ROY WILLIAMS, JOHN HENSON & TYLER ZELLER
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Listen to Audio (14:13)
"It's a W. We're one of 32 teams [still playing]... We're pleased about that. We didn't play the greatest basketball game. We had some really good moments early in the seconds half. First minute of the second half was good enough. These two guys and Harrison are phenomenal scoring for us. We turned it over way too many times. Did some other things, but you got to credit Long Island for their intensity and how they kept coming back and coming back. We helped them by some of the silly turnovers and those kind of things. That's part of the game of basketball.
"John carried us in the first half, Harrison at the end of the first half. Zeller carried us in the second half. Got to be everybody. Guys coming off the bench have got to do some good things as well. Last year we weren't even in the tournament. Glad John Henson got his first NCAA Tournament win tonight."
You said you were pleased with the win. Was this enough of a performance to eradicate any concerns of an extension from last weekend?
"Coach Smith I think is the best that's ever been. From the mental side of the game, the psychology of the game, I think he was better than anybody ever and he always said you had to build your momentum once you get in a tournament, and I believe that's true.
"We made the Final Four several times when we didn't play well at all and just squeaked by the first game. Made the Final Four a couple times when we played great. In '09 the first game was fairly easy. The second game against LSU we were behind in the second half.
"I think what you do is you have to put all those other things past you and be able to play today. That's what we try to focus on. You have to give Long Island credit. Z was saying they didn't go away. They kept coming back. They're pretty doggone good. You have to build on this win. Am I pleased about the win? You're darn right. Am I pleased about some of the turnovers? Not at all. Am I pleased about going three for 17 from 3-point line? Not at all. But we have to build on this to be ready to play better in the next game. And I think doing it at each and every single level I think always helps you."
Coach, I wonder if could you talk a little bit about John Henson's free throw shooting and its improvement and what you noticed?
"Well, even when John was struggling earlier, he was shooting them really well in practice. A lot of it had to be -- he said a little bit of the mental side and physical. We tried to get him to get a set routine and stay with that. I think, I could be pretty close since about at least halfway through the ACC season until this point, I think he's probably close to 60 percent because he really has improved.
"John has shot a lot of free throws. He's worked at it. Earlier in the year, we had one stretch where he was shooting about 30 percent, but two straight weeks he shot 154 -- no, 158 out of 200 one week, and next in week shot a hundred, made 76 of those. It's a little bit of getting confidence. It has been better concentration, too. But I think he's worked at it."
You didn't get off to the greatest start this season shooting free throws. Seems down the stretch you've really improved. What have you done over the last few weeks to see that percentage go up in practice, and have you changed anything in the way you're shooting it?
"I can't really tell you what it is, but something is just clicking, and I finally got a routine down, and things to do that help me hit them. You know, now it's just a matter of maintaining and shooting even more so I'll get it back like it was."
You had it going well earlier but they came back and ended up tying the score. Was that a little bit of a wake-up call for you guys?
"I think it was. We made some crucial mistakes, a couple turnovers, some bad shots and not getting back. That's what happens with a team of that caliber in this tournament. Those are mistakes we can't make in the further rounds and we'll try to fix that."
On Long Island's early run to tie the score:
"I think it's one of those things that, I mean, nobody has been -- well, nobody has played significant minutes in the tournament, so it's one of those things that you get up by 10 or 15 in a regular season game, they might just go away. It's their last game and they're going to keep coming back and you've got to be aware of that."
Just given their lack of size inside, did you have a feeling you would have opportunities to have a big game? What were the keys to doing that?
"Yeah, we thought we could. Something that we have emphasized all week is getting the ball inside, either throwing it into us or off the dribble. We did a great job of it over the course of the game. We had a few lapses in there, so we just got to be able to remain focused for 40 minutes."
Listen to Audio (3:49)
How did you feel out there tonight?
"I was very comfortable. The main thing is that we came out with the win and we get to live another day. This time of the season you can't dwell on things in the past. You just want to focus on keeping your season alive."
Listen to Audio (3:31)
On the win:
“You’re happy that you won the game
and you get to move on, but defensively we’re not happy with our game. We allowed them to have way
too many easy baskets.”
On Coach Williams's pregame speech:
“Before the game he told us that we
couldn’t go out there and just out score them, and I guess he used reverse psychology on that. In the
next games we are going to have to step up our defense if we want to continue.”
JIM FERRY, JAMAL OLASEWERE & C.J. GARNER
Listen to Audio (8:36)
"I thought our kids played their hearts out tonight. I thought we played extremely hard, extremely physical. We really tried to grind this game out into very talented and big, you know, North Carolina team, and you know, we normally don't foul this much. We lead the country in differential. We get to the foul line most in the country. We make significantly more free throws than our opponent attempts. Our size and how physical the game got, it lead us to fouls. I thought that was uncharacteristic of our team.
"The reason we've been able to win on the road is because our philosophy has traveled in regards to not fouling and getting fouled. We did a good job and we got -- we usually get 30, we got our 25. We worked to get that. We couldn't keep those guys off the line. A credit to North Carolina. I mean, they really stepped up with confidence and made those. The kid Zeller, felt like he made every one. John Henson who is not a very good free throw shooter, he made 8 for 10.
"I thought we competed the best we could. Again, you know, we out rebound people that crazy, but it was real hard to keep those guys off the glass. We fought as hard as we could. I thought it was a tribute to our guys, how hard we played, and that's what NEC basketball is, it's a good league and some good players. Guys really compete. I couldn't be more proud of our guys."
How tough was it to contend with their size inside?
"Extremely difficult. We don't see size like that. I don't think there's many teams in the country that are that long, and again we're a team that we go inside a lot and we get fouled. I mean, how many blocked shots did they have? They had ten blocked shots. We're not used do that. That played -- I heard you asked Jamal missing some shots early. It plays when you're not used to seeing size like that.
"It bothered us around the rim. It actually bothered us when they closed out on our perimeter shooters. For us to beat these guys tonight, we were going to be able to make some 3s because they're so long inside. They did a great job of closing back out on their length with our shooters as well."