We just came off I think a good showing. We played well the last two ballgames. We finally got off to a good start the last two ballgames.
The last game we obviously got Tracy Smith back, so we were excited about that. We're just trying to continue to improve and get better.
Coach, now that you have a few games under your belt and have evaluated your freshmen, what do you think about the way they have performed?
I think all three of those young men have done a good job. It's a difficult deal for freshmen as we know, but I think they've handled the situation well.
They've been put in a tough situation because a lot of pressure was put on them and expectations from the outside, and I think they've handled it well. I think they are going to continue to get better, and they still have a lot to learn, but I've been very pleased with their progress.
Do you have to grit your teeth and let them play through mistakes more than seasoned players?
You do. You know they are going to make mistakes and you have to deal with some of it, but the more difficult ones... the mistakes they continue to make, the same mistakes. Those are the ones you have to say something to them... you can't make the same mistake. You can't come down the floor and do something one time and know that it's wrong and then come down and do it again.
I know they are going to make mistakes. The key is not making the same mistakes over and over. That's the biggest thing right now, for them to get that and understand that.
How long has it been the last few weeks where you've just been saying Tracy you just have to go out there and give it a shot?
That's a difficult thing for him, being a senior and being sure that he's ready to go. He's never had an injury like this before. He was a little hesitant to go out there and give it a try, even with a little slight discomfort he wasn't comfortable with it.
It was just a matter of him going out and understanding there might be a little discomfort but the injury is gone and he just has to get used to playing with that.
He said he felt great in the ballgame... he asked me if he could stay in, he said he felt good so we did that.
We'll go today and see how he feels today... see if there's any discomfort and we'll go from here.
How are you able to not let any negativity bother you?
I think unfortunately it's part of the job. I just try to keep my focus... keep my focus on these young men and try to do the best I can with them on and off the court.
Hopefully they graduate and when they leave here they are better young men then when they came here. I try to teach them what I know as far as basketball and going out and being a team and winning... all those things. I try to keep my focus there.
People are going to have their opinions. That's just the way life is. I chose a profession that other people can voice their opinions publicly, unlike some other jobs. We can't go in there jobs and put that in the paper, what we think of their job.
I just kind of let it go. I don't worry about it. I work with our staff and I work with our administration, and that's what is important to me. Then the fans that are there, the fans that support, good, bad or indifferent. The ones that are always there, the ones that show up to all the games and support us. That's what is important.
How does having Tracy Smith back impact Richard Howell's role?
Well obviously Tracy is going to get some of those minutes that Richard was getting at the five. I think Richard might feel... just knowing that he has Tracy in there he's going to be different with the way he plays because he's now concentrating mainly at four.
He's got Tracy in there working with him. He knows he can make certain passes to Tracy, as we saw in that last ballgame, he made some great passes to Tracy and Tracy was able to finish.
Those guys were together last year, and I think he feels very comfortable with him. I think as far as his minutes and his position, I think he's going to get most of his minutes at the four now, but he still could play some five.
But, as far as having Tracy in there, he's comfortable with it.
Half the league is over No. 100 in the RPI. Normally you can get in the league and win some games and get in the tournament. With where the team stands now, is that a concern for you?
I think we have to concentrate on what we're doing. We have to concentrate on trying to win as many games as we can, and let the chips fall where they may.
I know earlier, our RPI was pretty good when we played a Georgetown, Syracuse, Wisconsin, and Arizona, it was great, but now it's gone down. I think in the end, if we do what we're capable of doing, then that will take care of itself.
Those games are still important... not only that, but those [other] games we played without Tracy Smith. If we come back now with Tracy back and have a great year, that will take care of itself. Our conference is still tough, our conference is tough, and I think it will show that.