Of course, Carroll has never chosen to disclose much about his life in the spotlight, either. He has even avoided post-game interviews because, he reasons, "What's there to discuss? Your performance speaks for itself. There's nothing to it but to do it. If you excel, then that's it. If you bomb out, well that's the other side of the coin."
Carroll's reticence is not reserved for the press alone. "He's a quiet leader," says Guard Brian Walker, "but when he does say a few words we listen." One such occasion came earlier this season when Rose had to miss practice. Carroll called the team together and reminded everyone that even with the coach absent there should be no fooling around.
Carroll doesn't need such admonitions. "If we see him smile on the court we point it out to him because it's so unusual," says Walker. In fact, a smile is about as likely to appear on Carroll's face as a frown. On the court he follows Rose's philosophy of "reason over emotion" so thoroughly that many observers have wondered if he has any emotion at all.
"I'm not a rah-rah, fist-up-in-the-air guy," Carroll says, "but I enjoy the game. Only, when I'm out there, I tend to keep things inside me. I think a lot, and that may be why some individuals perceive me to be timid."
Opponents and teammates agree that Carroll is much more physical than he appears to be. Ohio State Center Herb Williams considers Carroll "by far the best big man I've played against" and cautions. "Maybe you don't realize he's pushing, but I do. He's so strong he doesn't have to push that much." In practice, at which Carroll doesn't have to worry about the referee's whistle, he can be positively destructive. "People say he ain't aggressive because he ain't growling and snarling," says Forward Arnette Hallman. "But in practice he's been known to knock a few people down and not look back."
During games Carroll cannot afford to be too aggressive. "We're not a greatly talented team," says Rose. "We need him in the game, and if he gets two fouls in the first half he's coming out."
At his best, Carroll can be devastating. His assortment of hooks, dunks and fall-away jumpers has put him in double figures in 54 consecutive games, with a career high of 42 points in last year's NIT semifinal against Newton's Alabama team. But no matter how well he plays, Carroll says, "I don't pat myself on the back as much as I look at the errors. I strive for excellence. The expectations I have for myself usually exceed those that others might have for me."
This desire for excellence is as far as Carroll will go in describing his goals. "My desires are private," he says. "If you verbalize what you desire, or what you're going to do, and then fall short of those goals, you have to contend with outsiders, and it creates conflict."
Carroll finds enough conflicts in the combat zone beneath the basket. He is winning that war and, for now at least, it's the only one he cares to fight.