"It was a good week for us last week, and an unbelievably challenging week this week with two road games. Three of our last four games were on the road, so we better be feeling pretty good about ourselves and better be pretty confident if we want to have a good chance this week. But we've done some good things, rebounding the ball, defending. At times it started looking like we're going to make a couple more shots, so hopefully we'll play better, and we need to play better this week playing at State and at Virginia."
First time you played State, you guys man handled them. How much psychological impact does that have? Does it make it tough to convince your guys that, hey, it might be a different game in Raleigh?
"It depends. Sometimes it makes kids mad. If my team was going to take it like we to quote use your word, we man handled them, then I sure as Dickens don't want to play Florida State again. I think to me, most of my teams in the past and most of the team that's we've played have very much an incentive to play a heck of a lot better the second time. The fact that we played them here helped us. Everything sort of fell in place for us that night.
"Yeah, I'd be ecstatic if I felt like it was going to have a great bearing on the game. But I think deep down inside it's not going to have any bearing on the game whatsoever. They didn't feel like they played very well. They had some open shots they didn't make, and we made some open shots ourselves."
What specific improvement have you seen in N.C. State since that first game, Roy? How different a team are they now?
"I think they're playing like all teams are. I think the more you play together under your system, I think with each week you get more accustomed to what the coaching staff wants. You get more accustomed to getting the shots the way that the new style, the new philosophy of play is going to help you.
"So I think the experience of playing that, every week you get better and better. They appear to be healthier. I think that they've settled in on the starting five, and they've got a couple of guys coming off the bench that know their role that have come in and doing some good things for them. You know, the youngster, Johnson, the youngster that came in for them the last couple of games has scored for them, put the ball in the basket. Has given them another quick player out there on the court.
"Then you go down to Deshawn Painter who is playing coming off the bench and giving them good moments early on, and I think he's still doing that. So I just think they're more experienced in what Mark and his staff want them to do. They've gotten better defensively. To me, they're better in every phase of the game, and I hope that we're better. But I do believe they're better right now than at that time."
Speaking of health, too. How's yours? Harrison and P.J.'s feet okay?
"They're better. I think that's the best way to say it. As we talked about the other day, these things tend to linger unless you're going to have a two week break, and this time of the year, you don't have a two week break. Hopefully, what we're trying to do in practice, we had a very short practice yesterday. We're going to have a short one today. Hopefully, spirited and enthusiastic, and we'll work very hard. But we're just trying to make sure that we can get them through the time period."
John Henson's had some big games against N.C. State on the defensive end. Wondering from your perspective what makes him such a good shot blocker, besides the obvious that he has a big wing span and he's tall?
"Well, that is part of it. You can't just leave that out. But you can't just say that is what your question is too. You have to have great timing. You have to be willing to have great discipline to stay on the floor on the first pump fake and stay on the floor to the second pump fake, and wait until the shot does go up, because so many shot blockers can stay in foul trouble if they jump up the air and foul the guy on the first pump fake every time.
"So I don't know about great games against North Carolina State. I don't have his stats right in front of me, how he's been for three years against them. I know here I thought he did some great things for us defensively. If I remember right, he probably brought four or five shots. I don't remember him scoring that much.
"But John has been better, and better, and better defensively in every phase of the game. Last year he blocked a lot of shots. But this year I think he's getting in position better, he's helping better, he's seeing the big picture better. So hoping that that will continue also."
Does he just have a natural ability that can't be taught or how much of his shot blocking ability do you think has been stuff that you and your staff have coached them up on?
"I think a shot blocker that is decided a long time before they get to college. We do some drills for it. We talk about when to go for the block. We talk about what scenario it is. It's important to do that. We talk about protecting the area around the basket.
"So we do try to coach it, but it's a skill and ability that I think is natural to some kids and not natural to other kids. To John, it is very natural and something he enjoys doing."
This is going to be State's third game in six days. Having put your team through similar stretches a couple of weeks ago. I was wondering what are the challenges of preparing a team and trying to keep their legs fresh? Then as an opposing coach, do you specifically try to exploit that when you know a team may not be as fresh as it usually is?
"I think if your team is much fresher, there is no question. But I guess if they played three games in six days, I guess we played three games in seven. At this time of year a lot of scenarios where games are backed up. But it's different if one team is playing three games in six days and the other team has had four days in a row off. There is no question that for our style of play, we'd try to push the tempo even more.
"But the scenario we're trying to do is trying to keep our legs fresh just as well as we possibly can. It's an emphasis for us just like it is for them. Those three games in six days, I think we've had two of those scenarios this year, and it is difficult with three games in seven days. It doesn't make it that easy either. But I think what you have to do is just read the pulse of your own team, and read their status mentally and physically and try to decide what you can do with it. Again, the big advantage is when the one team has had four days of rest or something like that as opposed to the other team."
In your experience, are players more likely to go for the first pump fake on shots within two feet of the basket than say five feet or just outside the paint or does it matter?
"I think the guys that pump fake inside, it's a little more effective in there because the corner is so close, and the defender is so close to begin with. A guy may have a habit of pump faking on the outside, and you can talk about that, and the defensive player has more space. That's an interesting question whether it's two feet, nine feet, 11 feet, whatever it is.
"But at the same time, I also think that if you have a good shot blocker, you spend a lot of time teaching him to try to stay down. That he can go up and still block the shot when the offensive player leaves the ground. On the perimeter sometimes those guys aren't very effective shot blockers. There is no telling what they're going to do. But that's an interesting question."
Last game you were really successful at defending Scott Wood. I was wondering what you did. Was it a matter of getting up on him when he shoots or denying him the ball?
"A little bit of both. Everyone has to be aware of where Scott is. He's such a great shooter. So it's not just a guy guarding him. They set good screens for him. He's very intelligent using those screens. You need to be there on the catch. You can't wait to get there when he's already in his motion. We try to do everything we can, because we think he's such an important part of their offense. Luckily for us last time he missed some shots that he makes a lot of times."