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What did you see from your players that made you call the win over Northern Iowa "the best win of the season?"
I thought of just about any team we could play, Northern Iowa would be as difficult a team -- they're a top 20 team both offensively and defensively according to Ken Pomeroy's statistical data. They shoot it great, they have five seniors, they have four seniors starting, they have a great bench; so I just think it was a very difficult matchup for us, and we had to play a near perfect game in all phases, and we almost did.
On Terry Rozier's performance
I was impressed because he let the game come to him. We wanted to create very good ball movement, very good player movement. This is a team Northern Iowa that plays that Pack Line defense very similar to Virginia, and if you try to take on guys too early, you're playing basically 1-on-3. We wanted to establish good movement so we could go downhill. You had to play East and West to get them moving, and then we went North and South and we were successful at it.
On Wayne Blackshear not getting the credit he deserves
You know he came in with a lot of expectations because he was a McDonald's All-American. But he was bugger than most people at his position in high school and he sort of had a bully move where he could over power them. He had to learn to become a finesse player when he got to college. He was more of a power forward in high school, he had to learn how to be a guard.
He's gotten better and better every year, and he's had an outstanding senior year. Really, if it wasn't for him we wouldn't be in the situation we're in. So he's had a terrific senior season.
Can this be a great team?
I think if we can play basketball like we did against Virginia at home the last game of the regular season and against Northern Iowa and earlier in the year we played great against IU in Madison Square Garden and blew them out by 25, and we Ohio State very well. I think we've struggled at times offensively because we've taken challenged shots. When we stay away from challenged shots, we're a pretty good basketball team in all phases. We did the other night, we only took 4 challenged shots, and if we can keep it under 5 we're capable of beating anyone.
Do you have to be a great team to win an NCAA championship?
Well I think you have to be playing great leading up to it. You know I had a great team in '96. I had a team that was playing great in '13. They just were so together, they passed the ball great, they were shooting it well, Luke Hancock was on top of his game, Siva, Gorgui Dieng; they were all playing terrific basketball. Our bench was very good with Russdiculous and certainly Montrezl Harrell. I think you have to be deep enough to withstand foul trouble, you have to be playing excellent defense -- you can't go into that without playing excellent that defense, that has to be a staple.
On the last meeting with NC State
Well we knew Cat Barber was very good. We got him in a halfcourt situation where we thought we could possibly contain him, but we got into some matchups where our 4s and 5s off pick and rolls had to defend him, and they couldn't get it done. So we have to make some adjustments to that. Their frontcourt right now is playing possessed on the backboard. They certainly shoot it great at the 2 and the 3 spot. Cat Barber's as good as any 1 in the country. Their 4s and 5s are very, very big and doing an outstanding job. And then the guys they bring in off the bench are outstanding as well/
So we know how good they are. Certainly any time you come into Louisville and beat us by 10, we know you're an outstanding opponent.
On Quentin Snider's play in the tournament
Well he's unflappable. Sometimes you don't see the real player when you're only putting him in for 6, 7 minutes at a time just to give Chris Jones a rest or Terry Rozier a rest. So you really don't see the player. Then when he went into a starting role, now he went out there and he's really performing well. And I think going up against Chris Jones every day in practice -- Chris is a bulldog defender, he gets after you really, really hard and made Quentin Snider a better basketball player.
On older players getting frustrated with younger ones and keeping the team together
Well anytime you have six freshmen and all of them -- they're not the UK type freshmen, these guys are like Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng where they have to be developed and nurtured and it takes time. They were making so many mistakes mentally and physically. They were all physically -- like Anas Mahmoud, he's 7-feet and he comes in at 187 pounds, now we get him to 212. Shaqquan Aaron from Seattle comes in at 167 pounds at 6'7, we got him to 180. Jaylen Johnson is not ready to play, he's out of shape, and he now is ready to play.
These types of freshmen just have to be nurtured, they have to develop, they have to evolve into basketball players. And our upperclassmen, guys like Montrezl Harrell, they don't have any sympathy for these guys. Montrezl is just the type of guy, if you're not ready to bring it, then just get out of the gym. I had to tell him, Montrezl that's just not the way it is with these guys. He learned, and he's at least speaking to them now.
What was Montrezl like when he was their age?
You know he came in as a freshman, played really hard every possession, he doesn't tolerate anybody who doesn't play hard. But he was physically capable of playing hard. These guys, when they're that light and that thin, they couldn't play as hard as he could play as a freshman. So he's a good leader, but he leads by tenacity, he leads by intensity and great passion, and some of these guys just don't have what he had as a freshman, and his tolerance and his patience aren't the greatest.
On the NBA potentially raising the minimum age from 19 to 20
You know I'm from a different school altogether. I believe that these kids should be able to go out of high school, and if they don't make it, if they don't wanna go to college, let them go to the NBDL. And then the guys that do go to college, should have to go for two years minimum, and get an education emotionally, get an education academically, get an education physically so that you're ready for the NBA. The ones that aren't ready and they make a bad move, let 'em go to the NBDL, their farm system. But they should have the right to go right away. A six month education, I don't think that benefits anybody. Because that's all it really is, and then the second semester all you take is online classes and all you're concerned about is the NBA and working out. So I'm not too sure, and I think that Duke and Kentucky would agree with that. I think that two years is what it should be. And then if a kid like LeBron, Kobe, and guys like that, they really don't belong in college, they belong in the NBA, and let them go if that's the case.