Do you know your starting five for the season opener?
“Yeah. Unless something weird happens today or tomorrow at practice, I’ll start the same five that I did. It could change, but I don’t anticipate any significant changes over a long period of time, no, because I think that lineup has performed better than anybody else during practice.”
How much experimenting will you do with the depth options that you have?
“We’ll experiment quite a bit, but at the same time we’re going to try and win games, too. It’s important to realize that we’ve had two exhibition games where we’re just far more gifted than the teams we’re playing. I tried to experiment a lot at those times, I don’t see as experimenting nearly as much on Friday and Sunday.”
Do you expect to be running a lot of different schemes on defense?
“Not a lot. Last year we were pretty much a one-dimensional halfcourt pressure man to man, and yet the full court press probably got us back in the Davidson game, where we won it in overtime. We didn’t play the 1-3-1 until late January, so we’re farther along with both of those options, the full court press and playing the 1-3-1, but you play what you’re really comfortable with, and I’m not there yet to know what I’m going to be comfortable with because it’s just Nov. 12. That’s where we are, so we’re going to have to see how it does in games. I’ll use this word, I am more comfortable with where I think we can be defensively, but we still have to get there.”
On perimeter length:
“I really don’t think we’ve had that. We’ve had big teams. At Kansas one year I had three guys that were seven feet that could play, that kind of thing. But this is probably the most size, length-wise, that we’ve had on the perimeter.”
Are you surprised the freshmen have meshed so well with the older players?
“Not really, because they are those kind of kids. I think individually they want to be part of a team, they want to get involved. They want to be part of something. None of the three is a guy that is always just looking for his own play and looking for his shot. They’ve been committed to us for a long time so their entire senior year in high school, when they came around for their official visit or unofficial visit or late night or whatever, the teammates were putting their arms around them. And so this is their first year playing, but it seems like they’ve been here quite a while.”
On this team’s chemistry:
“I think it’s Nov. 12. I don’t think you ever know about your team chemistry until you face some adversity. That really tells you a lot. I don’t think you ever know about your team’s chemistry until somebody gets disappointed by the number of minutes and how everybody else helps them handle it. Right now, they love each other, but it’s all popcorn and ice cream right now.”
On the national media’s attention on freshmen:
“I think there is a fascination with that, freshmen on the cover of magazines. Doug McDermott was probably the best player in the country [last year], not saying he has the highest potential or highest upside, but I think the experience is extremely important, but I’d still love to have those kind of guys because talent does win out a lot of times. I’ve always said at the Final Four, you have to have immense talent or you have guys that have been around a long time. There is a fascination with freshmen. And most of the freshmen nowadays are so much more worldly. Their game is so much more evolved. They’ve done more things, been more places. They aren’t in awe, they don’t walk out the first night and look out and say, ‘oh, my gosh.’ They walk out and say, ‘heck, everybody in here is looking at me.’ That’s their attitude sort of thing. And so they are able to do much more than they did many years ago.”
On the unselfishness of this team:
“I think when guys do too much it’s because they are selfish. Like I said the other day, you’re four feet away, shoot the ball, you don’t have to get to three feet and eleven inches, your four feet is okay. I like that. I think it’s harder to get guys to be that way than it is to go the other direction. For me, it’s a good problem to have. They’re unselfish, but so far I haven’t seen unselfish to a fault, and sometimes you do see that. So far I haven’t see that.”
Is playing N.C. Central in the first game a gamble?
“Some people would look at the first game, particularly as successful as they were last year, now they did lose a lot of guys. I like to play people, and I like to play good people, and LeVelle Moton is one of the truly good guys.”
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