Take us through the final sequence against Louisville:
“We had what I thought was a better defensive team in there to try and stop the them at the other end. We got the ball and I called a timeout to put a better offensive team in. Last week in the Notre Dame I was all over Kennedy because he was so bad at setting screens and trying to spin out and get his own shot. It was sorry screens is what they were. He set a great screen, got Marcus open, and then set another great screen, a solid screen. Marcus goes down the lane. You’re down one you want to have a chance for a shot and hopefully a tip in, and it was probably a second or two early but he saw the opening and he took it. The shot he made reminded me of the shot Michael Jordan made over Patrick Ewing in the National Championship, which was a million times more difficult than the shot he made at the end of the game, but he laid it up way up on the corner of the board. In fact, on the game tape that we study, the ball goes out of view, so it was up there, but it was a big time shot and he did get tangled up. You can see on the sideline that I go up, and I was meaning to call a timeout. Usually I wouldn’t do that with five seconds left, but I wanted to get a better defensive team in there and we had a foul to give.
“But Louisville did a great job and got it out of the net and in bound so quickly you couldn’t even do that and they are playing five on four for the whole possession. So they go down and move it, and Kennedy who is always reluctant, every big guy is always reluctant to leave the lane area to go out and play a three-point shooter and he went out and played the three-point shooter. I’m after our guards all the time to box out, and poor Nate didn’t box out at all. The ball goes right to their kid and he misses the shot.
“When we had a tape session this afternoon I said ‘wouldn’t it just have killed you if you hadn’t boxed out and he had gotten it and scored?’ We keep trying to push the little things because the little things make a huge difference in games that are decided like that. I said, ‘wouldn’t it have been a lot more fun if you had boxed out and he tries to go over your back and then we go back and you shoot free throws and everybody is jumping up and down and acting crazier for a little bit longer?’ It was very lucky. Coach Pitino’s club is a fantastic club.”
On working on the screens in practice:
“It was more just me criticizing as hard as I could possibly criticize somebody during the tape session on Wednesday because we did a sorry job against Notre Dame and everybody was rolling out. You’ve got to set solid, legal screens and we work hard on that and we didn’t do a very good job of it. Kennedy set two big time screens and really got Marcus open going down the lane.”
How satisfying was it for Marcus Paige to hit that shot at the end of the game?
“People put out some tweets about criticizing Marcus’s shot at the end of the Notre Dame game. I told Marcus don’t worry about it because Carolina fans are too smart to be that stupid to put something like that out there. That young man should not have any criticism. He has plantar fasciitis, which a lot of us in this room have had. It’s one of the most painful things I’ve ever had in my life. He’s tried to play with that. He rolled his ankle during the game. He’s been beaten up more than any player.
“We’ve had to cut back on practices to just try and get through practice. He’s one of the best practice players I’ve ever had, he’s a tough kid, and he’s a leader. He brings more to the table than anybody we’ve had since Tyler Hansbrough. So I told him, don’t worry or make any comments about that. Because that has to be some fan of another school just trying to make you mad just because Carolina people are too smart to be that dumb like that.”
On UNC’s second half half comeback on Saturday:
“They are really a good team and well coached, and the kids played so hard. You have to enjoy watching Louisville play. It was a little weird. We have a press that we call 44 that has stunk all year long, so what’d we do. We get a turnover. Then we score and then get another turnover and take it down and score. Then somebody takes a shot and misses and J.P. tips it out and Marcus makes a three. So we had some things that were going right there. They turned it over a couple of times I think. We had a bad double team, and they split the double team, that we tried to not let them do and it ended up being a turnover for us. And J.P. took it to the basket and scores. We were fortunate too. When we took the one point lead they go right down the court and score themselves. And Marcus didn’t play bad defense on him and Desmond was in the game and came across the lane. The Jones kid pulled up and took a tough shot and made it, so you have to congratulate them too. We where very fortunate and got some breaks.”
On the bench production vs. Louisville:
“There’s no question. Isaiah, Nate, Joel made a big three point basket. Those guys gave us a big lift. And we’ve been talking all season about how when you come in the game, bring something positive. It doesn’t always have to be scoring, but bring something positive, and I thought those guys really did.”
On the significance of the win over Louisville:
“When you lose a game, and you say you had two or three shots to win it and all you need to do is make one more play. The hurt lingers. When you win one like that it erases that and you say ok, now were even, lets go win some more. I think part of it was relief. You don’t want to go down 71-70, 71-70 in back-to-back games. In this league you don’t want to go down at all. And again, the crowd was just off the charts. It was a pretty nice afternoon in the Smith Center.”
Were you upset with Joel James when he put the ball on the floor during his 3-point play against Louisville?
“No, I wasn’t. I didn’t want him to do it because most of the time it happens it doesn’t end up in a positive way. But it worked and I told him today, we were watching the tape and I showed it to him, he could have gotten the same kind of shot without putting it down at all. Joel’s just got to make a quicker move. He’s progressed and he’s doing some good things. He’s playing some more minutes and he’s helping us when he’s in there.”
How many out of bounds plays do you run and do you change them up during the year?
“Well, I couldn’t tell you how many, but yes, we change them as the year goes along. Like I was talking about our 44 press, we’re going to change that because it’s just not working well enough. We’ve got to get our 4-man to do a better job. Out of bounds underneath, we’ve got ‘12’, we’ve got ‘14’, we’ve got ‘24’, we’ve got ‘B1’, we’ve got ‘B2’, we’ve got ‘B3’, we’ve got ‘quick’, we’ve got ‘short winner’, we’ve got ‘freelance’. We’ve got ‘away’, ‘clear,’ ‘push down,’ ‘stay’…”
And that’s just underneath.
“Yeah, that’s just underneath. And we have ‘short winner sideline.’ The play that we ran against Notre Dame at the end, Brice Johnson was wide open for a layup. Notre Dame did a nice job of putting pressure on the ball because what we did was we had Marcus coming off the double and Brice slips the screen and goes right to the rim and he was wide open. But Notre Dame, as I said, you’ve got to credit them. They did a nice job bothering the ball. So we’ve got quite a few plays. Different people in different years, so you change it for personnel every year and then you also change it during the course of the year if it’s working or not.”
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