Coach, some coaches this season have said that they don't like this ACC-Big Ten challenge or that they would like to be freed up to play other games or for some other reason do or don't like it. Do you like having this kind of set up with these two conferences and playing these games right now?
"Yeah, I'm so old school I just like playing. I don't have strong feelings one way or the other on which conference the challenge should come with because there's a lot of good teams and a lot of good conferences out there. It just so happens that it's ACC-Big Ten. You're matched up with a team, its 40 minutes of basketball and it's usually a good team. So far the teams we've played have been pretty good so I don't think it will change with Maryland, I know it won't change. It's a good contest, good competition, tough environment that were going to go into so I welcome it."
You guys are averaging less turnovers this year than last year, in which I think you were second in the country, you have five less than any other Big Ten team. I know you'll say there's always room for improvement, but are you happy with the decrease and how your teams playing in terms of handling the ball so far in the first three games?
"Well the thing you have to be careful of if you're just trying to make sure that you're not making a bad decision with the ball…are you attacking the rim, are you making good hard cuts and good decisions with your passes? We don't fret every day in practice about each little pass. We just talk about making good decisions. We also note that the game is played at a speed, defensively there's a speed out there in each and every individual that makes up pretty good team defense, and some passes are going to get deflected. Sometimes the balls going to miss connect. But as far as where we are, you can always look at a tape and say we can eliminate all of them, if you want to get that picky. But the idea is players need to understand how important each possession is and I think our players do and that's why I think they've always taken good care of the ball. Then there are some teams defensively that make it difficult to do that and we happen to be facing one of those here tomorrow night."
Coach, do you like this game tomorrow in a sense that you can measure up against another pretty good program and find out where you're at three games into the season or where you need to be.
"Yeah, it's another system game, you're going against a coaches' system. Eastern Illinois was a system game because the coach there, as was pointed out many times, coached twenty-some years at the same institution at Division I, there's not a whole lot of them out there. With Gary Williams you're playing against the system, no matter where he would be coaching, his teams would play the same way. I happen to be that type of teacher and coach also. So, you're playing a program that has been successful, knows how to get it done and hopefully our guys will remember some of the things carried over from years past, that they remember how to get things done, and it will be two forces going against one another and that's the kind of game you want."
Coach I know after each one of your games so far you've been asked and talked a little bit about the teams shooting struggles, maybe at the start of games especially, but what maybe has most impressed you so far through the first three games, other than obviously winning all of them, with the way your team is playing in this early part of the season?
"Well, that they just play, that they're competitors. People have a certain idea of what they'd like to try to do and they've been doing that. They've been trying to take teams out of their offensive rhythm, they've been trying to get on the boards with teams, they've been trying to get the best shots that they can, and we've been trying to get to the free throw line. Sometimes the reason that you've been getting to the free throw line is because you're getting the ball into the post a lot and you're getting bumped on a lot of the shots and a lot of times you'll get to the free throw line, sometimes you don't. So you get some blocked, so that hurts your shooting percentage. If we were taking all perimeter shots, obviously we wouldn't be doing the things that we're doing, we wouldn't be at the free throw line, we wouldn't be getting guys in foul trouble, fouling people out and getting them on the bench. We've got to do that a lot in order for this team to be successful. There's going to be nights where the ball goes down…as I said before, several times, three or four baskets a game and your shooting percentage is where it was in the past. So hopefully we can get some of those back tomorrow, and if it's not tomorrow then you get them the next time and you just keep working at it. But I like the looks that they're getting; I like the things that are happening bye the number of free throw attempts and we'll see if we can't keep that going."
Bo, yeah you're playing Gary Williams and his system, but you're also playing a team that's probably been one of the top five programs in the country in the last three or four years. Are there any long-term benefits from playing a game like this come tournament time, or national respect for the program overall, or anything like that?
"Well I think every time our players go on the floor they realize that they're playing for something a little bit more than just the moment. They realize what they represent…players always like to make a statement in games as a team member, and let people know, hey this is what we can do, this is what we have, so that's always inside, that's always in our guys. I think, from what I've seen. So we know that it will be national, we know that there will be a lot of alumni that get a chance to see it, there's a lot of people that will be able to observe this game and maybe some other games that we play. But for our guys I don't think they will say, I'm going to dive for more loose balls because we're on national TV, because if there not diving for loose balls in practice we're not going to be a very good team. I don't think they're going to change their mindset, I think they're going to compete and compete hard. But every player knows its Maryland, they're a good program. Some of the teams we'll play non-conference and the teams we play in the Big Ten it will be in the back of their mind… we're playing teams that have had great recruiting years, teams that have had great athletes and if we don't come ready to go it's going to be a long night. Maryland can make it a long night for people."
Bo, before you had mentioned that you hope your guys remember from past experiences, I'm guessing you're talking about the 2002 NCAA tournament. What can they learn form what happened back then that they can apply to this game?
"Well let's talk about past history. Yesterday in practice I hope they learned something. I don't think our guys…I think there are programs that do that with some of the stuff put in a players locker, which I don't do, or talk about we got to get them back or we got to...That'll never come from me because then what do you do for the next game. We're preparing to play a very good team based on objective observations from video tape. This player does this, this is what they like to do with their offense, this is what they're going to bring defensively, you better get ready for this. That's really all the time that I have to concentrate on anything in particular. Revenge, I can't remember the last time I looked at revenge as a factor in anything that I've done, I wipe it out."
Actually, I wasn't going in that direction, but because you had said what they hoped they had learned from practice I thought you were talking about what had happened back then and just how they can defend differently that good system that you were talking about. I…
"We got too many guys in foul trouble against what they
do, how physical they were…and when its at the end of the season and there
really isn't a game after that if you don't get it done and then 15 can turn
into 25 in a hurry and so on when you're trying to make a come back. And as it
turns out it wasn't a bad team that knocked us off. You don't hand your head and
just…they came back the next year and got ready for the next season, so
hopefully they learned something because…they learned they needed to get
stronger and that's something were still working on."