“We feel very fortunate, to say the least. There was a little bit of adversity out there. We’ve got Leslie [McDonald] at home and he’s at least one of our three best shooters. And then P.J. [Hairston] goes down after getting off to such a great start. I didn’t really like the look on our guys’ faces, but they handled the adversity, they handled some tough times. Then you’ve got Reggie [Bullock] in foul trouble and Dexter [Strickland] in foul trouble, but the bottom line is we made some shots we had to have.
“J.P. [Tokoto] made a little jumper for us. Reggie made a big three at the top of the key. James Michael [McAdoo] made a couple of hoops. For us, we feel very fortunate right now. We really do. I think the go 7-for-13 from the 3-point line is good, but P.J. was 4-for-4, so that gives you a good start. I was concerned about our rebounding because the last two games we haven’t rebounded well. We outrebounded them 37-26 and second-chance points was 20-10.”
You challenged P.J. earlier this week by criticizing his hustle. Before he got hurt, was tonight more along the lines of what you’re looking for from him?
“Well, he didn’t have an opportunity to hustle tonight; he had an opportunity to make a bunch of shots. But I tell every kid when I go in their home and I tell them the first day of practice, the second day of practice and 25 times a year that I’ve never seen a player [want to] miss a shot and I’ve never seen a player want to make a turnover.
“The two things that I go wacko about are lack of effort and lack of concentration. I would like to have a sign that I could hold up that says, ‘No. 21 is not hustling,’ or ‘No. 21 is not concentrating.’ So I don’t think I challenged him. That’s just something they hear from me every single day and they know that from Day One. But that one was just out in the middle of the floor and wide open in front of everybody. I also took out Dexter and James Michael at one point in the first half of that game because they didn’t hustle. So I did nothing different to P.J…
“But I tell you what, he looked like he was about as hot as I’ve ever seen him in my life. We would have liked to have had him longer. They feel like he does have a concussion, so who knows what the next step is going to be.
“J.P. was shaky as all get out in the first half and he played seven straight minutes in the second half without any turnovers and without any shakiness and things like that, so I thought that was big for us, too. And Jackson [Simmons] gave us a big lift, too.”
Did you get explanation of what happened when Hairston got hurt?
“I think it was Dexter that actually hit him, according to [UNC SID] Steve [Kirschner] on the replay. I saw the end of it and I didn’t think he hit his head on the floor. But Dexter said that he hit him when I walked out on the court the first time.”
Did you see more of a sense of urgency tonight?
“I think so. They’re a hard team to play. They’re intelligent. Their basketball is a little different style. They slip a bunch of screens. Everybody on their team it seems like can shoot 3-point shots. Ryan [Anderson] hasn’t shot many this year, but his first basket of the game was a 3-pointer for them. So we tried to emphasize guarding the three. They were 7-for-20. We tried to emphasize guarding the ball so you didn’t get sucked in and giving them threes. I’m not so sure we did a great job of it, but I know we did a better job of it than we did in defensive transition, which we emphasized for two days before last Saturday’s game.”
On Boston College’s offensive struggles in the second half:
“We were fortunate they missed some shots that they make a lot of times, too, but I did think we were better defensively in the second half. I think Jackson played the slip screen and helped by sagging off the screener better than anyone else that we had. He didn’t play that many minutes in the first half, but he had 21 total and most of those were in the second half, so I think he was important to us, too.”
You talked about Jackson and J.P. Some other reserves have given you quality minutes lately. Are you starting to see the type of improvement that you had hoped to see earlier in the season with that group?
“They’ve given us some things. Joel did some nice things offensively at North Carolina State, but tonight was not his kind of game. Guarding the 3-point line is not exactly what Joel was made to do, but he understands that. But I tell them all of the time – always be prepared for whenever you’re called on, because I don’t know when I’m going to call on you, so you need to be prepared. I think in each of the last four or five games, we’ve had guys come off the bench to give us some good things.
Have you seen P.J. since the injury?
“Yes, I saw him right before the second half started. He’s in our locker room now. He was in there when we came back. He said he feels a little bit better right now, but doesn’t feel great by any means. He’s pretty groggy still.”