UNC-Team Nike: Locker Room Report

CHAPEL HILL, NC--<i>Inside Carolina</i>'s J.B. Cissell spoke to UNC basketball players Will Johnson, Melvin Scott, and Jawad Williams following the Tar Heels' 76-72 loss to Team Nike in exhibition play.

Will Johnson

Are there any silver linings here? In a way, is this good?

It will be good if we can learn from it. It's not good right now. It's not a good feeling, but with a young team you want to learn from things like this. We are going to watch the film and get better. I think our guys do a good job of picking up what Coach wants us to improve on. I think we are going to do that the next few days of practice before Penn State.

I thought today that we wanted to emphasize our transition defense and that is one ot the things we did well. That is a sign of guys being able to listen and pick things up. I thought we played some solid ball for spurts, but the last 10 minutes or so I think we quit pushing the ball and took some quick shots. We had some defensive break-downs. We didn't close out the opponent. You have to give them credit. They hit some tough shots. They have some experienced players, and we are going to get better from this.

Is it possible that the team relaxed down the stretch with a lead, lost it's rhythm, and couldn't get it back?

That's a learning experience for our guys. You have to play 40 minutes, especially at this level. When you play experienced players like that, they sense if you have a let down. They are going to take advantage of that. It's going to happen all season long. In a way, it's good that we learn that right now. We have to maintain our composure on offense, our intensity on defense.

Our guys understand that. They don' tlike to lose, and they'll do what it takes to not let it happen again. What it takes is listening and learning from this loss. I think we will do that.

Is this team tough enough to handle this loss without losing its confidence?

Yeah, without a doubt. This team is tough enough to handle this loss, learn from it, and come back. Every guy in here is ready to go to practice and ready to play an opponent again. And it's great. It's a good situation to be in, going into our first real game, real test. I know every guy in here is chomping at the bit to compete again and get back on track.

Melvin Scott

What made the difference in this game down the stretch?

Execution. That's what separates great teams from good teams--just how to finish guys off and execute down the stretch. I'm confident that we will learn to execute through tough times.

Is this team tough enough to handle this loss, without losing confidence?

I think so. We're so together. We lift everyone up. Some guys didnt shoot well tonight , but we are going to lift each othe up.

Is it better to learn a lesson from a loss now?

We can take a lot from tonight--a whole lot--with us being a new team. It can help us in the future. There are a lot of positives we can take from this team.

There has been a lot of talk about "swagger" and "confidence" with this team. Is it possible that this is a good thing so that you can re-examine yourselves and say, "Maybe we aren't quite as good as we thought?

Absolutely. There are things we have to do. We thought we were good Saturday and we were up here (holding hand at a high level). Now we lost, so we are here (holding hand at a low level). We are human. It's a reality check, that's all. We are going to bounce right back. I'm confident in that.

Jawad Williams

How is the confidence on this team now? Can you learn something from this loss without losing confidence?

Of course. Our season hasn't started. It starts Monday. We'll just get ready to go to practice on Friday, watch film, and realize what we did wrong.

Does this help the freshmen to understand what it takes to step up to the collegiate level?

I think this was a good lesson. Let's get the losses out of the way now. Come Monday, they all count.

Have you all talked about Penn State at all, yet?

Not yet. We take one opponent at a time. We were focused on Nike, and we'll be focused on Penn State come Friday.

Do you feel like the team missed Jackie and Rashad out there tonight?

Yeah. We missed the scoring punch, the defense, and the rebounding. They bring a lot to the game, and we missed that tonight.

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