UNC-UConn: Locker Room Report


How big was this win?

It was real big. It gave us a big confidence boost. But we still have to realize there's a lot of things we have to do to become a great basketball team.

Is this the best moment at Carolina for you?

So far, but I think I can be looking forward to a lot more.

Is this as much fun as you've had in a while?

Yeah. It was a big win for us, but we still realize we have a lot to do to get better.

On taking a leadership role with the team:

I just try to do what I can to help the team win. I do the little things. You know, if my shot's not falling like it was tonight, there's a lot of other things I can do—box out and things like that. I just try to do what it takes to win. I assert myself a lot more. I realize it's the little things that help you win college basketball games.

On improvement in Carolina's post players:

It's a good feeling. Our big guys are steadily improving every game, and they're playing their role.

On the game-winning shot:

I figured I missed two threes early, but if I take one dribble I don't think anyone can stop me.

We felt confident. We knew we were going to win the game. I figured if I got the ball—I told Ray (Felton) that if he couldn't get the ball to Rashad (McCants), to make sure he got it to me. And I hit the shot.


On his impressions of his 27-point performance:

I think I played pretty good. A pretty good all around game, rebounds, getting my team involved.

On what it says to beat a quality team like UConn:

It says we're just as good as they are. We're well coached, and the whole nine (yards), you know. We're going to play harder than anyone else on the court.

On the offensive strategy against UConn's Emeka Okafor:

We actually wanted to go away from Emeka because he's so good, shot-blocking wise. We wanted to bring him out toward the three-point line and drive it. And we did that. You can't back down from any kind of player like that. That's what he wants. So we just tried to go at him.

On maintaining focus while playing zone defense:

You know, you get lackadaisical, because you're standing a lot, and you're not moving as much. But you still have to stay focused and know where the shooters are.

On keeping his edge sharp:

I just want to win. That's my new edge—win every game, and play as hard as possible, and get my teammates involved.

On the performance of Byron Sanders:

Sanders always comes out and does the dirty work for us—screening, rebounding, putting in buckets. He does it all. I think he's underlooked as far as how good he is.

On whether the team is having more fun in the last two games:

Definitely. Everybody's having fun being themselves. Everybody is playing a lot harder. We know we've got to win every game. We can't take any breaks, no matter what record we have or what losses we have.


Can you talk about the growth you've felt in your game the last few weeks?

Yeah. I feel a lot stronger in the post. All the minutes I've been playing have been making me better. I like playing against better people, because it helps make me better.

On the importance of the win:

It's big to beat a ranked team. We played with heart—a lot of heart. We just kept going, and finished it. It was a great win.

Did the zone help you on defense tonight?

Yes it did. Yes it did. You know, my endurance—when we were playing man, my endurance was down. So I kept calling myself out of the game. And then when we're in the zone, it helped a lot.

What is your take on the relationships between the players and the coaches?

I think we're together. We're a good team. With the coaches, you know, we talk about whatever. Whatever is going wrong, or whatever.


How did you feel about your game tonight?

I feel great about it. I played good defense. I made some turnovers here and there, when I should have taken good control of the ball and pushed the ball up the court and made better passes. I rushed a couple of passes that I shouldn't have. But you know, that's mistakes you're going to make at times. As long as I just keep my composure and settle down, and make good passes, things work out.

Did UConn's trap surprise you at first?

Yeah, you know, it threw us. It threw me off guard. A couple of times I wasn't ready for it, and I tried to rush through the press instead of setting up the press offense. I just settled down, breaking the press down, making a pass out of it, and just going with it.

They're a team that's got great experience. They've got older guys. They were a little physical, a little bit. But that's what the weight room is for, to prepare for things like that.

On Okafor's fourth foul:

I think he fouled me, because I got my body into him. I went up for the shot, and he kind smacked my arm a little bit. He got the ball, but he also smacked my arm a little bit. So I think it was a great call. Sometimes you don't get that call.

On the crowd support late in the game:

That's the best feeling ever. Hearing the fans going crazy loud, you can't hear nothing in the gym, you know. It's a great feeling.

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