CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina Tar Heels have had very little to get excited over this season. But on this night, UNC's players had something to feel good about as the Heels clobbered Clemson, 96-78, to extend their all-time record to 48-0 against the Tigers in Chapel Hill.
Here is what Carolina's players had to say about their eighth win in 26 contests and fourth victory in 15 Atlantic Coast Conference games.
On if the Heels have improved much since winning at Clemson a month ago.
"Sure. Today we had a good effort at Clemson but today I felt like everybody contributed. Everybody had a fun moment, a fun time. It was just great way to go out for our seniors."
About not ending the streak against Clemson.
"Oh yeah, definitely. It's nice not to have ended the streak but I think more importantly for us it was nice for the senior to go out in a good way and it was nice for us to end our home season. The streak probably would have meant a lot more if we were to lose. To us, the streak, we didn't really consider it but we probably would have considered it had we lost."
On Capel hitting three quick 3-pointers out of the gate.
"Oh that was nice. We've struggled a bit coming out of the gate and for him to set the tone like that and put us on top early was a very good sign for us."
On scoring in his last game.
"It is something I'll never forget. It was a lot of fun. I give it to Kris (the move he scored on) every once in a while in practice, but it was a lot of fun. Will (Johnson) told me earlier he was going to try to get me the ball once we got in there. I passed it out to him (Johnson) and re-posted up again and he fed it to me and the guy was coming around my right and I just went up with a right-hand jump hook and it went in."
On the students chanting his name late in the game.
"It was a lot of fun. The students have been great all year. They have been behind us no matter what. It was fun to be a part of. I wish I had a couple of more games here, a couple more years left but I'm finished. I'll always remember it."
On stopping Clemson's Edward Scott.
"The main thing is that we wanted everybody to help out. No matter who you were guarding you had to sprint back in transition to help out on him so he couldn't penetrate. He was the focus. We felt if we got him under control that we could contain everybody else. Stockman went off in the first half (28 points) but we contained him in the second half and shut everybody else down."
On if the team had talked about the streak.
Did he know what it was? Does he read the papers?
"Nah, I don't read … y'all (media) have been killing us (laughter). I haven't read the papers since we lost to Hampton. Hell no."
On how tough the season has been.
"It's been very tough, I think obviously. Hell no I don't read the papers, I can't. We've been getting killed by the media. The team, individuals. I think that's negativity these young guys don't need, I don't need, the seniors don't need, nobody needs. But y'all got a job to do. Y'all gotta sell papers so that's what y'all gotta do to make yourselves feel good because Carolina is down this year. But, we'll be back."
On going out at home with a positive win and maintaining the streak, especially after such a difficult senior year.
"I am glad we kept the streak alive although it wasn't our main focus. We have remained positive despite so many things that have happened that aren't positive. I am proud of my teammates for staying strong and for us keeping this streak in tact. I think it says something about the character of this team, this family."
On remaining positive personally (first player up to greet mates coming off the floor, getting the fans into it, etc…) despite a career that hasn't been very productive from a statistical point and with this terrible season.
"That's the way I am as a person. I am a very positive person. I don't worry about the negatives I focus on the positives. That's the only way to be successful. I wanted to set an example for the younger players, for them to say, ‘Hey, he's a senior and he doesn't play much but he is still positive and cares more about the team winning than anything else.' If they can learn from my attitude then they will be better off for it next year and the years after."
On arriving at UNC while Dean Smith was still coach and having gone through the coaching changes and experiencing uncharacteristic UNC seasons (Weber State, 14 losses but Final 4, ACC title to this season). Note: Bersticker sat out the 1999-2000 season with an injury.
"As a career for me, all the stuff, I have been on some of the best teams. My freshman year we go 34-4 and go to the Final Four. And then the year that we lost to Weber State, and then we didn't have a great regular season then we turn it on the tournament and go to the Final Four. It's been a weird kind of roller coaster."
On remaining strong through the negatives.
"It's a family. We're all brothers in here (locker room). We're all family. I know that any of these guys would go to war for me and I know that I'd go to war for any of the guys in here of I've played with since I've been here. It's just a great feeling today that we are going out on such a positive note."
On the most important thing he's learned at UNC other than his education.
"I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I'd like to take some knowledge that my high school coach gave me when I was deciding on a college, and he said, ‘Once you make that decision never look back and never regret what you've done. If you ask what if that's just for sore people.' And I think that's how I try to live my life. There are some things maybe I should have changed but I love who I am right now and I love where I'm at right now and these last five years have been great."
On the team having fun.
"I love to see that my teammates are having fun out there. They were knocking down 3s and defending out there, causing turnovers. We were having fun tonight and that's what it's all about. It was great for us (seniors) to get a win tonight but it was better for the team to get a win."
On possibly avoiding the play-in game of the ACC Tournament.
"There's another positive thing you can look at. It's important, but hey, I'm just taking it one game at a time. We need to keep working hard and get ready for Duke."
Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.