Nov. 14, 2001
Your Thoughts on the New York Trip:
In New York, I had a lot of questions about if they would play that well. I had no idea how they would play. I knew in practice that they played very hard, they were very closely knit as a team. But when you have two guys that had played a year ago with Jason (Gardner) playing point, and Luke (Walton), a very critical guy off the bench, the rest of them, one redshirt freshmen, five true freshmen, so we had no idea there. I thought Ricky (Anderson) played really, really well. When a player comes off a red shirt year, it takes him a number of games until he gets back into the flow of things. I thought the freshmen played very well.
The key with the team going into that environment, playing that quality of team is that you need excellent leadership from your veterans, and your young kids need to be willing to accept that leadership. I thought the leadership was excellent. I thought the freshmen responded well, there's no question that the poise of the veterans had a lot to do with the poise of the freshmen. If your veterans look like they have everything under control that is like a security blanket for the freshmen. There wasn't any sign of being uptight or nervous.
Maybe the first night (freshman guard) Will (Bynum) was trying to do too much, but the second night he played extremely well. (Freshmen guard) Salim Stoudamire was solid both nights...solid in all aspects. He defended well, took care of the ball, took good shots. (Freshman center) Channing Frye was probably the most pleasant surprise. When I looked at the Maryland guys up close the night before the game and saw not only how tall they were how thick they were, I thought they would probably bounce Channing around like a ping-pong ball. But he competed really hard, and was a factor in both games. (Freshmen forward) Dennis Latimore didn't get a lot of time, but when he played, he played really hard. Latimore has made excellent progress each of the last couple of weeks now, so it is just a matter of time before you see him with substantial minutes than what he has had.
Comments on the Texas game:
Looking at Texas, it's different to play in a neutral site than it is to play on somebody's home court. That's the test we have to take as a team. Are the young guys going to maintain their poise under a home-court situation for the opposing team? I think in the Garden (Madison Square Garden), even though there were a lot of Maryland fans there, still isn't like the college environment we are facing in Texas."
They have good experience in guys that have played last year. T.J. Ford was one of the outstanding high school point guards in the country last year, he's played on state championship teams. He knows what it takes to win. It will be a big challenge.
The true test for T.J. (Ford) will be when he gets to Arkansas or to some of the other places where the crowd is a huge factor in the game. When you're playing at home, it is like a security blanket. When you get on the road, your only friends are usually your teammates. That will be the true test for him, as it is for any true freshmen point guard. I really like him (Ford). He's heady, he's quick, he's unselfish. From what I saw, he's exactly like the point guards we have tried to recruit into this program.
Texas wants to run, and they have made it obvious that they want to get that shot up quickly. It will be different for us from the standpoint that it won't be the second of two games for us. We didn't want to run up and down the court with Florida because I didn't think we had it in us, after all of the energy we spent the night before. We expect that there will be lots of action.
What can you say about Jason Gardner's leadership to this point:
Jason's (Gardner) leadership has been so vital to us, not since just practice started, but also since the start of school. He was lending his support to the young guys off the court as well. This is true for Rick (Anderson) and Luke (Walton) as well. He's trying to give them a sense of what it is like to play in program like this against the kinds of quality of competition we play against. I think Jason is a much better player this year, after working on his perimeter shot. I think Jason looks at this team as his team, and it is his team. Where as last year with the veterans we had, I don't think he felt it was his team.
Comment on the two signees (Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers):
"Chris (Rodgers) played point all summer, but in high school he played the wing. Both of them are really good athletes. They can play multiple positions.
Hassan is a wing in our system. He's a player that can guard anybody. He'll be one of the best defensive players we've had come in here since Reggie Geary, and he has Reggie's athleticism and is a better perimeter shooter.
For Chris this summer, it was great that he played the point at Nike (Camp) and for his AAU team, but in high school situation, he plays the wing.
Both have great attitudes. They are winners...gym rats..they are solid, solid academically. We are very pleased to have both of them in here.