Had a tough loss at Clemson. But our guys, I thought, were very competitive. They played hard. It was something we needed to continue to do. We've got to find a way to get a little bit better in a number of different areas and get our team over the hump.
Coach, in general terms, I'm
wondering now almost a full year into your first
year in the ACC, what you know now that you
didn't know when you started?
Well, number one, it's a great league to be a part of. But I think that our league is improving a great deal. I think the last year or two was a lot of criticism of the league.
The league was down. I think our league is proving the depth in this league is much better than I think people anticipated.
But it's a privilege to be part of this league and this program.
To follow-up, when you came in, did
you kind of spread the word that this is not
going to be rebuilding? Did you kind of
motivate that way?
No. I hate to use that term, because whenever you say rebuilding, it's almost as if you're giving yourself an out to be average. I don't like it. I never have liked that. And so, we obviously know where our program has been. We've not been near the top, obviously.
But we've tried to set high goals this year and do some things that maybe a lot of people haven't expected us to do so at times we've done well with that; other times we've come up short. But I believe you have to reach high and dream high. I've tried to stay away from the term rebuilding.
Miami is 7-3 in the league since you
last saw them. Give me your impressions of
what they've done to kind of get better as the
season has progressed?
Well, I think right after our game, quite honestly, they made some adjustments. Number one is Larkin. His play, his minutes went up and his play improved. I think it took the pressure off of Scott and Grant on the perimeter. I think Larkin has been a catalyst for them.
I also think that Reggie Johnson has gotten in better shape. He missed nine games, so he was slower. Now he's beginning to really play much better.
The real difference for them too has been Kenny Kadji. He seems to have taken his game to another level. Part of it I think is conditioning, new coaching staff, new system, but I think that that group have played very well since our game.
Looking at the numbers the last four
or five games for Scott Wood, he's obviously in
a slump. Is there anything you can do as a
coach to try to get a great shooter like that
back in the groove?
Well, here's the tricky part of that situation. We're here at the last week of the season, the regular season I think that makes it a little different. If this is November, December, you might have the discussion of maybe taking him out of the starting lineup. Would that help?
I don't know that those are areas you want to go to right now at this point in the year. Obviously, he needs to play better. We all know that, and he's had a lot of open looks too. So there are a lot of times when players have defended him well and he's not had a lot of room to get a shot off, then there's also been a lot of opportunities too that just haven't gone in.
I think he's a terrific shooter. I think he's a guy that will eventually make them like he did early. I'm going to continue to encourage him. When he's open, we need his shooting. I don't know that we can go away from him all together and say, hey, because we're a different team when he scores 10 to 15 points a game, much different. So we need him to step forward.
How has he done in terms of not
letting his offensive woes impact the rest of his
I think the rest of his game is good, I don't know that I would say it's great. He's had some turnovers. But I would say overall he needs to play better in every area.
I'm working on a story about
coaches on the bubble. I remember hearing you a few weeks ago talking about your
perspective as a TV analyst the past couple
years, and now that you're back on the bubble
as a coach. I just wondered, did working in TV
after all those years at Alabama and coming
back to it, has it changed your perspective on
the bubble at all or do you still have the same
As far as what?
As far as campaigning and what to
do with your team to kind of ignore the
distractions that everyone is saying are they in,
are they out type of thing?
No, number one, most of the time coaches campaign when they're asked a question. They respond. I think we all normally would do that. I don't know that that has much bearing on anything. The committee does a great job. They have every ounce of information you could possibly dream of.
I don't know that a coach going on television and singing his song at the end of the day does much different outside of making him feel good. I think my time in television you learn that it's easy for somebody on television, including me.
It was me to say that team should get in the tournament, or that team shouldn't get in. At the end of the day, you have to earn your way in, and that's what we have to do. There are other teams around the country like us. You have to earn your way in by winning games. It's not smoke and mirrors. It's a simple equation. So I think that's where you end up at this time of the year.
Do you have a number in your head
of how many games you think you need to
No, I think that's where I think it's a misnomer. I was watching TV last night and somebody said if Miami wins this game, they're in. Well, that's completely irresponsible is the right word, because nobody knows that. You don't know what the other teams are being compared to.
The other thing that was a pet peeve of mine when I did TV is if they win this game and they go to their conference tournament and win one, they're in. Well, how does somebody know that? Bottom line, you don't know that because you don't know what's going on around you.
When you're on the bubble, it has a lot to do with what you do. But it also has a lot to do with what everybody else is doing. Winning, losing, somebody making a late run, somebody winning a conference tournament, who knows. You're at the mercy of a lot of variables when you get to this point.
Coach, C.J. Williams, probably his
last home game Wednesday. You've had an
interesting relationship with him in terms of
you've embraced him and challenged him and
seen him grow and improve as a senior here in
your one year together.
I think he's been a great young man to coach. Obviously, I didn't watch him a lot in the past years. But it's my understanding his play this year has been much better than it has in the previous three. I'm proud of him for that.
It's difficult when you're going into your senior year, and new coach comes in, new staff, things are going to be different. But it also can be a blessing too. I think in his case it was a blessing.
It's a fresh start. This staff does not have a preconceived idea of what I can and can't do and he approached it that way. I thought he responded.