We are pleased. I thought we were very attentive. I was really concerned taking six days away from practice, coming in yesterday we were not very sharp at practice. We couldn't pass it, couldn't catch it. It was really sloppy. At the same time, I thought the kids were focused today. I told them we had seven games the first 15 days; all of a sudden in one 14-day stretch to only have one.
I challenged them to be attentive to the defensive end of the floor. At halftime, I challenged them to be more attentive to get a hand up on every shot since they had shot 52 percent in the first half. We still gave them some open shots, but I thought we challenged their shots a little bit better in the second half. They didn't shoot nearly as good a percentage.
To have six guys in double figures, that's good. I was able to get Raymond out--he only played 20 minutes. That was important to us, trying to get him some more rest time for that hand. Even with the two times we did practice--Monday and [Saturday]--we held Raymond out a good bit of that. I wanted him to play a little bit to get back in the rhythm, back in playing shape a little bit more. Hopefully, this week--we are still in exams--it will be a short week for them in practice, and Raymond's hand will be a lot better at the end of the week.
I liked what we did with Marvin [Williams] coming off the bench and Melvin [Scott] coming off the bench, giving us some offense like that is important to us. It was a workman-like effort; it was a good day.
The scoring was pretty well distributed with six players in double figures--24 assists on 38 field goals. Is that the type of sharing the basketball that you have stressed?
Yes, it is. We should always be that way because we are unselfish and have good shooters, good scorers. Hopefully, we'll always run where you have a chance to get assists. At the same time, I think we can do a little bit better job on our break, taking better [advantage] of our opportunities, taking a charge when they are coming down. And then when we get the basketball, going to the other end, making sure we don't run over people.
What are your thoughts about getting to the line a lot, not just tonight but on the season?
Several years ago, Duke had a string where a couple of years they made more free throws than their opponents shot. We started trying to do that at Kansas and had several years where we did, and I think that was extremely important to us. It shows that you get the basketball inside first, and that's what we want to do. Hopefully, at the end of the game you have a chance for the other team's best players to be sitting [on the bench] over there at the end of the game. The Kentucky game was a prime example; even though they cut it to six, they had Chuck Hayes and Rajon Rhondo out of the game, so I always think that's a positive.
Last year about this time during exams--I think it was against Akron--you said that you would like to crawl into one of those holes that Saddam Hussein was hiding out in because the team was sluggish during exams. Is the reason they were sharper today because the competitiveness of the team is higher than it was a year ago?
I think so, but we are more mature. They are more familiar with what we are trying to do, but I think they are more focused on what it's going to be like. I think they are more focused on coming to practice and getting things accomplished. I kept challenging them during the game today--the score was pretty much out of control fairly soon, but I kept trying to challenge them to build habits, and I think that this group is more experienced in trying to build habits, and I think that will help us down the line.
I took Sean [May] and Rashad [McCants] out for just one possession early in the second half because if they had made the same kind of play in the ACC that they did tonight, we would get burned and I wanted them to understand that. I told them about it and put them back in.
You go on the road and play a league game the next time out. What are your thoughts about that?
We talked in the locker room about how we still have to have exams. That has to be the #1 focus, but right beneath that is the fact that our next game is a conference game. It's not just a road game but a conference game. I'd like for us to be ready to play the first game, the second game, the ninth game, the 15th game. I want us to have a couple of good days of practice so we can be sharper than we were today, when we go up to Blacksburg. I think they'll be excited. It's going to be their first ACC game. We have to make sure that we match that enthusiasm. The reason I emphasize that is because in the locker room I said, 'first A/C game,' and they were wondering about the air conditioner up there.
How much will you be able to practice this week?
Monday is off, Tuesday is one hour of run-and-shoot, Wednesday we will practice, Thursday is off, Friday we will practice again.
And you took off [how much] last week?
Monday we practiced, Tuesday was off, Wednesday and Thursday was run-and-shoot, Friday was off, and we came back and practiced [Saturday].