How do you think the team played in the first two games?
“Well I thought we got better. I was discouraged both games about the pace that we played and how many points we scored. I told them at one point with about ten minutes to go in the game we had 53 points, I said ‘I’ve had teams score 80 in a half before so we got to pick up our pace a little bit’, but I do really believe that we got better from Friday night to Sunday. I think it was really good for us. I was encouraged by a lot of things and you’re always going to worry about some things and I do worry about us scoring the ball, but I thought defensively we were really good. Our defensive grades for Florida Atlantic were much better than they were for Gardner-Webb and I think we made some progress and we need to now because the level of competition is going up drastically now.”
On the expectations for James Michael McAdoo coming off a pair of double-double‘s this weekend:
“I do [expect those kind of numbers] and when I had Tyler Hansbrough I wanted him to have 20 shots in every game. It was either a combination of field goals and free throws, but someway somehow we weren’t doing what we needed to do offensively if we didn’t get him 20 shots in a game and I feel basically the same way about James Michael, because he can score and the way he rebounds the ball and the way he goes to the offensive boards he’s going to get some just from hard work, but I do feel like that.
“I wanted to get Wayne Ellington four to six three’s every game and the Memphis Grizzlies like him after the game he had last night too where he made 7-of-11 three’s for Memphis, but there are some things that you do believe in and I believe we got to get James Michael the ball, but I do want him to be more efficient and your big guy’s should shot over 50-percent because they’re going to get so many shots close to the basket and that’s what we aim for.”
Why did you go with Desmond Hubert at starting center and is it a big deal who starts?
“It’s not really a big deal to me. It probably is to the kids and we started Desmond in the first half of both games and put Joel [James] in as the starter of the second half in both games and that’s how close it is and Brice [Johnson] is doing some good things as well and needs to be in that mix, but it’s a little difficult if you have James Michael and Brice in, which we do have sometimes, but it’s a little difficult who is going to guard the big ugly guy on the other team that plays the center spot. If you have Desmond in there he can guard the center. Joel, needless to say, can guard the center. If you have Brice and James Michael it’s a little more difficult matchup.”
On the trip to see former assistant coach Jerod Haase coach his first game at UAB this past Saturday:
“It was something I really wanted to do and we got the people at Birmingham to really work with us. They didn’t say anything about it so we sort of sneaked in. He sent the team out on the court and he goes off to another little room and does a little chalk talk thing with some of the boosters and then comes out on the court so when he put the team out on the court and he went into the boosters we sneaked out on the court and so when he came out we were sitting on the bench and the look on his face when he saw us sitting on the bench was one of those priceless things that could be a good commercial and it was a thrill for me. There is no question.
“His mother was there and his brothers were there and his nieces and nephews and children and it was a neat deal. I don’t have many green things, but my shade of green was much lighter than UAB’s is, but it was a thrill and his club did a really nice job defensively and it’s some strange things that go on.
“We had to apply for a waiver from the NCAA because UAB is on our schedule and they could count that as a scouting trip and so I called Amy [Herman] in compliance and said this is what I am going to do regardless of what they say, but she said that we’ll go ahead and apply for a waiver and the NCAA was nice enough to give me the waiver. I had already spoken to the AD at Birmingham and I said ‘I’m going to come, but I would like to get your permission especially since it is a violation kind of thing.’ He said ‘oh no, just tell me what we need to do and we’ll try to make sure it happens’ because he thought it was a good thing for Jerod as well. I was really pleased that the NCAA did allow us to do that so we went and we just had a great time and it was a thrill to watch him coach his first game.”
Following the Gardner-Webb game, you said you wanted Reggie Bullock wanted to be more aggressive offensively and he was against Florida Atlantic.
“It was a fantastic game. You score 16 points and he only took seven shots. If you have that kind of efficiency and three or four of your guys do that nobody is going to beat you, but I did want him to look to score more. I did want him to be more aggressive looking at the basket Friday night and on Sunday he was better and took advantage of some opportunities and we did a better job of screening for him and finding him when he’s wide open too.”
Does recruits reclassifying make it tougher to recruit and why do you think that is happening more and more?
“Well it does make it tougher. We were recruiting one youngster and it was really going to fall in place. We really wanted him because of who was in our program and who was coming in that it would’ve been a natural progression for us and then all of a sudden he reclassified and it wasn’t going to be quite as good a fit, but you can’t change it. It’s the culture we’re in and as much as I hate to say it people are trying to get older quicker or the bottom-line is they’re trying to figure out how they can get to the NBA and make big money quicker and that’s so sad. Kids should enjoy their time to be kids and it’s one of the most difficult things of my position.
“I can remember when I first started coaching as an assistant that some guys were just so thrilled to get a college scholarship. I remember on family I had to call and say, ‘yes you have been admitted to UNC’ and he was a very good student, but it was a thrill and now we’re a bus stop on the way to something else, but people are reclassifying so they can start their clock a little bit faster in the NBA. It has absolutely nothing to do with college whatsoever. They’re thinking about that money rainbow at the end.”
Do you feel like your health scare was used negatively against you in recruiting?
“I really don’t feel that way. I really don’t. The junk that has been going on on-campus has been used against us drastically and that’s something that has hurt us, but it is what it is. I’m not going to come out and say ‘okay, I’m going to coach for 99 more years’ or I am not going to come out and say ‘I’m going to quit tomorrow and Ty Lawson is going to come back and be the head coach.’ I really don’t feel that way myself.”
How do you work on keeping Joel James out of foul trouble?
“Well it’s hard because everybody is going to pick on the big guy. It’s what it is. If there is a collision the little guy falls down and Joel does not fall easily. We’ve been trying to teach him how to draw a charge and the Smith Center shakes when he does fall, but he does not fall easily. Some guys that perfected the flopping routine, they fall as easy as you possibly can, but what we have to do is try to teach him how to play without fouling.
“That’s something we emphasize with every player. It’s something we do with the big guys and it’s another reason we’re trying to rotate those big guys in, keep them fresh, give them some moments, but in the Friday night game we had Desmond and Joel both with two fouls in the first half and I put Desmond back in because he’s a year older and that says I’m not going to put you in Joel, because I don’t trust that you won’t get a third one. Dexter [Strickland] in Sunday’s game had two fouls and I put him back in and I don’t like to hold a guy out the whole first half just because he has two fouls. If we get inside the last two or two-and-a-half minutes I’ll take them out then, because they’re not going to do enough in those two minutes to change the outcome of the game, but foul trouble is something we’re concerned about. Last year one of the best stats we had is we were in the top-10 in the country for fewest fouls committed and that’s something that we really work on and I think it’s a huge advantage for us when we do that.”
It feels like you are going to know a lot more about your team following the trips to California and Hawaii than you know now.
“I think so. I said earlier I told them in the locker room the level of competition goes up drastically now. Playing a true road game at Long Beach State is going to be a huge challenge for this club and then playing in Maui three straight days, getting young kids to finish with the game and learn from their mistakes and be able to change their habits before the next game starts, which is the next day. Taking the scouting reports, remembering what we say and saying was that Mississippi State I was talking about or was that Illinois I was talking about? It’s a big thing for us and it’s something that I think this team needs and a week-and-a-half from now I will know a lot more about our team.”
Can you do anything to prepare your guys for the atmosphere against Long Beach State?
“Not really. I think it’s something that they have to figure out in the first few minutes. ‘Oh my gosh.’ There’s a little bit of that stuff, but we talked to them about it. Talked to them about focusing. Talked to them about don’t be worried about somebody yelling at you. Pretend they're yelling for you and all those kind of cliché’s that you use. You don’t really know what is going to happen until you get there.
“One thing that I do is I am really positive. I am very confident. I don’t care where I play you. If I am better than you I can beat you in my house, in your house. It makes no difference and I have pushed that for 25 years and I think that’s had something to do with the confidence that our coaching staff has and the way you can have confidence is having really good players and that helps. It is something that I take a lot of pride in. Going on the road and playing really well and we’ve had some times where we’ve done a great job and we’ve struggled sometimes, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
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