Is there an update on Joel Berry?
“No. He’s been in the trainer’s room twice today. I’ve been in there twice. If we had to play a game today, I don’t think he’d play. But the good news is we don’t have to play today. Getting on the plane, most people, normal people, their feet swell a little bit getting on the plane, so it will probably do that and probably won’t feel any better when he gets there, but I don’t have him doing one thing. We’re going to practice for about an hour and 15 minutes and I don’t have him doing one thing.”
Is it both ankles he’s getting treatment on?
“He’s getting rehab on both ankles, yes.”
What’s the technical diagnosis for both ankles?
“Hell, I can’t even use a cell phone. Why are you asking me the technical anything… Ankle sprain. That’s what I would think. The first time he did it, I guess, was against Radford and you could see it on tape, he turned it. The second time he did it was against Texas Southern. You can see where he turned it. He did it in practice last Saturday when he backed up. I got somebody hurt practicing a zone. Never heard anything like that in my life, but he backed up and stepped on Kennedy’s foot. But the other night in the Kentucky game, early, he didn’t step on anybody’s foot, he just turned it when he planted.”
Is it hard not to have a feeling déjà vu with your point guards with this happening again?
“No. You can’t worry about all of that junk. I saw a motorcycle cop crash in the street in front of us the other day and there wasn’t anybody involved. He just hit a railroad track. He rides that bike for a living and it’s laying in the middle of the street, so no. Until you brought it up, I hadn’t thought about Kendall [Marshall].”
When you have a guy like Luke Maye, who’s had a certain role for you all year, but he’s become the hot hand, do you do anything different with him this week?
“Yeah, I play him. I put him in for a reason the other night. That’s because I thought he could help our team. But it’s always the same thing. I always just put a guy in because that’s the guy I want at that specific moment. I thought that Isaiah was struggling, and I think I put Luke in with seven or eight [minutes left]. I’ll tell you another thing. I haven’t watched the Kentucky game over again, either. I’ve been trying to get a lot of other things done and talk to our team and have meetings. We got back at one o’clock in the morning on Monday and this is Tuesday, but I think you ride the hot hand.
“I’ll never forget 1981. The Final Four. Al Wood made about three or four in a row and Coach [Dean] Smith, who didn’t often ask me any questions, I think he was just speaking out loud, and when he was speaking out loud I almost never answered him. But he said, ‘Do you think I should take Al out?’ and I said, ‘I’d wait until he misses one.’ And he made three more in a row and he missed one and Coach Smith tapped me on the knee and said, ‘Good job.’ I felt like I had won the lottery.”
Does that also carry forward from game to game?
“It could, it could. It wasn’t just the game – he played so well against Butler. I thought that might open it up a little bit more for Joel and our guys to drive if Luke made a couple of outside shots. You guys know that have covered us a lot, guarding a 4-man who can do a lot of things out on the court with a post player is really hard because we’ve got two post players. Well, that works the other way, too, sometimes with the other team. It’s hard to go out there and guard Luke out there that deep.”
Two of the other Final Four teams have never been there before. You were there last year. What advantage do you have with experience?
“We’ll be better at the salute dinner. We’ll be better with all of the B.S. that’s going on. We’ll be better in the press conferences because we know what’s going on. But when the game starts, that makes no difference. And I really believe that. Duke went down there in 2015 and they played all freshmen. And some of those other teams had been in the Final Four and been around. If you can play, you can play on game night. And it will help us because of the distractions beforehand, but I don’t think it helps you play the game.
“Now, you can say, and maybe rightfully so, if you don’t have as many distractions, you can focus more. I don’t want my guys staring at the wall, muttering things and all of that kind of stuff. I want them to be loose and have fun… But Dana Altman, Mark Few, Frank Martin, they’ve been around the corner a few times, so on game day, I don’t think it makes one bit of difference.”