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How will you handle this group of freshmen compared to how you did in 2005-06?
"When you have a lot of freshmen that are going to play - and this group is going to play, even though it may not be the primary roles like it was in '05-06 - you still have to go slower. You can't expect someone to do something well if they don't know how to do it. So with the teaching part of it, we'll go a little slower. ... But Marcus, Deon and some of the other guys, it's not like they haven't been asked to do it again. In '06, David averaged 3.9 points and no one else had ever been in a game at crunch time except him."
What do you hope Will Graves learned from the experience of being suspended last year and what do you hope to get from him this season?
"I hope he understands that he missed a wonderful time in his life and you can't get that back - so don't screw up anymore and miss another opportunity. I hope he still has a hunger for playing. I hope that he missed it a great deal. I hope that it hurt - and I don't mind say that - I hope it really hurt. He's potentially our best outside shooter. He's potentially our best rebounder from the perimeter. He's potentially our best post-up guy from the perimeter spot. Maybe as good a passer as we have on the team. A guy that, if he does what I think he can do, I think can be a double-figure scorer for us. It remains to be seen if he'll be focused enough to do that and if he does, our team will be a heck of a lot better because of that."
Which of your freshmen big men have the ability to play on the perimeter?
"I'm not necessarily ruling out anybody. David and Travis are so fundamentally sound ... they know how to dribble right hand, left hand, they know how to pass and feed the post, they can both shoot. John Henson is the one that we talked about playing on the perimeter from the first day we started recruiting him. So he's one that we'll start practice with him on the perimeter, but I wouldn't be surprised for David or Travis to go out there. The big key is who can slide their feet to the guard the 6-6, 6-7 guy on the other team. I think all three of those kids can do it potentially offensively, but who can play it on the defensive end?"
How patient will you need to be with the point guards this season?
"I've got to praise the dickens out of Larry, Marcus, Dexter - whoever it is - to give them some confidence and hopefully their play will give me some more confidence and I can praise them so more. ... It is a little out of balance because we are so much more experienced, tested and skilled with the big guys now than the guards. I remember in '06 I didn't know who was going to start ... I don't mind the uncertainty as long as the guy who does start plays well."
Have you sat down with Larry to ease the pressure off him?
"I have told him he doesn't need to be Ty [Lawson] because he's not Ty and he's not going to be Ty. I told him 'there are some things you do better than Ty, there are some things Ty does better than you.' But it's the same conversation I had with Deon [Thompson]. I told Deon, 'You do not have to be our leading scorer, you do not have to be Tyler Hansbrough. You just have to be Deon Thompson a little bit better because you're a year older and have done some more work on your game.' ... Before it's over with I'll have more conversations with Larry or Dexter or Marcus - whoever gets that spot. But it's Larry's right now because if we had to go out there and play right now he'd know what I wanted more than the other two."
What do you expect heading into this season?
"We coaches did a little retreat and headed out for a couple days Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday and we talked 18 hours about basketball and the biggest conclusion was that we don't know. We don't know what we have. We have to wait until we get started at practice ... We don't know what John Henson will be able to do on the perimter, we don't know if Ed Davis has improved his inside scoring or not, we don't know if Dexter, Leslie, Marcus will be able to shoot the three point shot like we need them to shoot it. ... The best teams - not just mine - have always had a great balance, but the best teams we've ever had had a tremendous inside game where at the end of the game you had the other team in foul trouble and you could score points quickly from the three-point line."
What makes you feel good about this frontcourt you have this season?
"The depth up front this year has to be a strong point for us. You Deon, who performed and did well. You have Ed, who performed and did well. You have Tyler, who performed on a big stage, then got hurt and it was never an easy fit to get him back to the level he was - but that helped him immensely and he's much farther along. And then you have three unknowns in David, Travis and John. But it's a good problem to have. It's my job to get the guys who are playing the best the most minutes and to get everyone else to challenge them. I do like the depth and the versatility. I like that one, two or three of them could play some at the three spot - we could have a really big team out on the court sometimes. I think our defensive potential, John can block a lot of shots and Dave and Travis do a great job of drawing charges, so we'll be really good inside defensively."