We're coming off a good win against Miami at home. We definitely needed it and the guys played hard. I think we played two consecutive games now where we came out with great energy, and it's going to take that same type of effort down at Clemson.
When you have an emotional win like you had against Miami, how long do you enjoy that win before you start thinking about Clemson?
Well, I started thinking about Clemson last night... an afternoon game, a noon game. So we had enough time to obviously kind of relax for a few hours, and then get right back to watching film and getting ready. That wasn't long at all. It's a very quick turnaround, and we were already watching film yesterday.
How important is it to have that kind of energy on the road and how much more difficult is it to have it on the road than at home?
It is very important. It's crucial that you have that energy. You have to have that if you want to win on the road. Having said that, it's difficult for some teams or certain types of players. You have to understand the mental toughness to win on the road as a player.
Sometimes lack of experience can prevent that unless you have some people that really just have a great game for you because you don't have your fans behind you. When you make a run, you know they are going to make a run, and you have to be able to handle that. You have to be able to be poised and take control of yourself at end of the game. Sometimes on the road... that's a difficult thing.
You've talked a lot about C.J. Leslie and how much he has had to learn about the nuances of the game. What do you think he found surprising this year?
I think he found that there are players out here that are definitely capable of being better at times. I think he found out that there are players that he can't just walk out on the court and decide I'm better than as he did in high school.
He has realized that guys are bigger, that guys are stronger than he played against in high school. He has to continue to get better and learn... and get stronger himself.
There have been a number of things, like I know going to the basket and getting his shot blocked, and realizing that he has got to go in there a little bit stronger than he did the first time, which he will do. He is learning a lot.
How responsive has he been to that reality that it isn't the same game on the college level that it is in high school?
I think he's responsive, he hears what we are saying and he can see it. There is something about young players today, especially the talented ones... and that is what sometimes makes them good, they feel that no one can stop them. Even if you stop them, then you still can't stop them the next time.
He understands that he's got to go hard. He is responsive to listening and he has watched film with coaches individually to see what is going on out there and to see where he can gain an advantage.
Richard Howell had a couple of stretches where his minutes took a dip. Why did you lower his minutes there for those two stretches?
I didn't necessarily lower his minutes, but it was probably a combination of a couple of things. No. 1, at that particular time, he and C.J. playing the same position... C.J. was playing well. So he was able to get a few more minutes there.
When you are playing the same position as a guy that can play, and if you share the minutes, then you are talking about 20 minutes per game. If one of the guys is playing a little bit better that day and the team is playing better that day, then that 20 could go to 24, so that is going to knock the other guy down to 16. 24, that extra four minutes is a lot, but it is not really a major difference, but it is certainly enough time for a guy to be effective.
I didn't drop his minutes, I think it was more or less C.J. playing well. Now Richard is playing well and that is the reason we actually tried the big lineup, not only because of the foul situation with Scott Wood, but because Richard has been productive. That's why we went with the big lineup.
Tracy's sophomore year you were hesitant early to have three big men on the floor and you wanted to bring a big man off the bench... do you see a similarity there with using Rich and that lineup at this time of the year?
At this time of the year, I'm not really concerned. When we started, we started with not really a rotation, but a lineup and we were going to play off of that. Now we are in ACC play, and we have to have our best players on the floor. The substitution patterns will change a little bit, but you have to have your most productive players on the floor. I'm not hesitant to play Richard and C.J. and Tracy together, even though it's three of our top five big men on the court at the same time.
You just have to watch the rotations and the substitutions because you don't want them all in there and they all get tired at the same time. Now you have one or two of them in there when you bring another big off the bench, and the other two in the game are tired. They can't give you anything in the game when they are tired anyways so I think you have to be careful with the rotations.
You've faced both Nolan Smith and Reggie Jackson. Can you compare their games?
They are similar in a sense that they both can attack you either with the pass, the dribble, or they can shoot the basketball. They both have great quickness and they are long and athletic. If they get you on the side at all, even the slightest advantage, you are not going to stop them.
They are very similar... they are both controlled. They control their teams, they make big plays for their teams. It's no mystery why they are where they are. They are both very good basketball players, and I think they are both great competitors too.