"I'm certainly encouraged by our team's effort. I felt Tony Akins played a valiant game, considering he's playing with a pretty badly bruised lower back and a mild concussion. He's a senior and he's done some pretty good things in this league—especially last year. I think he deserves a little bit more respect than he got out there tonight."
Matt said on your last trip down the floor, they had a foul to give and they wanted to switch off the screen and maybe foul. What happened on Tony's pass?
"Well, frankly I think he got hit when he drove the foul line, pulled up for the foul line jump shot. I thought he beat the freshman Melvin Scott with a good move, and he reached over and slapped his arm down on that jump shot with 3:55 to go. Matt said they were trying to give a foul, and it looked like he got fouled., I'm not the one to answer that question though –why he wasn't given a foul.
"I think he's a senior and he deserves a lot of respect. I think Kris Lang got some respect towards the end of the game on that play on the baseline. I think Tony deserves the same respect. He's a good player, he's our leader, he's a good kid, he doesn't talk back to anybody. I think he deserves a little respect. For us to not go to the foul line the entire second half, that's pretty tough to swallow."
What were the injuries you said he has?
"He has a mild concussion and a bruised lower back—or he had. He was cleared by the doctors to play. He did not practice Friday and Saturday."
Did he get those after the Wisconsin game?
"No he got them in practice the next day—the Thursday practice."
Is there a turning point?
"Certainly Brian Morrison gave them a huge lift tonight. I don't want to take anything away from the Carolina kids. I thought Brian Morrison gave them a huge lift for a team that's been struggling to find some outside shooting,and then you see a kid step up like that, certainly you're happy for him. I'm not happy for my team that he did, but certainly I'm happy for him. He showed a lot of courage tonight, stepping up and taking and making some big shots.
"Kris Lang, he's a hard-working young man, a great player, one of the best players in the ACC. While we sagged on him he still found ways to get defensive rebounds and contribute for his team."
What were the good things that you saw?
"For us? I just thought we built on the intensity level and the energy level we played with for the last 12 minutes of the Wisconsin game. For the first 28 minutes we didn't play with any energy or intensity, and I thought in the second half, the last 12 minutes of that game and right into this game I thought we played with great intensity—which is what we're going to have to do, because we're going to have to scrap."
"We outrebounded them, we had more offensive rebounds and those are all hustle stats. I'm not saying that we outhustled UNC, but we're going to have to play like that. We're going to have to play with a lot of energy to put ourselves in position to win games. When you do that, you hope that you get a break or two down the stretch."
Where do you feel like this game got away in the last couple of minutes?
"I don't think it got away, because I mean I don't think either team was out of it. It was a hard-fought game. I thought both teams played very well. Brian Morrison stepped up and made some very big shots. I thought there were some breaks that didn't go our way down the stretch, and there were some breaks that went their way down the stretch. I thought our senior Tony Akins deserves a little more respect than he got out there tonight. He's a senior, and he's done some pretty good things in this league. I hope he just gets what's coming to him."
Question was inaudible.
"One of our plans, and I think our kids follow instructions pretty well, was to spread the floor and take them off the dribble some. To not get to the foul line in the second half is pretty tough to beat a team."
How big of a key was that—the fact that five minutes into the half they were shooting one-and-one?
"We fouled them. We fouled them. It's tough. You can't do that. But again, I think Tony did some things to draw some contact, and I wish he could have gotten to the foul line, especially the last four minutes a couple times. I think he could have made a big difference for our confidence level and our positioning down the stretch."
What happened the last couple of minutes? Did they tighten up when the shots didn't go down?
"We had good looks. I don't think anybody short-armed them. I thought Halston was aggressive going to the basket. He went into traffic pretty hard a couple of times. He made one, he missed a couple. Maybe there was one shot that I thought we could be more aggressive on. B.J. had it going and he had Will Johnson out on him, and the floor was spread out. He took a shot, a good shot, but I thought he had room to go to the basket.
"But I thought our guys made aggressive plays. That move that Tony made coming out at 3:55, when he got by Scott, and Scott reached over—just below the foul-line jump shot. You watch the tape, it shows it clearly—he had a good look at the basket and something stopped that ball. Something knocked that ball off target, and it wasn't a blocked shot."
Is a moral victory tough?
No, there are no moral victories. Am I pleased with the effort? Of course I am. I tell my team, I give my honest assessment. I thought we played hard enough and well enough to win. So did Carolina though. They played hard enough and well enough to win, and they got the win."
Is this a good road test for you this early? I know you don't want to lose in the ACC like this, but does it help your younger kids to get this experience?
"Sure. I said coming into the game that I thought the early ACC game, followed by a gap—a break away from the ACC—might give us some perspective of what we're going to face come January. But we've got to build on it. It doesn't really help us if we don't take from this experience and build on it. I thought we built on the last 12 minutes of our last game. I thought we played with the type of energy we need to play with, the type of reckless abandon we need to play with, but we've got to keep building on it.
"We'll try to keep our guys fresh, maybe not practice them too long, and keep their intensity level in practice up, so we can bring this type of energy to every game."
From your perspective what happened to your team from the 4:53 mark when you had the 6-point lead and they started the run?
"I thought we made some plays to put us in position to get to the foul line, and we didn't get those. I thought Tony made a good move coming out of the 3:55 time-out. I'm not sure what the score was. He got by the kid and got a good look at the basket. Something knocked that shot off target. I thought Kris Lang was shown the respect he deserves, and I thought Tony should be shown the same respect that he deserves in the last four minutes of the game.
"Brian Morrison stepped up and made some huge shots for them. I mentioned before, for a team that's struggling shooting the ball behind the 3-point line, it takes a lot of courage for somebody to step up and take the big shots, and he made them.
"They played well enough to win; we played well enough to win. They won the game, but it's tough when your senior point guard puts your team in position to do something positive and it doesn't turn out the way you think it should. He's a senior, and he deserves a lot of respect. I don't think he was shown a lot of respect out there tonight—no respect at all. He played 36 minutes and had the ball in his hands 90 percent of the time. He's pretty tough, he's pretty tough."