On how the week has played out: “There have been quite a few things going on. Coach Smith’s wife Linnea had the great statement that there is a basketball season still going on. But there have been some other things going. We played at B.C on Saturday, we had the Special Olympics clinic on Sunday, Monday we had practice, Tuesday we gave them the day off, Wednesday we did run and shoot, Thursday we had practice, and we did practice today.”
What has practice been like?
“It’s been extremely difficult, extremely emotional. Still, I am very blessed that I am a basketball coach at North Carolina and working with a great group a kids and have a lot of good things going. Still, with coach Smith’s situation and getting that text message late on Saturday night. Since that time my world has kind of been spinning a different way than it normally does, the second week of February in the middle of ACC play, which is ok. Somebody said it’s just a game, but it is more than that to a lot of us. It’s been emotional, it’s been consuming. Not just time consuming, it’s been all consuming because of the thoughts you have, but I’m blessed anyways.”
How will his legacy affect the current team?
“It’s hard for anyone to imagine, but it’s 18 years since Coach Smith has been the head coach. About the time that most of my guys were being born or one- or two-years-old it’s the last time he coached. They know the history and tradition, what he meant here and what he still means to me. There aren’t too many practices or meetings that go by that I don’t bring up coach Smith’s name or the way he did something. The legacy will be extremely strong here because of what he accomplished. Because it’s here, we play in the Dean Smith Center. The Hall of Fame and Museum and everything is right here. All our guys know a great deal about coach, even if very few got to spend a great amount of quality time with him.”
Will it be a relief to get back on the court?
“There’s no question there will be a great deal of relief, especially if we play well. You have all those emotions on every possession. It will be a welcome relief to focus a lot more on that than it has been the last four or five days. But again, I don’t want anybody to act like this is woe is me, I’ve been very blessed to have coach Smith in my life and be involved with him and I wish there was some way I could have honored him 24 hours a day every single day. But getting back to what Linnea said, there is still a basketball season to play.”
How did Joel Berry come out of the last game?
“I think he played 10 minutes and appears to have done well. He was ok in practice, but we are still limiting him in practice. It’s hard to limit too many guys because we don’t have enough to practice. I am hopeful in the next couple of weeks that he will be able to get back to form. But you don’t sit out three or four weeks and then all of a sudden have the same thing going on.”
Do you feel that with the AAU culture that guys today are still as competitive compared to 20 or 30 years ago?
“I think they are still as competitive, especially some of them. But I think the culture does lessen the hunger, the thirst, the need for winning is not as big as it once won. You see some guys go play in the summer league and he plays five games in one day. I saw Ty Lawson play five games in one day. One game was over and they lost it right at the end and I thought you could use that as a teaching moment. But there coach said they were on the next court in 35 minutes. That in itself you lose some of that.
“We used to recruit a guy and said we’d take them to Hawaii once in four years and everybody had already been there on a summer team or something like that. I think the whole world has changed like that a great deal. I think the real need, it’s a dramatic hunger with me. I don’t think every kids have that quite the level that they themselves did because it is going to be different for every individual. But you have some people that it is here, here, here. And you still have that, but it’s just a lower level I believe.”
Are there any updates on Theo’s status?
“No, no. I think I said four weeks, and I think the question was here last week, and I think we agreed that last week was two weeks.”
On Desmond Hubert’s injury affecting practice:
“In practice it really hurts. Desmond gave us a shot blocker, a rebounder and defender at the big man position on the other team when the starting team was going to work. I’ve never used the term the scout team, but everybody knows what you are taking about when you use that term. But also, he was the security blanket if we really needed a defensive stop, I usually turned to Desmond. I had to ask him one day if I was embarrassing him by putting him in the game one or two minutes at that point and he said no and I believed him. I told him that when I first started coaching I was going to have one rule that I was going to play the guy that I wanted at that specific time. The other thing you think about is just him as an individual. You go through four years and you play a little and you play a little more, and then not play as much and the ups and downs of the body and the aches and pains and then bang. Your playing career as a college player is over with. And I think about him and what goes through his mind right now more than how that is effecting our team.”
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