"We had a good week. Won two games. Played very well at spots during both of those games. Didn't play for 40 minutes, and it's something we do feel we need to do. We're taking little steps. We think we're getting better. I'd like to continue taking those steps, whether they're little or big, as long as we keep moving in the right direction."
Coach, have you seen encouraging signs that James Michael is kind of being more aggressive like you wanted to see out of him?
"I think so. I think last week was probably his best week of practice. The day before the North Carolina State game I guess it was his best practice of the year. Regretfully in the game he got three fouls in about two minutes, so he wasn't able to be rewarded for the better play in practice kind of thing because of foul trouble.
"I think he had a couple good days before we played yesterday. I think that he was more aggressive. We need him to be that way. We'd like for his shot to go in a little more often as well. If he can be more aggressive, rebound the basketball, we're taking great steps again in the right direction like I talked about our team."
Is that just experience, him getting comfortable? Anything else trigger that?
"You can't tell what goes through a freshman's mind every day. The freshmen have a wide variety of ways to handle things. You don't learn about that till you've had them for a whole year. It's a bright new world out there. The game's moving so fast. Everybody is bigger and stronger. Guys come at different paces. You have to more or less push them as much as you can and try to force them to come. But still they're going to come at their own pace. You can help them a little bit but mostly it's up to them."
Can you talk a little bit about what it's done to Reggie's game to move in the starting lineup, have a few more minutes?
"Well, I'll sure it's made him happier. Everybody would like to start and get more minutes. Reggie has really been playing fairly consistently for us all year long. He had a couple games where the shots just didn't go in. But his effort defensively and his work on the backboards is what has been able to keep him in the game even when his shot wasn't going in. I told him that. He had a couple games where he ball just didn't go in the basket. I told him, You're doing other things to allow me to keep you in the game. Where he did shoot it poorly, he had 13 rebounds in that game.
"I wanted to encourage him to play and not judge his worth on whether or not a shot went in. I think he bought into that and he continued to work on the defensive end and continued trying to do some things for us on the backboards. Now I think he's being more productive because of those time periods earlier and getting more minutes. I'm sure he enjoys that part of it, too."
Are you asking him to take over the defensive role that Dexter played or are you sharing that with other people?
"It's the same for everybody. Everybody's got a defensive role. It's just that we went through a stretch there where the guy that Dexter was guarding was the leading offensive player on the other team. With Dexter, we had the ability also for him to cover the point guard.
"We're not quite as comfortable right now with Reggie covering the point guard, so there's a little bit of a difference there. But it's also just worked out. It's been a coincidence that the last two games the person that Reggie has been asked to guard is the two man on the other team, and that's been their leading scorer.
"We hope that we'll get to a point that Reggie will be able to cover any of the perimeter players. We do want him to consider himself as a defensive player, but also want Harrison and P.J. to feel that way, too. It's right now Reggie is feeling better about it and accomplishing it better, and I don't know which comes first."
Kendall seems to be scoring a bit more within ACC games. Is that a conscious thing on his part or your part or something that's developed within the flow of the games?
"I would probably have to say it's something that's developed during the flow of the game because I didn't realize he was scoring more in the ACC games. If he is, can't be a lot, that kind of thing.
"I'll go by the statement, the premise that you made, is correct. I really believe it is. During the flow, we've said all year long I want him to take the open shots and I want him to try to penetrate. Some teams cut off his dribble-penetration better than others have. At the same time I think with Reggie and Harrison and 'Z', John, we've got four guys. When we bring in P.J. that's another guy off the bench that can score.
"Those guys are going to be played a little more closely when they're on the three-point line with Harrison, P.J. and Reggie, for example. They can't come off of John and Z inside because they know that Kendall will pass it to those guys for layups or dunks. It's a pretty nice position for him to be in. I always told him I want him to make shots. Whether it's Raymond Felton or Ty Lawson, our point guards have been able to score quite a bit. I'm not against point guards scoring by any means."
Is he the kind of player that's almost always been pass first and you've had to encourage his offense some? As you mentioned, some of these other guys, it varies from player to player.
"As long as I've known him, he's always been a pass-first quarterback, put the ball in people's hands that can score in the right spot, where they like it, a team player, not a guy that's hungry looking for his own shot. I just want him to keep everybody honest. That's something we've continued to talk about."
You play Maryland on Saturday. What was it like having Mark Turgeon as an assistant?
"Mark was fantastic for me. I enjoyed him. He was working his tail off. He was just getting started into the coaching side of it, making his transition from a player to a coach. He took the suggestions for what he should be doing each and every day in the office and ran with it and expanded his role each and every year. He's one of the bright, bright, bright young - not quite as young as he used to be - but one of the bright young coaches in the game.
"It's going to be weird coaching against him. I've always wanted him to win with single game he's been involved with. When you look at scores at SportsCenter, whether it's Jacksonville State, Wichita State, Maryland, Texas A&M, I'm always checking those scores to see how he did. He was a great asset to me and a big part of our success during those years that we were together at Kansas. Just a fantastic person that is going to be a little difficult to coach against."
When he was up for the job, did he come to you at all with any questions?
"I had discussions with Mark and the athletic director at Maryland over a two-day period. Just thought it was a great fit for Mark, that he would do a great job at Maryland for everybody. I thought it was a win-win for both parties."