I was just looking down (at the box score), and I’m really proud of a guy that would probably surprise you—I’m really proud of Reggie (Bullock). You thought I was going to say PJ, didn’t you? Suckers. The last two days we’ve tried to cut his practice back. Dont’ want him getting any better at basketball than he already is. He got a little flu bug virus—whatever—felt terrible for the last two days. But he toughed it out and played – not like PJ when he had his little ol’ so-called concussion. This morning when coaches were in pre-game meal, we were there before the players van gets there, and I said the most important look today is going to be the look that I have when I see Reggie walking in. I love that Kinston kid. He walked in and gave me a smile, but it was a forced smile. Not his usual, charming smile that melts your heart. He hadn’t been feeling very well and his back tightened up too. Sounds a little like Coach K circa 1995, doesn’t it?
You mention P.J.’s rebounding. He had eight against Duke, he had seven today. How important is that in the sense of going smaller and not giving up as much on the boards?
It was huge for us today. Would not have been helpful earlier in the year, though. One time James Michael shot the ball from the baseline and we had nobody go to the board. I said, ‘Guys, you small guys that like this small lineup, I can not do that if we don’t have you guys getting to the board when James Michael shoots.’ We can’t tell him not to shoot. Trust me, we’ve tried. He shoots it anyway. Whether it’s a good shot or not. He can’t be our only rebounder. He can, we’ll just lose every game. So the rebounding part of it—you guys have heard me say this before—I think is the most crucial part of the game. I learned that from Sylvia Hatchell, who can win 100-4 and still be upset about poor rebounding.
Do you anticipate sticking with the small lineup for the long haul now?
I don’t know—if you score 29 points, that’s not a very good reason to keep you in the game. And I’m only partially tongue in cheek on that. Basketball is not about scoring more points than the team you’re playing. If you’re waiting on me to say “you were all right, I should have started PJ sooner,” you’re going to be here a while. Next question.
Does it give you better spacing?
It does give us better spacing—and you know, Des(mond Hubert), I’ll tell you another one I am proud of is Desmond. I bet you really thought I’d compliment PJ before Desmond, didn’t you? What did he play, one minute? One minute. It’s like when Dean Smith used to talk about what a great game Pat Sullivan played after Eric Montross scored 30 points. He had three deflections and stopped two baskets for us in one minute. The two baskets stopped were as a result of the three deflections – it wasn’t five awesome plays. And one deflection was actually a pass from Marcus to Desmond, but that’s beside the point.