Obviously coming off a good win over a good ballclub, we really played well in a couple of areas. We were able to play a good second half and go out and finish the ballgame.
Can you talk about what a different team you are when Dennis Horner plays the way he has the past couple of ballgames:
There's no question we're a better ballclub because we count on Dennis to do several things for us... rebounding, scoring, defending as well. When he's on track and doing those things it just makes us a different team, especially when he's able to make some shots because it gives us the opportunity to pull the opposing four-man out on the perimeter.
It keeps them honest that way. We have Tracy inside and can open up Tracy a little more inside.
When he's playing the way he has like the last two ballgames we're a totally different team. He's been great the last couple of games for us.
Do you have any sense as to what has sparked him the last couple of games?
I really don't know. I wonder about the injury situation where we were talking about him maybe having surgery when he was having a problem with his stomach. I don't know if he just woke up and felt his career could be over so he better go out there and get this done.
I'm not sure what it is, but I hope whatever it is he keeps thinking about it because he's been playing great.
What are the biggest strides Tracy Smith has made this season?
His ability to score on big people has obviously improved, but his passing has been really good. His biggest improvement is recognizing the double teams.
This is a young man who is being doubled by just about everybody. Even when there are guys much bigger or taller, teams are still coming down on him.
He's done a great job of finding the open man on double teams and that's something he wasn't strong at early in his career here. Now he's starting to see it, recognize it, and make good passes.
How does he, in a league with a lot of good big men, consistently establish himself down low?
I think it's a couple of things. For one, I think it's a product of his entire career as a basketball player. A lot of times when he was playing he was probably shorter than some of the centers he was playing against. Maybe not all the time in high school, but several guys, and he just learned how to score the ball over those guys.
Obviously being here and working with our coaches and things, recognizing how he has to score over certain guys. There are certain guys he has to put his body into and there are certain guys he has to move around... what we call move around a little bit and make the big guy move while using the rim to his advantage. As you saw the other night against McFarland, he really used the rim with some up-and-unders and finishing on the other side of the basket.
He's just learning... he's learning how to play against those guys.
A couple of other coaches have mentioned he's able to score over either shoulder. Is that something he's always done or something he's developed?
That's something he's developed. That's from a lot of work in the gym with our staff... having the broomstick that he has to shoot over left and right hand. He's incorporated a turnaround jumpshot which you've seen.
That just comes from a lot of work and recognizing that he has to have different shots. He can't just go one way, he has to be able to go both ways as well as use that turnaround jumpshot.
He's just done a great job of being in the gym and working.
Would you be for or against expanding the NCAA Tournament field to 96 teams and why?
I think I would be for it. For one it would give more teams an opportunity to get in.
Certainly you don't want to take away from the reward of the teams that played well during the season, well enough to get in, but I think the best teams will still end up in the Final Four or championship game if they are the best team. Obviously one day can make a difference and one team can get hot or get going, but I think it just gives you more opportunities to get in.
It's probably good for revenue. I don't know, like I said before, nothing against football, but they have a lot of bowl games. A lot of teams get in. It's hard to make the NCAA Tournament if you go .500.
I think it would be great for the sport, great for more teams to get opportunities, and great for revenue.
One argument is the later regular season games could be less important because the bubble would be moved to another level and a lot of these teams would know that they were in the tournament. Is there any credibility to that argument?
I guess there could be. I don't know, for myself I think you still go out and play the ballgame. It still counts as a win for your team, and you certainly want to go out and perform anytime you have a game.
But I could see how some may feel that way, absolutely.
You've said you want your team to feel disappointed after a lost. You tried to show them everything they did wrong. You said you wanted to see the disappointed looks on their faces. You mentioned after the last game one was almost crying. Have you been able to reverse that script and show them how good it was to win after seven ACC losses, and maybe that can be contagious?
Absolutely. In fact after the game I think in the postgame press conference that I mentioned we would get in today and watch film of all the good things that we did. How we won that ballgame and take those things and implement them into the next ballgame.
That's what we did today. We showed them all of the positive things we did well... how we got the lead, on both ends offensively and defensively. How we were patient... how we moved the ball around. Instead of taking a shot with 25 or 23 seconds we moved the ball around and got an even better shot with 14 or 12 seconds. Defensively diving for the ball on the floor which became jumpball situations in our favor.
That's part of it. I don't think you always go to the negative side. I think you have to show them the positive things. One, to let them know they did some things well, but two to show them that's what you did, what you did as a team to win this ballgame.
I think that's important, and yes it can become contagious. What we talked about today was the team. Everything was about the team. The guys came in great, and they were saying the right things. We told them this could be something good, this could start something for us if we keep the same mindset.
I've never been concerned about them working hard, they've been doing that all year. Now let's make the right plays to win. Hopefully it can become contagious, and we can have a nice run.
How will you spend this week?
We practiced [Monday], a lot of breakdown stuff. We'll go Tuesday and play a little more with some scrimmaging in there. We'll talk about Miami a little bit. We'll take a day off and come back Thursday and Friday to get ready for Saturday.