What stands out the most about N.C. State and their variety of offensive weapons?
“Well, we’ll start on the offensive end. I was looking through some information the other day and they’re one of only six schools in the country to only have five guys averaging double figures. That jarred my memory and I looked it up. I think here in the entire time North Carolina’s basketball has been going on there have only been five or six times when that happened. And the last two times were 2005 and 2009. Those were pretty good years.
"They’re a balanced team. You’ve heard me say hundreds of times it’s always more difficult to prepare for an opponent that has everybody who can score. And they can score inside or outside, they get fouled, they’re shooting 51 percent from the floor so it really is offensively they really hurt you. And then they rebound it well on the offensive end as well. So it is something when you’re playing a team that’s in the top five or six in the country in field goal percentage and five guys average double figures it’s hard to prepare for that. You can go on down the line but offensively they really are good.
"Lorenzo Brown is playing about as well as any point guard around. Richard Howell is just a man on the backboards. C.J. (Leslie) just dominates some games. Scott Wood can shoot the dickens out of it. Rodney Purvis gives them another element of speed on the break. T.J. Warren coming off the bench is shooting over 60 percent. So you know it’s really something there that they have six guys that effective offensively.
“And they don’t get enough credit and they’re getting some criticism of what they’re doing on the defensive end of the floor. But I know I’ve watched five tapes and I think they’re pretty good defensively also. Statistics sometimes can be what you want it to be but every coach would like their team to play better on the defensive end of the floor. Including Me, Mark and everyone else. Just their ability to score the basketball is what that thing hanging from the ceiling or attached to the wall is still called a scoreboard. Scoring the ball is still the most important thing.”
Is there an explanation in your mind for the inconsistency of N.C. State and the trend of letting games slip away’?
“First of all, let’s go back to which ones that have ‘slipped away.’ Oklahoma State is really good. I don’t care what anybody says. I played in that building. I played those teams. They are really good. Two kids on that team we were dying to have recruiting wise. In the ACC, once you get into conference play you never know what happens. We’ve had teams score 100, we’ve had teams score 30. I don’t think there is any way you can really explain it. I think it’s just college basketball and it’s kids playing college basketball. You guys don’t like the word parity. We don’t like the word mediocrity that we have to listen to either. But that’s the bottom line, that’s what it is. There’s a lot of parity in it. I don’t think there’s any way to explain it but I don’t think there’s anybody that’s untouchable.”
What improvement has Lorenzo Brown made from last year to this year and what’s his biggest challenge for you?
“I think he’s better in every phase of the game. I haven’t looked at his stats this year compared to last year to know how it looks statistically. I feel like he’s pushing the ball better, making better decisions, shooting it better from outside, and defending better. I think he’s doing everything better but then again I haven’t seen last year’s stats.”
How is it different facing N.C. State’s front line this year as compared to last year?
“I mean it’s different… if you can’t figure that one out. We had guys who went 14th and 17th in the NBA Draft. And now we have two guys who were playing high school basketball last year. N.C. State is a lot better and we traded guys who were in the top-17 picks in the draft for two freshman. It’s not a very good trade but like I say I think my guys are going to be very good players. As I said, I hope it’s in my lifetime.”
What’s the difference between the Tar Heels who started 0-2 in the ACC versus the team who has won three straight in conference play?
“I think we’re better. I think we’re more confident. I think we are playing better and practicing better. And I believe that translates to the court better too.”
Has James Michael McAdoo made any noticeable improvements recently that you’ve acknowledged?
“He’s had more of a sense of urgency and a more aggressive attitude. He’s a guy that played as a freshman and played like a freshman. He had a four to six game stretch there where he was asked to do more and he did more successfully. But the defense was never aimed at him. We still had Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and those guys so it’s a lot easier when the defense is not aimed to stop you. And now who do they talk about? They talk about James Michael McAdoo and Reggie (Bullock).”
How much of a concern is the lack of point production from UNC’s backcourt?
“It’s a concern. I still believe we can really shoot the ball but we just haven’t done it. I think Dexter is a much better shooter than he was last year. I know he shot 57 percent last year but his shots were down and he took great shots along with lay ups on the break. Now he’s taking more jump shots. We don’t have the inside scoring threat that we’ve had in the past. We need guys to shoot a better percentage from the perimeter so there’s no question that I like for my guards to shoot better. Three or four games ago, I told them I was getting ready to substitute for all of them before the game started. Taking them out of the starting line up because their defensive grades were so poor. Since then their defensive grades have been very good. But it bothers me, no question.”
On Dexter Strickland’s comments earlier in the year regarding N.C. State:
“I probably wish he hadn’t done it… but I mean do you guys think it’s going to make North Carolina or North Carolina State any bigger of a game? I think it has zero effect on the game.”
Is it nice to see the UNC-N.C. State rivalry returned to the forefront of the country again?
“Nah, I wish we didn’t have any rivalries. I wish we beat the crap out of everybody all the time.”