"We were ecstatic after the game Saturday. Our team played really, really well at Duke, and had to, because they are such a good team. And we also caught them on a day where some of their shots were not going in. And I'm not trying to say that to please anybody; I'm saying it because I really believed it.
It's been a fantastic run for our club. We have been counted out a couple of times and had some major adversity but I really like the way my team has responded. And now we get to go see what can happen for a four day period down in Atlanta, and we are excited about that."
You did not play at Georgia Tech this year. Any kind of a disadvantage in not having played in that arena at all?
"I don't think we have ever played in that arena at any time, somebody told me this morning. But, yeah, it would be nice if we played there. But did Maryland play there and did Wake Forest play there; and if they did, they have a little advantage.
"But it's the kind of thing in basketball, you've got to go play wherever they tell you to play, and if we happen to play poorly and lose, I can assure you I will not blame it on the building but I don't know if Maryland or Wake both played there either."
Yeah, I believe they both did.
"Well, they are going to play the day before. But I'd still rather have a great season and not have to play the first day; I'd like that, as opposed to just playing a game and getting used to the building."
And your days here just before the tournament starts, how do you assess what you've done in the regular season, as opposed to this team had a lot of expectations on it at the beginning of the year back in November; in your mind, have you played up to your expectations?
"Well, my expectations are not really just based on results. It's on our team getting better, and I think our team has really gotten better. I think you should be pleased winning the ACC regular season. And at 14 2, we should be pleased about that, and we are.
"Yeah, every coach would like to go undefeated and all those kind of things. But we are pleased that we won the regular season championship and should be. Are we satisfied? No. I think I would say that regardless of what our record was."
Just wondering what your opinions were as far as NCAA Tournament seeding. You guys have worked very hard the whole year to get to this point. Some teams come out of nowhere and win their conference tournament and get a pretty big bump up in seed and stuff like that. How do you as coaches try to justify that in your brain when it comes to stuff like that?
"Well, we feel that we have done a pretty good body of work throughout the course of the whole season, and we'll have to wait and see where we are seeded. Right now our focus people may not believe, this but our focus is on playing well in the ACC Tournament. And we'll talk about the NCAA Tournament after we finish playing the ACC Tournament.
"But I do think our body of work all year has put us in a pretty good position. I was asked a question last week, and I even told them that I think the team that wins the regular season should get the automatic bid, but that's not the way it is. But we were able to emphasize in the regular season last week, and now we are trying to emphasize the ACC Tournament."
I was driving over to Greensboro this morning listening to a national radio show and they were talking about the Carolina Duke game and their focus was on Kendall Marshall dominated the game, he scored 20 points. I just wondered, did he have to score 20 points to get any kind of attention? Can you evaluate the kind of year he's had? I think he's had like five double figure scoring games, yet he's been a dominant player.
"He really has been a dominant player. The scoring is sort of like sort of like extra icing on the cake. It's not just icing on the cake because we would like him to score all the time.
"But when he scores that way, or even a better example would beFlorida State (ph) where he goes seven for eight, my gosh, that really is extra icing on the cake. He has had a dominating year. He's been a dominating performer for us. Was he the dominating factor in Saturday's game? I don't think there was one individual in Saturday's game. I mean, Tyler Zeller is nine for 11, and some of our guys defensively really did a nice job. We had two guys in double figures, John and Z on the backboards.
"So Kendall's 20 points and ten assists, that's pretty impressive. That means he's directly related to at least 40 points. So that is pretty doggone impressive. I guess in some people's minds, he might have to score more to be put in that elite, dominating category I guess. But not to me and not when I'm thinking about his value for our basketball team."
Since Dexter was hurt and Reggie went into the starting lineup, you've only lost once since then. What has Reggie done? How would you evaluate his performance and the kinds of things you asked him to do, and just filling that role?
"Well, he's really been really good. He was playing, I'm going to guess here, maybe 18 or 19 minutes a game and now he's had to move up to playing 27 to 30 minutes a game I guess. So that extra load has been something he's handled well. He's gotten better defensively since practice No.1 to practice No.77. And he has really, really bought into emphasizing that part because that's what Dexter did so well for us.
"Now, he's also able to shoot the ball in the basket and I think he made two 3s on Saturday, and also we asked him to get some rebounds for us. He had four offensive rebounds I think Saturday. So he's really tried to become a more complete player.
"Where we have lost something is that when we had Dexter, Dexter was giving us the great defense and shooting 58, 57 percent from the floor, and we were bringing Reggie off the bench, and he was really giving us an extra dimension at that point. Now, P.J. has struggled some, particularly with his scoring coming off the bench, so that's what we have lost is that guy coming off the bench that was able to give us so much. I think Reggie had 23 one night coming off the bench. That's where we have lost something. But Reggie has really become a more complete player and been an extremely effective player for us and really done a nice job."
To get back to Kendall, he is averaging 36 minutes a game in his last ten games. With the tournament coming up for three games in three days as a possibility, do you have a growing concern that he might be having too many minutes that are starting to add up now?
"You know, we are concerned about it, there's no question. I think it hurt us some last year in the tournament, because I thought Sunday he was almost worn out.
"The minutes that he played last year in the tournament were extremely significant minutes, and that's just my memory. I have not looked at any of the numbers from what he played last year, but I do think in the tournament he played major minutes. And playing Friday, Saturday, and then playing against Duke on Sunday, and they focused on him and I thought it was one of his more difficult games of the year. So we are concerned about it. We are going to try to see if we can get his minutes down this weekend."
That's what I wanted to ask you as a follow up. Have you started to form a plan for the tournament where maybe Stilman will play a little more?