Well, I don't know where to start. I don't know if I've ever been more proud of a group of young men than I am with that group in the locker room right now. I've been fortunate to be around a lot of great teams, great wins, teams that may not have been great, but we had big wins. It was just a special night. The kids trusted, they believed, they went out and executed with great poise and confidence. I thought our defense was very, very good, and obviously, it was not Kansas' best night. I think they were a little out of sync.
It's easy to play when you're the underdog and when you have that No. 2 tag on you, that's tough. Kansas is a great team and have great players. We are fortunate that their big three, which scared the mess out of me, (Kirk) Hinrich, (Nick) Collison, and (Wayne) Simien were a little out of sync.
I will tell you this: When I walked out on the floor and the crowd responded to seeing Carolina Blue, I realized that New York is a Carolina town, always has been since Frank McGuire, Tommy Kearns, Lennie Rosenbluth, all of those guys on the '57 team all the way to the great players who have come from New York City and the great area, like Mike O'Koren, Sam Perkins, it's neat to bring my team back to Madison Square Garden.
About McCants' performance in MSG as a freshman
They are a different group. They are a very poised group. Rashad said one time that, ‘I think being a freshman is just a label.' They are very poised and confident and talented.
On beating Kansas down the floor
I didn't think we could beat them as a team and I think some guys can really run. Jackie (Manuel) and Raymond (Felton) can really run. But I was concerned about their five guys. I don't think there's a faster unit than Kansas. So we made some adjustments and tried to control the tempo a little bit, and then also, we usually send four guys to the boards. We just sent three guys to the boards because I did not want then getting baskets in transition.
On if this was a statement game
Well, it's a big win. One game, four games don't make a season. Coaching is very fragile thing, knock on wood! So, I'm not ready to anoint this team as, you know, national champion and not handing out rings tonight. We are fortunate, very fortunate to beat a very, very talented and well coached Kansas team. But now, if we don't get our minds right, give them to one o'clock (a.m.) to enjoy this game, if they don't get their minds right for Stanford we'll be here saying, ‘Okay, well, you didn't play well against Stanford.'
On if it was less emotional than expected facing Roy Williams and the Jayhawks
It's uncomfortable after the game is over. You don't know what to say, how to act. But he's been through it. His first game he coached against Coach (Dean) Smith his team beat Coach Smith's team. I know he's happy for me and proud for me because there's no one more that hurts more than myself and my wife last year than Roy Williams. He's won a lot of games. As we move forward, this will just be one game on that record. But he's got so many Ws and just a few Ls, that I think he's just proud and happy for me.
On facing Stanford in the title game
I have so much respect for (Stanford coach) Mike Montgomery, what he's done at Stanford, in a tough league, going to a Final Four, coaching guys to the NBA, his style of play. I'm concerned about their power. They have got some beef up front with Rob Little and Justin Davis. So I'm concerned about that just like every game because we are not as beefy up front.
So we'll have to be very active on defense. They run a lot of plays, they run a lot of set plays. It's funny how when you talk basketball, it comes down to fundamental things. We have to take care of the basketball, make some good shots, make then turn the ball over, make difficult shots and then we have to box out and rebound.
Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He hosts a late afternoon radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.