“You guys have been here more times than me, so what am I going to say to start off? Everything is better when the ball goes in the basket, just wanted to see if you guys (the press) have been paying attention. We shot the ball in (the basket), but we were more active defensively, with one exception, than we have been in the long time. It reminded me going all the way back to the Maryland game of how active we were defensively today. The only thing is we didn’t do a very good job of finishing the defense and giving them so many offensive rebounds. Fortunately, they didn’t score on a lot of those, but they had a ton more offensive rebounds, 19 offensive rebounds and one for us. That’s mind-boggling. We shot a good percentage, which is more opportunities if you shoot a bad percentage. I thought that Justin (Jackson) and Marcus (Paige) early made shots, Joel (Berry) made a three early, and I thought that gave us some confidence when they went zone. I thought Brice (Johnson) was really effective in the second half. I was really surprised he had six rebounds at half and he only had seven for the game. But I do think that Theo (Pinson) gave us a big lift coming off the bench. You look at Theo's line, he took one shot, had six assists, and only one turnover. He was trying to make a play. I didn’t think he should’ve tried to make a play, but I can always live with that kind of turnover. He was trying to throw a lob to a guy who was open, but they made a good defensive play. He’s 6-1 (assist-to-turnover) and Justin Jackson is 6-1. Shooting the ball in the basket and our effort defensively were the two most important things for us. It did help when their two guys (Jamel) Artis and (Michael) Young both got fouls. I think they got a third foul early in the second half, so that helped no question.”
How do you make sure guys won't equate playing well with how much they score?
“It’s human nature. Today’s culture makes it even worse because that’s all most people talk about, especially their parents. But, it’s the reason I try to praise, it’s the reason you see me and Coach (Hubert) Davis every time someone makes a good pass we stand up and point at him on the sideline trying to recognize it. Our turnovers and their lack of turnovers lost the game at Notre Dame. Today, we had 11 turnovers and they had 19 turnovers. What I don’t like is offensive turnovers like Kennedy (Meeks) backing a guy down, Brice setting an illegal screen. We had another silly one like that, and we don’t need those. I think you just have to tell the team it’s all about the name on the front of they jersey. I’ve said many, many times if you take care of the name on the front of the jersey the name on the back will be taken care of. I was just happy to finish the daggum game. It was boring the other night, didn’t feel well, and it was boring, too.”
After you've had a lot of drama and close calls in recent games, was this kind of result a welcome game?
“That’s a good word for it: drama. I just think in the ACC you’re supposed to play close games like that. But I think that both road games at Notre Dame and at Louisville we had a chance to win, at Boston College we had a chance to win and did, but they had a chance to win too. To me, that’s more what you see in the ACC. It doesn’t bother me, the scores, I’d like to preform better down the stretch and execute under a little bit of adversity, I’d like for us to do that a lot better. There’s no question if you score 85 and win by that margin, everybody’s happy because guys got more playing time, they’re happier about the way they played not just the fact that it was not in contention the last 60 seconds of the game.”
It's hasn't been since the Syracuse game that you had a run like you did today ...
“Ball went in the basket. It’s really pretty simple because we’ve had some really good shots that we haven’t made. I told Brice because he missed a layup, Marcus and Joel (Berry) just missed some wide-open threes, you’re going to miss some shots. But during that stretch I think the best thing we did is pass the basketball. We made no borderline passes. I think during that stretch we didn’t have a turnover in a nine-minute stretch.”
Do you think what we saw today was part of a springboard effect from the Boston College win?
“Could be. I think the guys were very positive after the game with the outcome against Boston College. They didn’t feel like they played exceptionally well, but they were very pleased with the outcome. Some of my teams may not have been able to fight through it and get that done, but I think that did get them some positive feelings. Virginia after that big game against Wake Forest, it was a big thing for them. We’ve got some very difficult games left. I do like the attitude of our team, the feeling of our team in the locker-room when they saw the results of more effort and more concentration.”
Shooting can cover up a lot of things. Were you happy with the rest of the team's performance today?
“I was really pleased with us defensively with the exception of finishing the defense, getting a good box out, and coming up with the ball. They’re a really good rebounding team. I think our rebound margin was a little bit more than them coming into the game. We were one position maybe ahead in the ACC standings, but they were vicious going after that ball on the offense boards. Couple times Kennedy had it in his hands and didn’t hang onto it. I was pleased that Joel and Nate (Britt), those guys got back and got some tough rebounds. That’s really the only thing that I would say, the silly turnovers when you just make an offensive foul or something like that, and the failure to finish the defense were the things I was not pleased with. I liked the shot selection. I even told Justin he was 2-3 from three and the only one he missed was the last one and it looked different, almost like he shot it too quick. He needed to see some of those to go in as well. He’s had two good games in a row shooting the basketball, 9-11 and 6-10. I love the 6 assists and 1 turnover just as much. The one turnover was when there was a miscommunication between Theo and Marcus in front of our bench when he passed it out of bounds.”
Was the defense improvement just effort or was it something else they were doing?
“All year long it’s been you have to concentrate on keeping the ball in front of you because of dribble penetration. I should go back and say we’ve got to do a better job of guarding the guy in the post because a couple of times they got it six or eight feet away and just drove it straight to the basket. It is effort, but it’s also concentration. My guys, they don’t ever loaf, but there are different degrees of how much you can give. I think we need to do a better job more consistently at the highest level, and I thought we did that today. Marcus one time just kept the ball. A guy tried to drive about three different directions, he kept it in front of him and Joel came in and knocked it away and we took it down on the break. Joel did the same thing, and Brice even got down in a stance one time. He (Brice) broke out in a sweat, and he lived through it so that was alright...”
UNC-Pitt: Roy Williams Postgame