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Listen to Audio (7:52)
On the weather challenges:
“We haven’t had any practices with our team since the day before the William & Mary game. Dexter and D.J. [Johnston] never made it back to Chapel Hill. We were coming in on Sunday and practicing here on Sunday night, and needless to say, the flights were canceled and we were scrambling around trying to get the kids, who were all at their homes, instead of being delayed coming into New York to try to come back to Chapel Hill. We never got Dexter and we never got D.J. back at all; we just met them up here today.
“On Sunday night, we did have a shootaround. We only had 10 guys there out of 16. We didn’t have John Henson, Justin Knox, Tyler Zeller, Dexter, Larry [Drew] and D.J., so that’s four starters that I mentioned right there. And then we didn’t have Larry for the first part of practice on Monday morning, because he had to fly the redeye back. So it was difficult for us. It was difficult for Rutgers, too. They had one of their guys from North Carolina that they couldn’t get back up here. It was a lot of distraction for us, but life has a lot of distraction and that’s what I told the guys – you’ve got to step up and play.”
Thoughts on the game:
“I think the key to the game is that it was a win for North Carolina. We had a lot of guys coming in off the bench, and you look at that one stat and our bench outscored theirs, 38-13… In the first half, we really turned the ball over four times due to carelessness, but we got good shots and made shots. In the second half, we started off with turnovers on the first two possessions, they score five straight points and then after that we got it back in control. And then when I made the substitutions and brought that other group in, they were really good in the second half. They took it from 17 or 18 to 24 or 25… No starters in double figures and the only guys in double figures were the guys off the bench.”
On John Henson’s thumb:
“Four days off at Christmas, five days since he didn’t make practice on Sunday night - I think that helped him. He got through practice yesterday without it getting hit. I didn’t want Reggie Bullock to throw the lob to him on that last play there today, because I didn’t want him to have another chance of banging his thumb. But each and every day that we go by that he doesn’t get it hit, I think it helps it.”
Listen to Audio (2:58)
On coming back to the Garden:
“It felt good. I felt comfortable. I played here a lot [in high school]. My friends texted me before the game to tell me that they were going to be here, so it’s a great opportunity for the family to come see that don’t have the opportunity to come to North Carolina. So it was a great feeling.”
Do you feel like the move back to the off-guard spot has been good for you?
“I do. Last year, people ask me if it was a waste and it definitely wasn’t. It was a learning process. And this year, going back to the 2-spot where I’ve played all of my life, it’s comfortable. There are plays where I have to bring up the ball and make the transition to the one, but this year has been real comfortable for me and I’m just trying to go out there and help my team win.”
Listen to Audio (2:29)
On the victory:
“We came through some adversity, but we just pulled it out. We were not all together at practice, but we knew our assignment and we knew we wanted to come out here to Madison Square Garden and come out with the victory. We wanted to beat them really bad.”
On getting up extra shots:
“When I flew back to North Carolina, we had a little shootaround. So before the shootaround, I went in and got a couple of shots in. Then the next day we had practice and I went in before practice and got some shots up then, too.”
Listen to Audio (2:43)
How’s your thumb?
“It’s fine. Right now, we’re just trying to prevent it [from getting re-injured]. It’s right on the edge of getting to 100 percent, but I just can’t get it hit anymore. Just trying to tape it and prevent it and hopefully in a week or so it will be all right.”
Do you feel like this team is starting to peak heading into ACC play?
“Yes. I think we’re starting to play well together and starting to look good as a team, as a unit. Hopefully we can keep building off this. You never want to peak too early, but hopefully we can keep building and have a great run in the ACC.”