Listen to Audio (8:25)
Needless to say, we are happy to be 1-0 in the league. It's an exciting time for everybody to start conference play. I was really impressed with Steve (Donahue)'s club. Five freshmen in the starting line-up coming in. Then I don't think they ever got really [shaken]. You need to get his evaluation, but I don't think they ever got [shaken]. We tried hard to take them out of things that they wanted to do, and I don't know that we did a very good job of it.
They turned it over 20 times—I would like to think that our defense had something to do with it, but I'm not sure. I really believe he's going to have a really good club (in the future). It's hard to do it with five freshmen in this league, but he's building a program, he's not just coaching for today.
Our club, you look down there (at the box score), and Tyler (Zeller), Harrison (Barnes), and John (Henson) are all shooting over 50 percent. That's something that we need. We need Kendall to be 11 (assists), two (turnovers) instead of 11 and three. You can't make that pass when you have a lob for a dunk and you throw it over the backboard. I told him (that) at 61 I could make that pass. I've never had a guy that does a better job of looking up and having the vision on the court that he does.
I really got ticked off there a couple of minutes when it got down to nine or 10, but it wasn't because it got to nine or 10. It was because we decided not to help down in the post, Kendall goes and helps down in the post and his guy makes a three. We say go over the screen, Harrison goes below the screen and his guy makes a three. Next time, he goes below the screen, Z steps out to help, they throw it to Z's man for a lay-up. You can't make those kinds of mistakes. We don't get picked up, we let (number) 20 come dribbling down the court and pull up and shoot a three. So I told them that it was very reasonable that I was upset, and they had to play better.
We were good at times during today's game. We did some good things. We shared the ball. One time we ran a set play for Z on the right block in the first half, they did a nice job covering, we swung it around the horn and threw it to John on the right block, John threw it back across diagonally, Harrison made a three. We ran the break, and we made good decisions on the break. One time it didn't look like we could dribble after we made a big steal on the other end. But for us, there were moments that I thought we really did some good things. And again, I think that Boston College did some good things as well. It's good to have 25 (points), 20, and 14 out of your front line. They are supposed to be good, and I like for them to play that way.
That stretch where they got it down to nine that you were talking about—is that a concentration thing, needing to be able to keep that focus for 40 (minutes)?
You know, it's one of those, ‘If I already knew the answer we'd have solved it' kind of things, but I would agree that's what it is. I jumped them pretty hard. Stillman (White) was a great team player. I got him in for Kendall, and in the locker room I said, ‘I appreciate you playing that 30 seconds so I could scream at Kendall,' and he said, ‘Coach, I'm ready to do anything for the team.' You like those kinds of things. If I had to say, I'd say that's probably it, just concentration. And in league play, you've got to be able to play the whole game. Then you've got to be able to do it for 40 minutes, but give them some credit too. The first half they were 3-12 from three, the second half 6-15. We'd like a better rebound margin than 42-31 when we have a size advantage and an experience advantage, both. I'm pretty hard to please. At times we were really good, but we've got to get a heck of a lot better as we go on.
Listen to Audio (3:23)
Is it a difficult thing to do, when you know your job is to hand out assists to the big three who should be doing most of the scoring, to know when you should be taking shots?
It's difficult if you think about it. If you are just in the flow of the game, you are playing, Coach isn't going to yell at you for taking an open shot, stuff like that. It's just a matter of doing what you think is best for the team.
You won the game, but talk about some of the lulls you had, especially when you lost an 18-point lead, after that?
First, you have to give credit to B.C. They came out in the second half and shot the ball very well. I don't know how many three's they hit in the second half, but I know it had to be three in a row at one time. Also, we just have to get better at executing offensively. That kind of came back to bite us on the defensive end—we weren't picking up. Like I said, you have to give credit to them for making those runs.
How does your role change on defense when Dexter is in the game and when he is not?
I don't know if it necessarily changes. The thing the coaches want me to focus on is just keeping the point guard in front of me. That's going to be the same no matter who is in the game. As a team concept we have to get better at being on help-side position. A team like this does a great job of spacing, they do a very good job of that and it is kind of tough to cover those back door plays, but I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight.
How would you rate that (performance) as a starting point for what is coming the next two months—the start to the ACC?
I give it a ‘B,' because I am happy that we are able to come out with a win. I think we did some very good things. The margin of victory is a plus to look at, but at the same time we did give up a lead in the second half. They got it down to single digits. Thinks like that we can't let happen. When you are playing at Maryland, when you are playing against Duke, other teams are going to capitalize on that.
Listen to Audio (4:21)
Are you the Jackie Manuel of this team?
Jackie Manuel? Nah. I'm not talking bad on him, but I'm not Jackie Manuel. I'm Dexter Strickland.
When you look at your own stat line, what number do you look at first—what's most important to you?
Ummmm—turnovers. Turnovers, assists. I haven't got that many yet. That's something I need to work on. My offensive game, I know my offensive game will come, and I've been working on it too hard for it not to come. When I look at the stat sheet, that's what I look at first is turnovers and assists.
When you look at your stat line and all the ‘good' columns are filled is that a successful game for you?
It's all right. I hade five points tonight, didn't score that much. I'm not sure what I was from the field, but I don't think I hit a jump shot; I just had two lay-ups.
You had the 16-footer rattle in and out.
Exactly, so those are just shots I can easily make and I will make later on.
There was one point, too, where you switch off and were guarding a 6-10 guy.
Yeah, that was tough. He's stronger than me… I just try to use my quickness. I know he wasn't comfortable dribbling it with me right there, so I tried to limit his dribbling, stuff like that.
Z said you were the one who saw the big picture and knew when it was time to switch back. How do you know when it's time? Well, I noticed he was guarding somebody smaller than him, and I felt like that it was a great opportunity to switch because his guy was coming off a screen, so I yelled out 'Switch!' Z got there. I think we do a great job at that. We work on it all the time in practice so we transitioned to the game and it worked out pretty good.
Listen to Audio (3:43)
What does it take to play 35 seconds of good defense?
Just staying focused the whole possession; it's very tough being able to contain the ball if you are trying to scramble around or you don't do a very good job of containing the ball. Then it becomes very, very difficult. And then just making sure that you are focused enough to play your principles for 35 seconds.
You are 1-0 in the conference.
It's a great start. There are some people that are 0-1 now so it's a start but we have to get better. It's good to get the freshmen a nice little intro to the ACC.
Were you shocked/surprised when you looked at the scoreboard, if you did, and saw that your 21-point lead is down to nine?
Yes and no—I knew that we weren't playing very well and that was when we knew we had to get back to what we were doing and focus more. It's something that we had a few plays that went astray and they hit some shots. We have got to make sure that next game we don't let them go on that big of a run.
What was the message from Coach Williams after the game?
Just that we've got to get better. At times we were very good, at other times we weren't, so we've got to be able to improve on those times when we weren't and be able to play for 40 minutes.
What is the secret to not letting your mind wander and kind of have those stretches and have focus for 40 minutes?
I mean, some of it is just discipline. It's tough to do, but you have to be able to do it. And it is tough, it is tough.