How important is it to win this game, with everything you all have been through this year, just the emotional turmoil of ups and downs …
A lot of things have been going on in this program and no one really knows what the end is going to be – for us to get a big win like this and take our minds off of things like that – it’s great, it’s really great. …
If things go our way it ties us for fifth in the ACC, which helps us out in ranking in the Tournament. Instead of us being 14-14, we’re 15-13 and keep a winning record.
What about the way you one this one, almost pulling it out of thin air …
Like coach said, we’re just trying to get a win where we can – whether it’s by one or it’s by twenty. A win is a win. We’re just trying to go out and play every game like that. We feel that if we can go out and play defense like we did today, we can go to [Wake Forest] and get a win there, too.
Will this also be a source of energy to keep going?
Yeah, it does that. Like we said, the season isn’t over yet. People are saying we’re not going to make the NCAAs, but we still have two games left and we still have the ACC Tournament. If we can run the table in that then we’re right there. No one believes but this team, but we’re going to go out and play our hardest.
You’re playing out of position and had a real tough matchup in Ed Nelson today, how do you adjust to that?
Man, that guy is a beast. He works hard and hustles every play – guarding a guy like that you’ve just got to try and outfight him. We went back and forth today and he did a good job, but luckily we came out with a win.
You found a guy who’s as physical as you …
Yeah, he’s a physical guy [laughs].
And your our follow dunk over – well – Damion …
Coach always tells us to get to the offensive boards – I saw the lane and just took it.
Raymond seemed to be in a lot of pain down the stretch – what did you think of his performance?
His performance was great. With him playing a lot of minutes, he’s tired and to knock down those two free throws – he’s great.
Where are you right now in the recovery process regarding your knees?
Recovering? There’s no recovering during the season. It’s going to take rest and it’s not going to come until the offseason. Right now it’s just a matter of me playing through it and not paying too much attention to it. It’s kind of hard when you’re hurt – when it just hurts to sit there and bend your knee – but you just got to learn to play through it. In the offseason I’ll be looking to lose some weight, try to get down to about 255, strengthen my legs and let my body get comfortable to the weight I’m at right now.
Moments after coming into the game today you posterize their 7-foot-1 center and the Smith Center erupts …
It’s always fun when you get an exciting play like that – when anybody gets an exciting play it’s always fun. It just gets crazy when you do it, all the adrenaline and everything rushing through your body – it’s great.
The contrast from last year being in the woods of New Hampshire, playing in front of about 30 fans, to now dunking in front of 22,000 here and it’s on national television …
[laughs] That was crazy. I’m still new to the game, so things like that haven’t often happened to me. I did it and it was like everything stood still for a second – I couldn’t heard the crowd and my teammates come up to me – everything stood still for a good 10-15 seconds. You’ve got to enjoy moments like that. You just keep working to get better and have more moments like that.
From when you came here last summer to where we are now, how much better do you think your game is?
I think I’ve come a very long way – a very long way from where I was in the summer. I think I’m a lot more aggressive, rebounding a lot better, just getting to the boards better, using my size to my advantage. But there’s still a lot I need to learn – I’m not going to deny that – but I’ve come a very long ways.
Which do you think is more important a freshman like yourself – learning the fundamentals or gaining confidence?
You need to learn the fundamentals first before anything else. You know, you’ve got to learn to walk before you can say I know I can walk. Once you learn the fundamentals and start doing it, that’s when you get your confidence.
When people use the word “project” in reference to your game, what do you think?
I really don’t like that word. I’ve only been playing basketball before this year for a year and a half, really, and I’ve come a long way in that time. This term “project,” every time I hear it it makes me mad and makes we want to go out and prove I’m not a project. A project wouldn’t go out there and block shots and grab rebounds. A project would go out there and be tossed around and not know what he’s doing.
How do you think team morale is now heading into the final stretch?
We still want to win – we still have that hunger. We’re going to go to practice on Monday and get back to working hard and get ready for Wake Forest.