We are trying to bounce back. We had two losses on the road, and didn't play well at Carolina. We have got to try and win this one Wednesday against Virginia Tech.
You've talked about how hard the team played last season... is that the same with this group or is Saturday an aberration?
I think this group will play hard. I think Saturday, that was just a game... I don't know, it was a weird game. The guys seemed to be ready in the locker room, ready to go, and excited with good energy and anticipation. I think initially, and I've said this before, when we don't hit a few shots early, our defense seems to suffer a little bit. Our energy goes down, and we can't have that.
That is part of... I don't want to say the youth part of it. We have to be better at overcoming that early drought of not hitting shots and pick it up on the defensive end.
Well for example if we include the Clemson game, I thought we came out with great energy and played hard. They made their run, but I thought for a period of time we played pretty hard. I think one of the things we haven't done, and we've talked about this before, is play that full 40 minutes. We've put together that 30 minutes, 25 minutes, and then we have that drought. We have to put together that 40 minutes of tough, tough basketball. There is no question that this team can do it. I think Saturday's ball game was just a bad game... we picked the wrong time to do that against a team like that.
Why hasn't the team taken off since getting Tracy Smith back?
I think it's been the inconsistency of play, and not just from young guys, but just the inconsistency all the way around. I can't remember really the last time where we had a game where everyone just played well. Where we shot the ball well, where starters played well, guys off the bench played well. We haven't had that in a while.
Having Tracy back certainly helps, but we still need other people to play well for us. We've had a couple of times now where we would take maybe three or four of the players that have played the majority of the minutes, and they might go 4-for-16 or 4-for-18. We can't do that.
The other aspect of that to is with Tracy back we should be better defensively. I don't think we have taken advantage of that. I don't think we've defended well... the way we need to. I don't think our post players have defended well the last few games. We need to do a better job there.
No question, having him back certainly gives us more options as far as scoring and now we have to take advantage of that, but we need to have games where we have more than two guys play well.
Are you concerned this could be another ACC season or do you see signs that this can be a better season than in recent years?
There is still time for that. We need to get some work done though. We need to go to work, and we need more guys to play well for us. We need more guys to play well. We need more guys to be more aggressive.
We need to rebound the ball better. We were at a point where we were outrebounding our opponents, and now we are getting killed on the boards now. Those are our bigs... getting in there and getting rebounds.
We might have it where one day C.J. Leslie might get seven, eight rebounds, nine rebounds, and he normally is up there getting a few. Richard [Howell] will get some, but we need Tracy Smith and Deshawn Painter to get some boards. We need Scott Wood to get in there and get some boards. We need to rebound the ball better.
Our defense at times has been pretty good. The first half of the Carolina game, we held them to 37 percent shooting, and that was with 14 offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points, and they still shot 37 percent, which is great. But, we gave up those second opportunities, which kills you especially when you aren't scoring.
There is a lot of time left. We still have nine games left. We have lost five (ACC) games, and the five games we lost were to the top five teams in our conference, four of which have been on the road. When you look at that, we are the only team that has played that type of schedule with those particular teams, and the one team we lost to at home was Duke.
It has been a tough schedule, but there is still plenty of time. Last year, our team won six out of the last eight ball games. There is still time.