Doherty's Friday Quotes

The Tar Heels returned to practice today to prepare for Sunday's matchup at ODU. Head coach Matt Doherty discussed a variety of topics during this morning's teleconference ...

Team's rebounding efforts thus far –

[Our guards] are strong players, athletic. Jackie and Jawad have been our best offensive rebounders. We have to rebound as a team because we're not a big team, so everyone has to do their part. I thought we made a pretty good effort to box out. We have some strong kids who are boxing out and are quick to the ball. I've been proud of the way we've rebounded and hopefully we can continue to do that. That's going to be a challenge against ODU, they're really good at going to the offensive boards.

The freshmen trio's leadership qualities –

One is their ability and two is their confidence. They are not afraid to perform in a big time setting. I think you saw that against Rutgers. That's a huge quality.

Damion Grant's status -

He's cleared to play. We found out yesterday. I have not gotten the exact details – just got word that he's cleared to play and that's all I needed. …

Damion's not ready for major minutes right now. He has a lot of potential but he's not in great shape and he's got a lot to learn about the game. I don't think Damion's availability affected Sean's minutes [against PSU and Rutgers]. I don't know whether Damion will play or not [on Sunday] – a lot depends on his conditioning and how sharp he is in practice. Right now Byron has backed up Sean and he'll probably be the first one off the bench. Whether I give Damion minutes or not will depends on when I see how he does in practice.

Things learned from Rutgers game -

Two things. One, I learned that we are a young team, because we really started off the game – we were awful. The shots we took were terrible shots, the turnovers we had were careless, reckless turnovers. But the good side we saw was that we had kids who weren't afraid to make plays down the stretch, were mentally tough – to be able to gut it out and win the game when it would have been easy for our kids to fold. When we were down 11 with six minutes to go, we could have packed it in, but we didn't and that's a credit to their character.

Offense and defense vs. Rutgers -

I think I was more concerned with the grind-it-out offense, yes I was concerned with defense, but we work on it every day. But offensively, a team that is going to get into you and not make it easy, block your cuts, grab you, bang you – their quick, aggressive, how did we handle that? I don't think we handled it great, but the thing I liked was that we fought through some frustrating moments and didn't lose our focus and didn't lose an edge, didn't lose confidence, didn't lose hope. They made us play ugly and we helped them by taking bad shots and throwing the ball away, but we kept after them and in the end our defense – blocked shots, steals, deflections, forcing turnovers – is what got us some easy baskets. …

I've been pleased with their focus on the defensive end. We made it a priority as a staff – and it should be a priority every year – but even more this year to be good defensively. With such a young team, we didn't want to throw a lot of offensive plays and defenses at them. We just want them to be good at a few good things on offense and be really good in our man-to man defense. We worked on our man-to-man defense more than anything. I think our guys have bought into it and will stay with it.

The starting lineup and rotation -

I always like to play the guys on the bench more. Melvin Scott's a good player, David Noel's a good player, Will Johnson … Byron … Jon Holmes .. we like to get those guys more minutes, but when you have TV timeouts and I'm comfortable with the guys in the game, sometimes it's hard. And that's something that those guys are going to have to get used to and deal with: be ready to play 20-to-25 minutes, but maybe only get 6-to-10. That's an adjustment that some of those guys are going to have to make. Right now I'm comfortable, yes, but I'd like to get more minutes for certain guys, but not at the expense of those playing well.

Player conditioning, injuries in light of heavy minutes -

You treat it, hope they do what they're supposed to do with Marc Davis in the off days. They need to, because if they don't they'll get in trouble for it – like missing a class. We're not going to beat them up today in practice – we have two before Sunday – we'll go short and hard, let them take care of their bodies. That's the grind they're going to have to deal with and it'll be interesting to see how the freshmen handle it because in high school you play two games a week and it's not very physical. It's an adjustment for them.

Scouting Old Dominion -

I'm anxious to get ready to play Old Dominion on Sunday – they're a very tough team watching some tapes from last year. They run a lot of sets – [ODU head coach Blaine Taylor] worked under Mike Montgomery, who runs a lot of sets. So it's difficult to prepare in a short period of time for all the plays they run. They have some really nice players. They're two best players are from N.C. so I'm sure those kids will be highly motivated against us on Sunday. …

Ricardo Marsh, Rashard Wright are both kids from N.C. that can really play. Marsh is a kid who is 6-8, 240 – a cut up 240 … he doesn't look like he has much body fat on him. He can really post up strong, face up from mid range and shoot the three. So, he's a real tough matchup for us. And then Wright is similar, just smaller – 6-5, 210. He can post up, take it outside, shoot the three, can drive it. Those two guys are really big time players and ACC caliber players.

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