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Phil Ford

'We're Getting On The Same Page!'

I was so impressed and inspired by the first half of our game against Maryland. It showed what kind of a team we can be. We finally got Reggie and James Michael on the same page. Imagine what we can do if P.J. and Marcus get on that same page, all at the same time. In the second half you have to give Maryland most of the credit; they’re an ACC team and capable, they just beat N.C. State. The way we took them out of their offense in the first half and the number of balls we deflected shows what we can do on defense. If we keep improving we have a chance. There is no dominant team in the country, like last year with Kentucky. We’re going have to keep riding who’s hot in that game. It was Reggie vs. Maryland, at Florida State it was PJ, the next game it might be James Michael. But if we keep improving, I think our potential is off the charts. You know I watch the point guards very closely, and I really like Marcus (Paige). He’s getting the job done with young players around him. And I’ll say it till the cows come home, he’s a good shooter. I’ve seen him at practice and I watched him before the season. He can shoot. Six assists and no turnovers against...

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Carolina 'Building Confidence'

Vince and the 1997 Tar Heels started 0-3 in the ACC before making the Final Four. No, I wasn’t surprised what happened at Florida State. I’ve played, coached and watched so much Carolina Basketball over the years — I’m never surprised at what the Tar Heels can do.  Now, I knew that would be a tough win down there. That’s a good basketball team, with great guards and good wing players. They’re well-coached, and it’s always fun in Tallahasse. After Thursday night, with a bad finish, to muster up the confidence needed to win on Saturday was impressive. I’m not sure how many more teams are going to win in Tallahassee, so I’m really glad we did. We played with more toughness, and you have to credit the coaching staff after two losses and things not turning out the way we wanted going down the stretch in our first two ACC games. You know, in Coach Smith’s last season, we started off 0-3 in the ACC and might have been 0-4 if we hadn’t rallied from nine points down against N.C. State at home. The team has to believe in your judgment as a coach, and Coach Smith told our guys that year that they weren’t a bad basketball team, that we were better than our record and there was still a lot of basketball left to be played....

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Too Early To Call It

Man, oh, man, let’s not give up on our freshmen and young players. After my first few games at Carolina, some of the newspapers were writing, “Is this Ford an Edsel?” Anytime you lose four players from your team who were drafted in the first round, it’s going to affect the team that is coming back. And that’s not age as much as the contribution they’ve made in the past. We really don’t have anyone back who was counted on to make the big basket, the big assist, or get the key rebound. Transitioning from a role player doesn’t happen overnight, and developing chemistry with a new group takes some time. If Kendall, Harrison or John Henson all came back, the chemistry would have been evident from day one, but starting over from scratch takes time. James Michael is getting a lot more attention than he did when playing with Harrison, Henson or Zeller. We have the talent, and they’re all good kids who want to win. But they were all role players or substitutes in the past. Becoming a leader or go-to guy has to develop over time, especially if you have players were once great scorers in high school who might say, “I’ve done this in the past, so I can do it again.” I do think we have the pieces — people who can defend, rebound...

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