UNC-GT Postgame: Matt Doherty

CHAPEL HILL, NC--University of North Carolina head basketball coach Matt Doherty talks about his Tar Heels' 83-77 victory over the visiting Ga. Tech. Yellow Jackets on Sunday evening.

Opening Remarks:

"First of all, I want to thank the seniors—especially Jason and Kris—for holding this group together during a very trying time. Without those guys and their leadership, we wouldn't have won this basketball game and have some hope. They could have easily pointed fingers, turned outward, caved in, whatever you want to say. We stuck together, but they led us through this period. I'm very lucky to be coaching these kids.

"I want to thank the crowd. Our crowd gets a bad rap sometimes, but I tell you what, our crowd has been nothing but supportive over the last few games, coming out here with 17,500 people. It was all positive. Even when things weren't going well, I thought the crowd was very positive throughout, and I appreciate that very much.

"We are fortunate to have won this basketball game. There were plety of mistakes to go around. We had two young teams out there playing hard, and we are fortunate that the ball bounced our way at the end. Guys made some shots. I can go down the line—it was a total team effort from Jason to Kris's rebounding to Brian Morrison to Jackie's shots to Melvin's play down the stretch. I asked him if he called that bank shot. He said he did.

"It was a good weekend for Carolina athletics. The football team won and made a bowl, the soccer teams won, and I'm glad we held up our end of the deal."

At the end with the three freshmen and the two seniors, was it a situation where you just decided that they had to be exposed to this kind of moment?

"Yeah, I thought about making some subs, but I hung with them and they made some huge plays. Jawad gave us a lift. He made some great plays. They grew up again."

When you see zone, it looks like Brian's shooting could help relieve that.

"No question. (Looking at the stat sheet) Forty seven percent from the 3-point line? Fifty percent for the game—that's nice to see. We didn't shoot foul shots real well. We had 19 turnovers, and we've got to take care of that.

"I was concerned about playing Paul's team because they are so good with their pressure, and we haven't experience that yet. It did concern me that we'd throw the ball all over the place. Actually 19 is kind of low in that kind of a situation for our team."

Is that the kind of performance that could turn Brian's shooting confidence around?

"I certainly think so. Until you do it, we can say we're good shooters all we want. But until the ball goes through the hoop in a game, you've got to feel it. I think he's going to be walking with his head held high right now."

Where did you see improvements tonight?

"Just the team. Guys came off the bench. Brian Morrison. I thought Adam Boone did a really good job. He didn't have great numbers, but when he and Brian were in the game, that's when we really turned things around in the second half. Adam and Brian did a really good job. I thought Brian Bersticker. The improvement came from the bench and the overall confidence."

What was the mood of the team over the last few days?

"Very positive, very upbeat. We were very posititive after the Indiana game. I think—again credit to Kris and Jason—I've said this before. As a coach, when you walk out of the locker room, you need your better players, your upperclassmen, to echo your sentiments. I read their quotes, and I hear through other people that those guys are really upbeat and really positive. That's a great feeling as a coach to know when I leave the locker room, Jason and Kris are echoing my sentiments."

You have said that you didn't like having an ACC game this early, but the way it turned out did it help to have a clean slate?

"Yeah, I think so. It gave us something to shoot for. We're 1-0 in the ACC. We can look at the standings for almost a month and say we are at the top of the ACC, and that will hopefully give us confidence. Hopefully, we'll stay there for a while."

You joined the cheerleaders at the end in singing the alma mater.

"It was the thing to do, I thought, walking by. I thought it would be disrespectful as they are singing the alma mater to walk by them. It just seemed like the natural thing to do to show the crowd and the student body how much I appreciate their support."

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