What have you done this week to focus on your team’s shooting struggles?
“We shot some more, but that’s about it. I talked to them on the bus (from Virginia Tech) and I told them that I wanted them to focus on the proper way to shoot the ball. Think technique, don’t think result. That’s the way you’re supposed to play golf, think the technique, not thinking ‘Oh if I don’t make this putt, I’ve lost the U.S. Open’ kind of crap. We talked about that, which I’ve talked to them forever about on free throws. You have time to have a checkpoint then, and think of that checkpoint, don’t think ‘I’ve got to make this free throw or 21,150 people are gonna say I choked.’ I talked about that a little bit, and then, I can’t remember my schedule, guys, this schedule has been so ridiculous, I can’t remember what the crap day it is. We playedSunday, we practiced Monday, we gave them Tuesday off, we came in and did running/shooting on Wednesday, had a full practice yesterday and did some shooting drills that we’ve done a lot this year, anyway. I tried to get them to understand that three games ago, we were number one in the ACC in field goal percentage and were top-10 in the country. Did we fool everybody for 17 games, or are we fooling people now? I’ve told you guys before, if everybody thinks this year I can really coach free throws, and I haven’t done one blessed thing different from last year, but everybody thinks I can teach free throws, so.”
You mentioned earlier in the week that you might have to get out incense or crystal balls, have you ever done anything wacky or weird to cure this kind of shooting?
“I’ve done a lot of things weird or wacky, yeah, just ask any player, they’ll tell you that. But nah, the more you talk about or worry about things like that, the worse it gets… I don’t know if I’ve ever had a team go through three games like this. For 17 games, we shot 50 percent, so I don’t think I got dumb that quickly, it’s just something you’ve got to fight through and take care of.”
Do you talk to your team about avoiding playing down to your competition against a team like Boston College?
“We don’t talk, exactly, in those terms. I talk, before the year, and I’ll use Greensboro as an example because it’s Wes (Miller), and he’ll understand: My goal at the start of the season was not to beat UNC-Greensboro. My goal at the start of the season was not to win Saturday, January 30th’s game, regardless of who it is. My goal at the start of the season is to get better eveyr day at practice, and at every game to try and get better. And to play as close to our potential as we can. That’s the way I’ve always been, and we’ll tell some teams, ‘Hey, this team’s really good,’ or we’ll tell some teams we’ve played in the nonconference schedule in the past, ‘Guys, we’re gonna win the game, but let’s get better while we win the game.’ When you get in the ACC, you don’t usually have that kind of conversation at all, because it’s the ACC. Now, Steve (Kirschner) just told me outside about them having two more players go down, and so I haven’t even had time to seriously—50 feet out there is the first time I’ve heard about that, so we won’t even talk about that. We’ll say ‘Hey, this guy’s probably not gonna start since he’s got a broken wrist.’ We’ll talk about playing to our standards, and trying to improve and see if we can do what we want to do better.”
What’s been the key to keeping turnovers down?
“I’ll use the word that Wanda really doesn’t like: There’s something about you that really ticks me off. We’ll go out there and turn it over 20 times tomorrow, and you’re gonna go outside and have four flat tires. All you suckers talked about what a great shooting team we were about three weeks ago, and now what the hell are we talking about? You look at it, and our personnel has a lot to do with it, because we have two point guards, we play a third point guar, and sometimes we’ve played three point guards together. We have, not necessarily some risk-takers in the other guys, we have some carelessness. Theo (Pinson) will get careless with it sometimes. We don’t have the risk-takers, the high-reward/high-gray-hairs-on-top-of-coach’s-head that J.P. (Tokoto) would make. When you look at the personnel, that has a lot to do with it. We’ve always tried to not turn the ball over. I always say get a shot, I’ve had teams before that have gone to the center line and throw it underhanded. And I can make one or two, it may take me a while, but I can make some, so if I get a shot, I have a chance to win. If you turn the ball over, you have no chance. We’ve always emphasized it, but I think this year, it’s just the nature of the lineup we’re putting out there is more to it than anything.”
What’s your opinion on the imbalance of your ACC schedule this year?
“First of all, I didn’t know it was backloaded until we started the season. You never know who’s gonna be who and how teams are gonna play. Also, it sounds like a negative slap towards those teams we’ve already played. It’s not intened to be that, but if you look at the standings, most of the teams that we’re playing down the stretch are those guys in the top half of the standings. You know, it’s weird to me. I’m sure I could’ve used that word ridiculousness, but we had six games in 12 days. We had four games in eight days. Now we have four games in 11 days. We’ve also had one game in 12 days. We’ve had one game in seven days. I don’t understand why that has to happen, but I don’t do the schedule. But it certainly is not something that coaches—I shouldn’t say coaches—it’s not something that Coach Williams likes. Other coaches may like it, but that’s not something I like, I wish there was a way it could be more of you get in a routine of we play in the middle of the week, and we play on the weekend. We play on the middle of the week, and we play on the weekend. But again, I don’t do the schedule, I don’t know what all the problems are, but to me it’s been a heck of a lot more unusual, more weird, more ridiculous this year than I ever remembered.”
Is Joel Berry one of your most consistent players outside of Brice Johnson?
“Well, he’s probably more consistent than Brice. Really. You look at consistent, he’s probably been in double-figures close to almost every game. Brice’s games have been outrageously good, and Brice himself has been so much more consistent than he has been in the past. When he’s at a high level, it’s really been at a high level. But Joel Berry has been very consistent on both ends of the court. There’s no question. A couple of games, even when he didn’t play well early, he’d be able to make a big shot for us. Against Kansas State, and there was a game here where he made a big three right in front of our bench when we needed it, so he’s been good. He worked hard. I may have told you guys this, who’s working the most in the offseason on their shot, everybody would come back and tell me Joel Berry. I think his sweat’s paid off a little bit.”