Here's Olivier Hanlan and Dennis Clifford talking about the excitement surrounding the beginning of the Jim Christian era and expectations for the season ...
Here's both players complete interviews:
Q. Olivier, how would you describe your new coach Jim Christian, and how would you define him right now?
OLIVIER HANLAN: He has a lot of energy. He loves what he does, and he's been doing a good job with every single player on the team. He relates to the players well, and he just finds a way to get the most out of each player in terms of it could be a big man or a shooting guard or a guard. I just feel like he makes everybody play 100 percent.
Q. Is that to say that everybody has adjusted their personalities, everybody has figured each other out?
OLIVIER HANLAN: I like to think so. I just feel like, like I said earlier, he just does a good job in terms of relating to each player and each different character player. He's been doing a good job in terms of just getting everybody used to his style of play and just making everybody get used to him.
Q. Olivier, looking at the fact that you were the go‑to guy last year, who do you feel has really stepped up in practice in the off‑season, working out together with you? Who do you feel can get the job done this year and take some pressure off of you?
OLIVIER HANLAN: We have two fifth‑year guys in Dimitri and Aaron. Aaron came from Southern Miss, and he does a pretty good job on offense. He just knows how to play the game in terms of defensively and offensively and just getting me easier looks, and he's definitely a pretty good shooter.
And Dimitri is just an athletic wing guard that can go up and down and get scores. Obviously having Dennis Clifford back this year makes it easier on me in terms of the pick‑and‑roll offense and just knowing that I have a true 5 that's playing down low with me.
Q. You averaged 18.5 last year. Do you feel like you need to average that again this year?
OLIVIER HANLAN: I'll definitely have to score a lot of points this year, but I just feel like these last few weeks, just having a guy like Dennis back and the few fifth‑year guys and just everybody kind of stepping it up this year will make it a lot easier on me in terms of scoring‑wise and obviously defensively everybody is on the same page when it comes to getting stops this year.
We focus on a lot more defense this year than last year, so we kind of make it one of our main focuses.
Q. Do you feel like you've kind of flown under the radar up to this point in your career, and how has that affected the way that you play the game?
OLIVIER HANLAN: It doesn't really change much for me. I've been used to it since my early days when I was in Canada, and after that I went to prep school, and after that I got a few scholarships and went to BC. So I'm kind of used to having that‑‑ not necessarily that title, but people underrating me or not looking at me as much as at other players. I kind of use it as motivation and it's kind of a chip on my shoulder, to be honest.
Q. What makes this season successful for you guys this year amidst the change and the different personnel?
OLIVIER HANLAN: I just feel like we have an old group of guys. We have a lot of seniors, we have two fifth‑year guys, so we're a pretty veteran team when it comes to just the ACC itself. I just feel like if we just put everything together and we kind of gel at the right moment this year, we can do some good things.
Q. Talk about Dennis Clifford.
OLIVIER HANLAN: He had a bumpy year last year but had one of the best summers in terms of team‑wise ‑‑ in terms of him getting better, him getting back on the court. He's been playing pain‑free and he's been having a good time with it, so I'm happy to see him out there.
And it just makes it so much easier on everybody when you have a seven‑footer in the key.
Q. Dennis, what do you think about your teammate Olivier?
DENNIS CLIFFORD: Obviously he's one of the more polished scorers in our league. It's just been a joy practicing with him, working with him, seeing how confident he approaches the game. I think that really helps the rest of the team.
Q. Dennis, how frustrating was it for you last year, just not to be‑‑ you had a great preseason, and that trip that you guys took, I think it was to Greece last year?
DENNIS CLIFFORD: We went to Spain sophomore year. That was two years ago.
Q. And then you got hurt. Just not being able to get on the court, what was that like, and how do you feel now?
DENNIS CLIFFORD: Well, I'll start with sophomore year because that's when we went to Spain, and after Spain, I was real successful overseas, just like gelling with the new teammates. That was when O was a freshman, and I think we were starting to establish something really positive, and then that's when I got hurt in the preseason, and I ended up playing my whole sophomore year hurt.
So I think that was the most frustrating part of my career so far.
And then last year was also very hard to kind of sit out and just ride the sidelines while I was red‑shirting, just watching people go through like a different struggle than me as a team collectively. So I think that was very hard.
I'm feeling 100 percent now, and I'm just really thankful that I get to play the game again the way I want to, kind of move around the way I want to, and I think I'm really looking forward to competing now.
Q. You kind of talked about it a little bit with your injury. How do you feel you've responded to the adversity, and what has it taught you to have to watch as opposed to playing the game you love?
DENNIS CLIFFORD: I think I've learned a great deal. When you have to sit out and watch the game, it kind of teaches you a lot of lessons, just like seeing what was going on with our team and stuff like that. I kind of learned how to slow myself down when I'm on the court personally. I think that was very important for me to learn, and that was definitely the first, like, major part of adversity that I've ever faced on the basketball court. I've always been pretty successful in my individual play and my team.
I think it taught me to be grateful, definitely, every second that I'm on the court. So I think that's definitely pushed me harder in the last few months that I've been healthy.
Q. And then as far as your new head coach, what can you say about Jim Christian so far and how you've taken his personality?
DENNIS CLIFFORD: He's definitely been great so far, just like O said, adapting to all the players, and not only adapting to their personalities but he sets a standard off the court. And he tells us repeatedly, "If you don't meet this standard, you're not going to play."
Sometimes being the new coach, we've been there more than he has, but we've definitely had some repeated mistakes that we need to fix. There's only one of him, but there's like 16 of us, but he definitely stresses holding us to that higher standard. It kind of pushes us to the next level.
Q. Assistant coaches never seem to get any love. Tell us about the assistants that are in place now, and how are those personalities working.
DENNIS CLIFFORD: I love all of our assistants. They definitely fall under the category of energy that Coach Christian brings to practice. They basically come running into the gym yelling and screaming every single day for practice, and I think that's very important for the players to see. Some days you go into practice, maybe you're sore, you're hurting, but when you see a bunch of old guys running to the gym yelling and screaming, getting excited for practice, it makes you want to practice even harder.
Q. Dennis, what makes this a successful season?
DENNIS CLIFFORD: I think a few people have mentioned that we lost nine games last year by under four points. I think this season it was very important for us to get some extra stops on defense, and that's definitely what we've been working on so far. If we're very competitive on the defensive end, I think the offense will come with us, especially with having Olivier. I think we should be all set.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports