"I spent Sunday night in the trainer's room, just trying to see if we're getting a little bit better, and thankfully, we are. Deon Thompson, who played only nine minutes in the first half against Virginia Tech and then never came back into the game because he didn't feel like he could move, he felt a little bit better last night. Ty Lawson feels better, [but] I do not expect him to play against North Carolina State. Marcus [Ginyard] is getting a little bit better, and needless to say, Bobby [Frasor] is still out. The only problem is that [Quentin Thomas] came up with the flu yesterday morning, and so hopefully, it'll be better than it was for Danny [Green], who ended up with the flu the day before the Virginia Tech game.
"But right now, we just feel great about the way we played on Saturday and know that we caught Virginia Tech at a bad time with a very young team. But we felt great about that game and to not have one go down to the wire like the last two or three did certainly made us breath a little bit easier on the end of the bench."
What's the difference in this team playing well and not playing well?
"The biggest difference for us is always how we defend. Someone else can say, well the difference is always how well you shoot – I think it just depends on how you want to look at your club. We try to have a great balance of inside play and outside shooting as well, but when we're defending well, we're going to get points on the break, so we're not having to score against a set defense every possession and I think that's always the one thing that's a constant for us. When we're playing really well, our defense is pretty doggone good."
What are teams doing differently this season in trying to stop Tyler Hansbrough?
"I don't think there's any question that they put more people around him. They try to double and sometimes even triple-team him. They try to put more people around him to make his shots more contested and they try to do it without fouling, because he does have an ability to get fouled and get to the free throw line. But teams that have the really athletic big guys are going to cause problems for everybody – Tyler's no different than anybody else there, but they try to put a lot people around him, and also in doing that, they try to make sure they get back to the weak side and box out so that we don't hurt them so much on the boards when Tyler is getting that much attention."
Is Lawson possibly being overly cautious in his return, with one eye looking to the future?
"I don't think that is a factor at all. We've never talked about. He still has pain in the foot, and the doctors are being very cautious with it, which is what we should be. Whether I like it or not, and in fact I don't like it, that everybody only talks about the end of the year in college basketball, but that's what everybody talks about – it is an important time. So I think we would be making a huge mistake trying to rush somebody to get back in when [you] are still keeping your head above water and feeling like you've got a great chance to play at the end of the year. We'd rather be healthier at the end of the year.
"We have not discussed, and I don't think it's been in Ty's mind one second about something that he's trying to protect himself [against]. I think he wants to help the Tar Heels win, and frankly, if I had a player that I thought [that way], then I could keep him out a heck of a lot longer and could make him really be healthy."
When Lawson comes back, does he automatically take back the starting role?
"What we'll probably do is that hopefully he'll have a couple of days of practice where his first real action is not just in that game. And if we can get him two or three days of practice at pretty much full speed before the game, then I think the chances of him coming in and starting are much greater than it would be if we're saying, ‘Well, we can only get 10 or 12 minutes out of him today' and then trying to piecemeal him back in a little bit at a time.
"So I really think it depends on when we feel that we can start going with him, and whether that's in a practice time – like I say, two or three times – or if he comes in and practices a half-hour one day and 45 minutes the next and then the next day you play a game. I think that way would be difficult to put him back in the starting lineup. But if we can have him pretty much full go for a couple of days… I think he won the starting [job] over five weeks of preseason practice and was playing great basketball."