Well, needless to say, we feel better than we did on Saturday. At times we had three good stretches where we were good on the offensive end and the defensive end. We also had two stretches where we were terrible defensively, but that’s the game of basketball – it’s a game of runs. I thought Justin Jackson, who everyone wanted me to be worried about five days ago, has played pretty well the last two games: 21 and 13 tonight and six offensive rebounds is something I always love to have.
I thought Joel Berry made a big basket, it got down to nine, Isaiah made a big pass and Joel made a big three. Needless to say, we haven’t shot the ball very well the last two games, particularly from three. Nate was as hot as he could possibly be early, he’s really struggled the past two games. It was the first game all year we have played against zone the entire game, so down the line I think that will really help us. We have got to get our big guys more movement. I like 4-for-6 and 4-for-6, but we have got to get them more shots. Just because somebody goes zone on us doesn’t me we should shoot three-point shots all the time. Theo had eight assists and really did some good things, other than four turnovers, everything was good there...
Did you like how your team responded, both in practice yesterday and tonight?
Yeah, I do, and we have to do it again tomorrow. We didn’t do very well against Fairfield. We came back and did some nice things against Wofford. We stunk it up at times against Northern Illinois and bounced back tonight. It can’t be an every other day kind of thing. Tomorrow we will have our hands full. I thought Kansas State was really super tonight and we will have our hands full tomorrow.
How much of a work in progress are you all without Marcus?
I think we know who we are and that part, but how we are playing out on the court and what the guys have the confidence in from one particular spot. Kenny Williams, an example, I think is really a good shooter, and my gosh, I think he had freshman-itis out there tonight, but I think he is going to help us too. I think the team is trying to find a way, and you have that security blanket over there because the best player is setting over there. The best player always makes a great difference in basketball, and we don’t have him. So those other guys have got to play well and do some good things. Again, if our big guys get a little better movement and we don’t turn it over, tonight would have been a good game for us.
You’ve mentioned how you wanted Justin to be more aggressive. Has that been the key for him in the last couple games?
The last two game the ball has gone in the basket a little bit more, but I will say his aggressiveness on the boards tonight was huge for us. I talked to him last spring about what I wanted his goals to be during the offseason, and doing a better job rebounding was a huge part of it. Northwestern has some guys that can shoot the basketball, 9-for-20 from the three-point line is not what we want to give up, but we have to give them credit too. Chris (Collins) does a great job and they know their roles and they played well.
Did you have a conversation with Justin about aggressiveness after the Wofford game?
I’ve had three or four of those, but the biggest one was in the spring meetings but I talked to him. I told him you guys were pestering the crap out of me. That’s what I told him exactly. I told you guys that if he was my biggest worry, then what a great situation I was in. I told you I do know a little bit about the game and I was not concerned about Justin Jackson. But we have talked about the aggressiveness with him a lot, but on the backboards tonight was his best game.
What was your approach with your team after what happened on Saturday?
It’s something that varies from team to team, on what you should do, but I never have any idea if it is going to work. But I was ticked off, I wasn’t going to treat them with kid gloves because we screwed it up, and that’s what I told them.”
If you had to have Paige tonight, could he have gone? He looked good in warmups …
The bottom line, guys, is if we had to have him we could have played him last week, but we don’t have to have him. We are trying to be very cautious. Wofford was after he had the X-rays, if it would have been an NCAA tournament game, we would have played him. I said we are going to be very careful, I may not play him until February. I probably will though.”
Roy Williams On UNC's Win Over Northwestern