“Well, you guys have heard me use the terminology that an exhibition game is a glorified practice, and I think it was. I think Guilford was excited, and we were excited too because we took so many threes early in the game. I think 11 of our first 28 attempts were threes, and I know we had eight in the first five minutes of the game. We can’t do that. We’ve got to have better balance, and it’s not just the guards, because Kennedy (Meeks) and Brice (Johnson) were posting up about 14 feet from the basket. It felt pretty good to play. We did some nice things without Marcus (Paige), without Justin (Jackson), without Brice — I mean he did come in the second half, first half I don’t know where he was. Lot of kids got a lot of minutes, and I think it did help us, the crowd helped us.
"And Guilford, like I said, they were out there making a lot of shots, I know that their stats at halftime, it was just 39 percent, but every time we left them open, they made the shot. Those kids played hard and I enjoyed competing against them, but we just had too many bigger players, more skilled, but early, like I said, we were shooting too many threes, we weren’t taking advantage of our big guys at all. I love the way we shared the basketball, 33 assists, 42 baskets. I think four guys had at least five assists. So there’s a lot of things to like. The staff’s gonna stay here tonight. It takes a long time, but we’ll stay here tonight and grade the tape and we’ll practice again tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock, because I don’t want to practice after the football game, and since it’s a 12 noon game, we’ll practice at 9 o’clock, and we’ll go and see if we can cheer those guys on and have a great day on the football field.”
How much progress has Theo Pinson made since surgery?
“I think it’s been gradual. I think the first week, when he was only going two practices and one off, and it was only half court, he was better. The second week, he was better than that first week, and on. I don’t think there’s been one particular thing he’s done better in the last week since he was completely released. It’s just that we were doubting his minutes, keeping it on a stopwatch while he was on the court, he has some abilities, he needs to make sure he takes care of the basketball and doesn’t turn it over. I think he can be a marvelous defensive player, and he hasn’t started that yet, but I think he will. He got a really nice offensive rebound in the second half off a free throw, and missed the shot back in. He and Justin Jackson have both got to help us more on the backboards than they’ve been doing in practice.”
Luke Maye and Kenny Williams got a lot of minutes tonight. What did you see out of them?
“Well they got a lot of minutes, but, come on guys, I mean we had Marcus and Justin sitting. Somebody’s got to play. Coach (Hubert) Davis doesn’t have anymore eligibility and my freakin’ knee’s hurting. Kenny and Luke, I like what they do, they’re wonderful kids and they’ve done some really good things for us in practice, but again, we had five big guys and we played all five of them. Kenny looked more comfortable than Luke did. Luke has two turnovers in nine minutes, we don’t want our big guys to do that. But Luke and Kenny, I’m very, very pleased with.”
What’s the biggest challenge with replacing Marcus Paige?
“Everybody’s got to try and play closer to their potential. We can’t have any sloppiness. I mean the team we’re gonna play next Friday night is a different level team. And we talked the other day about everybody picking up their play and doing a better job themselves, whatever job it is, whether how little they think it is, or how important they may think it is, they’ve got to do a better job of that. Joel Berry and Nate (Britt) and Theo and Kenny gave us some good minutes tonight. I do want to get Justin back out there, Marcus is gonna be gone even longer. If this was a regular season game today, Justin could’ve played. He didn’t feel well last night at the end of practice, still didn’t feel well this morning, they said I could play him, but I said I’d rather just not. So I’d like to get those guys back in there, but we’ll get Justin back before Marcus.”
It’s only been two days, but what have you learned about your team after the Marcus Paige injury?
“You answered it yourself, because there hasn’t been very much time. I think we’ve had I can’t remember which night he got hurt, I guess Tuesday night, and so we’ve had two practices and an exhibition game. In their scrimmage against Vanderbilt, I think Marcus only scored 9 points, so we played without him, but he’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached, and he’s the confidence-maker on the entire team. Every kid has more confidence in him than anybody else on our squad, so it’s a big loss, but it’s there, and everybody’s just got to pull together, Nate, Theo, Joel, those guys will get more minutes, and we need them to produce.”
What did you like about how Joel Berry played tonight?
“He’s had a good preseason. Other than Marcus, I’m not sure anybody’s played better this preseason than Joel Berry has. We need him to continue doing that. Nate was 9-1 (assist-turnover), and Joel was 7-3, one of the times the other guy threw it off his leg out of bounds, but Joel shot the ball well. He’s worked hard in the offseason on his shot. So he’s had a good preseason.”
How do you like the new 30-second shot clock?
“I think it’s a very, very, very little factor, from 35 to 30. It would have been fine with me if they had gone to 24 or 25 (seconds), but I don’t think it’s, to me, it’s not that big of a deal. To me I think the bigger change is doing away with the five second closely guarded rule, because saw one guy out there tonight just dribble the ball, dribble the ball, dribble the ball. I didn’t like that rule change, but everybody’s got their own opinion, but I don’t think 35 to 30 is a very big emphasis.”