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October 29, 2014

Pat Connaughton

Jerian Grant


Q.  You had some players that were ineligible and now they're back.  How is it having those guys back?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  It's very important to our team.  I think it's going to be something that really helps our team and is going to be something that we need for the season and that is going to help this season be much better than last.

Q.  Before the season gets started there are obviously things every year that each program needs to work on.  What is it right now that seems to be the focus of concentration?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:¬† I think the focus for our team is defense.¬† I think if you look at the box scores from last year and just the games in general from last year, there are only a few times where we really weren't in games and there were a lot of games that came down to the last few minutes, last few possessions, and we couldn't seem to get that one stop that we needed.¬† We've been working on it all off‑season, we worked on it in our foreign tour in Italy, and it's the thing that we're priding our team on throughout the year.

Q.  You led the team in rebounding last year.  In fact, you're the ACC's leading returning career rebounder.  At 6'5", how do you do that?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:¬† It's just having a nose for the ball.¬† I think rebounding has been something I've always kind of prided myself on because it's something that arguably you can control.¬† It's something that you can‑‑ it's an effort thing.¬† It's something that on the defensive end you can box out your man and you can just attack the ball.¬† It's something that I look to improve on this year and have better numbers at this year.

Q.  How does your baseball help your basketball and your basketball help your baseball?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  So my baseball definitely helps my basketball just because when you're on the mound pitching, you're really the only one out there, so no matter how you perform, you have to learn how to pick yourself up and learn how to calm yourself down in important spots and really focus on how you're going to proceed and succeed, even when you're not having the best of success.
And then vice versa, you just don't see as many athletic pitchers, and I think basketball has really helped me with that, just to show my athleticism, gain my athleticism, and incorporate it on the mound.

Q.  Your decision to come back and play basketball knowing that you have interest on the baseball side, what made you want to be where you are right now?  And how do you feel about your decision in hindsight?
PAT CONNAUGHTON:  Well, I think what made we want to be where I am right now is just the fact that I love both sports.  I love playing both sports.  It's something that I've done for my entire life, so it's something that I've kind of always wanted to do.
And then my decision to come back was more or less just because I want to see what I can do with basketball.  I know there's baseball interest and that's not something I take for granted by any means, but at the same time I've been playing both sports my whole life, and I mean, I'm here on a basketball scholarship, so I wasn't ready to put down the basketball and to end my basketball career.  I want to see where that takes me, as well.

Q.  What are your thoughts about practice so far, your game speed?  How is everything shaping up for you?
JERIAN GRANT:  It's going pretty well.  Italy definitely helped.  We had a foreign tour this summer, got to play four games.  So going out there and being able to get back on the floor with the guys definitely helped me out to be able to start the season quick.

Q.  Having the game taken away from you, what did that teach you and what do you bring into this season knowing that it was away from you for a little bit?
JERIAN GRANT:  It was definitely.  You definitely learn not to take the game for granted.  I had to play every game like it was my last, and I played pretty well, and it was tough to leave the team and see them struggle like that.  Just being able to bring it every day in practice and every day in the game and help to lead the team.

Q.  What do you really like about this team right now?
JERIAN GRANT:  Defensively I think last year that was our main offensive struggle before and after I left, so just focusing on defense this year; everybody has gotten better at it.  So I think that's where we'll be able to improve.

Q.  Jerian, did you learn anything by forced into being an observer last year, the things that you watched in practice and in games?  Did you pick up on some things that maybe you wouldn't otherwise have?
JERIAN GRANT:  Yeah, I think I got to know a lot of my teammates' tendencies a lot better.  Being on the court you kind of want to learn on the fly, but being able to watch them you figure out how you can help them and things they need to work on and things that they're good at.  Those are things you can help with on the court with their strengths and weaknesses.

Q.  As far as obviously basketball being in your family, what did your brother Jerami teach you and how has he helped you through this, knowing that he was here last year and now has gone ahead to the NBA?
JERIAN GRANT:  You know, he just lets me know that my time is coming.  He's at a place where he wants to be in the NBA and he's excited for it.  He's excited for me to have an opportunity to get there, too.

Q.  You averaged 19 points a game before the season sort of ended for you last year.  Do you feel like you can reach 19 a game again this year, or do you feel like you even have to, given the talent on this team?
JERIAN GRANT:  I don't think it's something I have to do, but it's definitely something that I think I can do, and just we have a lot of talent on our team that people don't know about.  A lot of people didn't get to see a lot of faces that are out here or they got `to see a lot of young guys that have really matured after all last season and the foreign trip.
You know, we definitely have a lot of talent on the team, but at the same time I definitely expect myself to be even at a higher level than I was last year.

Q.  Call out one or two of your teammates.  Who will shine by the time we get to January, let's say?
JERIAN GRANT:  Well, definitely our starting point guard Demetrius Jackson, and then the big guy Zach Auguste, those two have come a long way from the mental lapses and the struggles they had last year to be two guys that defenses are definitely going to have to look at throughout the season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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