On Monday's win over Syracuse:
“I think as a team one of the things that we struggle with is that we have a tendency to be soft. And when you play a team like Syracuse, they’re a tough team. They’re a physical team and one of the things that we talked about at halftime was that there was no way out of this from a competitive standpoint. You’re going to have to fight. You’re going to have to fight on every play at both ends of the floor and everybody stepped up to the challenge. Nate Britt, Kennedy Meeks, Marcus Paige, all those guys stepped up in the second half and they just did a terrific job, and it was a great Carolina win.”
On UNC's offensive efficiency over the last three games:
“I think our offensive balance. We have great balance. One of the things we talked about last night against Syracuse’s zone, one of the things you have to do is attack the middle of that zone... The game that [Nate Britt] had last night was just absolutely fantastic. Him stepping up knocking down those three’s and taking care of the basketball. Brice Johnson down low in the paint has been fantastic. When you have guys that can score in the paint and you have Marcus and Nate hitting from the outside then you have offensive balance, you have great spacing. That’s why we are shooting a high percentage on the offensive end.”
On Britt switching shooting hands:
“He was a guy in high school that shot the ball with both hands. And his junior year of high school his father told him that he had to pick a hand to shoot with consistently, and he decided to shoot with his left hand. And when he came last year in his freshman year, right before practice he was just playing around shooting with his right hand and his form looked beautiful. And I said hold up a second, can you shoot that one more time. And he shot it again, and I said look, I’m not saying your shot with your left hand is bad, but your form with your right hand looks terrific, why did you decide to shoot with your left hand? So he told me that story, so I told coach Williams about it, and he came over and looked at it and said, 'wow, your form looks really good with your right hand.'
"So during the summer it was all Coach Williams. He challenged Nate to make the change to shoot with his right hand, so it’s all on Nate Britt. In terms of shooting, you have to shoot the right way, the same way every time. But one of the things I keep telling these guys is, you have to relentlessly be in the gym working on your craft, and that’s something that Nate Britt has done. He is one of the first guys along with Marcus Paige at practice and he’s one of the last guys to leave and he works so hard on his form and his shot every day. So it’s not surprising that he can have a big game last night hitting four three’s.
On the second half turnaround against Syracuse:
“Coach challenged them at halftime. We went around from player to player, 'You’re soft, you’re soft, they are coming at you, they are targeting you, and you have a choice. Are you going to step up to the challenge or are you going to sit on the bench?’ And the guys, all of them, to a man, stepped up because they knew that that’s what Syracuse was doing. They were out toughing us. They’re a very talented team, Rakeem Christmas, Cooney is one of the better shooters in the country, but what they pride themselves is being tougher than you. It took us a half to respond to that, but once we did that in combination with the talent that we have and the great coaching from Coach Williams we were able to pull away with a victory.”
What’s been the difference with Brice Johnson lately?
“He has made a change. I think at the beginning of the year he had to adjust to being a starter. It’s the same thing with Marcus, Marcus is playing point guard but it’s a different role now. Now everybody is targeting you. It’s just a huge difference coming off the bench than being a starter. As a starter you have to be consistent every night. Rebounding, defending, scoring, and you have that responsibility. I think it took Brice a little while at the begging of the year to understand his responsibilities and what we wanted from him on a consistent basis. Not only in a game, but in the practice and the shoot arounds. I think a month ago it really clicked for him. That he could do this. That he was talented enough to do this on a consistent basis. And once he started to play well you could just see the confidence form. He wasn’t a guy at the beginning of his career that was going to put in the extra work.
"One of the things that we tell the guys is that you have to do more than what is required. At some point in your career whether it is high school, college, or the NBA, you’re going to be at a level where every guy can do the same things that you can do. So what is going to differentiate yourself between you and the other guy that is just as talented is your willingness everyday to work on your fundamentals and your craft, before and after practice. That’s something that he’s doing right now. Before Syracuse, he had class at noon and he texted he at ten o’clock and said coach, lets go meet down at the gym. We worked out for 30 minutes, drove him to class at noon. This is something that Brice would not have done last year, but this year he’s put in the extra work and it’s paying dividends on the floor.”
On Saturday’s road matchup vs. No. 10 Louisville:
“We’re excited about playing a really good Louisville team on Saturday. When you play Louisville there are four areas that we’re going to have to win, and those are the four areas that we did win when we played them at home. One, you have to take care of the basketball. They thrive on creating turnovers and getting into the open court. We’re going to have to rebound, they are a great offensive rebounding team, so we’re going to have to limit them to one shot per possession. They’re a very aggressive team offensively, they get to the free throw line a lot, so we’re going to have to defend them without fouling.
"From 3-point range, they really like to shoot three’s. They’re third in the ACC in three point attempts. Now their percentage is low, but the still have Terry Rozier, and Wayne Blackshear and Chris Jones that are capable of having big nights. I think the biggest change is doing a better job on ball screen defense, that’s what they do. Late clock situation. They put the ball in the hands of Chris Jones and Terry Rozier and they set high and angled ball screens. And we’re going to have to do a great job of understanding that the ball is the problem. They have other great players but those are the two guys that can really create their own shots, and if we do a good job defensively against them we’re going to be in good shape against Louisville on Saturday.”
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