Summer Q&A: Dexter Strickland

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina junior Dexter Strickland answered questions on Tuesday as a part of UNC's summer press conference ...

How difficult was it for you to adapt to your role as a defensive stopper?

It was pretty tough. Coming in as a freshman, I always thought about just getting the ball and scoring because that's what I did in high school. Defense wasn't as important as it is now. I figured at this time, it all starts with defense. If you get steals, you get breakaway dunks and breakaway layups and stuff like that. It gets the offense flowing. So I figure if I get the defense down pat, the offense will take care of itself.

This team has the possibility of having four All-ACC first team guys. Do you kind of feel like George from the Beatles, the guy everybody always forgets about?

Not really. I don't mind it at all. As long as we win. If we get a championship, I can have two points in the championship game, and it doesn't matter to me.

Why will this team be better than the one that ended last season?

We just have more tools. We have Desmond [Hubert], we have [James] McAdoo, we have P.J. [Hairston], we have Stilman [White]. I think we just have more tools to contribute to the team. We know our potential based on last year, and I think I speak for everybody when I say that we can do much better than we did last season.

Where do you see the biggest room for improvement?

I guess just running the floor more, getting more fast breaks. It starts with our defense. If I had to pick one weakness, it would probably just be the freshmen not having experience yet. But all of that will go out the window in a couple of games, two or three games. I mean, we're a great team. We've just got to know how to play together even more. I think we did a great job of that last season, but it can only get better.

How will this team handle being the favorite?

I guess there's a little pressure. But at the end of the day, you've got to let it motivate you. You can't let it be a situation where you're preseason No. 1, everyone is out to get you, and then you underestimate everybody. We've just got to keep our focus and play hard. I think we'll be fine.

Did you end up having the knee surgery after the season?

I didn't need it.

That must have been comforting to you.

Absolutely. My doctor said that if I didn't need it, it's pointless to have it. It would set me back. I actually didn't want to have it because I wanted to use this summer to focus on my game and get better. If I had surgery, I would have been sitting out.

How is the knee now?

It's fine. It's 100 percent.

It seemed like at the end of last season you were playing as well as you had all year, anyway.

The trainers did a great job of physical therapy and all of that stuff. They gave me the proper medicine to keep the swelling down. I don't even take medicine anymore. The swelling is down. I'm icing my knees after every workout and every pickup game. It's been good.

What did they say was causing the problem in the first place?

I have no clue.

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