"We know we have a huge challenge in front of us. It is one of the marquee games that you can ever have in college basketball when Carolina and Kentucky are playing. I have a great Deal of respect for Tubby Smith and he is a great friend in addition to the respect I have for him. I know we have our hands full and we have to have our best game of the year if we expect to have a chance to win."
Q: Talk a little about shot selection and where the kids were at the beginning of practice and where they are now with shot selection.
A: I think we have made tremendous strides in terms of the quality of shots we are getting. Just because they took different shots last year doesn't mean they took bad shots, maybe they were good shots for last year's team. Getting them to understand what are good shots for this year's team, they have really come along way. We still have some now and then that I don't like as much, but I think they have made significant strides, they understand it and they are in agreement with it.
Q: Any update on Sean May and Jawad Williams' status?
A: No. Yesterday in practice they went through dummy offense, that is all they went through. If they had the game yesterday, they probably would not have played.
Q: Do you have any sense of the tradition of this series?
A: I am pretty knowledgeable about North Carolina history and a little bit of history about college basketball. I can remember growing up as a kid in western North Carolina catching some of the Kentucky games on late night radio with Cawood Ledford. At the same time all that stuff doesn't mean anything. It is this year's teams of Kentucky and this year's team of North Carolina. But, I probably know more about it then most people do, so yes.
Q: What specifically needs to improve with your defense?
A: Everything. I mean I'm not trying to be trivial with you, but it is everything. We are not a very good defensive team. We are getting better, we are trying, but you have got to take away the easy things for the other team and make them do things that they don't practice. Make them do things that are a little more difficult and we have a difficult time doing those things ourselves a lot of the time. We don't deny, we don't box out, we don't beat our guy to the spot, I mean it is everything.
Q: Can you talk about what you have learned about the team and talk about the difficulty of the conference schedule upcoming.
A: Well, not only the conference schedule, because our non-conference is Kentucky, Miami, Connecticut. So from here on out, it is unbelievable what we are facing. I can't believe anybody in the world, not just the United States, I can't believe anybody in the world is facing as difficult a schedule as we are facing. By now, even I am starting to see more of the conference teams and the conference I think is sensational. What I said earlier, I was not being trivial. We have got to play our best game of the year to have a chance. The rest of the way, if we do not play really, really good basketball, we are not going to win. We have already won some games where we didn't play that well, we were just more gifted. There will not be another game on our schedule that we can win unless we play really well. Those teams, the three non-conference games and everybody in our conference can beat anyone in the country.
Q: Talk about Raymond Felton's play of late and the matchup against Cliff Hawkins.
A: I think it will be a marquee matchup. It is two guys who are extremely important to their teams. I think Raymond does a good job defensively, he distributes the ball well. His assist to turnover ratio is getting better as we go along. It really needs to be that way Saturday because I think we are facing the best defensive team we have faced all year long. His shot hasn't been going in as much as we would like for it, especially as much as he would like for it to. Last year, early in the season, it took him awhile to get really going shooting the basketball as well. I'm not concerned about Raymond's shot, I think it will go in more and more as we get into the course of the season. He is playing really well, but it will be a big time matchup for us tomorrow.
Q: If May and Williams don't play, what matchups concern you most, particularly in the post?
A: I think that Erik Daniels and Chuck Hayes, you have got to do a good job on those guys inside. Chuck Hayes is one of my favorite college basketball players anywhere. We recruited him at Kansas. I just love the way he plays, his unselfishness. All the little things he does, he is like a coach on the floor, he is such a leader for them. The Daniels youngster, I watched last night a tape of the Austin Peay game and he was the player of the game. He does give them that scoring presence and the presence to block shots. If we don't have Jawad and Sean, what we ended up doing the other day is we ended up playing David Noel, who last year was the first year he devoted strictly to basketball and Justin Bohlander, who is a walk-on freshman. But I can't trade them, I can't check the waiver wire, so that is who we will have to play. Those kids will try really, really hard, but it will be a big challenge for us.