the most consistent players. Marcus has done a great job defensively, and his enthusiasm and his spirit … Wayne is playing better defense … Danny is doing some right things. I feel pretty good with most of our guys, but if I were to pick the two stars of preseason practice it’d be Tyler and Tywon.”
On the development of Stepheson and Thompson –
“I think they’re both significantly better than they were last season. Last year they were like a deer in headlights running around and not knowing where they were supposed to be and what to do when they got there. I think they’ve done a much better job being involved in practice. Both guys are going to be very good players. On Friday in the exhibition game I would have started Alex, since I started Deon the first game, but Alex had strep throat on Thursday and wasn’t able to practice so we tried to cut back his playing time. If I really had to answer that question to say who’s improved the most, I’d say Deon … I do think those two guys have improved more than anyone. Deon has a chance to be a big scorer and Alex a big-time rebounder and defender.”
What do you think the starting lineup will be on Wednesday night against Davidson?
“Right now I’d say Tywon Lawson at the point, Wayne Ellington at the two, Marcus Ginyard at three, Tyler Hansbrough … and I’m not sure about the other spot, whether it’d be Deon or Alex.”
How do you feel about the schedule this team is going to play this year?
“It’s strange because we play in Charlotte on Wednesday night, then play in the Smith Center on Sunday and Tuesday and then we’re gone for 31 days. We play four games on the road that are true non-conference road games. You can look at most of the Top 10, Top 20 in the country and very few people are going to play four true non-conference road games. It’s the kind of scenario where most people don’t do that and it’s just the way it fell on our schedule. But for us it’s the kind of schedule that will challenge us a great deal early and will tell us what we need to know about our team.”
What are the concerns about playing Stephen Curry and Davidson in the opener?
“There is a big-time concern about playing Davidson. It’s not just a one-man team. Stephen Curry was the second-leading scorer as a freshman last season and if I’m not mistaken he made more threes than anybody in college basketball, so we’ve got to find him and close out quickly because he can get the shot off. I studied the tape of their game last night against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament. Five starters coming back – top seven players – so we’ve got to be concerned about the guy who shot more threes than anybody in college basketball, but we’ve got to be concerned about a very, very good Davidson team, not just him.”
How do you see William Graves fitting in as a redshirt freshman this season?
“He is in much better shape physically than he was last year. He didn’t play in the exhibition game Friday night because he sprained his ankle Tuesday or Wednesday in practice. Today was his first day back in practice. He’s got eight or nine guys in front of him who have game experience, but I do think he’ll be important to us this year. And I really believe he’ll be a big-time player before he leaves here.”
On Hansbrough’s thumb injury -
“I spoke to a recruit’s parent last night in Los Angeles, California and asked him if he heard a huge sigh of relief at about 7 p.m. his time Friday night because it was about 10 p.m. my time. After I met with the team, I went to the trainer’s room to check on Tyler and everyone was laughing like crazy, so I thought that was a good sign. His thumb for two years just keeps getting jammed. He’s fine, we held him out of contact on Saturday morning and today let him practice. If we’d had to play a big-time game, he’d have gone back in, but that’s just Tyler. What they were all laughing about is they were checking his right thumb and then they checked the left to get a comparison and they figured out the left was much worse than the right.”
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