As a coach, you see a good play by the white team and you wonder did the blue team play any defense? So, as I look at the tape I'll certainly be judging the offense and the defense. 102-95 – that's great, but on the flipside, were we guarding people? And that's something that I can't tell until we watch the tape.
How has practice gone thus far?
It's been great. We've had 19 practices and I couldn't be more pleased with their progress, their effort, their unselfishness and their ability to listen. That's exciting to see as a coach. That's all you ask for … effort, unselfishness and listen … and then you let the chips fall where they may.
Can you address the increased athleticism of this team?
I like our athleticism. We can make athletic plays, but yet I think we're still basketball players. I always talk about wanting guys who can pass, handle and shoot the ball with speed, quickness, toughness and intelligence – and I think we have some guys who can do those things. It's fun to see them make plays.
Raymond seems to create shots when he's on the floor, which you didn't have last year –
His ability to push the basketball – he's got great vision, and I think he can find people. The most important thing is delivering the basketball. He can create the angle to deliver that ball. I joke with Will Johnson that all you see Will do from defense to offense is split the floor and spot up on the wing because he knows that Raymond is going to penetrate and find him.
Update on Sean's injury?
Sean's practiced twice. He's doing fine. His bad knee is good, his good knee is not so good. His good knee has tendonitis in it, so it's been frustrating for him.
Did you get a better idea of the conditioning level of this team today, players like Grant …?
Damion's not in great shape. Our goal for him is to get him in great shape. Damion didn't get to play at all this summer and not much in the fall because he's had Achilles problem, back problem … so he hasn't had the conditioning needed. He's a big guy. He's only played organized basketball for two days. He did some things tonight that I was real, real pleased with – but can he do those things for an extended period of time? Probably not [right now].
Considering the injuries and lack of depth up front, how important is it to have someone like David Noel pulling down 14 rebounds?
It's important, I just don't want David to have to guard a 6-10 post player. We need Sean to be healthy, Damion needs to get in shape, Byron just needs experience. We need Sean to be healthy – so then Damion and Byron can grow at their own pace.
Has David surprised you?
I saw some of those things on tape and I saw some things in person last year. Maybe what surprised me is his poise and confidence. Here's a guy who has come in poised and confident in this setting, which is great. I didn't know how he would handle it. But I knew he had the skill and the talent, otherwise we wouldn't have had him join our team.
How does someone like David slip under the radar?
There are good players out there that don't get seen and don't play much during the summer. He's a football player – he spent half his year on the football field. I'm lucky that he's here. Was there anybody who played better than him tonight? I don't think so. Some guys played maybe as well, but he's certainly a guy you'd underline and say ‘He's pretty good.'
Rashad McCants' play today?
I was happy with Rashad's play. He certainly scored a lot of points. He also took 26 shots, but he made 50% of them. I want to see him improve defensively. Offensively he's a very good player, has great vision, made some really nice passes, fought for loose balls. He's a versatile guy, here's a guy who can shoot the three and also post up and pass the basketball. But most freshmen need to really work on their concentration on the defensive end. But he's gifted – a very good player.
Raymond seemed to play very much under control …
I agree. Probably five guys took some shots where you'd say ‘That's not a great shot,' but Raymond tried to set his teammates up and run the offense. When he had an opening, he took advantage of it. He hit that jumpshot. That's going to put a lot of pressure on people. They're going to have to come out and guard him and when they do, he's got the quickness to go by them. And he makes great decisions. He was ten assists to three turnovers, and that's great to see in a point guard. Those are good numbers and he brings an energy to the floor. Guys sprint the floor and he finds them. Defensively he sets the tone and he's very poised.
On Raymond's injury --
He's a tough kid and he only knows one speed. It's hard to tell a kid who only knows one speed to slow down.