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January 3, 2011

Tony Bennett

TONY BENNETT: Well, we're just coming off of a game against LSU last night where we played a little bit better basketball than we've played our last few games. We're still, you know, continuing to adjust to play without our leader in Mike Scott, who did not play last night, and Will Sherrill is not full strength yet. He's getting better recovering from his broken leg, and still Sammy Zeglinski is rounding into shape.
We're still finding ourselves, as I just heard Seth say, and a lot of guys are getting experiences. We've got a lot of freshmen and inexperienced guys that are playing big roles, and that's healthy for the future of the program and provides some great challenges.
But continuing to just try to get better like everybody is at this time of year and preparing, and again, we've got to practice today and play tomorrow.

Q. You're relying on several young players in making significant contributions. I just wonder how you believe your freshmen that are playing to this point are ready for what lies ahead in the ACC?
TONY BENNETT: I mean, you don't know until you're thrown into it, and we've played some solid teams in the non-conference, and they've gotten some experience. It certainly will be a challenge, and especially with some of our injuries.
But I know the big picture, I know this is invaluable experience that the younger players are receiving, and there's nothing quite like conference playing, going through some of the situations you'll have to, and you'll learn through it, whether you come out doing good things or you struggle. I know that you'll get better from these experiences, and our hope is that, again, playing in Maui and playing against some of these teams and having some success and having some struggles will keep moving in the right direction. But it's an opportunity that not a lot of young players would get, but just the way our roster is with some of those injuries and just being in my second year and with some of the defections from our program, those opportunities exist. And whether they're ready or not, they're going to get those opportunities.

Q. What are the things that you've seen from the freshmen that you've liked so far?
TONY BENNETT: At times I've seen some composure and poise and step-up in situations that require that. I love their attitude and their unselfishness and kind of the character and the heart that they're possessing, you know, and they're willing to learn -- they're humble guys. They're willing to learn. They know they've got a ways to go, and I like that about our whole team. But they have an eagerness and a willingness to try to do what's right, and at times they've shown some poise and I guess some things beyond their years.

Q. We did not ask you last night about Howard. What are the biggest challenges turning it around in 48 hours against a team that you don't see often so you're not as familiar with as maybe an ACC school?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, sure, that provides a challenge. This is our third game in a short amount of time, and just if you have one day to prepare, it reminds me certainly of -- well, you know, in the Maui Invitational we played back to back, and having coached in the PAC-10 it was almost always Thursday-Saturday. You've got to be sharp today. You've got to figure out how intense you go, what you do, and prepare for a team that plays predominantly all zone from what we've seen on the tape.
We're a team that has to really be ready, no matter who we're playing. We've struggled as of late, whether it's a power conference or not a power conference. Teams can compete with us if we're not locked in, and certainly being a quick turnaround, we'll have to handle some different things.
What I've seen on them and what I continue to see with just some zone, they'll be fired up to come into here, and we'll have to meet that and see if we can put another solid performance together as we did last night.

Q. For those of us that aren't local, can you fill us in on Mike Scott's situation? He did come back for one game and then was out again?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, Mike had surgery on his -- I won't go through the whole thing, but just basically had some trouble with his ankle, couldn't go, got an MRI. There was a loose body or two in there. Went in there, had surgery, it was cleaned out and really thoroughly looked at, and he recovered very fast and then played a game. Actually it was pretty good; it was six days, I think, after his surgery, and responded well after the game.
And we had a couple days, three days off, four days off for Christmas, whatever our break was, and was back and practiced, felt good, no swelling, and then into that practice back his ankle locked up again and there was some issues there. And the latest prognosis we went and got him another -- he went and got another MRI, and he had a setback, and there's some things in there that might require another procedure. We're really trying to gather the information and do the best things to get him as healthy as possible and give him the best chance. But I know it's very frustrating for Mike, especially after having a surgery and it looked good, and then now seeing that.
So we're in a little bit of a holding pattern until we see how things respond, but we're doing everything we can to get him to where he can perform at a high level.

Q. Regarding Mike, is it correct that if he did not play again, he would qualify for hardship appeal?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, if he can't -- if there's a surgery, he can't get back to where he can play and all that, he is -- that is something under the percentage of games and all that, he would still qualify for that. But that has to be granted at the end of the year, and that has to be waivered. But he hasn't passed the allotment of games and percentages that is -- I don't even know the percent.

Q. Have you seen discussed it with him?
TONY BENNETT: You know, it's something that if -- we're at such a delicate spot right now with where he's at, depending on what has to take place next with his ankle and where we're at and how long things could be and if he can get back -- we're trying to get him back to full strength, but it has been talked about briefly, but certainly that's not -- you can't -- that's only if he can't get back to playing. That's the only way that can happen, at a high level or full 100 percent.

Q. Just on the flipside of that, I guess, I know you're probably getting sick of me asking this question, but James Johnson, is there any chance that that red-shirt tag gets removed given your injuries, or is that set in stone now?
TONY BENNETT: I mean, right now that's pretty set in stone. I would say nothing is out of the realm. I think I told you that before. But I think that's a course of -- or a direction we've decided to take with James just as far as development and things like that. And now being how many games in, 13 games, I think, or whatever it is, we're in a pretty good chunk.
So much depends -- obviously the Mike issue is one, but we're down the road. So I would tend to say that's probably not an option. Hopefully we'll just do what we can for the best for Mike's future and give him a chance to get healthy. But regardless of that, talking about James, more definitely unlikely than likely.

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