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January 17, 2011

Tony Bennett

THE MODERATOR: Coach, a few comments about your team and then we'll open it up to questions.
COACH BENNETT: Just trying to improve, learning from our last game in Cameron. Played some good basketball for a good chunk of the game and didn't finish well. It's certainly a credit to Duke.
Just certainly getting ready for a good Boston College team that has experience and try to find a way to play a complete game.

Q. Going forward, what kind of options do you have to improve your rebounding?
COACH BENNETT: Yeah, at times when we've played four guards, we talk a lot about the ability of, we call it, gang rebounding or guards coming in and trying to rebound. Because a lot of times if we're playing smaller or even if we have our traditional four or five lineup in, we're not a dominant rebounding team, so positioning is everything.
Our fours and fives have to really block out their guys, and our guards certainly have to check off, but they've got to come back and rebound. So we need our guards to have real solid four or five rebounding games where they can, we say, come back and spear rebounds.
We got in foul trouble with Assane, and that hurt us. Akil Mitchell is fairly athletic, so he can help us. And the other guys are more positioning rebounds. And the importance of the guards is vital for us to try to hold our own on the glass.
On the defensive glass, you know, and offensively that is a biff story. But defensively it's got to be a team effort more than most teams.

Q. Sammy Zeglinski's been back for a little bit now after missing the first on eight or nine games. How is he coming along and have you seen him being able to work back to being the player that he can be?
COACH BENNETT: Yeah, I thought against Duke he moved better than he probably had in any of the other games. That was up to this point, the best I've seen him move. And he's, again, I hope -- you know, you can't rush things, but I hope as he gets more of his legs, his timing, and everything starts improving, obviously with the caveat that he's staying healthy, and that is the whole thing. How is his knee responding from the surgery?
Obviously, I haven't asked him about his hip. He had hip surgery in the summer, and the knee one was the one that happened in the fall. Hopefully that keeps getting stronger, and as he's working on it, he's not having any setbacks.
I think the longer he's playing and the more timing he gets, the closer he'll get to that, because he's been a quarter of a step slow and a little sluggish. But I thought against Duke he's been moving at a better clip up to this point.

Q. Were those injuries on the same side of his body?
COACH BENNETT: You know what, I don't know. I'm trying to think. I know the hip and the knee, and I'm not sure. That's a fair question. I will find that out. All I know is he's 20 years old, he shouldn't be having hip and knee surgery. I hope it gets better. But for some reason, I don't think it is, but I'll check.

Q. My question is about Billy Baron. He started the season looking like the next freshman phenom. But since then he's done a little up to nothing here. Can you give us an update on his development and your thoughts on him?
COACH BENNETT: Sure, he started the season well. Part of that as Sammy has come back with his experience he's got more. It's hard to play six guards. We were kind of in a five-guard rotation, and Billy had certainly some good stretches early.
And he's had some good opportunities in the first number of games he had some opportunities and was a little inconsistent. Even, I don't know if it was the Iowa State game where he got some time, but he's a freshman -- for a freshman, there is no choice. They have to play just by sheer numbers. We're a little heavier in the guards.
With Billy, I told him he's just got to keep improving and staying patient, then when his opportunity comes, try to make the most of it. But he did give us a nice lift to start, and right now he's in that rotation. He's probably the odd man out with a five-guard rotation.
But that doesn't mean he won't get his opportunity this year, and I'll watch him closely in practice. He works harder than anybody I've seen as far as putting the time in and really does in getting extra reps. I think he's got to stay as patient as he can and be ready when his time comes.

Q. I wondered what your general thoughts are on facing Boston College, and what kind of match-up they are to you guys?
COACH BENNETT: They're playing great basketball. Coach has done a great job with them. They have some pretty good experience back. It's a veteran team. I know that they're obviously having some success early on, and they'll challenge you.
You better guard them, because they can certainly score some points. At times they've mixed their defenses. So any time, again, road game in the ACC, we'll have to be ready. Hopefully we'll just keep building on our, I guess, good things we've done, try to extend them, play better basketball longer, but knowing that we're playing an experienced team that will be well-coached.
We'll have a couple of days here to prepare and see where we're at. I think their experience factor is very important for then.

Q. After talking to you and the players after the game Saturday, several of them said it was a defensive mindset that needs to improve in terms of playing with the necessary focus for the full 40 minutes. I was just curious with the young team that's you've had in the past with Washington State or even before that, teams with big freshmen classes and what not, how long did it take them to develop that full appreciation and need to have that to even focus for the full 40 minutes? And is there anything you can do other than to point to games like Saturday to drive that point home?
COACH BENNETT: Yeah, I think some of it has to do with the opponent you're playing and their ability when they step up and make those plays. But we always talk about trying to control what we can control. When we have breakdowns that are something we really work on and aren't under control, that's when it gets frustrating.
Certainly you can point to a lot of things, inexperience, fatigue, the quality of the other opponent. But that role that you're referring to or imposing your will and being able to really in our defensive system trying to outlast your opponent whether you're at home or on the road, yeah, that takes time and sometimes you grasp it. But the second you think you arrived, that's when you haven't.
I always tell them, you're never that far away from playing a really good game on both ends of the floor and being a good team. Nor are you that far away from being not so good when you let little things slide.
So it's time to have that iron will on both ends. Just soundness and toughness, but regarding your question defensively, maturity does help with that. Just the constant repetition, and the experiences that you're in. Usually it's good with upperclassmen is I guess what I've seen, but it doesn't mean you can't grasp it and capture it before that and that's what they're trying again.
They're having stretches of success where they're holding people down and bothering people with their defense. But to do it for 40 minutes takes a special effort or the majority of the game.

End of FastScripts

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