Thoughts on recent practices:
They've been good. We had a very good practice yesterday, we had a good practice today. Both practices really based on the defensive end. It was good. It was energized, it was physical, so I was happy with that. We know that's what we have to do, defend people and not allow easy baskets. That's from both the perimeter and inside. We can't allow it either way. We'll have to be able to play that way and defend tomorrow.
Thoughts on Nolan Smith:
Just another one of the top players in our conference, top players in the country. He's talented obviously and he's tough physically and mentally. He runs their stuff, scores for them, and defends. He does it all for them. We just have to be ready to match that. We have to be ready to compete against someone that comes at you every time.
That's normal right now in our conference. You're always going to play against those types of players.
Thoughts on a +/- system in evaluating players:
We've been doing it for years. You certainly can get something from it but you can't base your decisions on it. It does tell you about certain combinations that play well together, and you certainly try to put those guys together in the ballgame. If it's something that consistently works for you then you try to do it.
We've been doing it for years, looking at the productivity with certain guys playing together and different combinations that go well.
Who is your +/- leader this year?
Our plus/minus leader this year has been Richard Howell.
Are you surprised by that?
No, because he has been productive himself when he's in the ballgame. He's played well for us defensively, offensive rebounds, and most of the time when he's in there the team is doing pretty good so it doesn't really surprise me.
If you have to prioritize, outside of defense, what else do you feel like you need to improve on?
Defense is such an important part of it but scoring and taking care of the ball. Our rebounding, which we've actually talked about a lot in the past, we've actually done well in that category. The defense is just the main thing right now, defense and taking care of the basketball. Earlier in the game we were around 12 or 10 turnovers a game but it's moving up a little bit so we have to take care of the ball better.
Talk about the leadership on the floor and where that's at.
We still haven't got that to where I think we need it. We still need someone to do that and right now it's me, and you need to have someone that's out there and in control of the game.
You talk about Reggie Jackson, and you talk about Nolan Smith, and I'm not saying it has to be a guard, but that's where it normally comes from. Sometimes a guy's personality doesn't allow him to do that.
Along with that you talk about having a leader means also having guys that are willing to follow and listen. It's a two-way street. If you're going to be a leader you've got to be a guy that does all the things right... play hard, play smart, know what you're doing. You just can't talk it, you have to walk the walk.
If we do get one guy to emerge or a couple of guys to emerge it's just makes you a different ballclub.
Is Tracy's personality maybe to assume that role?
It's interesting, I just talked to him today about that. A lot of players today, guys are a little hesitant to tell their teammates that you're not playing, you're not doing this, you've got to guard that guy... it's a different mentality.
I spoke with him today about that, and he understood what I was talking about so we'll see.
Duke is a tough opponent but in a way is this a good time for the game to energize the fanbase and with you returning home?
Absolutely playing at home I think will energize our guys. I know the crowd is going to be into it... it's just good to be home. It's tough on the road, like I said. It's good to be at home and have our fans behind us.
What has Florida State figured out about Duke?
I don't know if it's what they figured out about Duke or if it's what they have figured out about their team more than anything. When you're right there watching and listening to those guys talk during the game and from their huddles, you can hear a team that's, I'm not going to say angry, but real intense... just listening to them talk to each other.
In the huddle, at the free throw line, sometimes one, two, three guys are talking about doing this or that. Singleton was talking, Kitchen was talking, Shannon was talking... it was just.. I think they just figured out how they have to play, and they are tough. They are physically tough and mentally tough.
I'm not going to say they figured out how to play Duke because Duke can come at you again and it can be a different story the next game, but I think they are figuring out how they have to play to win.
Additional thoughts on team:
We need to go out and worry about what we have to do. We have to go out and execute the way we want and defend the way we want, and not get caught up in the opponent.
How important is Tracy Smith's play?
It's very important. For us to be successful he has to play well on both ends. He has to defend, rebound, lead in terms of poise and calming guys down.
We're going to need him to establish himself and play well for us.
Thoughts on the freshmen:
Right now with the freshmen you just want those guys to think about going out and playing as hard as they can, as smart as they can, and help the team win. That's what you want from your freshmen, and if they turn out to be special then you take that.
Their concentration should be on playing as hard as they can... that's what I want from them.
How critical is this game... you could fall to 1-3 with a loss.
It's a big game for a number of reasons. We don't want to fall to 1-3. It can be a boost for a young team like this, and who knows from there. Once you experience a good win and then confidence and understanding and believe and trust... all that stuff can come into play.
This is not going to make our season or break our season, but it would certainly help a great deal if we come out and win this game.
Thoughts on signees Joseph Uchebo and Tyler Harris:
They both are intelligent players. They both play hard. They both know who they are. Joseph is physical, a rebounder, a good passer. He's a team guy. Tyler knows who he is. He can handle, he can pass, he can make an outside shot.
I like the fact that they are very good team players. They are not individual guys. They are good team players so they know what is important. They know how important it is to play together and be a part of a team if you want something good to happen.
Everything those guys talk about, it's all about the team. Individual awards and things of that nature they don't even talk about. They don't think about it, they don't look for it, but they are both solid basketball players."