UNC-LU: Freshman Interviews

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Tar Heel freshmen aren't allowed to talk to the media until after their first game, so following Monday night's opener against Lipscomb, the three newcomers held their first interviews ...

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What's the transition been like for you, getting into college basketball?
"It's been adjusting to academics as well as adjusting to the basketball side of things - different speed of the game, different physicality, so it's been an adjustment ... but having high intensity practices like we have here at North Carolina that helps the process, and coming into the game with more confidence."

Did you feel more comfortable tonight after that first outing in the exhibition game?
"I felt the same amount of confidence, I just didn't make as many turnovers and made more shots. ... The exhibition game taught me a lot about myself, in terms of the speed of the game and how physical the college game is, how you have to take a bump off the dribble and in the post. I adjusted to that from last Friday."

What was your reaction to being named to the All-American team as a freshman?
"It was a great honor, but I would rather it be a postseason award than a preseason award."

What has this first month of practice been like for you?
"It's been great. Coach Williams is such a great basketball mind, he has so much knowledge, so it's just a matter of being a sponge and absorbing everything he has to say and applying it."

There's been a lot of talk about you taking a leadership role - how do you do that when there are guys who have been here a while?
"I try to mostly lead through my effort. There are guys here - Tyler Zeller, Larry Drew - they have won a championship here, I haven't been through the experiences they have so I can't lead as vocally because I haven't been there. But I can show up every day for practices and games, let my game speak for itself and then hopefully encourage guys to work harder."


Your first regular season game as a Tar Heel - what was that like?
"It was a great experience, playing in front of my home crowd. ... I felt like I was playing back in Kinston because there were a lot of people from here to watch me. I just felt like I was home when I was out there on the court and that was a good feeling to have in my first game experience."

Coach Williams said the Blue team got the better of the White team in some drills this week in practice ...
"I know everyday, as the Blue team, we go out and compete just to make the White team better. We just out compete every day in practice making a run at every drill to prepare each other and make each other better."

You seemed to provide an immediate offensive spark coming off the bench ...
"Kendall, he always finds me. He knows some of the things I do, so he tries to find me - he knows always where I'm going to be at lurking on the wing and I'm hitting the boards. ... It's real good having a point guard like Kendall and a point guard like Larry, because they're always trying to find me. I'm there when they need me to knock down a shot."

As a team that lacked perimeter shooters last year, do feel like that's a role you can fill this year?
"Yeah, that's something I'm consciously thinking about. I'm just playing my game - I'm not trying to break a record - I'm just playing my game and when the point guard finds me I try to knock down the shot."


Three years ago, you made the decision to come to North Carolina and now you're here - what was it like to play your first game?
"It was great. I had a lot of emotions coming into this first game - I was anxious, nervous and excited all at once - but I'm happy we got the win under our belt and can move on to the next one. ... It's a new atmosphere here - new for me coming out of high school, where the arenas aren't as big and the players aren't as good. There's a lot you have to learn to adjust to at the college level."

Roy Williams notoriously asked a lot of his point guards and it takes a while to learn his system. How's that process going for you?
"It's tough, but I feel like I'm getting it day by day, I'm catching on the more we do. He likes to throw a lot of things at you. He told me he's going to throw a lot at me, and to try and take it piece by piece and not forget. ... I just need to keep running Coach's offense the way he wants it to be. There's a lot of stuff I need to get better at, like making sure I push the ball on a consistent basis and being able to keep the point guard in front of me. Basically I just need to keep him from yelling at me."

Those that knew you before you enrolled have said that you've turned up your determination to a new level here. Would you agree with that?
"I have goals I want to accomplish for myself and for the team, and I feel like to get to that next level and for our team to be successful, we all have to join in and do our part. My part is I have to work hard, just like everyone else. So I feel like if I can take care of my part, and everyone can take care of theirs, we can be successful."

You had a lot of assists in the exhibition and few points -- and tonight it was the opposite. Was that just a case of taking what the defense gives you?
"Just taking what the defense gave me. Last week our wings were getting out and they didn't have guards back so I was able to throw it ahead. This week they had guards sitting back waiting for the pass, and I got caught a couple times in the first half, but I adjusted to it."

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