Have you had to change, or have coaches had to change the way they recruit since so many guys are leaving so much earlier?
I think that is so blown so far out of proportion that it's not even worth it. Now, when you go count the number of kids playing in college basketball with the 300 some odd Division 1 schools and then count the number of kids that go to the League. How many go? 20? 15? 10? You are talking about how many thousand play? The numbers are not really enough to cause you to change a whole lot.
Let me answer the question this way – I would love to have to problem that every year I am sitting here worrying about my kids being so good that I'm worrying whether or not they are going to the league. That's a problem I look forward to having. Bring that one on. Right now, it's not a problem I've got (laughter). Oh my goodness. Wouldn't that be a wonderful problem to have – I'm sitting here, what am I going to do? He's going to be in the top three or four picks in the draft, I've got to go replace him (laughs). That'd be nice.
You were able to bring some optimism to the program last year. Do you guys think you'll be a better shooting team, especially from the perimeter?
Obviously. No question. Number one, we didn't have Andrew Wilson, one of our better shooters. He got hurt. I think Von Wafer can shoot the ball. Todd [Galloway] shot the ball well last year. Nate [Johnson] didn't shoot the ball enough. I think those kids were adjusting to our system and they probably weren't as comfortable finding the opportunities in what we were trying to do. I think they'll be better at that. You go back and look at some of my teams at Miami, I think my last team might have lead the Big East if field goal percentage offense and field goal percentage defense and free throws. So I think it's just a matter of time to get the things that we think are important into our system.
I think a lot of that, when you look at it, I think we lost five or six games by a total of 16 points or something like that. We lost so many games I think as a result of fatigue and lack of quality depth. That kept us from finishing games strong. I remember several games where we were in the game and our opponents' third, fourth and fifth option players would step up and be effective against us. There are times when I had to play Tim [Pickett] twenty straight minutes in a half and so after you do that four or five times, that wear and tear on you over a long period of time…it wears you down. We are looking forward to getting additional guys into our system and trying to teach them the way we want to play and take a little step forward in the right direction. Not real sure how fast we can go with what I consider as five new players, one being Andrew Wilson, a guy that only played three or four games with us last year and then was out for the year. I think it's going to take us a while before we can start answering questions specifically --- just to get our system in and to get the kids sound and then develop some chemistry and a rotation that will allow us to take advantage of the talents that we have.
How difficult will it be considering so much of the league returns so many players?
See, I'm not really the kind of coach that worries about anything other than what I can control. My job as a coach, I believe, is to take the talent and guys we have and create an atmosphere where we will become the best that we can possibly be. That's my job. Now, I don't necessarily know where that will take me, but I know that's the best that we can do. If we can create an atmosphere where we can be the very best we can be, then the wins and losses will take care of themselves. In order for you to reach that goal, you have to be concerned about whether or not I am going to be better at the end of practice than I was at the beginning of practice. You have to take that one day at a time approach.
We try to condition our guys that they don't need to concern themselves but with one thing --- I want to be better at the end of this practice than I was at the beginning. I want to make progress every day. That's what you can control. We try to break it down and we want to give it up in every possession in every practice. If we can do that, then we'll give ourselves a chance. If I start worrying about how many seniors somebody's got, then all of a sudden, that's something I can't control. All I want to do is make sure is that whatever potential we have, we come as close as we possibly can to that.
What is the atmosphere on campus been like? Do you sense a new excitement?
Once again, I am sure, from what I read and from people coming by, but I concern myself with what goes on between that 94 by 50. That's what I can control. Now, everywhere I go in town, people are buying things, buy tickets and I listen to that, but I tune it all out. I am concerned about what I can control. I am anxious to get to practice every day and try to be prepared and stay focused and not allow anything or any hype to be a distraction. That's the only thing I am interested in. Hype in the preseason doesn't mean anything. You want to go out and try to be the best you can be. That's why you play the season – to prove what you are capable of doing. Hype can sometimes interfere with that process if you allow it because it can distract you. Once you start believing stuff that hasn't happened.
Anything surprise you last year or anything you learned or understand better that you didn't know?
I am not real sure I was surprised by anything but I did enjoy the knowledgeable fans that exist in the ACC. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the way people appreciated their teams and got behind their teams. Really enjoyed the game of basketball. That was a very pleasant experience. You could feel that in the games. All of the teams are very well coached and play hard but I also felt that the fans were playing just as hard as the players. I think that's a very helpful situation that exists in the ACC.
Will you do anything differently than you did last year?
I hope so (laughter). I think we'll teach a little different. Last year we had to establish a work ethic and focus that now we are trying to take additional steps. Trying to accelerate our progress.
stands out? I know it's very early on…
It is very early and I am not real sure any body is standing out, understandably, because we are in such a teaching mode and they are in such a learning mode. Tonight we'll start watching films and showing them the good and bad and the different, for lack of a better word. We are still doing a tremendous amount of teaching. We have basically four new guys that are trying to pick up a system that they are involved in with players that are somewhat familiar with what they were supposed to learn last year (laughter).
you in any way raise expectations because your system has been in place for a year?
I can't really say that because I am not really sure we got all that done last year. I think we made progress and strides in trying to establish the way we want to play defensively. We had to make a lot of adjustments to our offensive scheme to make sure we got through the year and put ourselves in the best position to win games. I think we'll be a little different offensively. I think we'll try to be a little more aggressive. I hope we will be.
How are you feeling now with the season coming up?
I am ready to go home and practice right now. Being around these guys, I'm ready to go with the team we've got. We are dedicated, willing to work hard. I am ready. Seeing you guys makes me want to work harder. I see these other guys makes me just want to go play ball.
Last year, I was just trying to play ball. I wasn't too shy with the ball. I was just trying to do what I do best. I just try and play hard.
Who do you think will be the most improved team in the league? I guess Carolina would probably have to be up there.
Yea, I'd say that. They are surrounded by young talent. They have some great young guys. Lot of athletes. But we are going to bump heads with them and you know it's going to be a good game. It's going to be a real good season. They have a nice program and we have a nice program too. We are on the up rise.
Coach Hamilton talked about trying to get his system in last year and he really didn't think he got it all in there. Is there anything different with Coach Hamilton in his second year? Do you notice anything different from last year?
It's the same, (but) we are more focused. You can tell more people are buying into the system. Trying to improve and asking questions. Last year, it wasn't like that. We were trying hard, giving good effort. You couldn't get mad at a guy giving effort and that's what Coach was saying, good effort but we need to be better.
What is Coach Hamilton like to play for? He's been around the NBA and now down to Florida State.
He's great. He's a guy that wants to get people better. He wants you to get a great understanding of the game and he wants you to be more complete. That's the main thing. He tries to teach us to be more complete.
He obviously can recruit since he's brought some young guys in that can play. What have you seen from those young guys, Von Wafer and the rest? How do the young guys mesh in with the older players?
That's a spark for us. If I am tired, a guy can come in and give us a spark. If he's tired, someone else can give us a spark. That's the great thing. All the new guys are giving us more positive strength that we didn't have last year.
I know you like to shoot, don't we all, but do you feel you won't have to be the main guy as much? Who do you think can step in and take some of that off you?
We have a team full of guys ready to show what they got. We are just trying to work hard and I know someone will step up because we have a talented team. I know there are a lot of guys that want to put that ball in the hole too.
What's one thing you want to do differently than last year?
Just being focused. That's the main thing I did last year. I felt like I was in a rush all last year. I've got to go out and play basketball.