“A great afternoon for us on Saturday. It was a killer on Monday. Both of them 71-70 and 72-71, but I think that’s what this league is all about. There are good teams and you’ve got to make plays at the end. If you do make plays, you get lucky sometimes. If you don’t make plays, you don’t very often get lucky. We know we’re playing a North Carolina State team that was simply awesome yesterday, what they did against a great Duke team. They may not have played great according to Mike on that day, but man alive, State was really something.”
Can you talk about your success in Raleigh?
“I think we have been pretty lucky. Last year we were very lucky that we had another couple of seconds on the clock for Marcus’s layup. We felt like we had the game won and Leslie makes a silly foul with two seconds or whatever it was on the clock. Then Warren makes two big free throws to extend the game, but we were lucky at the end. You know, who knows? It changes a great deal. Every two or three years things change over, but we have been fortunate.
“We’ve played pretty doggone well, I think, is the biggest part of it and caught State several times when they didn’t play as well. In 2010, we weren’t very good, but we had probably our best game of the year over in Raleigh. Who knows why it happens, but after the way they played yesterday, and the way they’ve started out their season. They’ve gotten off to a great start in the league and they’ve played well to get there.”
Marcus Paige told his teammates after Saturday’s game-winner that he’s back. Is he back?
“No. One play didn’t kill him on Monday night when we played Notre Dame. His layup that he missed at the end with probably five seconds left in that game was a lot easier than the one he made Saturday. I’m shocked that that’s what he said, so no, I don’t think he’s back. We’re still having to be concerned about his conditioning, be concerned about his plantar fasciitis, trying to hold him out of practices. As I said, one play didn’t destroy my confidence in him on Monday and one play, I don’t think, is going to turn me 180 degrees in the other direction right now. Again, I’m surprised that he supposedly said that.”
How do you manage a condition like plantar fasciitis with Marcus Paige?
“It is difficult. I’ve had it twice myself and in the mornings you can barely move. So we’ve tried to get him the right orthotics, get him the right therapy every day, try to hold him out. The day before the Louisville game I think he participated in like 15 plays in practice. And then you’ve got to get him over there on the bike because you’ve got to keep his conditioning up. But it is something that is extremely painful. People that have never had it don’t have any idea what we’re talking about because it is painful. It is very much at the top of our attention in trying to make sure we do things to try to get in front of it and help him get better.”
Does what N.C. State’s bigs did against Duke give you pause about what they can do against your team?
“Son, this is the ACC. I don’t need somebody to give me more pause. You better have your rear end ready to play on game day. State’s a very good basketball team. As I said, they’ve already had three conference wins. If Cat Barber was blocking all of those shots, it wouldn’t help give me anymore pause in my thinking because I’ve already got all that I can. If you watched the game yesterday and didn’t think they were a really good basketball team, then you’re watching a different sport than I am. That’s part of their game. What they did defensively may have been more impressive than making 10 out of 16 [3-pointers].”
Despite Paige’s injury, he’s still playing a lot of minutes. How do you think he’s handled playing with the pain?
“He’s done a fantastic job. We’re trying to keep him out of things a lot more in practice, and he’s wanting to get in there because he wants to stay as attuned as he possibly can, and yet it’s a thin line. You’ve got to get as much work as you can to make sure that your skill level is okay, and at the same time, you don’t want to do it and have something physically that’s going to prevent you from playing.
"So it’s a fine line, but he’s a tough kid. I’ve said that since the first day that he got here. He’s a tough kid mentally, he’s a tough kid physically and he wants to play and he wants his team to win. He’s been a joy to coach. On top of that, he sprained his ankle. He stepped on Montrezl [Harrell’s] foot and rolled his ankle and had to go get the tape strengthened up. I said, ‘How are you?’ and he said, ‘I’m fine, I’m ready to go.’ That’s just who he is.”
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