UNC-UVa: Postgame Interviews

CHARLOTTESVILLE, UVa -- Inside Carolina's postgame coverage includes quotes and audio from head coach Roy Williams, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Dexter Strickland and Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, who spoke to the media following UNC's victory over the Cavaliers on Saturday.

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ROY WILLIAMS
(7:00)

Opening comments:
"From the start of the game when I didn't think they introduced my team, it went downhill. I'm sitting here right now feeling like I went inside and stole the cookie from the jar and I want to get out of town as fast as I can. It was one of the ugliest ‘W's' that I have ever been involved in and that is not to take anything away from either Tony Bennett's team or my team. I think that he'd feel the same way. Both teams shot 27 percent in the second half. The first eight or nine minutes we were in it and then we just started turning the ball over. It got ugly and we weren't guarding. All of a sudden they were ahead and we miss a wide-open layup. We didn't score for the last three or four minutes of the second half.

"We fought. We had some toughness today - more toughness than I've seen in a long time and this isn't a cut against last year's team but last year's team did not show that toughness when we got down. Leslie McDonald's three for us was big and gave us an energy boost. We started to be more aggressive on the defensive end. The best thing is that down the stretch we made fourteen of our last sixteen free throws. I think that was big. The toughness, Dexter Strickland making the free throws and Tyler Zeller making the free throws were big."

On whether UNC's toughness was a sign of growth:
"I hope so but give Virginia's defense some credit. They were more aggressive and more physical than we were. We were being soft and not finishing plays and not passing the ball. I mean a guy dribbles in and gets called for a walk with a guy wide open. I liked our toughness though and we needed to be tough to have a chance. Defensively we did get a little better."

On the final moments of the game:
"We were trying to guard everybody. We were going to switch the screen on the ball at that stage. We didn't want to get beat down the middle on the drive like Jontel Evans had done twice before. We had to get everybody else involved. We tried to give them one bad shot."

On UNC's toughness:
"I have tried to emphasize toughness at every practice all year long but again, they were so much more aggressive than we were, particularly in the last eight to ten minutes of the first half. I told the guys at least twice in the huddle ‘we have stunk up until now but we can't do anything about that so we might as well get out there and play.' I promised them at halftime that if they played better we'd be in there at the end of the game and have a chance, and we did."


TYLER ZELLER
(2:26)

Did you see something in the late timeouts that made you think this team had the confidence to win despite falling behind by double digits?
"It's probably more – I don't know if offended is the right word – but we want to get back and we have the confidence that we know we can do it. Last year, sometimes we went to a depressed stage where it was like, ‘Oh, man, they went on a run, now what do we do?' And I think this year it's, ‘Okay, let's keep going, there's plenty of time left, we can make plays, we can win this.'"

Does this team avoid a confidence letdown by pulling this victory out?
"Yes and no. I think this team did a great job of bonding together at the end. Everybody came in and played a great game. We've just got to improve and we can't have those lapses in the middle of games."


JOHN HENSON
(2:12)

On the offensive struggles:
"It was tough. Usually we're a team that can score pretty consistently, so that was tough. But I'm glad we fought back as a team and had the toughness to get it done."

So you decided to show us your outside shooting touch early tonight?
"Yeah, I did. I hit a couple of jumpers and it is something that I can do. I've just got to have the confidence. Hopefully this is a building block for all of the other ACC games."


DEXTER STRICKLAND
(3:22)

On halftime:
"Coach was pretty fired up. We didn't execute as we should have in the first half. We deserved to get yelled at. Myself, we didn't play the defense that we should have been playing, so Coach got on us at halftime and we stepped up our play in the second half."

On Reggie Bullock playing:
"It means a lot. His presence on the court is very important to us… Unfortunately, he had a loss in his family. Just for him to have that loss and come back and play is big for us. That's the type of player we need for this team."


TONY BENNETT
(7:21)

On the difference between the end of the first half and the close of the second:
"I think they did a better job defensively against us. We missed a few easy ones and we looked a little tired. We were riding those guys hard. They played so hard, effort-wise and defensively, but we had trouble. I thought some of our turnovers hurt us. Even though our offense wasn't pretty, a couple uncharacteristic or careless turnovers took a possession away or two. Their defense was good. Whether we were tired or we got stagnant, we just couldn't do as much in the lane. When a shot presented itself, we either didn't take it or it didn't go down."

On creating plays for Jontel Evans off the pick-and-roll:
"I probably should have tried that earlier. We were struggling to get [Jontel] off a flat screen, but we tried to get some action with screens, some with spacing and attacking. They tightened up defensively and did some good individual things. It's hard for us to get to the line. We had a chance. We had the ball down two, got a decent look. Joe [Harris] just passed it up and he will learn from that. I don't think that will happen again. I told them, ‘Keep your heads up and keep fighting.' I appreciated their effort, but we have to keep improving."

On Virginia's last offensive play:
"It was an option to get [Joe Harris] a look and then if not, we had a ball screen action coming out of it. The first option was really there. I liked the feet set and the look he had. I will look at it on tape; I think he thought the guy was going to close and maybe he'd pump-fake him. I could have drawn it for [Mustapha Farrakhan], or KT [Harrell] or Joe. Nobody was really lighting it up in the second half and Joe has a really quick release. That's why I called it for him; I thought he could get it off if he had it. It was just a simple little play."

On the slower tempo in the second half:
"That was a grinder in the second half and it was certainly a defensive-oriented game - not great offense. It was hard-fought defense. We really tried to do the job. They got a little bit better on the offensive glass in the second half, but we did limit their rebounding, their second-chance points, and there weren't as many transition buckets. You have to start with those things and our guys were attentive to those. That gave us a chance to be in the game and helped to stretch it out. When we got all those stops consecutively in the second half, we could not capitalize offensively. Early we got some good looks, but that's where you have to be able to capitalize and we didn't."

On foul trouble:
"I thought our positioning was pretty good. When we trapped I thought we were pretty aggressive and we really tried to talk about position and not getting stretched. They are a physical team. They are big and they keep coming at you. Being a little outsized probably picked up some and there were some tough calls. Whether it was a collision or a situation that was out on the floor that didn't go our way, but that's part of it."

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