First thought it I think Boston College played very, very well. I’m not going to be one of those guys to take anything away from the fact that I thought they were terrific. [Olivier] Hanlon is a great player. He causes you to put so much attention on him, that when the other plays start stepping up to make shots, which they did throughout the game, they become a hard team to guard. And so everything starts with Hanlon and he was terrific. He’s a great player. I’ve seen a lot of great players, and coached against a lot of great players, and he’s in the category as some of the best I’ve ever had to compete against.
At the same time, I thought we had absolutely nothing in the tank. [It’s] disappointing for us. We had an emotional win and we looked like we had a hangover. That’s unfortunate for our group. We didn’t have any zip, we didn’t have quickness; we couldn’t quickly get anywhere on the floor. Our jump shots were falling short – we must’ve had 10 or 12 that hit the front of the rim. And so kind of in a perfect storm they played great and we played like we had cement boots on. We couldn’t move. That’s frustrating.
Earlier this season [Louisville coach] Rick Pitino and [Virginia coach] Tony Bennett both commented saying this was their toughest ACC game preparation of the year. What were your thoughts on getting ready for today?
Well here’s what happens: the first look, you look at their record and you go ‘okay, well’ but then you get the second look and you say ‘well they’re pretty good.’ They got Miami beat, and they’ve had a number of those opportunities where they’ve kind of been right there to the end of the game. Even the Pitt game the other night, it’s 53-49. Every game has been somewhat like that for them.
Second look is they’re not a typical one-win team, not a typical one win team. They’re not getting blown out and all those kinds of things. And they can score, and they’re veterans, and they’re older. They’re not relying on any young guys at all. As you begin to prepare for them, you start to say this is a pretty capable team. They’ve just been on the short end a lot of the time, especially late in the game. We knew that coming in, it’s not one of those where – I don’t think we overlooked them. That wasn’t the case for us. Just a combination of them playing very, very well and I thought us playing very, very poorly. The combination got us.
You talked so much about avoiding the hangover and not playing like this on Tuesday. Where do you think the disconnect happened?
I would love sometimes for everything that I say to resonate, to happen. When I say this, then it happens. When I say that, then we do that. And sometimes it’s not that easy.
Collectively as a group, I don’t think it was one guy. It wasn’t one guy that seemed to be heavy-legged for me, we all did. We just had no zip, no energy. In our timeouts we were dead and we were trying, everybody’s trying. Even the players are trying, cheering each other on in timeouts and we just go back out on the floor and we were two steps slow. We were slower than molasses. So it’s one of those sometimes it just happens in sports. It’s not something that you accept, you have to deal with it for us. We have proven on some nights we’re as good as anybody in the country and on other nights we haven’t been. As far as how we handled it, we did not handle it very well, clearly.
Who does Olivier Hanlon remind you of, and do you think a guard on a two-win team could be worthy of player of the year consideration?
I think he’s definitely worthy, there’s no question to me. A couple years ago Erick Green was the Player of the Year in the league and they may have finished in last place. He’s as good as any guard in the country. Period. End of story. He’s as good as anybody. I’m not the expert for the NBA level, but it’s hard for me to imagine that somebody’s not going to end up with a great player one day and he’s going to have a long career. He is very much deserving of being in that conversation and he’s terrific.
He’s got great size and strength, he passes the ball well, he makes tough shots. I was fortunate enough to have a player like that last year in TJ Warren. Now TJ was taller, but you start finding him [Hanlon] anywhere on the floor and he commanded so much attention, and he could make all different kind of shots – runners and threes and bank shots and floaters. Olivier doesn’t miss a foul shot, you can’t foul him. He becomes a very hard guy to contain.
You had been so much better on defense since the Wake Forest game, what did you think was the difference today?
That was probably the most frustrating thing was how we guarded them. They shot a great percentage and they started the game shooting a great percentage and really went all the way through the game. I’m not sure there’s one answer other than the fact that it just seemed like we had no quickness anywhere. It seemed like we wanted to, but we couldn’t get there. It’s like that dream you have sometimes where you’re running and the guy’s chasing you and you want to run real fast but you’re just going slow as molasses. That’s kind of where we seemed today. We were in that mode and couldn’t get out of it. Couldn’t get quick. That was the name of the game really in both areas.
I thought defensively it really hurt us, and then offensively we got shots short. Trevor [Lacey] shot an air ball. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Trevor shoot an air ball in my life. He shot an air ball from 15 feet. Ralston [Turner] had some hit the front of the rim.
Everything was hitting the front of the rim. It was just one of those days, bad days. And again, I saw all that saying I don’t want to take anything away from them [BC]. They were terrific. Give those guys credit.