CHAPEL HILL, NC — North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis Met with reporters on Friday afternoon at the Smith Center before the team left for Louisville. The Tar Heels will take on the Cardinals on Saturday at 2 pm in the KFC Yum! Center. UNC is coming off a 65-58 loss at Virginia on Tuesday while Louisville fell to Clemson 83-70 on Wednesday. The Cardinals have lost their last six games and are 2-15 this season.
Below are news and notes from Davis’ time with the media on Friday:
– UNC senior big man Armando Bacot is “questionable at best” to play Saturday at Louisville. “He is doing really well. I was surprised by the way he was moving yesterday. He is improving a lot. I don’t know if he’ll play tomorrow. But I was encouraged by the way he moved yesterday.”
– Bacot did not practice on Thursday. UNC will practice on Friday at 3 pm and Davis will speak with Bacot then.
– Big man Pete Nance (lower back tightness) continues to get better, but Davis said that Bacot is “closer to possibly playing tomorrow than Pete.”
– Davis said there is no timetable for Nance’s return.
– Davis said that Jalen Washington feels great and had a really good day at practice on Thursday. Washington played 27 minutes and scored 13 points at Virginia, both season highs. “I was just really proud of him.”
– Davis said that Washington’s play at Virginia was a great example of always being ready. “He played extremely well. I was happy that people could see how talented he is and the potential that he has because we get to see it every day at practice.”
– Davis said that Washington’s conditioning level is a 10 out of 10, but that basketball game shape out on the floor is different. “I was encouraged with how many minutes he played at Virginia,” Davis said.
– Davis said that he made a point not to rush Washington back after the freshman was out of basketball for as long as he was. “I wanted to make sure that he was in shape and I wanted to make sure from a strength standpoint that he was able to get extended minutes… I didn’t want him to go from zero to 100. I wanted it to be a gradual increase in terms of his workload.”
– Davis said there will be some “unconventional lineups” at Louisville if Bacot and Nance are not able to go. “Anybody that is healthy and has a uniform on, they will be ready to play,” Davis said. “It is what it is and we’ll be ready.”
– Davis said that you can’t just replace Bacot. “Armando is just an elite, special player. His ability to score consistently down low in the paint, the only person who can do that is Armando. He is an elite rebounder, the only person who can do that is Armando… He does a great job drawing fouls and helping us get to the penalty so we can get to the free-throw line. We have to find other ways from other people to attack the basket through post or penetration to score around the basket and get to the free-throw line. We don’t have that guy who can block or alter shots around the basket.”
– Davis said other players have to “step up and do what they can do out there on the floor.”
– “The guys that played at Virginia after Armando got hurt are good enough to win games. Plain and simple. Period. The end.”
– On UNC freshman Seth Trimble getting extended minutes in a three-guard lineup: “I love multiple ballhandlers out there on the floor… I love having multiple guys out there who can make plays. I think it helps us from an offensive standpoint. I think it helps us in terms of taking care of the basketball and being able to handle pressure… so having Seth out there alongside Caleb (Love) and RJ (Davis), it helps our team have another player who can help create shots not just for himself but for his teammates.”
– Davis said Louisville is “extremely talented. They have tremendous size. They can rebound the basketball and they can get after it on the defensive end. They are very athletic. On the offensive end, (El) Ellis can score and distribute, he is extremely quick, and he has had some good games against us. They can score consistently down low in the paint and they have some guys who are feeling confident in terms of shooting.”
– “I told the team that you should never just look at the record. This is a very good basketball team that is improving and getting better and they will be ready to go,” Davis said.
– Davis was asked about Caleb Love‘s inconsistent shooting. Davis said that he talks to Love about being a basketball player, not just a shooter or a scorer, and that they are so many things he can bring to the table. “Caleb can be an unbelievable defensive player… I think he has a gift of being about to create and distribute the ball. He led the team in assists (at Virginia).”
– Davis said there is nothing wrong with Love’s form. They look at shot selection and also the ability to do other things to take your mind off the shot. “Continue to shoot good shots. Continue to attack the basket. Continue to get to the free-throw line. Those things will help when your percentages are struggling a little bit,” Davis said.
– “It doesn’t bother me at all. Caleb is a great basketball player. He is a guy who has no fear and at any time he is a guy who can hit, take, and make a big shot and I love having him out there on the floor and I love coaching him.”