Jon Teitel's "Big Dance" Interviews: UNC Asheville's Eddie Biedenbach

    
March 8th, 2011
In the latest interview in his new "Big Dance" series, CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with UNC Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenbach. Coach Biedenbach's Bulldogs won the Big South Tournament last week, winning all three games by double-digit margins including the final at regular season champion Coastal Carolina. Coach Biedenbach has plenty of experience coaching in the NCAA Tournament as both an assistant and a head coach, and in 2003 his Bulldogs made their most recent appearance in the tournament.

Jon Teitel: You played a very difficult non-conference road schedule (North Carolina, Georgetown and Ohio State). What did your team learn from those losses that you think will help you in the NCAA Tournament?

Eddie Biedenbach: It helped us realize that we can play with anybody but we have to play harder and play together. We gained a lot of confidence in the first two games, but we let the Ohio State game get away from us which was mostly due to me. I put in a couple of gimmick defenses, and David Lighty killed us (23 points by halftime).

JT: J.P. Primm scored 15 or more points in each of these three games. How was he able to play his best against your hardest opponents?

EB: He is a very competitive kid. If teams do not concentrate on him then he will have a good game.

JT: Your team's most famous play of the season occurred in February when Matt Dickey stole the ball and made a three-point shot at the buzzer to beat Coastal Carolina. Did you think the shot was going in, and what impact did that win have on your team's confidence in the revenge game in the conference tournament final?

EB: I do not really think about our shots when they go up. I mainly focus on whether we are ready to rebound. I noticed that Matt re-set after he jumped. He did not just fling the ball at the hoop. Seeing the play on TV on the bus ride back was great. We were practicing 1 week later and he tried to make it again. When he did, he just laughed and the team went nuts!

JT: You won all three of your conference tourney games by double-digit margins. Do you feel like your team is playing its best basketball of the season right now?

EB: I do believe we are playing our best now, especially due to our effort on defense in both man and zone. The reward for that will come years down the road. Whether the players go into coaching, business or other, they will have learned a lot about effort and attitude.

JT: Center DJ Cunningham's status for the NCAA Tournament is uncertain after he re-injured his left knee during the quarterfinal win over Charleston Southern: can you give any update on his status?

EB: I worked out with him yesterday and he is still hurting, but I think he will be fine by next week.

JT: Four of your top five scorers are guards. Do you think you can upset a team that has a big presence down in the post?

EB: We beat several teams this year that have good big men, so I know we have to go inside with the ball. We learned a lot about that when other teams played a zone defense against us this season.

JT: None of your top five scorers are seniors. Do you feel like your team is built to win right now, or do you think they need one more year together before they can finally win a game in the NCAA Tournament?

EB: I think we are good right now, so I am just worried about the next game. John Williams is a senior and is an integral part of our inside game.

JT: You beat Texas Souther in overtime in the 2003 tournament before losing to #1-seed Texas (whose coach Rick Barnes was your former assistant at Davidson). How will your prior tournament experience prepare you for this year's tournament, and what kind of emotions are you going to feel on Sunday if they announce that you will be facing the Longhorns next week?

EB: I do not categorize 2003 as my only tournament experience. I worked under Hugh Durham in 1983 when Georgia made the Final Four and under Norm Sloan when we won the title with NC State in 1974, so I am comfortable in that environment. I think the play-in game is great. Even though a lot of people shy away from it, I like it because it gives you a chance to play against a team of your own caliber.

JT: You are the all-time winningest coach in Big South history. What makes you such a good coach?

EB: I am old, so I might be the all-time losingest coach as well! There are only two other teams in the Big South with winning conference records (Wintrhop and Radford), so I am proud of that part of the record. There are not many teams that consistently win in their respective leagues (Duke, Kentucky, Gonzaga, etc.), and those that do are very hard for non-conference teams to beat.

JT: You were an assistant coach for NC State during its magical run to the 1974 NCAA title. What are the most important factors for a team that wants to win it all?

EB: You have to concern yourself more with how you are playing, rather than trying to do a lot of abnormal stuff to try and stop your opponent. You have to play naturally and use your talents on both offense and defense. Norm was a great coach, and even though I scouted UCLA, we just prepared ourselves to do what we do best.