UNC-Rutgers: Locker Room Report

CHAPEL HILL, NC--<i>Inside Carolina</i>'s J.B. Cissell spoke to UNC basketball players Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel, and Rashad McCants after the Tar Heels' 71-67 victory over Rutgers in the second round of the Preseason NIT.

Jawad Williams

On that last lay up you made, what was going through your mind when you got the ball?

Just go up strong, try to draw the foul, and finish the play.

Did you call the bank on that 3-pointer? (Grinning) Something like that.

Is it fun playing with these guys?

Yeah, it's a lot of fun. We're young, but we have great leaders on this team. It's great. We get along on and off the court.

Overall, this team is small. So they need your height down low. But you are almost always going against guys who weigh more. How did you get 11 rebounds tonight?

I don't think rebounding has anything to do with weight. It's about going to get the ball. I did a good job of getting position and I attacked the ball.

What sort of problems was that number 1 (Lamizana) giving you when he had the ball?

He was giving me a lot of problems tonight. He did some things I didn't know he could do. Down the stretch, the best thing to do was keep the ball out of his hands. You can't score if you don't have the ball.

Jackie Manuel

What does it feel like in the locker room this year, know that you're winning, as opposed to last year?

I don't think there's any difference. Last year, we wanted to win. This year we want to win. We just went out and played hard.

But what about the feeling about the win tonight?

Everybody is excited about the win. But I tell the guys that they have to calm down. We have a game on Sunday. This is only your second game. Enjoy this win tonight, but be ready to practice Friday. Be focused.

Do you try to savor the wins more this year?

I enjoy the win that night, and then I forget about it the next day. I know I have to move on because we have other games to play. There are other opponents ready to come in and give us their all.

Rashad McCants

You grew up in North Carolina. You must have seen some Carolina come backs. What's it like to be a part of one?

Carolina builds on come backs. To be in a situation like that is to thrive under pressure. They did it. We can do it too.

Did you approach your defensive assignment differently, once you got your fourth foul? Were you hesitant?

Not at all. I would have given up a foul for my teammates any time. I just had to play smart. I didn't want to give up any lay ups because we were still down. I just wanted to play hard.

Matt said that he took you out for some things you did wrong in the first half. What did he say to you?

He really didn't say anything. That's what I like about Coach Dohertyhe made me figure it out by myself. He made me sit over there and say "What are you going to do when you get back in?" I had to tell myself that I wanted to help my team win.

What does it do for this team to win a half-court game, where you have to grind it out, when you are best at running?

We had to be more patient. We are so used to being up-tempo--fast, fast, fast, not slowing down at all. We have a very fast point guard who likes to go, go, go. It's going to be an adjustment for us to really slow it down, take care of the ball and score.

Before the game, I saw you leading the cheer in the team huddle, getting the guys hyped up. Did you say anything in the huddle on the floor in the last four minutes of the game?

I did. Basically, I was like "Refuse to lose. It's total domination from this point on. We can not lose this game. We won't lose this game."

Do you feel like the guys on the team are responding to your role as a leader and are you comfortable doing that?

Definitely, I'm comfortable with that. The guys tell me that they need my energy. I need their energy, so I react on their reaction, and that's what happened. We came out with a lot of energy.

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