"I know we didn't play as well as we wanted to by any means in Miami on Saturday. They played very well. That's how you get that kind of margin at the end. They're a really good team, underappreciated around the country. Now we're turning around and playing Duke. I think Duke is one of the premiere teams in the league. I wouldn't be surprised if Duke and Miami ended up being the top four, top five teams in the country because I think they're good and playing well. Duke won a tough one on the road. You have to do that to have a great year.
"Mason and Curry are playing at a high level, carrying them at times. Yet Cook and Sulaimon can get things going. It hurt them losing Ryan, but they made adjustments to that right now. From 10 miles away, they look like they're formidable, have a lot of guys who can score. You can't really concentrate on one thing. They can shoot the ball straight. Ten threes in the first half of a game recently."
One of the oddities of this series has been that the last decade the road teams have a better record than the home teams. Any rhyme or reason to that?
"The last couple years, you drop out 2010, hope you don't have to drop out this year, but 2010 both teams were not great. They were really good and we were not. Most of the other years both of us have been pretty doggone good and it's who plays the best the night, regardless of where you are. Last year we thought we played very well until the last three minutes of the game here, then we didn't play well at all. They made every play they needed to down the stretch. The year before, we were great over there the first half, terrible the second half.
"It's who plays on that night if the teams are evenly matched. I think both of our teams have been really, really good for several years with the exception of our 2010 team."
I know from a long time covering Dean Smith, he almost loved to be in the underdog role but didn't get many chances to do it. This is one of the few situations where you go in as a clear underdog. Do you relish the role?
"I love being the underdog if I'm pretty doggone good. If you're not any good, doesn't make any difference. As you said, we haven't had many chances to be the underdog in the 10 years I've been back. But, again, I'd rather be the favorite because that means you're really good. It does give you some things to use, psychologically, all that junk. I'd rather be the favorite. I'd rather be really good."
Coach, I know it was a lot earlier in the year when you faced Indiana. Looking at how well Miami played this past weekend, can you maybe theorize how maybe Indiana and Miami match up?
"As I said to one of the last questions or maybe in my opening statement, I think Duke and Miami both, if I'm a voter, I'm going to put both of them in the top five. I'm going to put Indiana up there as well.
"I think Miami is a sensational basketball team. They have no holes. There's not anything that they cannot do. They can guard you, they can rebound, they can run, they can shoot, they can play slow, they have scorers that score at every spot. They have Gamble who gives them great defense and rebounding, blocks shots, yet he scores when they give him the ball around the basket, gets his way in there and dunks it, gets an offensive rebound. Brown gives them some scoring coming off the bench.
What were they ranked last week, No.8?"
"They'll be higher this week. I think Indiana, we played Indiana at Indiana, and we felt we were in a hornet's nest. Did the same thing at Miami. I think, as I said earlier, Duke and Miami could both be a Final Four team, one of the four top seeds."
Roy, if my math is right, you used 20 different lineup combinations on Saturday. Is that a high number for you and do you feel like you're searching for the right combination of players?
"I have no idea if it's a high number. If you're getting your tail beat by 26, I don't think you can stay with the same lineup. I think you have to keep trying to change some things.
I think that was probably just a guess. That was probably a high number, but I hope the dickens we're not getting beat by 400 points.
"As a coach, you feel you have to try something.
We've had a lot of lineups. We'll always have a lot of lineups, because we play seven, eight, nine or ten guys. That's the way I've always coached and the way our teams play.
"I think also when you're getting beat as badly as we are, you can't sit there and say, Let's wait for the bus or the plane and go home. We're going to try to do something."
The starting five consistently have played maybe three or four minutes at the start of the game. Same thing with the second half. What do you see out of those guys that makes you believe those are the right five for you to start both halves?
"Well, they're the five best. They've won the job in practice, no question. I make that change just as quickly. Most of the time it's Marcus, either Marcus or Dexter. Marcus, for his stamina, because I worry about a freshman, a 160-pound freshman in this league playing 35 minutes in the game. I would like to have him at the end of the season. I don't want to wear him down.
"He may play more than three minutes in a row in the middle of a half. He's so hyped up in the start of the game. He gets winded quickly. There was a great player here called Michael Jordan that was always our first sub because Michael was always so fired up about playing, we would take him out earlier than anybody else and give him a quick breather and put him back in.
"One of the things, biggest change in that early substitution, I trying to take care of Marcus. Sometimes it's Dexter. Depending if it's chasing around Erick Green or something like that, I may take Dexter out first, but usually it's one of the guards."
Will this game be a really good test for somebody like James Michael McAdoo probably coming off his worst game of the season?
"I hope he bounces back greatly. I've had some players, Kirk Hinrich, when he played poorly, the next game he was going to be off-the-charts good. I told him I'd rather have him play real good and real good.
"They have a good team. I mean, again, I said this after the game, it's not just about how North Carolina does. James Michael takes it to the basket to dunk it twice, and Kadji blocks both of them. There's not many guys in the country that can do that. That makes James Michael look like he didn't succeed on that play as opposed to what a great play Kadji made. James Michael can't even dunk over the guy. I think you also have to congratulate the other team.
"How he bounces back, I don't know. We've been very concerned about his back for the last week or so. On Friday it bothered him. Saturday morning he said he felt good. So we'll just have to see how he bounces back. But a lot of that depends on the other team as well. If you're being guarded by Mason Plumlee or trying to guard Mason, some of those guys over there, you're not going to have as easy a chance to bounce back as if he was being guarded by me or you."
As we turn into the second half of the ACC season, where on your team have you seen the best improvement from day one to now? What area do you still see you need improvement on?
"Well, needing improvement. We've got to be able to withstand some adversity in a hostile environment. There's no question about that. If the other team gets rolling and rocking, we have not bounced back in being able to handle that very well yet. I'm saying 'yet' because I think we're going to get there.
I felt like we've gotten better in every area, but we have to improve in every area.
"We gave Miami some open threes. But we guarded them sometimes. I mean, the first three of the game, Kenny makes it from eight feet behind the 3-point line with Desmond's hand in his face. Yes, you could do more if you block the shot. If you try to block every three-point shot, you also foul out of the game quickly.
"For us, we have to get better in every year. We looked terrible in a lot of different ways Saturday. Again, they made some big-time shots with us doing at least a good job several times guarding. Marcus went up one time and I yelled, 'good defense' to him, but the shot went right in the hole.
We've got to get better in every area."