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On starting the season after losing seven players:
"We'll still show up, I guess."
Are you having to go slower in practice?
"We're having to go slower and we're also going shorter. One of my managers said to Marvin [Williams] we only went two hours and five minutes the other day. Marvin said, ‘If I had known that, I might have stayed.' I did contact him and remind him last year we had fifteen guys starting out instead of ten. He always had to substitute, but our four big guys have not had to substitute all week – and that's including the walk-ons.
"We are having to be more patient and do more teaching…not assuming they know anything. When you have players return, you assume they know some things, but you can't do that this time."
After the NCAA championship game, how many players did you think were coming back?
"We knew we were going to lose two. Rashad [McCants] and I had come to an agreement in January. I knew that was going to happen. I knew Raymond [Felton] was probably going to want to go. And he was having the kind of year in the last ten games of the season that would make that a possibility, and the correct possibility. I thought that Sean [May] would stay. And I knew that Marvin [Williams] wanted to stay. So even up until the last week, we thought we would lose two and could lose three. But then, we did not expect to lose all four."
Did that cut back your enjoyment of winning the national championship?
"There's no question. When you lose a game it sticks with you. If you win a game, you start thinking about the next game. At the end of the season, you immediately start thinking about the beginning of next season. And when some things like that happen, and you know there is no way of recovering from, it definitely puts a damper on that part of it."
What do you think fans will find exciting about this team?
"Wow, I think it will hit them right between the eyes, ‘Man, we don't know any of these guys.' When you lose your top seven players… We've never lost our top three scorers in one year. So I think the major thing is how new everybody is. They'll know David [Noel] and they'll know Reyshawn [Terry]… But I don't think they'll know anything about anybody."
Photo by J.B. Cissell