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Are you going to try to be more of a vocal leader this season?
"That's going to be one of my keys to help the team out. With my experience and things like that, Coach [Williams] is going to want me to be more vocal than I have been in past years."
How much more important is a Final Four this year after falling short last season?
"I think it's one of our main goals, definitely. Last year we were so close and it just slipped away. It really has driven everybody on this team this summer to try and get better and really work on their game."
Is it Final Four or bust this year?
"I wouldn't say that. Our goals are our goals, and we want to make it to the Final Four, but I wouldn't say that. We're not satisfied until we win everything. We want to win everything and we want to get as many wins as possible this year. We want [to be] regular season champs, ACC Championship, national championship and everything we can possibly get we want to win because we feel like we have the talent, the ability and the players to do it."
On dealing with the Georgetown loss:
"I think a lot of guys had a tough time getting over it… It took a couple of weeks for everybody to get back into the mindset of being focused again. We went to class and stuff, but playing ball – it would always be there. Everybody would be real angry. They watched some of the Final Four – I didn't watch too much of it – but we felt like we should have been there and that we were good enough to win it all."
On if he feels any pressure in trying to fill Brandan Wright and Reyshawn Terry's shoes:
"No, not really any pressure. I worked hard this summer and feel like I have improved a lot, so I'm more excited than feeling pressure about it. I'm just looking forward to the challenge."
On how his offensive game has improved:
"It's getting a lot better. I feel like I've improved a lot since this time last year… This whole summer I've been working on my offense, and on my defense, too. I definitely want to get out there and show everybody that I'm more than just a defensive rebounder – I definitely have an offensive game, too."
On if this team can be better than the '05 team:
"We probably have the chance to do it, we just have to play hard and play together, because everybody's working hard. We've just got to play together."
On this team's experience:
"Everybody's a year older, so we know what to expect coming into the year – playing late games and just everything [like] how to take care of our bodies. This year has done a lot for all of us."
On the importance of improved defensive play this season:
"It's going to be one of the main things that we need to do. The No. 1 goal we need this year is to stop people, because last year that's what we couldn't do – like down the stretch, we couldn't stop people. Defense is going be one of the coaches' main points throughout the whole year."
On his shot:
"I think it's back to where it was at the start of my sophomore season. I was shooting in the 40 percentile from three-point range, so I've been shooting, getting a lot of reps up, and I feel really confident with my shot right now that I can show everyone that I am that shooter that they saw in AAU ball."
On his foot:
"It's good. That's the first time that someone's asked me that today. It's been feeling well. I went through the conditioning program and everything, working out with the team, and it's held up so far, so hopefully it will keep going that way."
How special is it to be a huge UNC fan growing up and now get to play for the Tar Heels?
"It's real special, I just wish the person who made me a Carolina fan could be here to watch me play, but I know he's watching me from above - my grandfather, William Graves II, he was a huge Carolina fan and turned me Carolina Blue and I'm just doing this for him."
How did you feel you did during your red-shirt season?
"I thought I did pretty well - I had a lot of encouragement from my teammates and the coaching staff. I felt that I worked hard. I lost 25 pounds. I was always looking forward to the next year, but not like putting off the red-shirt year. I'm very excited for this year. ... It wasn't difficult [to decide to red-shirt] because [Coach Williams] said I could go to every game and dress out, as a fan I had the best seat in the house. I got to practice and I still get four years to play, so it was fine with me."
Do you think your freshman year was streaky?
"I think you could say that -- that I wasn't very consistent. It's something I've worked on and is something I plan on changing this season."
How important will defense be for this team this season?
"It's going to be real important. Defense is important for any team, but the way we want to play and get up and down the court, we've got to get stops. Coach emphasized it last year and this year with that much more experience I think we'll be more prepared."
What have you done to improve your game this offseason?
"Just trying to get in the gym as much as possible, shooting the ball and getting into a flow with my shot, where I feel like it's the same thing all the time. And trying to be bigger on the boards - trying to assert myself on the boards more offensively and defensively. Trying to assert myself defensively every single time, not just when we need a big play."
Coach Williams talked about you being one of the leaders on this team - does he ask for that from you?
"It's just one of those things you've got to go out and get for yourself. Obviously you'd like to have the players feeling you're that person, but I think if you want to be a leader, it's something you've got to want and be willing to do. ... It's a role I think I can step into and one that I'm excited about. I feel I could have done more last year and didn't, so I don't want to see another opportunity pass by."
So you were 300 pounds in high school?
"I was about 300 in high school, I left high school at 265, played my freshman year here at 255 and now I'm at 235. ... To run the floor and be able to get to the rim and finish about the rim - [losing the weight] just helps me a lot, mentally, too. ... From where I was at last year, it helps me so much mentally to know I can drive to the basket, finish at the rim, and it helps with my post moves."
Who's idea was it to lose more weight this offseason?
"I wanted to do it - I thought it was the best thing to do with the opportunity I'm going to have this year. I don't want to come off the floor. ... Once I knew Brandan was leaving, it got me going, motivating me to spend extra time with our strength coach and mentally drove me."
How's your health now?
"I just had my knee scoped a few weeks ago, and so it's at about 75 percent and is going a lot better."
How do you feel you've developed in your four years here?
"I think I've matured a lot. From being through everything, playing in big games to not playing much and going through injuries, it's really matured me. ... [Since the end of last year] I've really keyed on my shooting and decision making -- and just being more vocal and being a person that can be an extension of the coach out there."