Do you have an update on the injury status of Leslie McDonald and
"Luke is in a boot right now and will not practice all week and will
99.9 percent chance not play on Saturday. Leslie, we did some
restrictive things with him during practice today. And so now we have
to see how he responds to the work. The first part it looked like he
was going to be okay and then I think it started bothering him a
little bit more at the end. We sat him down and sent him over to
stretch some more."
Jackson Simmons had a big game with eight points, four offensive rebounds, an assist and a block. Did you see that coming?
“Recently we’ve played him a little bit more in practice. He’s gotten a little bit better getting more offensive rebounds and just being more active. And we’ve tried to work more on our freelance half court offense in the last two to three weeks and he’s the best screener we have. ... Saturday I was a little discouraged with the way we played a little bit and I put him in. One of the first plays he dives on the floor and gets a loose ball and we end up getting a basket out of it. ... I knew I was going to give him a chance in the second half but I also knew that I wasn’t going to forget about Joel, Brice and Desmond. They’ve had some good moments too and we need to think past just Saturday afternoon. We need to think about what’s best for our program..."
P.J. Hairston had a career-high 23 points in the game in 28 minutes off the bench and was really a big part of that win.
“Well, he was. I told him today that I’m not going to be nice to him. I was nice to him after UNLV and he stunk it up for two games. We showed him the tape because P.J. is really getting to be a very good defensive player. And his attention to detail and defensive play was not very good in the Florida State game. But man he made some big time shots. ... He’s getting better at putting the ball on the floor. He’s getting better at seeing the big picture. In his whole life, if it felt like leather, he shot it. You've got to understand to play with other people and he's getting better and better at that. But he doesn't get enough credit for what he can do defensively. And this wasn't the greatest defensive game for him, but against UNLV he was the defensive player of the game and one of the leading scorers of the game - he was off the charts then."
How do you try to make sure the team builds off of the Florida State win and learns from it as opposed to just being satisfied that you had a great win?
“Being mean to them at practice for the last two and a half hours today. No, I think it's a good point. We did some nice things against UNLV and then the next two games we didn’t play like we wanted to play. ... We mentioned that today and watched the tape today. ... We showed that we could play with some poise in a tough crowd. We moved the ball effectively and we really did some good things. Now let’s learn from that and not just forget it and think, 'Oh everything’s rosy.' Everything is not rosy. We’re still making a lot of mistakes. Hopefully we’ll learn from the fact we felt good about beating UNLV and the next two games we got it handed to us.”
Do you think the classroom and extra film work with this team is because of the youth of this team or is it just the way it needs to go?
“A little bit of both. You can start watching tape the first day of practice in October and it becomes December before they have any idea what you’re talking about. ... We get some kids from high school whose coach watched a lot of tape with them. And we get some guys, I mean Marvin Williams sat down in a meeting with us and said I’ve never watched tape in my life. It’s something that depends on each team. With the youth of this team and inexperience I think hopefully the tape work will really help them but I know it’s not going to hurt them.”
Marcus Paige’s stat line didn’t look fantastic against Florida State but it seemed like against a really good defensive team he seemed to handle that pretty well.
“He handled, in my opinion, if not the best, one of the best defensive guards in Michael Snaer. ... You look at his stat line and it wasn't great, but he made some big time plays. He made two threes in the first half when we were struggling. In the second half he made the best defensive play of the game. Makes two free throws, makes the right plays and right calls coming down the stretch. It didn’t look the best going down the line but in some ways it’s the best game he’s played.”
How do you replicate the effort of the Florida State game?
“... I say it all the time, I shouldn’t have to coach effort. But the fact of the matter is that you do. I never said to Tyler Hansbrough, 'Come on, son, you've got to play harder.' ... You have to do it more today. It’s a different generation. We’re trying to show them the difference between hustling out and closing out on a guy versus standing there and watching a guy shoot.”
Do you plan on playing more zone after showcasing it for the first time against Florida State?
“The results should tell me 'No.' We played it one possession and they scored three points out of it. But we worked on it again today. It’s something that we’ve got to continue to work on because I do believe we’ll play it some more.”
Did you speak to Matt Doherty during his return to Chapel Hill for a game over the holidays?
“I didn’t get a lot of chances to talk to him but I did give him the ticket, parking pass and talked to him for a couple of seconds before the game. Matt's doing some games on TV and doing some scouting. Regardless of what happens, he’s a Tar Heel. He’ll always be a Tar Heel. He worked for me, played for a team I helped coach and I helped recruited. He'll always be a part of the family. It was just unfortunate that it didn't work quite as well as he wanted it to and everyone else wanted it to. But Matt Doherty is a Tar Heel and that is the bottom line and always will be.”
Dexter Strickland took just four total shots in the last two games. Do you feel he's hesitant to take a shot or have you talked to him about paring down his shots?
"I don't ever tell a guy to take fewer shots unless they're bad shots, in which case I say don't take any of those. Down the stretch against Virginia, Dexter took two really, really bad shots. And the first shot of the game against Miami, which was a good shot for him, was an air ball and that really hurt his confidence. He said it was the worst game he ever played. But the fact of the matter is that the air ball after not finishing the game well at Virginia bothered him. He still do a good job for us defensively, but if you look at that line (versus Miami) he wasn't into the game as much as we needed him to be. Against Florida State he did some good things ... He was another guy that was as happy as he can possibly be in that locker room."
Do you anticipate using timeouts more liberally with such a younger team?
“In some ways you do use them a little bit earlier. ... If I’m one of those guys who calls a timeout every time Dickie [Vitale] says so, then you don’t have those timeouts. I saw a good the other night on TV that the coach needed a time out and if he had one he'd have a chance to win the game and he didn't have one ... I want to have my timeouts at the end because they’re more important. But you’re right I’ve called some timeouts that I would have never called with a more experienced team.”
Will rebounding, particularly offensive rebounding, continue to be a point of emphasis for you this season?
“We emphasize it all the time. I mean all the time. If a guy doesn’t box out, a coach recognizes it and we stop practice to run half court and back and full court and back. If we’ve done a poor job in a game then we may run to the other end and back six times. ... To me it’s the most important factor of the game. We emphasize that more than we emphasize running and everything else.”
Do you think P.J. Hairston has earned your trust for a starting spot or is he more valuable coming off the bench for a scoring punch?
“Right now, I think he’s more valuable coming off the bench. ... I know unless someone really screws something up in practice before Saturday ... After that, I don’t know who our starters will be. It just depends on how they play in practice, unless it's someone who has earned it over the course of a season or two. ... P.J. has really given us a lift and when he comes into the game the other team's defense has to change. And I like that part too."
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