On if Marques Johnson will remain the starter at point guard:
"Yes, he will remain point guard. He's stable and he's got a little more experience. Not a lot but it's more than Javi and it's a tough situation for Javi. At least Marques has been through a year of practicing when he was at Tennessee and then here with us so he's had some experience. He's just a solid player who fits into our offense."
Is it too early to call Saturday's game with Miami a must-win?
"I wouldn't say it's a must win when you look at the season itself. We need to win. We started off on the road at two of the top teams in our conference, two nationally ranked teams and that's tough for anyone. We're at home and we just have to play well. We definitely need to win but I'm not going to say it's a must-win. A must-win comes when your back is against the wall. That's when it's really a must-win. Just for the confidence factor and understand to get teams to learn, it's something that we need to do."
On what factors into his players' mental toughness:
"Those open shots, when they don't go down, some players have a tendency to press a little more. Not just our players, basketball players have a tendency to press a little more and put that pressure on themselves. The mindset and mental confidence breaks down and you try to create things you can't do. I told our guys, if you're a shooter shoot the basketball. If you're open and your feet are set, that's a good shot – take the shot. If you miss it, come back and you take the next one. Once you start to predetermine what you're going to do that's when you come back and make poor decisions."
On if J.J. Hickson has been pressing too much:
"Teams are having two or three guys on him, that's the way it's been here lately. You got him inside, he's making his move and he sees the second big man coming over for the block, that's where that perimeter game comes in and you have to knock down shots. If you can't make shots on the perimeter, teams are going to continue to sag in on us and take away our inside game."
On if he's getting better at recognizing the double-teams
"He's getting better. But it's like anything else. After he's double-teamed or triple-teamed four straight times, on the fifth time he gets it. Sometimes he's trying to make a quick move and he's not really on balance. You have to be patient. When he kicks it out and those guys make some shots from the perimeter or kick it back in where he's one-on-one, that's where it'll get better."
"That's what he's working on is the recognition of that. It's not just J.J. it's all of our guys. That's not a negative thing, we just have to recognize it a little better what teams are doing and be willing to kick it out and know that our guy can hit that shot. I think the recognition from his standpoint is it's a larger transition because he hasn't seen this before."
On Tracy Smith
"It depends on the flow of the game, but he's certainly continued to work in practice and he comes in the game and does a nice job for us. The nice thing about Tracy is you don't have to draw up a play for him. He's a basketball player. He's going to go get it off the offensive boards and if you give it to him he can score down there but he doesn't necessarily need plays called. He's been very active, he's done a great job and he's earned more minutes."
"He's been working hard all year long. We had a situation with the three bigs that we had and Tracy being the fourth guy. With Brandon and Ben having been through the wars and obviously J.J. coming in, there just wasn't a lot of minutes there. I think you have to give guys an opportunity to get minutes to really be productive. It was just a matter of J.J. continuing to learn and get better and he's showing that."
"They have four guys who shoot over 40 percent from the 3. They have two pretty good guards in there, Dews and McClinton. They're active on the offensive boards. They play hard, it's a good basketball team. Starting off at the beginning of the year, to me, rankings mean nothing. They were picked lower and that meant nothing. You watch them play and realize who they are. Our guys are going to come in here pumped up and ready to go and we have to be ready to play."
On if losing the first two ACC games is keeping him up late at night:
"As a coach you're always up late at night whether you're winning or not. Because if you're winning, you're trying to stay there. And if you're not winning you're trying to find how to get there. There's really no difference. For me, I talk to our team and try to let them see the things we're not doing well and the areas that in which we're breaking down. To me, it's not so much about the other team, it's about you and what you do and that's what I'm trying to show them. It's not what other teams can do to us, it's what we've got to do. Whether it's making the extra pass or making a solid box-out and learning from our mistakes. The most frustrating for me is not learning from mistakes, I hate mistakes. That bothers me more than anything except guys not playing hard."
On if his team's confidence has been affected:
"I didn't sense the confidence was down. I sensed a couple of guys were hurt, which I liked. Losing is the worst. I hate it. Those are things that I try to talk to them about and I try to get a feel for every individual. If I see a guy who's really not hurt by losing then I have a problem. I don't think it's shattered confidence, I think guys are still trying to figure some things out within themselves. Yesterday we had an outstanding practice, guys really going hard and I expect that today. They're not hanging their heads, they're disappointed."
On if he thinks he's getting 100 percent effort out of his team:
"I don't think it's a question of 100 percent effort, I think it's a question of understanding. The Clemson game for example, we didn't work [in practice] on doubling [down] in the post. We doubled in the post five times and they hit five 3's. I don't think it's the effort as much as it is understanding and sticking with it."
If he senses the pressure from media and fans is different this year than last year's "free pass" considering the circumstances (lack of depth):
"As far as getting a ‘pass,' from media and fans, it is what it is. We're in the ACC, we're N.C. State, we have a great basketball tradition and our fans are passionate about this team. And you know what? They always want to see them do well. And when we don't do well, they may not be happy about it and the media may not be happy about it. It's not something that I can control and frankly is not something I can worry about. The only thing I can worry about is my team."
On if it's different losing in the ACC than in the NBA:
"No it's not different. Losing is losing to me. It really doesn't matter. Losing by one point, losing by 20 points, to me it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it's a loss and I hate it. I don't like losing. My time in the NBA has nothing to do with my passion for a win or my hatred for a loss. I don't like to lose and I don't like losers and I don't like people who accept losing."
Continued (with focus on media and fan pressure):
"No because I understand it. It's different yes, for the fan but it's not different for me because I do understand it. I understand too where I am and the people down the road. So there's always and the competition there and I knew that hwne I played here. We don't play for ourselves regardless of what we want to think. We play for our fans. It sounds crazy but that's what it is. In the NBA, you play for the team, but here you play for the fans. They get it from a Wake fan, a Duke fan a Carolina fan if you're not winning and you have to deal with it every day. I started to understand that when I was a player and what it meant to our fans. And from that you just go out and play hard. The one thing I never wanted fans to say when I was here is that I didn't play hard and that's something that I'm trying to get our team to understand.
"Now, I had a different personality. Some guys have different personalities. They're low-key kind of guys and sometimes you look at guys like that and you think they're not playing hard. George Gervin barely broke a sweat playing but still gave you 35. Some guys are sweating and looking like they're playing hard and when you finish up they've had one rebound and no points. But they look like they've been playing hard because they give you a lot of gestures so I think it just depends on a guy's personality."
"I'm not saying we're not playing hard. Some guys might not look like they've been playing hard but that's just the way we look. We were down in the other night and had a guy twist his ankle because he's going so hard after this loose ball. I'd say he's playing pretty hard."