Obviously, this is a big game for us any time that N.C. State and North Carolina play from our perspective is a big game. So our players have treated it as such in the last day or so, and I think they'll be very excited for the opportunity.
Everybody's aware of
North Carolina's starting lineup and their four
All-Star candidates and so on. What
impressions have you had of their bench and
the contributions they make?
I think that their bench is very good. I think Roy has done a very good job of managing injuries, finding the right minutes throughout the game for certain guys off the bench. Using timeouts or using substitutions around timeouts to give the starters some extended break. I think their bench is very good.
I also think that they have been used very well within their structure.
Impressions in particular of James
Well, he's a younger player that's got phenomenal potential. I think he's gotten better as the year has gone on, like most freshmen. I think he's more comfortable or looks more comfortable now than did he maybe in December.
I think he's been giving them some very valuable minutes off the bench.
North Carolina's size was a decisive
factor in the first game. So they haven't gotten
any shorter since then. I was just wondering
what can you do to help offset that size this
time and take away the huge influence it had
like in the first game?
We bought a stretching machine. We're trying to stretch our guys so we get taller. We're trying to stretch ourselves from 6'8" to 7 foot.
You know, it's difficult because not only do they have great length, they use it in a very effective way. In other words, offensively. They go get the offensive rebounds and use their length there. They can score over you with the basketball defensively. They alter a lot of shots.
We've got to be creative, and our guys have to attack their size, especially inside, much smarter than we did.
In other words, I don't think you can just back a guy down and shoot a normal, back-to-the-basket, post move. And we've made too many of those attempts. So we've got to be a lot better than that.
I know you've had two very
disappointing and difficult losses here. How
do you judge the mood of your team right now?
I think it's good. I think that we were obviously a step slow physically and mentally on Saturday, and that was disappointing.
We have to be better. We have to recover quicker from a Thursday night game for a Saturday afternoon game, especially an emotional game. I don't think we handled that very well.
But I think now, our guys are disappointed in how we played Saturday. I think they understand this is a big night for us, and I anticipate our team having lots of energy on Tuesday night.
In light of your personnel situation
and the calendar and the schedule, is this the
time of year where you're sort of tempted to
dial back the intensity of practice, or is that
something you really can't afford because time
is, in fact, so important?
Well, that's a good question. I don't think we ever dial back the intensity. I think our practices are very demanding, but we do begin to shorten the length.
I think it's important to have fresh legs. But at the same time teach proper habits. So that's our philosophy this time of year.
Last couple games Scott Wood
struggled from the three-point line. He had a
little slump in the free-throw line. Anything
fatigue or the way people are playing him, or is
it just a normal slump of the way the guys go
through it in the course of the season?
I don't know the answer to that question. I wish I did. At times he looks a little fatigued. He's played a lot of minutes. I'm going to cut some of those back just a little bit.
He's also sometimes been defended really well, and sometimes he's had some pretty wide open shots too. So it's probably a combination of everything. Somewhat of a slump, maybe a little tired and maybe a little bit how teams have guarded him too. So I don't know that it's just one of those.
I just think sometimes basketball's a long season, and he's gone through some periods where he's been very consistent and here recently hasn't been as consistent. So hopefully that's something he can work through.
Is it easier to get him a little more
rest now that Alex Johnson has hit a streak
where he's playing very well?
Yeah, I think so. I need to do a better job of finding the right opportunities to rest Scott too. Again, around timeouts, longer breaks, two minutes before a timeout or two minutes after a TV timeout where you get extended minutes. I think we have to do a better job as a staff there.