Listen to Audio (8:49)
Needless to say, we feel a heck of a lot better now than we did three or four days ago. I think foul trouble hurt both of us early, but perhaps hurt UVa even more. Mike Scott is really a load and I was happy to have him over there a little bit in foul trouble. It would have been cute if that three would have counted right before the half to give us an eight-point lead. Traveling call—I wish that would have been called Wednesday night. I’m talking about when we practiced Wednesday night.
It’s a big-time game and Tony (Bennett) has done a great job with this team. I was struggling with myself there at the end. I’ve coached this dadgummed game for 39 years, and I’m trying to think, ‘All right, what’s the best thing to do?’ I told John, he made zero mistakes—zero—but it would have been really cute for him if when he caught the ball underneath the goal and banged it against the rim and come back down with the ball. He would have gotten an offensive rebound, but Kendall said he was taking care of him, giving Kendall an assist. When I looked up I thought the shot clock was (off). I said, ‘No shot, not shot’ and then realized the shot clock was going to give us a violation. It makes a difference because I like Tony so much.
I think Jontel (Evans) was awfully difficult to keep out of the lane. He was really difficult to keep out of the lane today, and Mike Scott is good, he’s a load because he can go out and shoot the ball over your big guys and feel good about shooting it and use quickness with his moves inside. (Joe) Harris didn’t make any shots in the first half and then he came out and made two baskets for six points really early in the second half. I thought, ‘We’ve got to make sure that we guard everybody.’ Then we get it out to a—did it get out past 15, was it 15 at one time? Then they scored two baskets in a row and one of the guys in the huddle the next time said, ‘Remember Wednesday night,’ and I said, ‘No, don’t remember Wednesday night, let’s just play today.’ I think that was important for us.
I was really happy for Z—25 (points) and nine (rebounds). I was ecstatic for Harrison (Barnes)—11 rebounds. I’ve been trying to get some more rebounding out of him. You look down there, and I think one of the biggest keys to the game is J. Watts, Stilman (White), and James Michael (McAdoo) give us some things off the bench. It doesn’t have to be scoring. Of course, James Michael with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes is big. I’d like for him to shoot a better percentage than 3-for-9, but that was good. J. Watts gave us an offensive rebound, did a good job defensively, and I thought Stilman did a good job and gave us a little bit more of a breather for Kendall because it’s hard to be playing the number of minutes that he’s been playing. So I thought all those guys really gave us something off the bench to make up for losing P.J. (Hairston), not having him today.
Other than that, both teams would have liked to have shot it better, but today the rebounding was the biggest key and it was a big plus in our favor.
What was the key to reacting to the way they doubled the post—what did that kind of open up for you guys?
Well, we worked on it. It’s really a good defense. Tony and his staff do a great job defensively, but you get to watch teams in the league, and you know it’s coming so hopefully you’ll work on it in practice, and our blue squad, Blue Steel, did a nice job yesterday in practice. We’ve had a couple other teams that we’ve played this year that have doubled big on big, and so it’s something that we’ve worked on.
But what you do is you make your move quickly, and then if you can make your move quickly as the double-team is coming, that guy is out of position and it is difficult for him to box out. If the double-team is there, you have to be strong enough to move the ball and then you have the defense shuffling. I think that’s what Reggie made his three on, right in front of our bench is after they doubled big-to-big. You just have to practice against it.
Listen to Audio (3:13)
It’s got to feel a lot better today than it did a couple nights ago—just talk about the good feeling you must have right now.
It feels good. First of all, UVa is a very good basketball team. The score doesn’t indicate at all what kind of game it was. We knew that it was going to be a tough game—first coming off of a loss, second of all the way UVa plays, they really like to utilize the full possession and they are very tough defensively. So it was a low possession game and the numbers show for the most part, but I think we did a great job of forcing our tempo the last 10 minutes of the second half and playing the way we want to play.
How much did you guys want to get out here and play this game, just to get out and play?
We were looking forward to the next game on our schedule, and I think after the Duke loss—obviously we were upset that we lost, but we feel like we had the game in hand and the last three minutes we just didn’t execute. We know what type of team we are. We came out slow today in the first half, but once we [got our feet underneath us] we really started to play Carolina basketball and found a way to win.
Was there a conscious effort to try to feed [Zeller] early, not lingering on the last game?
No, we weren’t thinking about that at all. A staple of Carolina Basketball is working inside-out, so obviously we were going to work to give Z and John the ball because those are our best inside scorers. Z, he has been doing a great job of giving us a lift to start out games so we tend to feed him off of that.
When the game got down to 2:30 left in the game, did anyone want to remember about the Duke game, the way they were down?
I think it was about four minutes left in the game. Shammond Williams had a talk with me yesterday about managing the game as a point guard, so one time I’m dribbling up court and I can see him behind the bench going crazy. I think we all realized that we have to find a way to finish this game. And I think we did a great job of using the clock as well as getting stops on the defensive end.
JAMES MICHAEL MCADOO
Listen to Audio (4:54)
What do you do with your extra time in the gym?
Mostly just working on the shots I normally get in a game—game shots, doing it at game speed. Really, coaches are just telling just to work on my fundamentals and just live with the results. As long as you just focus on form it translates to the game.
You played a lot of minutes on Mike Scott, defensively. What were you trying to do against him?
I know Mike from a long time ago—he’s from Virginia, so I played against him a lot. Everyone knows Mike can shoot the ball. He just wants to shoot it. I feel like I just try to press up on him. He got me once on a backdoor cut; he’s a great player. We really just tried to make him put the ball on the floor. We were somewhat effective in that and kind of frustrated him. We were able to get him in foul trouble on the offensive end, which really helped.
The last few games you have just looked much more comfortable in your skin and what you are doing out there on the court. Tell me how that has come about.
Two practices before the NC State game I sat down and talked to Coach Rob, we really just had a heart-to-heart and talked about the season. We just talked about everything. I really got a lot off my chest and was able to just hear from him. The coaching staff here, they have been through so much—they have seen so many James Michaels, they have seen it all. So I really just talked to them. They really just kind of gave me some goals, gave me some things I need to focus on, and it really just came down to working hard in practice and just knowing that the team needs me. I was able to sit down with Coach Roy as well a couple of weeks ago. I feel like since then I haven’t had the greatest of games, but I’ve really just been able to make positive moves and just really take things away from games, just build on it, and today was just adding on to that. I’m just looking to keep on going, and it starts in practice on Monday.
What from those conversations can you share with us?
It really just comes down to (the fact that) I’m a great player, and I feel like my mental state of mind has just been holding me back. I know I can be as great as I want to be. I feel like at times you all might not see it, but I show it in practice. Now I feel like I’m just being able to translate that to the games. I just feel like I’m having so much more fun. The team is really clicking, and I’m just glad to be a part of it. I’m so blessed.
Tell me if this is a fair assessment. Looking at you, you have a great physique, a strong body, but in high school you played more of a finesse game. Is that fair to say, and are you finally getting into knowing you are going to have to be physical out there?
Not so much. I think one of the things I was able to talk to Coach Rob about is that college is a tough game. I feel like when I first came here it was like ‘Man, I’m backing up Z and John, I’m playing center/power forward. I feel like that really just killed my inside game, so I feel like I was able to get away from that and I’m a basketball player, and that’s what Coach Roy told me the whole time he recruited me. I feel like he just translated it to my game. I’m very versatile—I feel like I can do a lot of things just to help the team. I feel like I’ve been able to just get back to the old me and still be able to add that toughness to my game since I’ve come to college. I feel that’s what I’ve been able to show lately.
Listen to Audio (4:19)
After what many considered a really tough night for you the other night, what was it like to come back and play the way you played today?
It was great. I think the past two days have been very tough. Practice yesterday was kind of nice to be able to bounce back and get away from everything that happened, and then today’s game, once it got going—I struggled a little bit getting started—after I got started I think I played well. I think everybody played well today.
How did you handle the hours after the game—did you try not to think about it, did you stew over it the rest of the night, or what?
For the most part I stewed over it. It was just something that—I went to bed at about 5 o’clock. It was just one of those things, I didn’t sleep much. It was nice my parents were here so that got me away from it for a couple of hours, but for the most part I just kind of sat around and thought about it; it’s tough to get away from.
Coach Williams said you had a reaction to that game, thinking about what you should have done what you shouldn’t have done…
I have a tendency to take a lot of losses hard, especially when you miss two free throws that could have won it, so it’s something that I tried to deal with it in the best way possible. I didn’t watch TV at all Thursday; I knew that it wouldn’t be positive. It was something that I felt bad and I think all my teammates also felt bad, so it’s something where we were just trying to bounce back as much as possible to day.
But you did read the newspaper, though, on Thursday, didn’t you?
No, I didn’t. I went to class, I came down here. I went to class, sat like in the back corner, got out as fast as possible. Then I came down here, and then I went home and just sat in my room the rest of the night. I didn’t really go in public, and just kept pretty quiet.