UNC-Duke: Pre-game Interviews

CHAPEL HILL, NC--Tar Heel basketball players spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon prior to their eight-mile trek down 15-501 to play at Cameron Indoor Stadium, home of the Duke Blue Devils, on Wednesday night.

Raymond Felton

Has the losing streak hurt the team's confidence at all--is it a problem?

No. You lose some, you win some. I hate that we've lost four in a row, but you can't will all games. As long as we give it 100 percent and work hard--you don't want to be satisfied, but what more can you give if you give 100 percent?

Coach Doherty said that learning to run an offense is a process that takes time. Has it been more difficult than you thought it might be?

Not really. I had to make a big adjustment, coming in, just to run the offense. Basically, it's pass first, pass second, and then look for my shot. In high school I was used to pulling up because I had to do a lot of scoring for my high school team back in Latta. Now, I'm getting used to the offense and starting to find my shot more. I have to run the offense, look for my teammates first, and then look for my shot, if I'm open.

How are you better in February than you were in November?

I know where my shots are and where I can get my shots off.

Do you think that the experience on the road at Illinois will help you in Cameron against Duke?

Basically, you could barely hear anything at Illinois. You couldn't hear calling out plays or calling out screens. We just have to communicate better.

How do you think Rashad has handled not starting every game? Is he going hard in practice?

Rashad is fine. He works hard, and he's a team player.

Rashad McCants

Coach Doherty said you were having some back pain--when did that start?

Halftime of the Wake Forest game.

Are they just muscle spasms or is it something else?

I think it's because of my pulled groin--the same muscle alignment.

You are the emotional spark plug of this team. It's going to be an emotional atmosphere at Cameron. Do you see that as a good thing or a bad thing?

It's a good thing. Cameron is probably the most exciting place to play in the country. It's a great opportunity for us, in the situation we're in, to go in and play hard and play well.

Is the win in this game more important than a win over Duke--to break the losing streak?

Definitely. A win is the most important thing, right now, to put us in position for the [NCAA] Tournament.

How hard did Duke come after you in recruiting?

Not very hard.

Did that surprise you? Did you put the word out that you wanted to be recuited by Duke?

Duke was--going into my junior year--the place I wanted to go. J.J. and I talked a lot about where we wanted to go, and both of us wanted to go there, but, at the same time, Carolina was my dream school.

I guess it was at the time when Duke was winning championships and Shane Battier was probably the best college player in the country at the time. I just kind of wanted to be the kind of team leader that he was. I just didn't get the opportunity to go to the same place.

Does that sting?

Not at all.

Have you talked to J.J. at all?

Not all year.

You will probably guard him some in the game. What's it like to be guarding a guy who you know from high school?

He's not different at all. He's just another player. You can't keep any friendships on the court while you are playing, because he's on the other side of the battlefield.

Do you expect to start tomorrow night?

No, I don't expect to start. David is playing well. If coming off the bench helps my team, I'll be in position to do that.

A lot of people wonder if you are happy--are you happy here?

Yes, I am.

Are you amused at all the talk, are you concerned, or do you even hear about it?

I hear about it. It's just [people] who want to create controversy and bring a program like this down. It happens, and you just have to stay positive.

Jackie Manuel

You've been to Cameron. Have you told them what to expect?

We've been telling them since before the season started that it's going to be a rough one, especially once you get into the ACC and play the Duke game.

Do you know what defense you're going to play--zone or man--and who you are matched up against in man?

Right now, we're going to stick to our man-to-man defense. I'll be guarding J.J.

Are there any special instructions in guarding him--like no helping off--since he's such a great shooter?

It's just a normal game. I'm just going out to play defense the best I can.

Anything that makes him particularly dangerous?

He can shoot the ball. You have to be there. If you're not, you might as well count it as three points.

What is the best strategy for guarding him?

I look at the best thing as denying him the ball. Once he gets it, you are at his mercy.

What if he gets the ball coming off of a screen?

You just have to contain him. When he shoots, you have to contest.

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