Thoughts on the win?
I thought it was going to get ugly at first -- I was like 0-for-4 -- but Coach told me to find something positive out of it. I needed this game confidence wise. I haven't played well the last four or five games. I think the team needed this game and I think we grew up a little bit after we watched the Kentucky film and saw the mistakes we made. I think we got after it more ont he defensive end than we did at Kentucky.
Did the criticism about the team being lethargic bother you guys?
We don't listen to what other people say -- we listen to what Coach says ... and he said the same thing, so we took that as a slap in the face. We were embarrassed watching the Kentucky film and I think it showed tonight. We were more intense on the defensive end and as a whole. We shared the ball really well tonight. It was a great team effort.
Has sharing been an issue at all?
I don't think guys intentionally mean to, but sometimes we seem a little selfish at times all the way down the line from the first man to the twelfth man. I don't think anybody on this team does it intentionally, but sometimes it seems that way. Coach has said it and I think Coach will really enjoy what I sees on film once he grades the tape on how unselfish everybody was tonight.
What got turned around after the slow start?
I just went to the bench, Coach said be positive ... once I hit my first free throw and Rashad hit me for an easy layup, I was really excited and got something going - it was a good night.
Did you think this was the team's best defensive effort of the season?
This was one of the top ones, yeah. All the way down the line guys were into the game. One thing I really told everyone before we went out is 'Have fun.' The last three games it didn't look like we were having fun out there ever since the loss to Wake. Tonight you could see guys out there smiling, having a good time and having fun.
Do you think the team feeds off of you?
In some ways I think the team plays better when I get started. Because it takes a little pressure off our wing guys. Anybody on our team could lead this team on any given night, from Melvin to Ray, Jawad to Rashad and David off the bench. We feed off each other, especially Jackie when he comes off the bench with his defensive effort. I think offensively sometimes this team rolls better once Jawad or myself get off to a good start.
Talk a little more about what Jackie Manuel brought to the team tonight ...
Jackie does it every night. He always brings his defense, even when he had a bad knee against Illinois. He always brings a spark off the bench. Tonight he was one away from his career high - had a good three in the corner that shocked everybody. Jackie is a great player and he's one of those quiet guys that goes out there and does his job -- and that's the kind of guys we need on this team.
You've got Georgia Tech coming in here on Sunday -
We can't let up at all. Miami was a good win for us, but Georgia Tech has shocked everybody this year with the way they're playing basketball. We have to be ready - we need this win - especially because it's a home game in the ACC. Everybody on this team knows that tonight was a good effort, but we've got to bring it five times greater against Georgia Tech.
How do you think the team matches up with Tech?
I think we match up well. They're real athletic and they run a lot. We're real athletic and they run a lot. They don't really have a center-type player. Muhammad has shocked everybody with this play this year, Jack is a great point guard, Elder is shooting the mess out of the ball. We've just got to go out there with the type of effort we had there tonight and lock down. It's going to be a long, hard fought game.
What did you take away from the Kentucky game that you could apply to tonight's game?
Not to lose anymore. We played bad our last game and we wanted to get out there and do the things we know we can do. It's very important after any loss to bounce back and use it as a springboard to get better as a team.
Coach Williams said these were two of your best practices of the season the last two days ...
We practiced hard and it carried over to the game. After a loss like that you've got to practice hard. After a loss you always feel like you could have done something better in the game that you didn't do and you want to come out the next day in practice more eager and more excited just to make up for whatever you didn't do.
How would you assess the team's defensive performance tonight?
We did real well defensively as a team - helping each other out more than we did in the Kentucky game. We weren't standing around pretty much. Watching film we saw things we didn't do that could have won us the game and Coach really emphasized our team defense and that's what we did.
Was there anything Coach Williams focused on regarding the need for defensive improvement?
He just gave us a little pep talk telling us about how we need to give more effort and he'll get more confidence in us and we just took that over and bought into everything he had to say and came out and played hard.
You seen Georgia Tech at all this year?
I've seen them a lot. They're very fast, athletic, score a lot - get it out and are a great defensive team. I don't think they match up too well with us in the post, but their guards are very good and very fast and I think it's going to be a real good game.
Some have tried to form a perception of you ...
People may think things that they perceive because I may look stonefaced and I look calm and relaxed - they may perceive anything, but it's not the reality because they really don't know me. A lot of people say things about me who have never met me. Perception will always be there for anybody.
Would you like them to know you better?
I would like for everybody to know me, but I don't think it's possible for everybody to get to know me the way they need to in order to understand me. I don't think the media or fans will really get to know me, but they'll have their perceptions.
Does that bother you?
In a sense it does, because of the negative parts. But the positive is that [while] the people who don't know are going to say what they're going to say, the people that know me, know me and know that I'm a good kid.
So people tend to misread you ...
For the most part, when I look upset I'm probably in the best mood. Somebody will come up and tell me 'You look like your dog died,' and I'm like 'I'm in a good mood today!' That comment alone might turn my day around and just because I don't want to smile and jump up and down doesn't mean I'm not happy.
How good of a job do you think the coaching staff does in reading you?
It's more of an adjustment for them than as for me as a player. My coaches in the past can vouch for me that no matter what they thought I was thinking, it was totally different once they asked me and I sat down and told them what was going on. Coach sometimes may think one thing and then I'll tell him what's going on.