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February 25, 2013

Tony Bennett

COACH BENNETT:  Obviously, getting ready to play against Duke, and I think now is the time of year where you're just trying to find ways to make little improvements and make your team as sound as possible we keep seeing little things we're trying to improve on and get better.
Yesterday we played a stretch of solid basketball.  But know that every game out, you've got to be ready, and hopefully we'll are some good preparation for preparing for Duke.

Q.  As if there weren't enough problems to worry about with Duke.  A guy that's really come on strong lately is Rasheed Sulaimon.  I wonder what your impressions of him not only offensively, but his overall game?
COACH BENNETT:  I think he's a terrific defender.  His lateral quickness and length.  Coach K's got some of those young guys playing very well.  And that is adding, without Ryan.  I don't know when he's expected back, but they've done a very nice job of getting the young guys experience, and I know those guys are at that point where they've played well.  That's helped us when our young guys have stepped up.
But I was just on the very end of the call and heard James talking about Joe Harris' completeness.  I think Rasheed's very complete.  But defensively, long, quick, shoots the three well and uses a lot of dimensions of his game and seems to play very, very efficient for a freshman.

Q.  Looking back to Carolina, them going kind of four smalls around McAdoo and reinventing themselves that way, what kind of a challenge does that lineup present a team?
COACH BENNETT:  Well, they have great spacing with that.  There's always four, and at times it's almost five out at times, because McAdoo, not that he'll shoot threes, but he gets out on the floor, and he'll quick ball screen, set some screens, step, hit it, and drive it real quick.  Then they have the other guys with good spacing.
Again, there are usually four threats out there from three, and most of them can drive it hard and that creates long rebounds as well.  They seem to have an extra ball handler out there and another scorer.  It's certainly been productive for them.  You can see that, and they certainly did that to us.  Just a lot of things from the side standpoint because they have pretty rugged forwards or whatever you want to call them, Hairston, they can rebound and are interchangeable.  So that seemed to work out very well for them.  And they've done a good job incorporating it.

Q.  Sort of technically out of position as McAdoo is as a five.  Is there something about what you alluded to where it's not that difficult for him to fit that role given how they're playing?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, it it's funny.  We moved Akil Mitchell to a four, Justin Anderson is guarding the fours.  So we have the four around one.  So there are certainly some mobility and quickness with that, so he's adapted well.  Because he finds ways on the glass, post‑ups, or he'll beat you quick because he has five guarding him, and it just kind of plays into everything with the four wing or perimeters around him.  I think it's almost an advantage in a way.

Q.  I was hoping you could go further back to the Delaware and Old Dominion game.  I know we talk about that a lot.  Did you sense the importance of those games at the time?  Looking back was that almost an entirely different season than the one you have now?
COACH BENNETT:  Every time you play, you try to play as good a basketball game as you can't.  But we wanted to win them all.  The Delaware game would have given us a chance to play at Madison Square Garden, and I guess we would have played Kansas State had we won.
That was a goal of ours as a team to get to Madison Square Garden.  Obviously, more than just get there, but we knew Delaware was good.  We knew they had very good guards, and we didn't have Teven or Jontel in that game.  So we were a different team.  And our young guys didn't have the experience they have now.  So that was a challenge.
Old Dominion played a very good game against us.  We weren't particularly sharp.  That is the fine line we talk about.  And Jontel was not in that game.  Joe had the flu, we weren't at the top of our game, and that's what happens when you're not ready at this level.
You don't sit there and play those games, and say what does this mean long range?  You're just thankful we're playing better basketball now, and trying to stay as healthy as possible?

Q.  How many days did you have Mike Tobey in practice?  What is Darion Atkins status right now?
COACH BENNETT:  Well, I think I said yesterday in the conference, we played Miami on Wednesday.  We were off Wednesday, so Thursday he practiced about, I would a say, a quarter of the practice on Thursday.  Talking about Mike.  He had two practices leading up to this.  There was a quarter of a practice two days before the game, and then he went about half the practice the day before.  You know, he did a little cardio after the first day on the bike.  We had one of those heart rate monitors on him just to see where he was at post, seeing how he feels.  Because you don't want him to relapse.  That is the big thing with mono.  And he responded well.
Haven't talked to him today.  He played 15 minutes.  And he seemed like he got a little better in the second half, obviously, a little rusty still.  But it's just all about monitoring his time and those were about a quarter and a half of a practice leading up to the game on Sunday.

Q.  What about Darion?
COACH BENNETT:  Darion, to me, we're just using it's going to be either Darion or Mike for those minutes.  Just, Darion is willing to give us what he can and when we need it.  And Mike was more of a sickness thing.  It wasn't an injury thing.  And Darion just doesn't have the pop or the push off that leg.
He's moving, and I think he's a little better.  But with Mike coming back, hopefully we can gradually increase the whatever Darion needs so he can push off and all of that and get him to a better spot.  If we can keep resting him but doing gradual rehab on him and maybe get him more confidence in that leg, and if it feels better, we'll go that route.
I think for Darion to play, it's almost not fair to him if he can only play at whatever percentage he is.  60%.  Kind of dragging that leg around, and I think Mike is a little more lively and stronger right now.
But that's not to say Darion can't.  Sorry for the long answer, but we'll gradually progress, and now that we have a body in Tobey, we'll gradually progress Darion without throwing him as much into the live competition if we can avoid that.  Unless there is foul trouble or something.  He's just kind of willing to do whatever and build that thing up so he can go harder.

Q.  I was wondering if you could share a little bit about Joe Harris.  Maybe first kind of make himself valuable for you guys this season?  Everybody kind of talks about it, but I know it's a lot more than that.
COACH BENNETT:  Again, I heard James at the very end.  I just got on to the teleconference, and I thought he gave a very good answer.  He talked about his completeness.  And of course he's a threat when he's moving and shooting the ball and all that.  But he's just, he is, he's rugged.  He's a competitor, and he's willing to do whatever.
If you say, Joe, don't shoot, he'll do whatever.  He just wants to win.  He is a coach's son.  He's really invested in trying to get Virginia basketball to the highest point it can get to and has a southwest mindset.
But has some surprising‑‑ I don't want to say athleticism, but he's really rugged and improved defensively.  Every year he's gotten better.  He's made that big jump from his sophomore to his junior year.
As a mentioned, a couple teleconferences ago, he's a great encourager.  He's not going to say things.  He's not going to grab them by the shirt collar and tell them like some guys lead.  But he's an encourager has a firm hand when he needs to, and I've seen him grow.  And when one of your best players is doing that, it helps the cause.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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