I was proud of our players. I was proud of their effort. This was a big win, no question. I was proud of the poise they showed when Virginia made that run that started in the first half and concluded when they tied it up. Our players showed poise and answered the run.
I thought Raymond was sensational running the show, especially in the second half. We had 20 assists, and that shows good, unselfish play.
It looked like the movement on offense was some of the best of the season, tonight.
I thought our movement was great, early, and then at the end of the first half we got a little stagnant, holding the ball, not moving. That's when they started to make their run. We had some bad turnovers and bad possessions. Early, I thought we were moving the basketball, making the extra pass, and finding the open man. Even when we didn't make shots, they were good possessions.
Why did you start Rashad?
I felt he's been working hard in practice. His defense was very good against Florida State. His defense was good the last two days in practice. I wanted to go to a smaller line-up to try to create a little havoc. I was afraid of their size, so we tried to attack way down court, so hopefully they never got the ball into the post. And also we hoped it would jump-start Rashad. I think it did.
Is that the best way to dictate what you want to do, to go small?
That's the first time we really started that small of a line-up. We may have played a small line-up like that over the past few games. I think we did against Duke. I think we did against Florida State.
We've got five guys that, like I always say, can pass handle, and shoot the ball. That puts a lot of pressure on the other team to have to come out and guard us. Defensively, we can get out in the passing lanes a little better. We had 10 steals, which is pretty high. We forced 21 turnovers.
What did you see from your guys in the huddle when Virginia started coming back? That was a tense situation.
They weren't tense. They weren't tense. They were pretty calm. I think they knew what they had to do. They knew they needed to take better care of the basketball. I thought in the first half that Billet and Smith shot the ball extremely well. I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half, but, obviously, if you put an emphasis on one area, the other area gets exposed a little bit, and Watson went to work in the second half a little bit.
There was a lot of talk about David Noel when he was scoring points. What did you think of his performance tonight?
David had five assists and one turnover, which are great numbers. He had to guard Travis Watson and Watson is a load. I just think his effort was [great]. He had three offensive rebounds. He made hustle plays. The steal he made and dunk was a big play. It's nice because Rashad played well, Byron has been playing well, David has been playing well, Melvin has been playing well. Melvin did a good job for us tonight. He got some big rebounds and shot the ball well, especially the first half. He was 2-3 the first half, I believe. We have some guys doing some things and, hopefully, are playing with a lot of confidence. It's exciting to see. We have some interchangeable parts.
This was another game, though, where you didn't hold an early lead.
At halftime, I was disappointed and I could tell they were disappointed. I said to them, "If I would have told you this afternoon that you would be up nine points at halftime against Virginia, you would be happy, right? Well, we are up nine points against Virginia."
I didn't want to be too disappointed. (Sarcastically) I obviously fired them up, because we came out and they tied it after that.
I wanted to put a perspective on it. Virginia's a good ball club. They are going to make a run. They did. I thought our players and our fans really responded.