Dexter Strickland has 26 assists in the last three games. What is clicking with him?
“We’re running a little better. He’s understanding sometimes passing it a little early is better than holding it a little longer. I think sometimes that the more you play and the more you’re put in a position you just get more comfortable and I think that his assist to error ratio is really good and Marcus [Paige] has gotten considerably better the last three or four games too. If you looked at that one you’d see the same kind of thing and I think just running a little bit better, the experience of playing it a little bit longer I think is a little bit with both of them.”
How is Brice Johnson feeling after being a little bit under the weather on Saturday?
“I think he’s better. No question Saturday he didn’t feel very good and Sunday wasn’t much better but I think he was better yesterday in practice… I would assume [he’s good to go against Texas].”
How important is it for the team to gel and come together during this time of the year with no classes or distractions?
“I don’t know if I’d say ‘coming together and gelling’ but I’ve seen a lot of team improvement, but I don’t think that we’re apart. I think if you say ‘coming together’ I think to me it sort of insinuates that there is problems and I don’t think it’s that. I just think we got a bunch of young kids that are being challenged more than they’ve ever been challenged playing at a higher level then they’ve ever played, but I do think this period is a time period where if you can stay healthy and not get guys sick and missing practices, this is an extremely important time for you.”
Would you disagree with comments by James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock that the team is not all on the same page?
“Sort of, yeah. There was one thing in the Indiana game and I jumped on somebody because you don’t need to be jumping on somebody when you make the mistake yourself. The other day I didn’t really feel like that we weren’t together. We just took bad shots and made turnovers, but I’ve really felt like this is a team that is together. I really feel like this is a team that is just still finding their way through things and I was just amazed watching the game the other night and a guy said, ‘yeah this guy was really good. His freshman year he averaged one point a game and his sophomore year averaged three points a game.’ Well nobody ever gives our guys those kinds of statements or those kinds of opportunities, because it’s North Carolina. It was just glowing how this guy is really playing and here if you average one point a game as a freshman and three as a sophomore everybody terms that guy as a failure.”
Texas has struggled offensively, but played well defensively. What stands out about them on the defensive end?
“They are really good defensively. They do a great job of guarding the ball and they have a couple of big guys around the basket that can protect the basket. One of the things that we at times were really good defensively, but we had guys that would guard the ball a little bit better and we were really effective around the basket taking away your easy ones. Right now we don’t have anybody around the basket to take away those easy ones, but you just look down [at the statistics.]
"Their opponents are shooting 33.2 percent and that’s got to be in the top-10 in the country I would think, but [Javon] Felix does a pretty good job out front and with [Sheldon] McClellan and [Jonathan] Holmes and a couple of those other guys that were a little bit more experienced and Rick Barnes is a really good coach and Rick does a nice job of getting his guys to play and play hard on the defensive end of the floor.”
Have you been working on offensive rebounding in practice and what is your favorite drill for that?
“It’s hard because my favorite one would be to beat them death and that kind of thing. That you can’t come out unless you got two black eyes and a bloody nose and that kind of thing, but I don’t really know what that solves. It’ll make the coach feel like he’s a macho guy. What we do is we work on boxing out and getting guys to get to the board and trying to emphasize it again in practice and we really have emphasized it the last couple of days and so it’s something that I hope we do a heck of a lot better on Wednesday night.”