It's nice to come off a win at Clemson. The kids are in good spirits. That's the good side of it. The bad side of it is that we've got to face a great Duke team on Thursday night. Our kids continue to work hard, they've been listening, they've been giving good effort. Hopefully we can be even more healthy Thursday. We're still without Jackie Manuel and Orlando Melendez. I don't know what their status will be for the game on Thursday.
On Adam Boone's performance against Clemson –
I think that the big thing is confidence. I've tried to give him confidence and tried to give Melvin confidence. Especially the last couple of weeks telling Adam ‘it's your team, you run the show, we need you to be a leader out there – attack.' Then, the same thing with Melvin. I'm real proud of Adam because he has been criticized. Jason Capel's been criticized, lot of people have been criticized – I've been criticized. That's part of coming to a place like North Carolina. You get a lot of the glory and if it doesn't go well, you get criticized. But, Adam has handled it very well. I think he's played very well since he's been starting. Again, it's a confidence thing and he's been playing with a lot of confidence. His form on his shot is really good. I told him, ‘I never told you not to shoot it – if you're open, knock it down.' However, I still think he didn't mean to bank that shot in front of their bench.
He did a good job of picking his spots, getting his defender off balance. We've worked on that in practice. He's a pretty strong kid, so I thought he did some good things in that game in terms of keeping the defender off balance with just his body contact. That'll be a little different story against Duke, because you're talking about Jason Williams and Chris Duhon, who are two of the best on-ball defenders in the country.
On what was going through his mind before a UNC comeback against Duke when he was a player –
We were going to win the game. We all knew it and the opponents knew it. We were going to win that basketball game. … We had the best coach ever to coach team sports in Dean Smith sitting on our bench, who'd been through it before – he had a track record of coming back. He'd been through it before, and we had the talent to do it. The talent was – and this is part of talent – competitive players. We had very competitive kids who were going to fight until the end.
Comparing Duke's team this year to past years –
Obviously last year's team is the easiest one to compare them to and the biggest difference is that Shane's not there and Dahntay is there in his place. Shane was one of the best players to play at Duke and one of the best players to play in the ACC. So they obviously miss something there – his leadership and his defense, he was a great defender. They do miss something there, but all their other guys are a year older. The only way that's going to be judged, unfortunately for Duke – and I say unfortunately because I've been in that position as a player and as a coach – it's going to be judged on whether they win a national championship or not. And that's in a lot of ways unfair because the best teams don't always win national championships because of the format.
Changes in the rivalry since he was a player –
It hasn't changed much. We had Carmichael, now it's the Smith Center. To this exact time, in terms of today, we're struggling this year and when I was in school, Coach Krzyzewski's teams were struggling. So, in a way it's flipped from today to when he first got to Duke. But other than that, it's still pretty intense.
It's a lot easier when you're a player, because you have a little more immediate control of things as supposed to as a coach, but it's still an exciting time and it's still a game that people circle on the calendar. We haven't had as much success this year as last year and year's past, but we're hoping to play hard, give good effort and see how things go.
I thought our kids responded fairly well last week to a really good nonconference game up in Boston against Boston College. Since we're stepping out of conference, you can lose a little bit of focus, but I thought our kids did a really good job and beat an outstanding team. I thought we played really well in the second half against Virginia to win.
We had yesterday off and we'll practice this afternoon. Nick Horvath got a little bit bumped up against Virginia, but we think he'll be fine for the game on Thursday night.
On drawing parallels to the '95 overtime game –
I don't think that's the only example when someone who is considered the underdog played great and either almost won or did win. When you have two outstanding programs going against one another, there's just too much pride in each program to let down in that game. We just expect their best effort. We respect them and their program immensely and always have. We're preparing for them as hard as we do for any opponent, knowing their crowd will be great and their kids will fight us to the end.
Improvement since the Florida State loss –
Before the Florida State game, we played games where we picked it up a notch. I think we've just following the normal course of what teams do in a year. Hopefully you're playing terrific most of the time, but it's a long season and sometimes people don't play well and hopefully that's kept at a minimum.
And saying that, Carlos has been consistently excellent for us throughout the year and in the ACC he's become even better. Hopefully he can stay injury free, and he's playing more minutes, too, and I think he's in better shape. He's become more of a veteran and that's what we used to see on a game-to-game basis in the league a few years ago, when you had so many juniors and seniors dominating the rosters. By that time juniors and seniors learn to play tired – they're mature – and part of the inconsistencies that you see in college basketball, especially at the top level is really the youth and inexperience that teams have. But Carlos has been very mature, very experience and very good.
This year's team leadership –
A lot of the times in the past, the best leaders on a team have been seniors. We're a team that's dominated by juniors. In learning about leadership, they're kind of thrust into the position of being out there more at a younger age. They're still emerging and I think they've done a real good job – and I think they'll do better as the year goes along because they want to do better.
On UNC's improved play against Clemson –
I always respect North Carolina. I really haven't watched them as much during the year because I'm trying to coach my team. I've coached against Lang, Capel, Bersticker. They have some experienced guys who've been in Final Fours, they were a No. 1 team in the country last year with those kids and they have good young talent. I just think that they're a good team and I know they've had a number of injuries. … That's going to affect any team, especially when your veteran players are either out or injured.
On the impact that the two basketball programs have had on the area –
There's no question that having anything outstanding, whether it be in business, medicine, or in sport, gives you national recognition. Both of our programs have done that for the region, the ACC and for their respective schools. You have a spotlight on a basketball program, but it also lights up the greater things about your university – whether they be the academic standards to different cultural programs to medical facilities that you might have. As a result, a lot of other people get their programs in the spotlight of national exposure. And I really think that both programs have done that over the years and we're lucky because when the spotlight comes on us, there are other great things other than us playing basketball that are going on at our universities that are being showcased. That's happened and we've all benefited from it.