Can you update Ty Lawson's situation as well as the other injured players?
"Ty yesterday in practice went up and down the court in 3-on-0 and 5-on-0 situations -- nothing where there was a defense. He did some shooting and that was it. Today we'll try to do the same thing, keep him in the drills where there's no defense if he's on offense and no offense if he's on defense. And if he has no pain and feels okay after that, tomorrow we'll try to get him into some live situations for a few minutes and if that goes well, perhaps try to play him a few minutes against Boston College. But that decision will not be made until after Friday's practice and until we see how he responds to that, so the decision will not be made until Saturday morning. In fact, Tywon is seeing Dr. Taft at 1 p.m. today making sure that plan will work.
"Deon is working with the back person at 1 p.m., getting treatment at 2 p.m. We're going to try to get him some time during practice today - but if he's not considerably better today and tomorrow than he was yesterday, I may just hold him out completely [Saturday], but it depends on how he does.
"Marcus did not practice yesterday and had his foot in a boot on Monday and Tuesday. He got some new orthotics yesterday to see if that'll help his foot situation. He'll be limited at practice today, which means probably only dummy stuff ..."
Is Deon's problem now his back?
"I think it's a combination. I think he got the back problem because he was trying to favor the [leg] ... I think the No. 1 problem is now the leg - that first couple of days after the Virginia game is when he tweaked his back."
How important is it to you to get the No. 1 seed that would keep the team in North Carolina for the first four NCAA Tournament games?
"I don't look at that stuff. If we play basketball, everything else will be taken care of. ... Some people may look at it and think it's important, but I focus on what I can have a little bit of say in -- and that's how my team plays. ... I have no control over that. We went to Charlotte and Syracuse in '05 - why would I want to go to Syracuse? It's the greatest place in the world because we won and went to the Final Four. But I really don't think in those terms. Some other coaches probably do, but my experience is working on how you play helps a heck of a lot more than where you play ... I've never seen a dang building help me win a game yet. ... It's more for the fans. It's nice for the fans ..."
On the team's improved play in Lawson's absence -
"The team has adjusted by elevating their play ... The kids take some ownership when I say 'We're not going to to have Ty, so you've got to play better and you've got to play better.' So I think they've accepted that and tried to elevate their game. Somebody's got to pick it up and that's been the most impressive thing, with guys trying to be willing to try to do more and do more within the framework that we want. We haven't gotten as many easy ones as you get with Ty, but what we've tried to do is do a better job in our halfcourt offense. I still think when you get down to tournament play, you've got to get some easy ones ... But I think the kids have done a nice job of making adjustments, and the overall improvement - we should be better than we were six games ago because we are better defensively, we are better in halfcourt offense. But it's not because Ty went out, it's because we've worked on it in every practice. We haven't one day failed to work on the halfcourt offense in practice and there isn't one day we haven't worked on defense ..."
Could you describe what you see your role is on the court?
"I definitely want to be a big presence inside -- defensively and offensively -- get a lot of rebounds, block some shots, protect the basket, be aggressive down low, score when I can, set some picks and try to complement Tyler down there. Whatever coach asks of me."
Was there a specific game where you started to feel comfortable and it's carried over since then?
"I think the NC State game - the first time we played them - I finally felt like I fully understood what Coach wanted me to do and I felt comfortable out there. Ever since that game, for whatever reason, my confidence has been growing and I'm getting a better understanding of what's going on."
How does it help you playing alongside Tyler?
"Definitely going against him in practice every day, watching and learning from what he does, helps my game. Then [in games] a lot of attention goes to him so it frees up other people, including me, to get offensive rebounds and get open. So it helps in practice and in games."
You've had a couple follow-dunks on the break recently and that's something Coach has been looking for from you ...
"It definitely motivates you to want to do more of it and it's exciting, getting the crowd into it - it's all positive. And Coach has been telling me I need to run the floor more, and harder, and to finally get a dunk on put-back you feel rewarded."
With the possibility that Deon won't play Saturday, how does that change your approach?
"I'm going to prepare the same. I'll try to step up my focus a little bit, since everyone will be depending on me that much more. I'll try to pick up the slack where he [contributes]."