What does Jackson Simmons bring to the table when he’s out on the floor?
“The little things that coaches appreciate more so than other people. The dependability of being where he’s supposed to be and doing what he’s supposed to be doing. I’ve always said you can really help us off the bench if you don’t hurt us. I think that is something Jackson understands. The little things like diving on the floor at Florida State got us a possession that got us three (points). He makes a jump shot, he gets an offensive rebound and most the time I don’t have to tell Jackson to get to the board. You have to yell that to some other guys.
"I think he understands who he is. He doesn’t try to stand out there and shoot a 3-point shot as soon as he touches the ball. He doesn’t try to throw a pass through five defenders. I always felt a basketball player is like everybody else. You should know your strengths and weaknesses. You should play to your strengths and avoid your weaknesses. When you’re limited athletically and Jackson is not limited compared to the student body. He is limited athletically to the top 25 programs in America. Then you have to use your brain more and understand that. Don’t let that be the most important factor. And he does a really nice job of doing that.”
What improvements have you seen in P.J. Hairston’s ability to the shoot the basketball this season?
“He’s gotten better. He’s never mechanically had a problem. It’s just been a problem of balance. When he’s missing it’s just because he’s not properly balanced and doesn’t have a good foundation with both feet under him with the right foot slightly in front of the left, weight on the balls of your foot. He’s been sloppy with that. I stood there this week and watched him shoot shots and I’m looking at his feet with my back to the basket and I called five out of five correctly.
"I think one thing he’s done a better job of that. I think the experience of knowing what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot. He’s not taking as many bad shots. I don’t care who you are you don’t make as many bad shots. More importantly, he’s done other things that have allowed me to keep him in the game other than just being a stand still jump shooter. He’s always been a kid who’s better defensively than people think he is. The consistency and the experience are probably the two best answers.”
Thoughts on Hubert Davis:
“Hubert’s been sensational. Hubert has helped all of our guys more so getting prepared for the shot. You know taking the defensive man away and then coming off the screen properly kind of thing. We talk about that the first day of practice every year I’ve been a coach. The fact that Hubert played twelve years in the NBA in today’s culture that helps you have a little legitimacy to it. I love Hubert. He’s been sensational.”
What is different for UNC facing Miami this time after the results of the previous contest?
“There’s not a lot different except they’re better. They’re better now than we played them and I hope we’re a heck of a lot better than we were last time we played. They have five guys averaging 9.6 points per game or better. Basically, the way I say it is they have five guys in double figures. They’ve got Julian Gamble who was a guy not averaging double figures and what did he get 16 or something crazy like that against us and hardly missed a single shot.
"The time he got when Reggie (Johnson) was out has been really beneficial to the team because now they’ve got two players. I think (Shane) Larkin has gotten better and better. I think (Kenny) Kadji has gotten better and better as the season has gone on. You can go down the line. I think everyone of them is playing better. You look at their stats and a lot of them are better in ACC play than it was in non-conference play and that’s hard to do.
"Their rebounding margin, for example, is a lot better in ACC play than it was in their non-conference schedule. They enjoy playing together. You watch them play and they really look like they’re five guys playing as one. That’s always the biggest secret.”
What has Desmond Hubert done to solidify his starting role on this UNC team?
“He’s just so much more consistent on the defensive end of the floor. It’d be great if you had somebody who could do something great. Then you could plug them in when you need that skill. Desmond’s just so much more effective on the defensive end of the floor. Whether it be rebounding or talking, he makes our whole team defense better.”
How has Marcus Paige improved his defensive efforts after a poor start to ACC play?
“He’s done really well as of late. Several weeks ago I challenged he and Dexter (Strickland) both saying if they didn’t start having better defensive grades then I was going to have to play someone else. The very next game Marcus got defensive player of the game and both of them have done a much better job defensively since that point. He has a good savvy about the game and understanding and seeing the big picture. He’s done well for a freshman.”
How difficult is it for Marcus Paige to deal with the physicality due to his size?
“It’s a big challenge every time you’re playing a team that sets a lot of screens on the ball like Miami. He’s having to get over, under, or around Kadji, Johnson or Gamble. That’s not easy to do. It’s a negative for him but you can’t snap your fingers and make him 190.”