“I thought they played so much harder defensively than we did. If you had told me before the game that we were going to have a five-point lead at halftime, I’d have been very pleased with that. I told them at the four-minute timeout or the eight-minute timeout, whatever it was when the score was tied, if you have told me we were going to be tied with eight minutes to play, I’d have been happy with that. I was not satisfied with the way that we played. If you go 3-for-23, you’ve got to have enough courage to take that shot and you’ve got to have enough courage to step up and make it. Joel made a big three for us, there’s no question about that. Brice made a big basket inside and then Joel found Justin open underneath the basket for a layup and then fortunately for us, they had a couple of misses on their end and we got the rebound…
“Our work on the backboard was big for us. Second-chance points were 18-11, but it was about as ugly a game for us as it could be. We’re lucky. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Late, Brice had that play on the inbounds with three seconds on the shot clock to steal it, and then forced a tie-up on the next possession. What did you see out of that?
“It reminded me of John Henson. When we had John in front of the ball, it’s a load to get the ball over him. Brice got the deflection and, in the first half, we had the ball out of bounds on the sideline, three seconds, and a guy makes a turnaround three from outside at the three-point line. Then they banked one in later in the first half, so I didn’t think the stars and moons lined up very well. (Buzz Williams) has really done a nice job with his club. I mean that sincerely, the ball didn’t go in the basket a couple of times for them. Buzz does a great job, I mean that sincerely. He doesn’t get a raise by me saying that, I’m saying that sincerely, because I believe it. We got some fortunate breaks.”
Did you emphasize rebounding going into this game?
“We emphasize it all the time. I, myself, it doesn’t mean it’s true, but I, myself, think of rebounding as the most important single factor in the game. We’ve been a good rebounding team all year, we’re in the top-15 or 20 in the country in rebound margin. One play, we got it three straight times, and I think we finally scored. I’m not positive, but I think we finally scored. No, I think that’s a huge part of the game for us, and we had a tough time keeping those guys in front of us, and Blackshear was really, really good. I didn’t expect him to step out and make the three like he did. He made a couple of baskets going to the basket, which, for us, we decided that we weren’t gonna worry too much about their big guys, we thought LeDay would drive, and the other three guys would roll, but he showed us something there, too.”
When you were up 20 in the first half, did they make adjustments on you to climb back in the game?
“We started thinking it was gonna be easy. And I also took out Brice, I took out Kennedy, I took out—Isaiah was out, so three of our top six guys were out because they had two fouls. I’ve said all year long, our depth has got to be important to us, and I think it was.”
When you guys shoot that many threes, is that part of the gameplan, or what’s your reaction to that?
“In the first half, I told them again at one of those timeouts that I was not displeased with our shot selection. We just needed to make some. I thought Theo took one bad one in the first half, and I think we had two bad ones in the second half. But, other than that, they were pretty good shots. If you’re gonna shoot the ball, you’ve got to make some every now and then.”
Jalen Hudson was able to get some drives in the second half, why was that a match-up problem?
“I think that Seth and Jalen and Robinson, young man, they all got the ball and drove it to the basket. And Zach LeDay. One time he didn’t drive it, he stepped back and shot a three and made it, I think he was 2-for-3 from the 3-point line and Blackshear was 1-for-1. So their big guys, their center and power forwards, of course they made threes, their whole team did. But, they shot 32 free throws today, they’re leading the ACC in free throw attempts because they attack the basket. That was the first thing of our three emphases up on the board was to get down in stance and try to keep the ball in front of you, play defense with your feet. They really do a great job of attacking you, and we ended up fouling them.”
This is the third straight game your team has shot under 40 percent. Anything to that, or is it a matter of the ball not going in?
“No, there’s something to it. They’re not very confident right now. Someway, some how you’ve got to get some confidence. For us, I said you’ve got to be able to win the game a lot of different ways. Today, I think it was the rebounding of the basketball was the single factor that helped us win the game more than anything else. I was not concerned, but now, I can be concerned if I want to, because three games in a row is enough. You’ve got to be able to step up and make some shots. For the most part, I liked their shots, but they didn’t go in, so I didn’t like the result.”
Are you sensing increased frustration out of Marcus Paige with his shot right now?
“I know there’s frustration, I don’t think it’s pressure. He and I talk, so I don’t think he’s pressing or anything. I think he’s extremely frustrated, which, I think he should be extremely frustrated. Justin (Jackson) was 0-for-3. (Paige) was 0-for-5. Nate (Britt) was 0-for-2. Theo (Pinson) was 0-for-2. I hope the crap every one of them is frustrated, because I sure am.”
Were there a couple times where Marcus was hesitant to shoot?
“Yes. If I had made three of my last 25, hell, I’d be hesitant too.”