UNC-NCSU: Postgame Interviews

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Inside Carolina's postgame coverage includes comments from head coach Roy Williams and players, who spoke to the media following UNC's game against NC State ...

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Opening Statement:
"It's a great feeling right now. It's fun to see Harrison have that smile on his face and to break out and do the things that he did. And, John Henson, 16 points and 16 rebounds. In the first half, we were really good early and then had four turnovers in six possessions but we didn't lose that much of the lead because N.C. State was struggling making shots. Early in the game, I thought our defense was good and then late in the first half I thought they just missed some shots they would normally make. We turned it over too many times in the first half unforced. ... We didn't' get the [bench] production we've been getting from Reggie and Leslie, but overall we shot the ball well in the second half. We gave up too many dead layups for them but overall are as happy as we can be."

Did those early plays - loose balls, offensive rebounds - set the tone early on?
"I think, for us, in the first half was probably as intense as Harrison has been, getting loose balls and coming up with rebounds. ... I thought Dexter was getting some loose balls. We haven't been winning those battles, but I do think we were very active early and then it got ragged for a while there too."

We've seen flashes of how good Harrison can be, but was this his most complete game?
"I would probably think so, not just because of the 25 points, but I thought he was really active. During the second half he went to sleep for two possessions in a row and his man got behind him for layups. So I took him out for a while, he figured things out, and played better when he got back in. And he was so hot, that last shot he took was not a very good shot ... I wasn't going to say anything to him, and there was a dead ball and he came over and said 'I know it was a bad shot' and I said 'Yeah it was.' ..."

Can you talk about the progression of this team, not having to lose in order to learn and improve?
"I said this earlier, but I thought this team was going to get better and better as the season progressed, and I still believe that. Ten turnovers in the first half and five of them were just silly turnovers. In the second half we only had five turnovers and one of those was the Blue Steel guys in there at the very end. When you only turn it over four times in the first 18 minutes of the second half and shoot 58 percent in the second half, you're a good offensive team. The rebounding battle, I thought we did a good job there too and that one was of the keys for us."

The players have said they've seen a performance like this coming for Harrison any day now. Had you seen this coming?
"I see flashes in practice but not as consistent as he was today. He had 19 points in the half the first game in Puerto Rico and didn't score any in the second half. Today he was making his jump shot, got some offensive boards, took it to the basket, and in the first half he was really good defensively - in the second half he wasn't. He's a gifted young man who's been wanting to break out. I really did feel this - once we got into ACC play you have to raise it a level. I had a hunch that he might play better at this level because he's gone through all those other experiences ... and he's the kind of young man who learns from those things."

Have you ever had a player like John who anticipates so well defensively?
"John's a great threat around the basket. He's long and he can block shots. I've had better defensive players, but I don't know I've had a guy who's a better shotblocker around the basket than John ... John set a record last year, and he'll tease me about this, for most dunks blocked. John's a much stronger player right now than even he realizes himself. He's worked hard in the weight room and gotten stronger and bigger. He's not the perfect fit for the power forward because he's not real heavy, but I do think he uses his length and can take more contact than he himself realizes. He's going to be a better shooter - he ended up 4-for-8 from the foul line and has been shooting free throws well in practice. There will be a time in a big time game when I'm going to be able to leave John Henson in the game at the end and not worry about his free throws. He's getting better and better ..."


What enabled this breakout game today?
"I think I just gained a lot of confidence from the Miami game and my teammates did a great job finding me so I could knock down shots ... Coaches have been stressing to me to act like every shot I take is a last-second shot because I haven't struggled making those shots - and I've struggled making those shots with thoughts going through my mind during the game."

How much did the Pro-Am games play into the rivalry of this game - that you played against some of these NC State players in that summer league and those were heated games ...
"I think it gave us confidence, since we beat them twice, so we had the upper hand in terms of freshman versus freshman and we knew that in the whole team setting we had to come ready to play."

One other stat that stands out is you only had one turnover ...
"Yeah, the last couple of games I've been averaging five or six, so it's nice to pass the ball to my teammates and not to the other team."

You obviously scored a lot of points but do you think this was your most complete game of the season so far?
"I think so. There have been times I've put together stretches, so it was nice to put together a full game."


Your stat line - 16 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks - not bad ...
"Yeah, it was kind of a hype game. Coach said they were talking about us a little on a radio show, calling me and Z and Knox 'soft' and that gave us a little extra motivation as well ... It's very satisfying. Coach doesn't like NC State at all, so that's for him - that was as much for us as it was for him too."

Things got a little heated - did you catch an elbow?
"I took an elbow, diving for the ball I think it was his instinct to put his elbows out and hit me. I got hit in the head a couple times, got a little headache but I'll be all right."

The team got a big performance tonight from Harrison ...
"I loved it. He told me he'd be more aggressive and he went out there and did his thing and that's what he can do all the time. Hopefully that'll be a jump start for what he can do the rest of the season ... It's something we've been waiting for and it finally happened today. With him shooting like that and playing like that we're a much better team."

You all are finding ways to win when there's still so much you can improve on...
"That's just a credit to how much potential we have as a team. The ways we're winning, I'm just waiting for that breakout game where we play really well. We're still trying to get that great game and we're due for it."


Opening Statement:
"I think obviously we dug a hole for ourselves in the first half [by] not rebounding the basketball and giving [UNC] second-chance opportunities. And then we didn't score some easy baskets. I think four of our starters combined for 5-of-25 shooting, so that's got to make for a tough night. But I thought the first half really hurt us as far as the boards were concerned. They shot 37 percent in the first half and that was with their second opportunities. So the initial defense wasn't bad, it's just securing the ball.

"And in the second half I feel like their bigs really took over the basketball game, with the exception of the time Harrison Barnes hit a couple big shots. But their bigs got us really deep down into the post and we didn't do a good job of fighting to get around them."

On anything positive to draw from the lopsided outcome:
"Lorenzo Brown. I thought he played well at that position, at the one. He did a great job for us. You know, learning again, our initial defense in the first half was actually pretty good. Now we need to secure the ball. So it wasn't bad in the first half. The second half wasn't as good, but the positive is we had a freshman who had to play more minutes at the [point guard] position and did a nice job for us."

On the team's offensive success with Brown in the game:
"Lorenzo's got great size - he's more of a north-south player. That's what I tell our guys -- all the dancing around with the ball -- that's not what we want to do. We want to get [the ball] and get it to the basket. And [Brown] showed in a tough environment, against a very good team, very good players, that he could handle the situation. And we will look at situations and play him more at the one."

On UNC's John Henson and his affect on NC State's offensive success in the post:
"I think you have to give Henson credit. But I felt that we had some opportunities [where] he didn't affect the shot. But we weren't looking at the basket, we weren't looking at the rim. We were looking for shotblockers a couple of times. So I think the fact that he had a couple of blocks -- had our guys looked around a little bit. And we missed a lot of shots in there, we missed a lot of shots [from] point-blank range."

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