“Needless to say, our locker room now is a lot happier place than it was on a Tuesday night. Basketball in this league is so crazy. I was really pleased with our guys. We had some mistakes, particularly late in the first half and some of them got a little bit of a negative look on their faces. But they paid attention at half time with what we talked about. In the second half I thought we were pretty doggone good. I told Steve [Kirschner] I was surprised that we just shot 50 percent because we moved the ball and shot it even better than that. They made the run and Cruz Uceda, I think he was the one who shot the two threes in a row that gave them a one-point lead. We came down and Marcus made a three to get us back up two, they scored and then Joel Berry knocked in a big three for us at that time. Needless to say, a Florida guy coming back down here and making a big basket for us was big.
“We made some good plays offensively. I thought Brice was huge for us - 22 points and 11 rebounds is exactly the opposite of the way he was on Tuesday night and we need him to play like that. I thought J.P. Tokoto’s rebounding was big for us. We turned it over too many times, but we made plays. Other than Nate’s turnover late, I thought we had good possessions. Going to the free throw line, we missed two big free throws in Durham. Two one-and-ones in the last 1:21, but made a bunch of them today. You hate like the dickens for Angel [Rodriguez], I mean that seriously, for a kid to get hurt because he has played his tail off all year. You hate that to happen and hopefully it is not something that is going to linger because he is such an important part of his team.
“I told Jimmy [Larranaga] this before the game, I dictated a letter to him thanking him and his staff for wearing Carolina blue shirts and or ties their first game after Coach Smith passing away. I thought that was a classy move, but it hasn’t gotten to my secretary’s desk, I thought he would have already gotten the note but he hasn’t yet. Mr. Curran was Jimmy’s high school coach, and he looked at Mr. Curran just like I looked at Coach Smith. Those kind of words don’t get out there, but that was something that was impressive what Jimmy did.”
On closing out Miami after not closing out State and Duke:
“State, we made such a great run there, but there was still a lot of time left in the game and we just went brain dead with our execution in the State game. Duke made some plays and the whole bit. State had to make plays, but we were just awful in the last three minutes there. Today I think we were really good. We spent a little time on it in practice yesterday, but I’d give the kids credit for it more.”
On J.P. Tokoto’s stuffed stat line:
“I wish he would leave out the turnovers. He does not need to fill out that stat. I thought he had a couple of big-time rebounds. It was who was going to get it, and J.P. came up and got it. We’ve tried to restructure what he is thinking because we played him at the 2 earlier and Justin Jackson at the three, and he felt like he needed to get back on defensive balance, so the last two weeks we have made it pretty clear that he is the 3-man. He has got to go to the board and rebound for us, and he’s done a much better job of it during that time period.”
On Miami being limited with Angel’s injury and Sheldon McClellan in foul trouble:
“We like a big possession game because we like to play guys and see if we can get into the other team’s depth. Needless to say, it was very unfortunate for Jimmy and his crowd with Angel getting hurt. We do want to be able to get fouled. We lead the country - in my mind - in number of times we reach in and make silly fouls, but we were fortunate today on that end.”
On the difference for Brice Johnson after Tuesday’s game:
“I have no idea. If I could figure that out we would have changed him three years ago. He was fantastic today. He was a non-factor in the game on Tuesday. He didn’t play as poorly as I coached. I think he was 1-for-6 on Tuesday, and today, 11-for-15 is a heck of a lot better. Maybe it is the warm weather.”
Theo Pinson dressed today. Was he available to play?
“No. Just part of his rehab trying to let him do something. He hasn’t been cleared and he hasn’t done anything in practice other than what we let him do today. Stilman [White] was dressed out also. I get tired of looking over and seeing all the coats and ties. Let them dress up like players.”
On Joel James’s play of late:
“Joel was big for us in the first half. Kennedy was stinking up the joint. Joel made some plays for us. He made two baskets and two free throws. Joel is getting better and better. It is a little bit of a hard game because he is a low post player. And what is their center doing most of the time on offense? Setting screens out 25 feet from the basket. So that is a little bit more difficult for him to cover. And in the first half in particular he was big for us.”
On Kennedy Meeks’s responsiveness this season:
“He’s getting better. You have to play better on game day. Trying to turn around and duck your shoulder, we’ve never taught a move in my entire life where you duck your shoulder into another guy’s chest. And if that other guy is Jekiri, who is 6-foot-11, 250 pounds and built like a wall, then you are not going to get good shots, so you have to change your game. The second half he made one basket because he spins off him and goes up to the other side and lays it in. He was a slow learner in the first half, but he got to be a quicker learner in the second half.”
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