“I have the utmost respect for [Tony Bennett] and his club, and I have never seen his team miss that many shots. We were playing pretty well defensively sometimes, and sometimes they got wide-open shots and they just didn’t go in. That happens in the game of basketball. Nobody’s done a better job the last three years in the country than Tony Bennett has, and I really like him as a person, too. We get to talk about golf every now and then. I thought we were active. Offensively, we tried to move it, tried not to hold the ball when they doubled big-to-big. We tried to find the other big or go across the court with it, tried to move it.
“Needless to say, Justin [Jackson] was our whole offense in the first half, and in the second half he got one offensive rebound, laid it up and that was it. I got mad at him and Joel [Berry] because they both took back-to-back terrible shots, and I took them out, but he kept us in there to say the least in the first half. Again, this goes back to the ball didn’t go in the basket for them. That was basically it. Glad to see Isaiah’s starting to look more like himself again. He’s feeling better right now. Nate Britt was throwing up after pregame today, so I didn’t know what we were going to get out of him, but Nate gave us a pretty tough 14 minutes out there. But again, this was a game where some shots went in the basket for us, and they didn’t go in the basket for them.”
What did you like that your team did defensively?
“You know, it’s hard to say because I kept saying, ‘Gosh, he was open. Gosh, he was open. Gosh, he was open.’ So I’ll have to look at the tape because I‘m not real pleased defensively with anything we did right now, but they missed a lot of open shots. I think Kennedy [Meeks] was really active on the offensive end. He made some passes. He made some inside baskets for us. He controlled the ball on the board, had three blocks. He was big for us inside, but Justin offensively in the first half and then defensively like I say, we made more shots than they did, but I don’t know that we covered them better than they covered us.”
What was your defensive approach on London Perrantes and what did you like about how your team defended him?
“Well, we try to make sure to get a hand in his face all of the time because he can really shoot the ball, but he was 3-for-10, 1-for-6 from the 3-point line. He got us in a little foul trouble taking the ball to the basket and going to the free throw line. He was 5-for-5 from the line, and I think he was 4-for-4 in the first half. We tried to concentrate on everybody. They’ve got a balanced club. We wanted to try to push the tempo, but we didn’t want to take bad shots. You can push the tempo and make it really fast and then go down and take bad shots and miss them, and then they go to the other end and you play defense all night. Justin made a couple of really tough shots, one on the baseline on the far corner from our bench was really a big-time shot. London, he’s a hard guy to handle.”
Did you notice any more defensive urgency or was it just a matter of Virginia missing shots?
“I said both. I think we did some good things, but you guys saw the game. They’ve got a wide open in the corner who shoots it and it goes all of the way down in the hole and comes out. I thought we had a sense of urgency defensively. I thought we tried to do it, but I don’t think we were as good as the statistics will look like.”
How close do you think Justin Jackson is to having a special season like Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson had last year?
“We’ll have to see. We’ve got some season left to play. I don’t like to talk about long-range plans. We’ve got to play Wednesday night, but first half, that was pretty impressive what he did. Second half, he scored two more points than Wanda.”
Foul trouble for Jack Salt took him out of the lineup early. How did that change things?
“[Mamadi] Diakite is a really a skilled player, very athletic, but Salt starts for a reason. He likes him in there, so I think that did hurt them, yes.”
How much of a confidence boost can this be defensively?
“I think it will depend on what we can get from the tape and what we can show them. And I do all of the time. We cut out clips and show them after the game before we move on. We cut out bad defenses but we cut out good defenses, too. The old eye in the sky don’t lie. We’ll show it to them and see what it is. Hopefully we’ll find a few of those plays that we really did a good job defensively and not just hope that they missed a bunch of shots. I’m just being truthful. If I look at the tape and say, ‘Good God, we were good defensively,’ I’ll tell you the next time I talk to you.”