Marcus Paige Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Following North Carolina's season-opening win over Gardner-Webb on Friday night, freshman Marcus Paige conducted his first interview as a Tar Heel ...

Listen to Interview (3:58)

Initial thoughts on your first game as a Tar Heel?

"To finally play a game that counts in a Carolina uniform, obviously it went up and down for us. A lot of things we worked on translated to the game and that was good for us."

What were some of the ups?

"Getting out on the break a little bit, when we actually rebounded and got out in transition quickly. Obviously some of the downs were we turned the ball over a lot and we gave up some second chance points early in the second half. But we knew they were going to come out and give us a challenge but I thought we did a good job overall translating the stuff we worked on in practice into the game."

Personally, how do you judge whether you thought you did a good job?

"Obviously I'm a little disappointed with turning the ball over, but that was a team thing also and we need to work on that. But I had my moments too, made some good passes to guys who got fouled or didn't finish the layup. I think I can build on this. Got the first game jitters out of the way and I think I did all right, but there is definitely a lot of room to improve"

Coach Williams has said you're the guy at point guard for a while now. Does that give you confidence where you think you can ease into this and not feel too much pressure?

"Yeah, he's given me a lot of confidence and I think the guys are starting to have a little bit of confidence in me - that's good for me and helps me just focus on my game and not worry about other things. We also have guys like Luke Davis and Dexter who can play the '1' so it's not just on me to do everything - we have a really solid backcourt."

Were you able to get those first game jitters out of the way early?

"When you see all those fans out there, you start to get a little nervous but after the first few trips up and down - you make a good play and start to break a sweat - they start to go away and you just focus in on the game.

How difficult was the zone defense? Coach Williams said you practiced against it but it's hard to replicate it.

"We did practice for it a lot and knew they zone was unique in that they spread it out wide to take away a lot of passing angles. We practiced for it a lot but struggled making good passes in the game. Obviously it's good to see that early in the season so we can go back and correct it."

We found out last month at Media Day that you were going to be the starting point guard. When did you find it?

"Coach always said you just have to earn your minutes at practice and every day he puts a practice plan up with the lineups. He did put a lot of trust and confidence in putting me in the starting lineup and I think I've handled it pretty well so far ... In the summer he made me earn my minutes and I was the third string point guard."

Did he never tell you before Media Day that you'd earned the spot?

"He never said any of that."

So you found out when we did?

"Pretty much. Essentially, yeah."

Today did you have any rituals? What's the pre-game routine for you.

"I'm still working on finding a set routine just because things are so different here than in high school. We eat at a scheduled time, there's a certain amount of down time, stuff like that. After our pre-game meal I came in here to relax and hang out with the guys a little bit, watched part of the JV game, and then go out and shoot around for a bit and start to get myself mentally prepared when it gets closer to time to meet up with Coach."

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