“The other teams weren’t nearly as gifted as we are. That’s the first thing I learned. I was pleased Friday night, I really was. There were situations where we were far more gifted than the other team, but we tried to stay within things and tried to execute better than we had 10 days before. I always talk about the first one as a glorified practice and the second one we have to think about our execution and what we are trying to do in our game.
"I thought we advanced quite a bit in that and were a very unselfish team. So far this year they’ve been a really, really unselfish and I haven’t had to talk very much about it. I think it’s the only way you can play basketball effectively is not care about how many shots you’re getting and not care how many points you’re getting, but how your team is doing, and I’ve been very pleased with that.”
“I think we’re deep at certain spots, but we have to be better. Anybody can be deep. You can be five deep at any position, but if you’re not any good you can get your rear ends beat anyway. I think we have some talent, and I think the guys on the perimeter are going to play well for us. We have just got to have those big guys step up and do the things that we need them to do.”
On the need for big guys to step up:
“It’s still early. I don’t know that I can say somebody has done that yet. It’s a long season. I just need them to do it at some point.”
On the perimeter players:
“On the perimeter, Marcus is Marcus, he’s just a fantastic basketball player, fantastic leader. Nate Britt and Joel Berry gives us some good play at the point guard along with Marcus. J.P. has really done some outstanding things this offseason. He’s been up and down a little, but not nearly as much as he’s been in the past.”
On Marcus being the best defensive point guard he’s had at UNC:
“He’s got really good feet, so he stays in front of the ball. He doesn’t get beat on the drive nearly as much. When he’s supposed to be the help guy, guess where he is, he’s the help guy. He sees the big picture, sees what the other team is trying to do, and reacts to it before other guys. But the biggest thing is that he wants to be a really great defensive player. You’ve got to have great feet, and he has that, but he really wants to be a good defender and it makes him mad when the other guy scores on him. It’s not like an ‘oh well, I’ll just foul him.’ He takes pride in his defense.”
On if the off-the-court issues are affecting play in practice:
“On the court it’s been great. If it wasn’t for time on the court, I’d rather be mowing greens on the golf course. Being with the kids on the court is the salvation for me. It’s the time I’m able to go out there and we really have some fun, even when I go wacko. I went wacko yesterday morning as bad as I’ve done all year long. I left practice and I still felt better than I do most of the time. The stuff off the court, there’s no question it’s been negative. The adversity, it’s been a distraction, but on the court it’s been great, and thank goodness.”
On his takeaways from the exhibition games:
“I like the way we shared the ball. They had a lot of assists. We missed a lot of easy shots, particularly in the Belmont game. I like the way they tried to play defense, but they’re not where they’re supposed to be yet. We’re not running the way I want us to run but for this early in the year, they’re doing that okay. We just have to defend better and get to the offensive backboards. If I had to pick one thing that was going to make a difference between how successful we are or unsuccessful, I would say we need to do a great job on the offensive backboards.”
On the point guard rotation:
“I think I even had all three of them in the game at one time. I’m comfortable with doing that as I’ve told you before. In 2002, my next to last year at Kansas, I started three point guards and we made it all the way to the Final Four and it was the easiest coaching job I’ve ever had in my life. I’m not against that whatsoever. The third point guard was Kirk Hinrich, who was one of the three or four best defensive guards I’ve ever had, so he would play the 3-man on the other team.
"That’s the only thing that would worry me right now because if I played all three of them, the third one would really be small, because that would be Marcus, he would be the biggest of the three. I’m not against doing that because it is so much more effective offensively because they all know the big picture on the offensive end. It’s just can we guard them on the defensive end?”
On the current state of the ACC:
“It’s better. When you add Louisville, and last year we added Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pitt, it’s off the charts. It makes me sit back and think about how many of those big-time non-conference games you want to play, because you have to have some point where you get your kids a little confidence in what you’re doing and get them in a game where it’s not blood and guts every 30 seconds sort of deal, but the league this year is just off the charts.”
How much do you anticipate Paige playing at the 2-guard spot this season?
“He’ll play there some. I’m not going to sit down and say, ‘Okay, at the 12:06 mark I’m going to take him out and put him in at the 8:14 mark.’ I’m going to go on how well he’s playing and how well those other guys are playing. He’s a point guard, he’s more effective as a point guard, that’s the position that he’s going to play for the rest of his life, so for us, if those other guys are doing the job that they’re supposed to be doing, I’m going to leave him at the point guard more often.
"If they aren’t doing the job that we need at the two or three and making those shots, I can slide him down. So the question becomes, is the backup point guard doing a better job than some of those twos or threes because I feel very comfortable about what Marcus is able to do.”
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