UNC-UK: Locker Room Report

CHAPEL HILL, NC--<i>Inside Carolina</i>'s J.B. Cissell spoke to UNC Tar Heel basketball players, Raymond Felton, Damion Grant, Jawad Williams, and Rashad McCants following Carolina's 98-81 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats.

Raymond Felton

What do you feel was the difference in the second half today?

We lacked a little bit on defense. We all kind of laid back a little bit, thinking that we were up by three, just keep it together, we're going to win. We've just got to work hard and bring it, just like we did Kansas. We've got to keep putting it on them.

Do you feel like the energy was the same as it was in the first half?

Not at first, it wasn't. Once they started making that run, they got a 12 or 13-point lead. Then we tried to bring the energy back, and it's kind of hard to come back on a great team like Kentucky.

How tough was it to watch that from the bench?

That was upsetting. I got in foul trouble with four fouls, and Coach had to sit me down, four, five, or six minutes, maybe. I was upset because they kept increasing the lead. I'm just mad that I wasn't out there.

In the first five games, the defense was really good. The last two it has dropped off. What is your analysis as to why?

Only thing I can say is that we aren't really focusing a hard as we were when we first came out. We came out and we were hungry. I'm not saying that we aren't hungry anymore; we just wanted it more than the other team did, and I think we--I'm not saying we are lacking--we aren't as focused, I think.

Damion Grant

How does it feel to get your first significant minutes in a college game?

It felt good, but the loss overwhelmed that feeling. The loss hurt a lot.

What has been the biggest adjustment for you from high school to college?

Just the concentration level. You can't just go out and play. You have to really concentrate. You can't have any mental lapses. If one person has a mental lapse everything breaks down.

Has playing in front of a large crowd affected you at all?

Before, it did. At Midnight Madness that was the largest crowd I'd ever played in front of. In the Blue-White game I was shaking the whole game. I was really nervous. Now, it doesn't really bother me that much.

Can you fill me in on the medical tests that you had to undergo? If I recall correctly, you were warming up at the Penn St. game, and then you went into the locker room and changed.

Right. I was warming up for the Penn State game. Then our trainer came out and said that Dr. Smith just called and said she wanted me to sit out and not play that game.

So nothing happened during warm-ups to initiate this?

No. It was something previously. They just wanted to do more tests.

Jawad Williams

What was it like battling in the post with Kentucky's big men? Did they give you all any trouble?

In the first half, I don't think so. I think they did a good job of really opening up the court with their 3-point shooters and made it a little easier for them to get the ball inside without us having to help each other. We had to respect their shooters.

As such a young team, you can learn from every game. What did you learn from this game?

To play hard every possession. We can't have any let-ups. If we do, a team like we played today can bury you.

Do you feel like any complacency set in once you won the Preseason NIT?

I don't think we got complacent. We were 14th at that point. That wasn't good enough for us. I think we still want to get better. I feel we are better than our ranking. Now we just have to go out and prove it.

Does the long lay-off make it more difficult with two losses in a row?

No, I think it makes us even hungrier to get out there and play.

Rashad McCants

In the second half of the last two games, this team's defense hasn't been what it was the first five. How would you assess that, and what do you have to do?

Our defense is just the same in the second half as it is in the first half. It's just that guys are hitting shots. We are contesting jump shots, playing good post defense, there's not much more we can do. We're kind of short in size, so the bigger teams are going to take advantage of that.

When you guys started out the season, you were a very together group. You were happy and winning. You've lost a couple. Do you think everyone will be just as together?

If not, we're not a team. It's a symbol of playing. We're a team. Just because we lose games, that doesn't mean everyone will break apart and go their separate ways.

How do you expect this group to react when you come back?

Just as we did yesterday and the day before that. Practice doesn't change. Just because we lose a game doesn't mean we are going to die and lie there. We have to come back and practice harder and play harder.

How is the ankle, and how did it happen?

I slipped on a wet spot, but I really don't know how it is.

Are you scheduled for treatment?

Yes, Monday.

I noticed that you still wear the shoulder harness. Are you still required to wear that?

Yes, for six weeks.

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