UNC-Duke: Locker Room Report

GREENSBORO – The North Carolina Tar Heels realize they are likely headed to the NIT for the first time in 29 years after falling to Duke, 75-63, in the semifinals of the 50th Annual Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on Saturday.

Here is some of what the Heels had to say about their 15th loss in 32 games.


On Duke's runs in the first half

They were getting some good looks. I don't know. I think yesterday's game took a lot out of us. The energy wasn't there.

On if this takes any sting out of those two big wins the last five days

No, I don't think so.

On if they made a point with those wins despite today

I think we made a point out there that we can play with anybody.

On the reality of likely being headed to the NIT

I guess it's something we have to deal with. I know everybody wants to go to the NCAA tournament, but if we have to play in the NIT we are going to play in it and try to win.

On if it will be difficult to get up for games

I don't think so.

On if this is an opportunity to prove something

Yes. And it's an opportunity to get better.

On seeing Sean back on the floor

It looked god to see him out there. He hit a couple of baskets, did some god thing.


On Duke's first half runs

They came out with great intensity and built a great lead and it was just to hard for us to come back from.

On if Friday took a lot out of the Heels

Yeah, somewhat. You just got to be prepared for situations like this to come back and play two games back-to-back, so, last night took a lot out of us. I think it really had a great deal to so with this. I don't think we were all that ready.

On learning from this experience, and not being completely ready

Rest is important. Rest is very important. We got a little bit. We thought about (getting a bid) and last night we wanted to celebrate the Maryland victory but we couldn't, so we tried to get rest. I know a lot of my teammates, it was hard to go to sleep because we were waiting to see it on TV. It is going to be a real big learning experience for us.

On if the team/program needs to learn how to handle winning again

Yes, I think so. In basketball you have to have a short memory. You can lose by 40 one day but have to come back and play a couple of days later. Any game we have we just have to put behind us.

On the reality of being in the NIT

Oh man, I don't know. I … I really don't know.

On if it the NIT is going to be hard to get up for

Yeah, I mean, somewhat. It's not really a goal. Nobody wants to come to Carolina to go to the NIT. But at the same time it's postseason play and we are going to do our best to build on it.

On seeing Sean back on the floor

It was great seeing him come back. He's been practicing for a week with us. It was great seeing him back, he can help us out tremendously.


On possibly not being ready

We knew we could come in and win this game. But, I myself knew it was going to be harder than anyone else thought.

On the reality of the NIT

We're just going to go in it, play in it and try to win it.

On if it be hard to get up for the NIT


On if it will be like a new opportunity, especially with Sean back

It's just another game, another day that we will practice, and just try to prepare to win it.

On his own game, not being as aggressive as in last Sunday's win

I was trying to get my teammates more involved and get my shot when it came to me. Maybe I should have been more aggressive with the ball and not so passive.

On seeing Sean back out on the floor

His presence counts for us and we're real happy he's back.


On coach Doherty and his return

He was happy for me. I've been waiting a while to play and he knew how bad I wanted to play. And he just said, ‘We're going to try to find you some minutes. We're playing real well right now and I don't know where your minutes are going to come, but we're playing well and I don't know if I want to (mix up) that rotation.

On the possibility of messing up the team's chemistry

Yeah. We really haven't a post presence, five guys on the perimeter. I didn't know exactly what we were going to run. I was concerned, I was just happy to be out there.

On if he will play in the NIT

Oh yeah, I definitely plan to keep playing. The good thing about he postseason is you play a day and have a day off. That was my dad's big concern about that – my foot needs some rest. I hope we do make it to the NCAA , but right now that might not be what's going to happen. Either way I will be ready to play.

On the importance of playing now

Right now I'm in pretty good shape. My body fat is down and I'm a lot stronger than I was in November. And I think the best thing for me is to keep playing basketball. I think the more time I have off the worst shape I'm going to be in. So I just want to keep playing.

On what his body fat percent is

It's 14, like 13 and a half, 14.

On what his father said about him playing today

He just said that, ‘it is risky, I don't know if it's worth it.' And I just told him, ‘Dad, you're going to have to trust me. I've been going hard in practice every day, I know what I'm capable of.' And if I really didn't think I was capable of going out there and holding my own I wouldn't play. And he just finally gave in this morning.

On when he finally got onto the court and the crowd was roaring

I felt great. Everyone has done nothing but support me, they have done nothing but support this team. Just walking up to that scores bench today sent chills through my body. It was just like the first time I came out in the starting lineup.

On one positive of going to the NIT is he might play in more games

For this team going into next year, building more chemistry (is key). It was hard, they had to re-adjust when I went out. And now that I am back I have to try to adjust to them. As long as we're playing it's always a positive.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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