“Well, I was really proud of our team, the way we withstood that first seven or eight or nine minutes. I don’t very often look at the clock, so I can’t tell you exactly what it was, but I knew they were kicking our tails, and the crowd was going crazy, and they were making shots, but I was pleased with the way we just kept playing. It showed a veteran club out there, we didn’t go crazy or do anything. I did take Brice (Johnson) and Kennedy (Meeks) out really quickly, because we talked about boxing out, and the first possession we got three bad boxouts between the two of them. So hopefully it worked a little bit. They did a little bit better job rebounding, not much, the first half. The second half, I thought we did a much better job of making contact and boxing out and not letting them get two shots every time. Halfway through the first half, Justin Jackson got us right in the game. We were out of the game, almost, and I always say you never lose a game in the first half, but it certainly looked like they were running us out of the building. Justin made some big baskets for us there in that stretch. Brice finally made one, Theo (Pinson) got it to the basket and passed for a good one. For me, the whole game was that stretch right there. We didn’t end the half very well, they scored their last field goal with about nine minutes (left), but we kept fouling them and they scored eight points from the free throw line in the last few minutes. Then we got off to a good start in the second half, and we weathered the storm. We didn’t handle late-game situations the best, there, there were some turnovers and missed shots, but we’ve got to feel very fortunate. We outrebounded them, 43-36, and first half they had us 11-2 on points after offensive rebounds, in the second half, we got them 7-4, so that was a big change for us, too.”
After Cat Barber got off to such a good start, what was the key to improving defensively?
“It was either Cat making it, or, when they missed, they got the offensive rebound, so it was both. In the second half, we did a better job of boxing out, and tried to stay in front of Cat. The first two baskets he got, our big guys didn’t get back and help build the wall to try to slow him down. If he’s coming at you full-speed, there’s almost nobody that can stay in front of him by theirselves. But I think we got some help and Joel Berry and Marcus (Paige) got a little more used to his speed.”
Did Nate Britt and Joel Berry’s foul trouble lead to giving Theo Pinson a chance to guard Cat Barber?
“Yeah. Because both of them had two fouls. I put Joel back in, but I think I got him and Nate both out. Neither one of them played the last two and a half or three minutes, but that’s the reason we went with Theo, because hopefully Theo’s size, he can give Cat a little more space, doesn’t have to get up on him as close and with his size and length, hopefully he would bother his shot a little bit. But I don’t know how much we bothered a guy that got 32.”
That’s five straight games for Justin Jackson in double-figures, what did you like out of him tonight offensively?
“Well, that stretch where he was 2-3 from 3 in the first half, he missed the only one he took in the second half. He made a couple of 3s, he also took it to the basket and got fouled and got a three-point play like that. He was just more aggressive, and the shot went in, that always helps. But I think he was good defensively, too. I think the one place Justin has grown more this year than anything is on the defensive end of the floor.”
What does it mean to follow up a strong showing Saturday with another one against N.C. State after an emotional loss to Duke?
“It’s the ACC, guys. It really is. Jim Larrañaga said it, I didn’t even say it Saturday night, he did - in this league, you’re gonna lose some. Everybody you play, it looks like down the stretch, everybody we play is really good. State had won three in a row at home. The rest of our games aren’t easy coming up, either. But, I think the big key to me is we didn’t feel this ‘woe is me’ and feel sorry for ourselves after we didn’t execute the way we wanted to at the end of the Duke game. We gave them a day off, as you know, and we came back and had a big-time practice on Friday, and we really, really played well on Saturday and tried to put that behind us, too. I told them the same thing, I said we didn’t talk about Duke after it was over, we’re not talking about Miami. We’ve got to start talking about North Carolina State. When we played them at our place, I don’t think either team played very well. We shot the ball—Marcus was 1-for-9, Justin was 2-for-9, Theo was 0-for-5, there was somebody else in there that made them 4-for-28. But, we made enough plays in the second half, and I think we did a better job on Cat in the second half over there, but also, we got fortunate they missed some shots. I didn’t want them to think about Miami, I wanted them to focus on State.”
Did you make any defensive adjustments after the first 10 or so minutes, or was that your team just picking back up and playing?
“The only adjustment was when I got mad and took out Kennedy and Brice for a few minutes and left them in there. I think the kids sort of realized again how the quickness that Cat has, and I think Joel (Berry) and Marcus and Nate, all three, took some turns on him, but again, the biggest thing is cutting out those offensive rebounds. It wasn’t necessarily a defensive adjustment, it was just boxing out better and going and getting the ball. Because if they have 11-2 on offensive rebounds, I’d probably guess most of those were in the first 10 minutes of the first half.”
Have you seen an extra skip in Justin Jackson’s step over the last few games?
“Probably. Everybody, you could probably say ‘God, you’re playing great defense. Boy, you’re rebounding the ball. Boy, you’re not turning it over.’ You can say all of those things, but kids live and die by how the ball goes in the basket. Whether I like it or not, that’s the way it is. I think he’s playing more confidently right now, I know he’s shooting it more confidently, but I just tried to focus on the fact that he was doing a good job for us defensively. I still need him and Theo both to rebound the ball more for us. Justin had six rebounds tonight, Theo had three, but we need to get some offensive rebounds from that three spot.”
What were the timeouts for at the end of the game?
“We had foul trouble. I didn’t like what we were doing, so I was trying to coach. That’s the bottom line. At one point, we went with Marcus at the point and tried to set a flat screen for him, and we threw it to Joel (Berry) and he threw it away on the side. What I didn’t want to do was just go down and give up quick threes. That’s what I told them.”
Does a win against a rival put an extra pep in your step?
“That loss against another rival last Wednesday night, what’s the opposite of pep? Because that was in my step. It is. Every day you’ve got to play. Mark (Gottfried)’s club, three big wins at home in a row, so we had a great deal of respect for them coming in, so that makes you feel a heck of a lot better when you leave with a win, too.”
UNC-NCSU: Roy Williams Postgame