UNC-Stanford: Locker Room Report II

JONATHAN HOLMES

IC: Did you ever expect that this level of success could come for this group this soon?

Holmes: We're a confident group -- it's great that it's been such a quick turnaround. We have such a confident group and we came up here to win, and starting off 3-0 was definitely a good boost for us. Will and I were talking before we cut the net down, how great and awesome this is to be up here on center stage, at the Garden -- it's a great feeling.

IC: Was that your decision to cut the net down, as the captain?

Holmes: Yeah -- Coach Doherty and the trainer brought the scissors with us and we knew if we got the victory we'd have the chance to cut the nets down, and kind of get a feel for how that feels.

IC: Last year's team struggled against the zone at times -- what's your basic game plan for playing against the zone?

Holmes: Well, just not to settle completely for jump shots. You can attack the zone by getting in the middle of the lane, getting those short jumpers, packing it in and then kicking it out for open 3s. We were just aggressive -- we knew they were probably going to zone us because they've had a lot of success with that the last 2 or 3 games. We just tried to make sure we got good looks -- pass it inside, kick it out for a 3, go back inside and get an easy bucket. We kind of dictated out there how to handle the zone and knocked down the shots.

IC: Do you feel as comfortable playing against the zone as the man?

Holmes: I think so. As a team, we have so much versatility, that whatever a team tries to do against us, I think we'll be able to counter it, whether they come out and pressure us like Kansas did, or stay back in a zone like Stanford. That's a tribute to our team, that we have the talent and ability to change up, and change for every opponent.

IC: What was your role when you went in for a two-minute spell in the second half -- anything special?

Holmes: Just come in and hold it down out there. We'd gotten a nice lead and things might have gotten a little stagnant for a couple of minutes late in the second half, and I got an opportunity to come in and play, just to try to provide some energy and spark and get things back rolling, and defend. So nothing special -- every time I go in I try to provide some leadership.

IC: Have you noticed any difference in the way the coaching staff and Coach Doherty respond to mistakes this season?

Holmes: I think they're just being more patient -- we have so many young guys, you have to be. Our young guys are growing up very quickly -- the maturation process has gone a lot faster than I'm sure a lot of people thought. They're growing up every day, and when they do make mistakes, that's what people have to realize -- they are freshmen, they are sophomores, everybody's going to make mistakes. Playing in big time games like these and being able to perform at the highest level shows how talented we are. I think [Doherty] is being more patient and giving more leeway, and letting guys just play basketball.

IC: You went through last year -- some of the fans in responding to the good start this year are talking in a negative way about the guys that were on the team last year, both the departing players and the ones who transferred -- how does that make you feel as someone who played with those guys?

Holmes: You know, it's tough, because with those guys leaving and the people graduating we formed very close friendships -- with Brian and Adam and everybody that left. That's tough to hear because we were a team, we were a close group and everybody was friends, we had great chemistry. For people to point fingers at one player or two players, or different players, I just don't think that's fair. I mean, if it had been one thing, we would have corrected it. It's great to put last year behind us and move forward and get on a roll right now.

IC: With all the things you've been through at Carolina, where does this rank?

Holmes: This is up there very high. Having gone to a Final Four my freshman year and having a lot of success my sophomore year, this is up there pretty high. We won out in Maui my freshman year and that was a great experience just like this, but I've been a big-time Knicks fan for a long time, so to come here to the Garden and win a tournament, and cut down the nets at the Garden -- it's been a dream of mine for a long time just to play on the floor, and now to cut down the nets and win a championship is even sweeter.

IC: You might have a chance to win more games here this year than the Knicks will …

Holmes: Wow....come on man! Come on, hey, we're going to be okay! We're struggling right now but we're going to be okay.

But it's great that we're (Carolina) going to come back in December, spend a good five or six days in New York and experience this life, it's great.

IC: Have there been any examples this season where you've felt the need to say something to the younger guys about how to prepare for a game or how to bounce back from a big win …

Holmes: Like I said, they're a very mature group of guys. They're looking to Will and myself and also Jackie, Jawad, and Melvin for leadership and guidance. They've really adapted and grown so far this season -- we tell him they have to be here at this time and little things like that, but as far as handling wins and stuff like that, I think they have a great understanding of the game, to not underestimate an opponent and come prepared everyday for practice. They're a great group, I'll tell you what.

DAMION GRANT

IC: How did it feel to get some PT?

Grant: It felt good, but the win felt better -- it definitely felt a lot better.

IC: That blocked shot there -- was that a foul or not?

Grant: Aw, that wasn't a foul...

IC: A little sympathy call there?

Grant: Yeah, that's all that was. Stanford's a great team -- they're a tough team, but we just come out and we play hard.

IC: Are you cleared now medically, 100%?

Grant: Yeah, I think so–

IC: Were you worried about it at all?

Grant: No, I definitely wasn't worried about it -- it was just dehydration and they wanted to make sure that's all it was, dehyrdration.

IC: Did you expect college basketball to be this fun this fast–

Grant: Yeah, I knew it was going to be fun. I knew it was going to be tough but it was also going to be fun -- you have your tough times and your happy times.

IC: After a practice, how long does it take you to recover....

Grant: As soon as we get in the locker room, that's it. I mean, practices are tough, but it's not like it's hell -- practices are also fun.

IC: How are you enjoying school?

Grant: School is great, it's great. No complaints there, I'm just happy to be here.

IC: What's you favorite class?

Grant: My favorite class was actually Afri 40 [African Studies], which I took in the summer, that's been my favorite class, and English.

IC: Do you like to write?

Grant: Yeah, I like to write every now and then about things that I'm interested in. If I find a topic that I really like then I'll write about it.

IC: What's it like for you, you come from a different perspective, this whole mania around college basketball?

Grant: At first it was kind of awkward -- I was trying to understand the hype around college basketball, the intensity. It was kind of a difficult transition at first but I'm kind of used to it -- I love the game, I love basketball.

IC: Even better than soccer?

Grant: Well, I don't know! I love soccer --

IC: Were you a goalie, a striker...

Grant: A sweeper..

IC: So are you good with your head?

Grant: (chuckles) I usually take some off a couple of corners.

IC: What coach works with you in practice the most on your game?

Grant: It would be Coach Wojcik -- he definitely helps me a lot. During practice, when we're scrimmaging and stuff he's right there, yelling at me to post up and get lower, stuff like that.

Reporter: what has it been like for you to play in front of big crowds --

Grant: At Midnight Madness, that was the largest crowd I'd ever been in front of, I was kind of nervous. Even at the Blue and White game, I was shaking the whole game, even though I had the first two points of the game, you'd think that'd go away, but I was shaking the whole game. It took me a while to get used to it, but now it doesn't bother me that much.

IC: What's it like going against Sean May in practice, with all his moves?

Grant: Sean -- Sean is a match -- but guys like that make you better. I like playing against Sean, it's a challenge for me with his offense -- that just makes my defense better.

IC: What do you need to improve on to get some playing time?

Grant: I guess you should talk to coach about it -- I've been working hard in practice, doing what's he asking me to do, getting rebounds and blocking shots. That's all they're teaching me right now -- I've been doing that so I guess I just have to wait my turn.


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