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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE OPERATION BASKETBALL


October 8, 2019


Jim Larranaga

DJ Vasiljevic

Chris Lykes


Charlotte, North Carolina

Q. Coach, this is for you. Just what you can say about how Chris and DJ kind of represent what you are at Miami and just what you can say about having the team on their shoulders as you step forward into the season?
JIM LARRAÑAGA: Well, I love these guys. They've been great. Chris is now a junior. It's hard to believe so much time has gone by so quickly. But he's been tremendous in his first two years. We expect him to be a very, very important leader for us, along with DJ Vasiljevic. DJ is shooting to become the leading three-point shooter in school history this year, and we hope he achieves that goal because that means he's making a lot of threes.

Between Chris and DJ, they're both closing in on 1,000 points in their career, and they've done a great job so far with a group of young guys that they compete against every day in practice.

Q. Chris, you seem to play with no fear. DJ, you seem to play with a laser focus. Where does that personality come from?
CHRIS LYKES: My nickname when I was younger my mom gave me was "No Fear." I just used to do things without necessarily thinking, and the consequences sometimes were a little bad. I think that's just how I play basketball because I feel like in basketball you can make up for plays. There's a lot of possessions in a game. So you've got to play with no fear.

DEJAN VASILIEVIC: Growing up, I think I just had a concentration of just wanting to win and do whatever I have to do to get that win. That's why I'm so laser focused in the game. I also have a little bit of pitbull in me because I want to compete and win.

Q. Chris and DJ, this is for both of you. Just what you can say about playing off of each other, how you make each other better on and off the court as people, and then obviously as teammates in the backcourt?
CHRIS LYKES: This is my third year with DJ, and I'm starting to kind of feel for where he likes to get his shots, which really is anywhere, especially from three, but playing well off each other. If DJ doesn't have it, he's making a quick move and he has easy layups, but if he doesn't have it, he's kicking out. That's what we've been working on in practice is getting in the paint and kicking out for catch and shoot threes, which has been a real emphasis for us this year. But DJ is probably one of the best shooters I've ever seen.

DEJAN VASILIEVIC: Just to bounce back off Chris, I think we're playing really well together in practice and reading one another really well. I'm creating space on the floor for him really well. By me spacing the floor, it gives him an opportunity to go one-on-one. When my man does help, he does find me for the open shots. I think we're really connecting that way.

Q. You have two transfers coming into the system this year. What have you learned in your time about meshing a transfer personality into a group of kids that you've had with you for two or three years?
JIM LARRAÑAGA: Well, I think team is all about teamwork, and working together is the whole key, and guys knowing what they need to do, what their job is, identify their role so they can make a great contribution. Whether you are a veteran player like DJ and Chris, who really know their role because they've been doing it for a long time, or a freshman who comes in and has to learn what his role is going to be. It's all about teamwork. It's all about guys working together, identifying your role, and making a great contribution to the team effort.

Q. DJ and Chris, last year the team shot 33 percent from beyond the arc. That was sixth in the league. The arc has been moved back a little bit. What is it that you guys are working on? How is it that you're communicating about the next open man, a better percentage shot, and making sure that you guys jostle that number up a little bit?
DEJAN VASILIEVIC: I think we're emphasizing in practice to catch and shoot a lot because -- the analytics coach talks about it a lot. The catch and shoot is the best three-point shot there is. So emphasizing that a lot in practice. And I think the guys are putting in work before and after practice of adjusting to the line.

Obviously, me being from a foreign country, being able to play at that three-point line before, so it doesn't really make a difference for me. I think the team's doing really well to adjust.

CHRIS LYKES: Basically, what DJ is saying. We've got guys that can really shoot the ball. So I don't think the line is affecting guys too much. Like DJ was saying, Coach L has been preaching to us about catch and shoot, and that's kind of the way basketball is translating to right now. Getting in the paint and kicking it out for threes has been the highest percentage, and it's also you get the most points per possession.

So just working on that, and if we can get good at that, I feel like we've got guys who can break down their man and be able to do that with ease.

Q. Coach, I understand that during practice you've got a new three-point practice drill. They're color coded as well, under 40 red, over 50 yellow. Can you explain that a bit?
JIM LARRAÑAGA: We believe the best way to evaluate a player is to make sure he's proficient at any level. We have a very specific level. It's called five minutes of threes. If a player can average making 50 or more in five minutes, he gets the green light, meaning that that's a great shot for him and he should shoot it.

If he is open, he should not hesitate. If he can average between 40 and 50, that's the yellow light. You need to shoot it with a little bit more caution. It may not be your best shot, but it's still something you can make. If you're under 40, it's not a good shot for you or our team, and that means you shouldn't shoot it. That's the red light. Under 40 on the average is a red light, not a good shot for you.

Q. Coach, we always seem to end our Miami session with you with a little bit of wisdom, little bit of thought. You're entering your 36th season as a head coach. What have you learned that has really stuck with you in all this time?
JIM LARRAÑAGA: Honestly, you learn an awful lot throughout your life, whether you're a basketball coach or in any walk of life. What I've learned is every job, whether it's as a coach, a player, a sports writer, a TV personality, what have you, that every job is challenging and that life is about handling those challenges, overcoming adversity, and working together with others to achieve goals.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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