"Needless to say, this feels better than it did after the game in Lexington. That's one thing we said when we went into the locker room. We didn't play our best game by any means, but [Rob] Hite is a very, very gifted player.
"I was pleased with Jawad [Williams]. I thought he did a nice job on Darius [Rice]. I also understand that Darius just had a bad night and we can't take credit for all that. I do believe that we tried to focus on making every shot difficult and being able to get over top of all the screens that they set for him.
"We wanted to force some turnovers and get our break going, and I think we did that. We didn't want to play scramble on every possession, because I think teams get used to it. We tried to mix it up and vary it so they didn't know exactly when it was coming. Our defense did dictate a lot of what happened in the game. You have heard me complain about our defense, but I thought our defense was much better tonight.
"In the first part of the game, I think our guys were really tight. Around here when you lose a game, people think it's about the end of the world. Players start feeling stress and more pressure because the expectations and standards. So early in the game, I thought we were a little tentative. After we settled down a little bit, we got the ball inside to Sean for some really good looks and his 23-and-16 looks not only good from his standpoint, but also for how the players got him the ball.
"So much attention has been paid to Rashad McCants, because I took him out of the game at Kentucky. It's been totally unfair to him, because I took out four other guys with him. But the only one they've talked about is Rashad. In the second half, I took out Rashad and Raymond at the same time and nobody talked about that.
"I was very pleased with Rashad. I would be surprised if this was not his best defensive game.
"Needless to say, I thought Jackie Manuel was huge for us. Jawad's defense, Sean's inside play and Rashad's defense…and Jackie just hitting the board and doing all the little things he always does. And fortunately we caught Darius on a night when he didn't have a very good game.
"May didn't play a great game tonight and he had 23 and 16. But when I say he didn't have a great game, it's because I have such high standards for him. One time he was so open he didn't know what to do, so he missed the shot and then missed the tip-in also. Again, I think he was trying to work on his rebound numbers (kidding).
"We didn't shoot the ball as well as I think we can shoot the ball. We were over 50-percent, but we missed three of our last four shots. You don't like to see that, because I like to keep it above there. I like keeping the other team below 40-percent, so I think our defense was good."
On how Rashad responded in practice this week:
"He practiced really well. I'm very disappointed that our own hometown newspapers are making such a big deal out of him. I would say that our two practices have been two of our best for everybody, not just Rashad. He's got that stone face and his mannerisms and looks make him seem like he's pouting all the time. I thought he was very attentive in practice and I thought he was very attentive in the game tonight. He had a bad game Saturday, but some other folks had a bad game Saturday also."
Jackie had a 3-pointer…:
"I told him I still didn't want him shooting 3-point shots. I told the guys on the bench that I didn't give him that freedom. But after he had played as well as he had and gotten a good dunk - that excited me - so I didn't mind him taking it and I really didn't mind him taking it when it went in. I think he was 0-for-3 for the year, so if that's the last one he makes and plays like he did tonight, that will be fine with me - unless he shoots 100."
What all has Jackie gotten better at?
"More than anybody else on the team, Jackie Manuel has bought into what makes North Carolina's team do well. He's bought into all of the little things. He's bought into complete intensity when he's out there. He's playing with a sense of urgency, which I think has been lacking, but not in Jackie. He tries to do everything that he's asked to do. On the defensive end of the floor, even when he makes a mistake, its because he's trying to do too much. It's never a failure of omission."
Are you getting more comfortable with Melvin at the point?
"Did you see those three turnovers in 35 seconds? Yes, I am getting more comfortable, but tonight didn't make me more comfortable. I looked around and I started to put in Coach [Steve] Robinson's son in instead of Melvin at one time. But I have been very pleased. You know Melvin is probably second only to Jackie, in that he's bought into things and tried to do things the right way. I thought against Kentucky, he played a better game than anybody. Somebody told me when he was a freshman trying to play point guard that it was a very dramatic thing. That's the way I felt when those 35 seconds were going by tonight."
A lot has been written, a lot has been said, a lot has been talked about that after the last game Old Roy sees what Matt Doherty went through
now that he has to deal with a troop of spoiled brats. What's your response to that?
I know that you guys have standards you have to go by, whether it be print media, TV media, radio, or whatever it is. But there's so much in today's society that people don't have to go by. I've used a phrase that I probably shouldn't. I said that any so-and-so on the streets of Raleigh can do a website and chatroom and put it on the Internet and people think they're experts. And that part of it is damaging. I know what kind of kids we have. I know the problems we have, they know the problems we have. I can go in that locker room right now and tell every kid that I love them. I don't have any problem with saying that whatsoever. My son and my daughter I don't love anything in the world as much as I do them. But you know what? I've gotten mad at them before because of their behavior, because of something they did. If they continue to do that then it gets to be a habit, and I do get really, really upset at that. But to say that I know what Coach Doherty went through and that we've got a bunch of spoiled brats don't use my terminology, use whatever he said I think that's not right. I think what you have to do is to get teams to focus.
Every one one of you guys and girls in here, you know what? You're as selfish as you can possibly be. You want what you want. You know who's the most selfish player I've been around in my life? Michael Jordan. But he did everything he could for his team to win. If he scored 40, he wanted 50! He wanted to beat you. Every one of the players I've coached has been selfish to some extent. And the great players are the ones who fight that selfishness off if it's hurting their team. And that's the challenge we've got with this team. I don't think we've been spoiled brats or whatever terminology you used, but we have been focusing upon our own individual self, and that's nothing unusual. One of the greatest players I ever coached at Kansas, Rex Walters, I've told him a million times, "You're the most selfish player I've ever coached," And I've got as much respect for him as anybody because by God he was tough. He wanted to beat your tail. We've just go to do a better job of fighting that off, but I don't think we've got a locker room full of bad kids.
What happened to Matt they're sorry about it, I'm sorry about it, I hate that it happened but they got a bad rap on the press conference when they walked down the hall when somebody told them to come down the hall for a press conference, and (SID) Steve (Kirschner) himself said that he should've given them more forewarning. Every one of you guys look sloppy half the time yourself. When someone tells you to come around and get in front of the camera in 10 minutes, you know you're not going to primp around, especially if you're at not home. But they got a bad rap, and they're still getting a little bit of that. We still have some problems. We're not Green Acres - what was that farm where everyone was so nice? Green Acres. We're not Green Acres, but we're not the Oakland Athletics of the old days either.