Wake Forest sophomore forward Travis McKie spoke with reporters about last season's struggles, his offseason and the expectations for the Demon Deacons in 2011-12.
I know you've been working yourself toward the three as a player. Have you gotten there yet? Are you a three yet, or a three and a half kind of? "Three and a half. I'm not fully there. I have more work to do on my ball-handling, more consistent shooting, a lot of quickness is the biggest thing though, so I'll just keep working and doing what I need to do."
A lot of that will be on the defensive side to be able to go out and check that 6-3, 6-4 quick guy right? Are you more equipped to do that this year than you were last year? "I'm quicker than I was last year, but I'm not as quick as I need to be. I definitely have a lot more work ahead of me, but I've made progress from last year."
Kind of odd seeing so many new faces at new positions compared to the guys you were playing with last year and all of the turmoil that happened during the offseason has it kind of been an adjustment for you guys? "It's definitely been an adjustment, but we can't worry about the past. We need to worry about the present, and worry about the guys that are here. We have three new freshmen. They're going to contribute each in their own way."
I think a season like that might make a coach, even an established coach like Coach Bzdelik change his style at all. Has he changed at all from the end of last year to the beginning of this year? "No, I think he's got more used to us, and used to our ways, and we got more used to him. We have more chemistry as a team."
Have you seen your leadership role increase from last season to this, especially with these young guys? Yes, I'm more vocal than I was last year. Last year I was just lead by example, and now I have to lead by vocal."
Who are the other leaders on this team, especially the vocal guys? "C.J. Harris, Tony Chennault, Anthony Fields, just everybody that's a point guard. Point guards they have to talk. The main thing in these workouts coach wants everybody to talk at all times, so we definitely want to communicate."
Do you feel a different energy overall from last season to this season, like growing together, you're closer, you're ready to step up? "I definitely think we're a more together team. Everybody is on the same page. Last year we were just trying to figure out where our spots were. We definitely know our roles now. We're just trying to fill them out, and compete as much as we can."
I know you're not going to predict the win total, but is there a goal among the group of guys for where you want to get to? "Just to be competitive, and win as much games as we can. I don't have a high goal set. I don't have a low goal, so I just want to compete, as long as we do that I'll be happy."
What will the fans notice from Travis McKie last year, and Travis McKie this year? "I'm more experienced and controlled. Last year I was a little wild, like a chicken with my head cut off, but now I want to be more controlled, and know the game and know what to expect from me."
Did you feel like you guys competed at all the times last year, or was that just part of growing up? "Just growing up. We competed to a certain extent, but we had second-half lapses in most of our games, which led to our losses."
Your experience this summer with the tryout with the Under 19 [U.S.] National Team tell us about that, and how that kind of propelled you into this season. "That may have hurt me as much as losing 24 games did. I went out there for my summer, and just trained every day, six times a day. To go out there and get cut was definitely disappointing. It just made me even want to work harder. It was definitely a learning year for me altogether last year."
What have you learned from this team so far early on in practice? "Just knowing our strengths and our weaknesses. Last year we were trying to do what we want to do, and play to our strengths, but you have to play to each other's strengths. We're not a big team, but we're a versatile team that can shoot the ball, so we need to play to our strengths."
Who has impressed you so far out of the new guys? "Chase [Fischer] has just shot the ball extremely well. Daniel Green is competitive. He is wiry around the rim, and gets a lot of rebounds. Altogether we're going to be a pretty good team."