How’s the health of the team and how’s James Michael McAdoo’s back?
“Joel (James) will not play. We found out basically just yesterday that evidently Joel took a blow to the head in the Wake Forest game and has been having severe headaches. They did some tests and found out that he’s concussed. He did not practice yesterday and will not practice today nor play tomorrow.
“James Michael’s back has been bothering him a little bit more and a little bit more. We’ll just have to wait and see. I think everybody else practiced yesterday.”
What’s difficult about guarding a player like Seth Curry?
“Several things, one he can really shoot. It’s hard to guard anybody who’s really good at running around screens but if a guy can’t shoot you don’t really worry about it that much. He does a great job in preparation of getting to the spot where he wants to get the ball. He reads screens very well. They do a nice job of setting screens. He usually catches the ball where he can catch it and shoot. He’s much better at putting the ball on the floor also and getting to the free throw line. I think he reads screens and sets his man up and changes directions as well as anybody in college basketball.”
How much better do you think Mason Plumlee has become for them this season?
“Each year he’s gotten better and better. I think this year to go from 11.7 points per game to 17 points per game is pretty significant increase in your point production. And he’s still rebounding and blocking shots the way he has before. I don’t know Mike’s (Krzyzewski) team nearly as well as Mike does but after Ryan Kelly went down I think Mason and Seth both said, 'Well, we need to score a little more.' They’ve taken a little more responsibility on that have been a little more aggressive with trying to get the ball in the basket. I think Mason has significantly stepped that up. Two thirty point games in the last three or four games. He gives them a wonderful mix because they have that balance of scoring inside and guys who can shoot the 3-point shot as well. Most really good teams have both of those.”
With the loss of Joel James, how do you attempt to defend Mason Plumlee with one less body?
“I think we’re going to start Marcus Paige on him and bite him on the kneecaps a couple of times and see if that will help us. We’ve tried everything else. Well the other guys are going to have to get bigger. I think one thing that Joel does is that he has that size that bothers people. He doesn’t have the experience to be able to play Mason head up or anything like that. When he’s in the right position it’s really difficult to score over him whereas the other guys might be in the right position and it’s not nearly as difficult to score over them as it is over Joel. Desmond (Hubert), James Michael, Jackson (Simmons) and Brice (Johnson) they’ve got to be able to come through and do it.”
Is there any impact on how you played in the previous game on the game against Duke Wednesday night?
“Not that I know of. I’ve always thought each game is an individual game particularly the Duke game even more so. You’ve got to go over there and you’ve got to play great. Their crowd will be into it. I wanted them to make every shot against Boston College the other night and they missed a bunch of them. I don’t think what happens and I don’t myself of any significance of the game prior to that.”
Is it kind of a pick your poison with the inside presence of Mason Plumlee and the 3-point shooting of Duke?
“It is. I think there’s been a couple of teams that said well let’s stop the 3-point shot and it has killed them. A couple of teams have loaded up on Mason and then the 3-point shot did it. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve had some teams like that. You’d like to have five guys who can score because then there’s no easy defensive plan. We need to do a little bit of both. We need to try to see if we can put a crowd around Mason but you can’t over help because I’m real good at math and three’s add up faster than two’s.”
Comments on caliber of personnel on UNC and Duke:
“It’s two very good programs for a long time. Great tradition, great history and hopefully we’re going to keep getting good players. I will say I’m hoping a heck of a lot harder that we keep getting them not just us and Duke both.”
What is the biggest ingredient that makes this rivalry so great?
“I don’t think there’s one single thing. The uniqueness is how close we are. I think if they were in Asheville, NC and we were here and we had the same records then I think the rivalry would still be tremendous. So I would say the past history, the success, the fact that there are a lot of basketball players that get it down to North Carolina and Duke. And there are a lot of students that get it down to North Carolina and Duke.
"The first college t-shirt I ever had was a Duke t-shirt. I don’t have it anymore. I got rid of it pretty quickly. There are a lot of people in the student body of both schools that think about both places. I think it’s something, the tradition and history of it. The past history and traditions of other sports back to Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice’s days. The Duke game was the biggest game ever in football. I think it’s a lot of the great things.”
Comments on article written in USA Today about the presence of Coach Dean Smith being around the office:
“Some great people at the end, it doesn’t end quite as nicely. You always feel badly about that whether it’s a sport, a leader, someone in the business world or whatever. That’s never going to happen with Coach. Coach, he was the best. He tried to do everything the right way. He cared about people. You can’t taint or tarnish what he did. I’ve loved having him around. It’s hard right now because times are tough. When I first got back it was just a thrill for me after every game to see that flashing light on my desk and get his message about the game. To get his little notes and always at the bottom of them saying, “Now remember you can throw these away and don’t pay attention to them.” I knew that I wasn’t going to do that because he cared about me. Seeing Coach now is tough there’s no question about it. I’ve loved having him around and every now and then I’ll still get that gleam in his eye and it’s one of those great moments. I better just stop right there.”
How do you feel your team matches up with Duke this year?
“Well not very good on paper but we still get to play the game. We’ve got to have greater emotion. We’ve got to have a greater sense of urgency. It’s something for us that we have a chance. I believe that from the bottom of my soul but we’ve got to play great. We’ve got to play great tomorrow night. If we do that I’ll be very pleased because we’ll have a chance.”