Listen to Audio (5:28)
The good thing is that it’s two different halves. I’ve told our guys for a hundred years that I’ve played poorly on the front nine sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you have to play poorly on the back. In the first half, I thought we played pretty well, to be honest with you. The first five shots we got, I liked every one of them, and we made one. They made a bunch of shots. You don’t expect that to happen, but it does. That’s the game of basketball. In the second half I told them that I wanted to guard them better and make it more contested 3s, and so they were 5-for-15 from 3 in the second half. For us, I thought it totally, totally, totally was our defense in the second half. It was just so much more active. John set the stage with his blocks, but everybody, we were there on the catch, we didn’t give them the open ones, we didn’t give them the open 3s. I think we blocked two of their 3s. We were just so much more active defensively. And then on the offensive end, we started playing North Carolina basketball and sharing the basketball and setting screens and getting movement and getting better spacing. And we started running the ball. We’re supposed to be a running team, and Virginia Tech ran it a hundred times better than we did in the first half. Even at I guess it was the second timeout that they took in the second half, I spent the whole timeout screaming at us to run because I think we get better opportunities then. I thought three guys, four guys were sensational. I hate it for Dexter. I have no idea about what the extent of his injury is. P.J. and Reggie have given us some good moments this year. I thought Reggie was really something defensively and made two 3s for us in the second half. Harrison was 6-for-6 in the second half and getting to the foul line as well. But again, I think it goes back to our defense, and our rebounding margin of 51-28 is really big. For me, our effort and our intensity and our activity the whole second half was better than it’s been in any game this year.
On bouncing back from Florida State loss
You’re only as good as your last game. So if we lay an egg in our next game, it won’t be very much benefit from it. I think we found out that we can’t be successful at any level playing the way we played last Saturday. I think we were rewarded for working extremely hard in practice the last couple of days, and it carried over to the game. So I’m hoping that they’ll understand that that’s the way we’re going to have to continue working. But in this league, you’re only good as your last game. We’ve got to take some carryover from it. I wrote some things on the board and came in a second time and added a couple. I said we’ve got to be poise and toughness and confidence. That was my whole thing at halftime. I challenged them, don’t give me any woe bes, don’t give me any feeling sorry for yourself, let’s play. I wasn’t going to feel sorry for us at all, and that’s the biggest thing I pushed at halftime. But it was the kids deciding to go after it themselves in the second half.
On who set tone in second half
I think it was everybody. Everybody. We stunk it up, guys. Come on, now. I want to give Florida State credit because they played their buns off, but we stunk. Every area of the game, coaching included. It was no one player. I got extremely upset with them, and it was good. Some of you may know that I didn’t talk to them for 48 hours. We did a clinic for Special Olympics, and I didn’t say one thing about Saturday’s game. That was on Sunday, and then Monday we got back together. But it was 17 guys, and they busted their tail.
On first half
As I said, I liked what we did offensively. It was just that they were making a bunch of shots. At one time, they made five 3s in a row and banked one of them in with 1 second on the clock. You’ve got to keep going. It’s not just about North Carolina, and Virginia Tech showed us in the first half because we played pretty well and we were still down five at the half.
On whether it would be fair to say past couple of days were some of team’s best practices
No, it wouldn’t be fair. It would be the damn truth. It was by far the best practices we had all year long; it’s not even close.
On whether second half was best team has played this year
Totally, probably. We were good defensively, and we shot a good percentage. We missed a bunch of them there at the end, but we shot 52 percent in the second half. We rebounded better in the second half, we defended guys.
On Dexter Strickland’s knee
I went down to him one time during the course of the end of a timeout, and I said, ‘It has to be doing better than it did when you did it.’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah.’ I told him this: I don’t have any idea what the crap I’m talking about. It’s medical. You know what they call the guy who finishes last in coaching? Ex-coach. You know what they call the guy who finishes last in medical school? Doctor. Tim Taft said it best: It’s medical practice. But I don’t have any idea. But I told him, trying to make him feel better, those times when there’s a lot of pain, I’ve seen some of those not be too bad. When a guy says, ‘Gosh, that felt funny,’ that’s when it’s a major thing. But, again, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I was just trying to encourage him.
Listen to Audio (1:04)
On how his injury occurred
I was about to Eurostep, and when I planted my right foot, it kind of felt weird. It was hurting like hell when I was on the floor, but it kind of feels better now. Hopefully there’s nothing even wrong with it. Hopefully it’s just sore. Tomorrow I’ll get it x-rayed and see what everything looks like.
On whether it’s the same knee he hurt last year
I had torn the meniscus in my left knee before I got to Carolina, and I had trouble with my meniscus last year. But it was no biggie. Hopefully this is the same situation.
On how worried he is
I try to think positive. I’m not trying to be worried. Hopefully everything is all right. It’s real sore right now, so I’m going to go put some ice on it, do some rehab and look at the x-rays tomorrow.
On whether he has any idea what injury might be
I have no clue. It’s just really sore right now, and they can’t tell. Hopefully, it’s not a big deal.
On whether his right knee is swollen
A little bit. It’s not that bad. It’s not that swollen, thank God. That’s a good sign.
On how he feels about the way the team responded when he was out
I feel so great about it. I feel like this was a big win for us, especially because we lost mostly all of our road games since South Carolina. I think we responded well. We’ve got to keep it up, keep our focus and go out there the next game and try to get a win.
Listen to Audio (1:12)
On picking up his play in the second half
I just had to do whatever the team needed. We definitely pushed the ball more and got it in transition. When you pressure the defense, it opens up a lot of things.
On getting in the zone
When you score two or three in a row, you get a little confidence going. Then my teammates did a good job of getting the ball back to me, and I was able to capitalize.
On Strickland’s injury spurring him to take over game
It played a big part. Any time a teammate goes down, especially one of our starters, we all have to pull together. Dexter has been playing really hard for us.
On whether team proved something tonight
Yeah. We did a good job of just playing on the road. But one game doesn’t define our season. Hopefully we can use this to build off and go from there.
On the difference tonight compared with Saturday
It was the practices. I think everyone is a lot more tuned in to what we’re trying to do. We got after it, and I feel like we really competed in the second half.
On team’s poor perimeter defense in first half
That’s just us. I felt in the second half we did a much better job of pressuring them and really running them off the 3-point line. In the first half, we were just hitting screens and just sticking to them. That’s why it led to open shots.
On how team started getting off screens
It’s all mental. That’s all we did. We just had more of a sense of urgency, more toughness and just more will to get through those screens. In the second half, we did a good job of getting up, pressuring them and getting them off the 3-point line.
On what made team flip that switch
It was the practices after the Florida State game. I think no one wanted to go back to that. Everyone wants to enjoy this week and be able to go to class and keep the weight on themselves and get some good sleep at night.
Listen to Audio (1:13)
On coming back in the second half
At halftime, when we sat in the locker room, we kind of had a moment of truth. What kind of team did we want to be? We came out in the second half with fire we’ve needed to have the whole season, and hopefully we’ll keep it.
On bouncing back from FSU loss
Florida State was a big eye opener for us, a humbling loss. We just had to get back to the basics, get back to what we were doing before. If we can keep playing like this, we’ll be fine.
On what losing Dexter Strickland would mean
It would hurt us a lot. He’s our best perimeter defender, and it really hurts me to see him go down because he works so hard. Hopefully he can get back as soon as possible.
On Strickland’s spirits after injury
He’s in good spirits. I think it’s more of a fear of the unknown right now with him. We’ll go back and get an MRI and see what happens.
On first-half defensive struggles
They were hot, but also we were letting them shoot. A team that’s shooting 3s, you’ve got to make them drive. I think in the second half we were able to do that.
On Harrison Barnes taking over in second half
He just got that fire in his eye. He took the game over, and that’s what we want from him.
Listen to Audio (2:29)
On what losing Dexter Strickland would mean
We’re going to have to make up a lot. Defensively, he’s a fantastic defender. He can chase guys around screens, he can be there and defend one-on-one very well for us. It is a big loss for us. And he’s been shooting the ball extremely well this year, so it is a loss for us. Hopefully it’s nothing and he can come back in a week or two, but we’ll see what happens.
Hopefully he just sprained something. That’s what we can hope for now. Hopefully it’s not a tear, where you’ve got to have surgery, or something that serious.
On struggles in the first half
We were playing hard. You’ve got to give Virginia Tech credit. They shot the ball very well. You just have to be able to adjust to the situation. You have to give them credit, but at the same time we have to do a much better job of getting a hand up on the shooters.
On Dexter Strickland’s injury
Stilman has to get ready to spell me for a couple of minutes here and there. I just have to do a good job of taking care of my body and getting ready to log a couple of more minutes.
On difference tonight vs. Florida State game
Effort and energy for 40 minutes. We might have had it for 30 seconds against Florida State. But what we’re trying to do as a team right now is just live in the here and the now. We’re not looking into the future, and we’re not focused on the past. We’re just focused one day at a time on the task that’s at hand.
On Harrison Barnes taking over in second half
Harrison Barnes was Harrison Barnes in the second half. That’s what he does. He didn’t settle for the jump shot as much. He tried to take it to the rack, and he did a great job of finishing. That’s the type of player he can be. I think he’s capable of so much more. We’re not going to be happy with that performance because we know how great he is.
On the last couple of days of practice
Not fun. Not fun at all. These past couple of days are something that when I look back and I’m talking to my kids, I’ll be like, ‘This one day I got to meet Coach Roy Williams. The real one.’ I’ll get to tell them about that, but I don’t think it will ever leave this locker room what he did to us. It wasn’t anything too bad, though.
On who the real Roy Williams is
He’s a lot of smiles with y’all. That’s who he is as a person, but you don’t want to get on his bad side.
On aftermath of Florida State loss
Obviously we wanted to play better. But at the same time, people started making these outrageous predictions. You know, how we’re not that good now, how we’re not the team everybody thinks we are. There are a lot of great three-loss teams out there. Ohio State is very good team with three losses, Indiana is a great team with three losses. I think we should just take it as a learning experience and try not to revert back to what happened in that game.