It’s another good basketball game but we end up on the short end, and that’s not any fun.
I liked our team’s effort; I thought our second half was amazing. They played hard, and they played to win. We came up a few plays short.
I thought the difference in the game was the seventeen field goals by their three post guys, between [Isaiah] Hicks, [Kennedy] Meeks and Brice [Johnson]. We need to be much better defensively inside, and it seems like we have been at times, but tonight I thought that was probably the biggest difference.
I was disappointed at halftime; I didn’t think in the first half that we had the movement, the quickness; we just seemed to be going slow motion, in my mind.
In the second half we came out and played basketball, we played and we were aggressive. We pushed the ball after made baskets, we moved down the floor quickly; we helped each other get great shots, we moved the ball; but we didn’t do it for 40 minutes, we did it for 20 minutes.
I’m not taking anything away from North Carolina, but I thought we did not play with that energy in the first half and that movement and quickness that we needed to have.
Second half, we showed a lot of toughness; kids never quit, never one time did they quit. They executed two or three things late in the game perfectly; they gave us a chance.
And actually had a tip on the very last play, a pretty good tip at it to tie the game, to send it to overtime. There definitely were some good things to build on but this young group has to learn 40 minutes, high level of intensity is what it has to take.
Some of them were on the ball screens. They did a nice job of setting that ball screen and really driving hard to the basket. Some of them were just one-on-one, I’m going to score right over you.
I just turned and one-on-one scored on you; we have to be better there, a lot better.
A couple times we had missed assignments. We spent seven or eight trips in our zone. Our zone was pretty good, came down the floor one time and we had a couple guys that had no idea what we were doing defensively, so some of them were just breakdowns, mental lapses that hurt us.
I thought those guys inside for them, that was the difference. Seventeen baskets by those three guys, that was the difference in the game.
On battling back but coming up with empty possessions with a chance to take the lead:
They were huge, and we have to be better with the basketball, and stronger with the basketball. Malik [Abu] had the ball, and was hunting for the referee trying to bail him out; sometimes when you’re young you just have to get a little stronger and better with the ball and be firmer with it.
We had some of those where we lost it, and they took advantage of those. That hole was hard to get out of once we had climbed to the point we were.
Strategy for stopping Marcus Paige:
We spent a lot of time talking about how we were going to contain him, and he seems to enjoy playing against us. He’s played awfully well against us and made big shots.
He struggled at times this year with his shooting but he certainly didn’t tonight and made some big, timely shots. He’s one of those guys where it’s hard to keep him from scoring at all, he’s going to score some; he had a heck of a game tonight.
But again, what I thought complimented his play was the seventeen baskets by their three bigs. That was the difference to me, more than him.
J.P. Tokoto’s defense on Trevor Lacey in the first half:
He did a nice job of defending him, but I don’t think that we did a good job of helping him either, nor was he really helping himself by cutting and moving. We seemed to stand still a lot in the first half.
I’m certainly not taking anything away from him; he’s long, he’s tall, he’s a good defender. But I thought in the second half, once we really got to moving, getting out and running some, we crossed our wings and those guys started moving and cutting; offensively it was a whole new ballgame. They just didn’t do it in the first half, it was frustrating.
It helped us, and I think that was a sign of how hard our guys were playing. They did play hard and they went after it; there was no question they went after it and a time kept North Carolina from getting second chance points, which I think is a strength of theirs, so there were some positive there.
I thought our guys competed on the backboard all night.