We just didn’t respond well. I don’t know that you could play a worse half of basketball than we played in the first half. We dug ourselves into a hole.
Give Clemson credit. They came in here and gained confidence as the first half went on, and we started to get down on ourselves; you could see it in guys, in their faces. They became a little unsure and obviously you can’t do that in this league. Clemson played a lot better than we did in the first half and in the second half our guys fought extremely hard. Obviously we were just in too big of a hole to overcome it.
Whether the problem is x-and-o’s:
I don’t know if it's an x-and-o’s answer. We started to struggle offensively, and it was as if we walked into timeouts, and they kind of looked at each other like they were lost.
It’s frustrating. I can remember back when I had a team at Alabama, and we played a lot of young guys. We did like we have this year, we beat Kentucky when they were ranked or beat Tennessee when they were ranked fifth in the country... then we would turn around and lose to Ole Miss.
It’s a mystery. Sometimes that happens with young guys. But tonight, I think the lesson for our team to learn is that you have to play through it, and we’ve done that a number of times this year. Even when we’ve struggled offensively we’ve seemed to be able to fight through it.
But tonight we got down in the first half and it really just seemed like we lost our zip and the hole kept getting bigger and bigger.
Using the press in the second half:
We got it to three, and then we had a few trips where we gave up a couple offensive rebounds. They attacked our press and got one or two and-ones at the end of it.
Maybe at the back of the press we could’ve been better, but the press certainly helped us, there’s no doubt about it. I thought out kids played with a lot of desire in the second half but got stunned. The first half was unacceptable.
On motivation used during halftime:
Every team is a bit different. If you have a veteran team and you think they’re just not mentally into it... there’s just so many different parts of it.
I don’t think our team came out tonight and took Clemson lightly. Very rarely this year our young guys have all of a sudden looked like young guys. Malik is throwing the ball to a guy in the third row and Caleb and Cody are missing shots; we’re just turning the ball over and defensively we’re hitting screens.
We just didn’t handle it very well. You’re going to have adversity inside of a game. Within that 40 minutes all kinds of things are going to happen. If you think of our team most nights, whether we’ve been on the road or home, there’s been an answer. Every time it seems like there’s been a tough period the group has answered.
Tonight we came out in the first half and kind of got hit in the mouth and all of a sudden we’re not scoring the ball and we’re turning the ball over a couple of times, and we just began to really struggle. Hopefully the lesson learned tonight is, obviously we see what happens in this league if you do that.
So tonight at halftime it was a little bit of all of the above; I challenged them, we talked about our press, we talked about denying Hall the ball. We made some adjustments but there was a challenge as well to step up and play, and I thought in the second half they did. They played with great energy, we were just down too many points.
If the next two games are more of a sense of urgency with the loss to Clemson:
Every game is a sense of urgency; we have 18 sense of urgency games. I’m not sure I feel like our guys came out without a sense of urgency in our game tonight, lets be clear about that.
We started off at 6-2, we were winning, playing pretty well in the first two or three minutes. We go on a dry spell, we can’t score, we turn it over and now we’re not playing very good. The bottom just fell out a little bit tonight.
In this league there are 18 phenomenal contests. You look at Miami and they lost by 30 early in the year to Eastern Kentucky, yet they go on the road and beat Duke and Syracuse. Then they turn around and get beat tonight by Georgia Tech by 20.
I can go through every team in the league; there’s good players, good coaches. Our guys need to understand, which I think they do, they’re learning and they are young, but it takes 18 opportunity games. But within each game... how to answer the bell. I think this group has done that a lot; we didn’t tonight in the first half and that was frustrating.
Three losses taking a toll mentally on the team:
I don’t think so because you’re not going to play perfectly all the time. We rely on a lot of young guys and they’re learning, they’re coming.
At times what they’ve shown is pretty brilliant at times, we’ve seen that here and there. Every night, and within every night, what it takes to win at this level, and to be a champion, to be a NCAA tournament team, to win at this level. We’re learning that and tonight we learned a hard lesson and hopefully we learned it.
Hopefully our guys understand it, they’re hurting in there. They’re down, and they were really down at halftime.
We have to regroup. Nobody outside of our locker room, or Wolfpack nation, is going to feel sorry for us. They understand that and I tell them all the time. This is a man’s league. For college athletics this is a grown man’s league, and you better bring your A-game every night. Second half I thought our guys had phenomenal energy and effort, but we did not handle the adversity in the first half, and we didn’t play well.