It was good for our players to play somebody different after beating up on each other everyday in practice. It was a value for us much more so in a positive aspect that we were able to do some things that the other team didn't know what we were doing. The time we executed some of our sets it was good, but there were a lot of times that we didn't execute it and that's something you need this kind of game for, the game slippage, because I think our concentration was up and down the entire game. We'd have spurts when we were really good and everybody was into it defensively, and then we'd have other spurts when we were not very good.
In some ways they sent a bad signal to the coach because they almost made me feel like they were not very good conditioned. That's not a good signal to send your coach. I think we got a little tired and gave in to some of that fatigue and lost our concentration. I told them that our goal was to make this one game better than two practices--better than a practice in the first half and better than a practice in the second half. I think we accomplished some things. The good news is we have two weeks before we open up for real--we have another game. We can't lose our concentration, defensively in particular--on offense as well, but more on the defensive end, to beat the really good teams.
I didn't start Rashad because he had missed the five days of practice and had missed the work. He knew that he was going to play and that was no problem. Jackie has really done some nice things. Melvin shot the ball the first week and couldn't make anything. Since then, he has really shot it well. He didn't make as many today, but we've got six or seven guys who have shown that they can be productive at this level and those guys are going to be the ones who play the most. Justin Bohlander did some nice things. He's not very mature compared to some of those other guys, physically, but he does have a good feel for the game, and I think he's the kind of player who can help us--we need him to help us.
What did you think about what Rashad did do when he had a chance to play tonight?
One thing is Rashad McCants can score. That's a great talent. He can shoot the ball, he can put the ball on the floor, he can take it to the basket. I wanted him to focus on him being a complete, total basketball player. You saw him give great effort a couple of times defensively. We've got to get him to do that the entire game. But I think he had a bad quad strain. It bothered him and held him out [of practice] five straight days. When he came in, we kept him out of practice Monday and Tuesday, except for half of practice. Wednesday was off, and Thursday and Friday were the first two real practices he's had in 10 or 12 days. He does have the ability to score, but I need him to be a total player, and I think he can be.
You have said that he's fallen behind. How far behind is he and in what areas?
You miss five practices have half of two others and you are behind, period. One time today he ran and double-teamed a guy for no apparent reason. You can't do that--it doesn't fit. Being in practice and being able to understand [when you do] that is helpful as opposed to sitting in the chair [and watching]. But I'm not worried about Rashad. If that's my biggest worry, that's a pretty neat position.
What is your biggest worry?
Depth, the ability to rebound the basketball, and the ability to take care of the basketball. We have been horrible during practice handling the ball. I would take 27 assists and 12 turnovers every night, but we have not been a good ball-handling team. I hate that in the first half they had 12 offensive rebounds and we had five. You look down at the end of the game, they have 22 offensive rebounds and we have 10--you can't do that. Now, I'm not an idiot--they shoot 33 percent and they are going to have a lot more offensive rebound opportunities than we do if we shoot 56 [percent]. You can't give up 22 offensive rebounds. Depth--if we have foul problems, we are in trouble.
Not to put them down, but how much better do you get once it's a 30- or 40-point game and maybe there is a natural tendency to let up when you look at the scoreboard?
All the really good teams I've coached don't do that, and that is what this team has to do. There are not very many things I can say I'm the best in the world at, but I'm about the best in the world at coaching the game the whole first half and never look at the score because I'm concerned about how our team is playing. I'm not going to let those numbers up on the board determine how I feel. We are going to go down on the offensive end and do the absolute best we can, execute and do what we are supposed to do. Then we are going to go down on the defensive end and do the absolute best we can. I have watched an entire half and not looked at the score until I'm walking off the floor [at halftime]. That's the way you have to play if you want to be really good. I told them that I've only been around one player my entire life who could turn it on and off at any time, and that was Michael--and he never turned it off, so that's what they should strive to do.
What are your thoughts on the 31 free throws?
The first thing I should have said is 'How 'bout that Tar Heel football team?' That was great. I was so dadgum nervous the last quarter. I told John that I got more grey hairs watching the dadgum football game in the fourth quarter than I did coaching myself today.
That was great for those kids. You imagine your job and you are getting your brains kicked in everyday and don't have any success, yet you get up and do it again the next day the best you can, and that's what those kids have done. Three games we've lost on the last play of the game, and then you've got people snipping at you from the outside and all this stuff. I admire John Buting and his staff and I really admire his staff for going out and playing that [way] today.
"[Getting back to the original question], I hope that we will always get the basketball inside. We've got to get it inside first and establish that--7-16 is plenty on 3-pointers as far as I'm concerned. I'd take that everyday, but we've got to establish a game inside.
Sean May had a bunch of them role off and didn't quite finish the play but it was good because it helped Rashad's offensive rebound totals--and Jawad's--because we got it and dunked it back in. We'll shoot some three's, but we have to get the basketball inside first.
How did you feel about the teamwork on the floor today?
One thing we've been emphasizing is getting the best shot for our team and moving the ball and being unselfish. If you see a teammate who is open, it's an easy game if you give him the ball. I think the guys were unselfish today. I can remember about two or three shots that I thought were a little forced and I can remember a couple of times we passed it when we should have shot it. Raymond and Sean May are on the break, and all Raymond has to do is lay it up and it's an easy play, and he tries to make a lob and turns it into a difficult play. Then Sean has to make the great catch and score. I think the kids are sharing the ball well and doing good things.
Is Sean a different player than he was last year?
I really don't know because I wasn't here last year. I watched them as a fan, except for one game in New York City, and I wasn't a very big fan that night. I think he's running well. He has really had a good preseason. I'd say he and Jackie have been the most productive in the preseason. Tonight, I love 10 defensive boards. I'd love for him to have 10 on both ends. I can't tell you if less weight has made him any more mobile or any faster because I wasn't here. You should ask him and see what he thinks. He's doing a good job. The thing you have to understand: the way I want to run, you can't run two out of every three or two out of every four possessions. You have to run every possession, and it takes a while to learn that. When they learn that, they can really have some fun.