Can you talk about what type of opportunity this is for the team?
It's a really good opportunity. I think we're just a step ahead of the teams that aren't doing this. We have the opportunity to play together as a team, in a structured game, with referees and our own plays.
It's good to get the new guys acquainted with all of the old guys and getting them acquainted with coach Lowe's style of play... the offense and defense we're going to run. I think it's really going to be beneficial to us.
Thoughts on Julius Mays:
Julius has been playing very well at point guard. He controls the ball very well for being a young guy. He's just a freshman coming in and so far he's really poised and been playing very well at the point guard spot.
Thoughts on C.J. Williams:
C.J. has been playing very well also. He's a very good shooter. One thing I really like about him is he cuts to the basket really well.
Personally for me, being a post player who likes to pass, I like to have guys moving to the basket. I think that's really going to work well in coach Lowe's offense.
How has Farnold Degand doing?
He's doing well. I just saw him right now. He's constantly in the training room, doing his rehab.... doing everything he needs to do to get better. He's really itching to get back and playing. I think he'll be ready to go in October when we start back up.
When you think back to your freshman year, how big a difference would this have been for you to get a jumpstart with these August practices?
It's a great opportunity, and I think that would have been really great for me as a freshman. I think our freshman now realize that. They know that we are a step ahead. We know what to expect when real practice in October starts, and we know how to get ourselves ready to play our freshman year in basketball.
Has there been enough time to let go of the sick taste of last season and how it ended?
It's definitely not on my mind, and I don't think it's on anyone's mind to be honest with you. There's nothing we can do about it.
It's over. I have one more year. I am not to dwell on the past years, I am going to focus on my next year, my last year, and I think that's really trickling down to everyone else. They realize the opportunity we have this year, and I think they are making the most of it.
How is this team different from last season?
We are all I think on the same page, in the fact that we know what we need to do to be successful. We know to stick together as a team, listen to the coaches and get ready to go... stay positive and really be one unit, one team. I think we really kind of taken that and are running with it. We know to stick together and play together.
That didn't always happen last year?
I don't think at times. Obviously, with the outcome of the year we maybe kind of strayed off in different tangents couple of times, but for the most part last year we were a team but at times we had some games where guys just went off and did their own thing. I think this year we are all on the same page and we know what to expect and what to do.
What is different about you physically?
I've been here all summer, and I think I've lost weight and I've developed some more muscle, so I've gained weight in that aspect, but I've lost the bad weight. Personally I've been down here all summer, and I've been conditioning. I feel like I am in pretty good shape, and I am running the floor well. Personally I'm pretty much in some of the best shape of my college career.
What does it look like for Courtney [Fells] at the three-spot?
It's going to be different for him, but I think he's really taken into the idea that I am going to be three-man and that's the way it's going to be. I think he's going to really blossom at the three-position because that, not only is he going to be more of a slasher now but he can also help us rebound. Courtney, with those long arms and that jumping ability, is really going to help us on the defensive board and even offensive board for that matter.
Coach Lowe doesn't like losing and I think a couple of months ago he made the comment at a press conference along the lines that it's his way or the highway. Have you seen a difference in him?
Oh yeah, definitely. Even off the court you can kind of tell he is really focused on this year. I think if you have a normal conversation with him off the court, and it's going to end up leading back to this year as the year for us. We need to do well and make sure you are doing the right things off the court and to be ready for the on-the-court part of the year.
Any idea what kind of competition you are going to see up there?
I thought I heard we were going to be playing the University of Guelph. I think we played them the year before. I think we might be playing them, so we kind of know what to expect there, but I think more or less we are going to concentrate on ourselves really.
Sure we want to win obviously, but we're really going to concentrate on what we really need to do better as a team and what we need to do to be successful as a team.
Are these additional practices actually more relevant than the two games themselves?
Yeah, I think so definitely. When we're practicing it's just us and coach can talk to us one-on-one and he can get those young guys ready to learn the offense and everything.
It's also going to be good to play in two games. I think it's going to be good for the younger guys to get some different kind of competition instead of just beating up on each other for the past week and a half.
So you are not watching tons of video tape on Guelph?
No, we are not. Actually yesterday we watched video tape of the practice before yesterday. We are really concentrating on ourselves and making sure we are doing the right thing.
Thoughts on Javy Gonzalez:
He's gotten a lot better I think. One good thing about what happened last year for Javi is that he got some experience. With Farnold going down and being a young freshman he was put into a pretty big situation. I think he performed well.
Really coming into ACC conference, tough conference, he definitely gained some experience from that, but coming into this year I think he knows what he can do and what he is capable of and I think he is really working hard to do the right things and not be too out of control which some freshmen may do.
I can definitely tell that he is growing up and he's being more assertive and more patient where as last year being a freshman you kind of get out of control at times. He's doing a lot better.
His first two games were difficult situations for him having to play at Carolina and Clemson, but he did bounce back and improve. Does he have that type of tough-minded, persistent personality?
Oh yeah, definitely... he's constantly trying to get himself better. He definitely is a scrapper, he's a fighter, and he's going to be ready to go. If he has a bad practice or a bad game, he's going to be ready to go the next day 100 percent.
Is it nice for the NCAA to allow teams to be able to do this once every four years?
I think it's nice. Like you said, it's once every four years so everyone should get an opportunity to do it, and it's really interesting.
For the guys who haven't been to Canada, it's a new learning experience. You get to go to a different country... it's kind of cool actually. It's different than just playing along the East Coast like we do and playing against the same teams. It's going to be fun, and I think it's going to be a great experience for all of us. I think we should definitely get a lot out of it.
Do they have any plans that you know of in terms of culture things that you are going to do there?
I do not know. I just know our basketball schedule. We are getting up I think at 8 o'clock in the morning and practicing, and then playing that night. Then getting up the next morning practicing and playing. So it's going to be a lot of basketball, but I think at the same time some guys should be able to kind of really take in the whole Toronto experience.
Could this be an early bonding experience for you guys?
One great thing about traveling is that you do become close with your teammates because you are just with them for the whole trip. It's just you guys. That definitely helps bonding aspect of a team, and I think that's going to be beneficial for this trip especially because it's not just one night. It's a couple of days, and it's just going to be us. If we don't get along this trip, then we've got some trouble, but I think we will.
What do you expect from Brandon Costner?
A lot... I definitely do. Brandon, I can see him getting back to his freshman year phase. I think he's definitely come a long way. He had a rough year last year, but he's molded himself back into the shape he needs to be in and he's playing well these past couple of practices. I can definitely see the Brandon Costner of two years ago, and that's big for us.
Do you think you will be working a little harder in September and October when practice starts because you got this early reality check?
It kind of depends on how we play. If we play well, I don't think coach is going to want to wear us out too much because we don't want to be worn out come middle of October because we are already practicing now. It all depends.
If we play well in this trip this weekend I think we can take a couple steps back and kind of re-evaluate what we did and then get ready to go again. It's good to take a little break and not really push the full way because you don't want to wear yourself out. It's a very long year.
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