“Well, we’re happy to get an ACC win on the road. There’s no question about that but boy we finished the game about as ugly as you can finish it. We’re missing free throws and the outrebounded us by fourteen in the second half. They ended up outrebounding us nine for the game. You can’t have that and be very good. We got sloppy. In the second half we played about like the way I feel which is not good. I’ll let you put any adjective you want to put in there. Reggie [Bullock] - you look at his line with six assists, no turnovers, nine rebounds, twelve points and you take away the missed free throws down at the end you’d think that was a pretty good night.
"We had good balance, five guys in double figures. In the first half I thought we did some really good things. We just took a little bit too quickly three point shots a couple of times in the first half. Then early in the second half we got away and scored some points on the break and I think that was huge for us to get it to fifteen, sixteen, seventeen whatever it was. I don’t if that was the largest (lead) or whatever. Then we sort of screwed around with it and about messed it up.”
What was Clemson doing well to get such an advantage on the boards after UNC had a 21-16 edge in the first half?
“They were going after the ball; we were acting like a bunch of pansies. We’re just standing there. Some of those were long rebounds that bounced out and we’re standing there watching it. Then there’s a long rebound right in front of our bench and P.J. (Hairston) tried to catch it with one hand and make a pass. I said you got to secure the ball with two hands. It wasn’t just that but it was one example. When you go small you’ve got to have guys who are willing to compete on the board and chase the long rebounds and box out. Devin (Booker) was a load for us in the second half. He and Milton (Jennings) both had double figures in rebounds.”
How much do you think the second half play is attributed to the way Clemson plays so physically?
“I think to me that would be a big-time excuse. The way somebody else plays doesn’t mean you should turn the ball over. It doesn’t mean you should miss free throws and things that we did. James Michael (McAdoo) I told him you’ve got to finish the ball around the basket. You’ve got to finish plays. You go in there big strong, jumping like crazy just finish plays. Marcus (Paige) had zero turnovers in the first half and made two of the worst turnovers in the second half he’s ever made in his life. His mother screaming at him on TV. I could hear her all the way down here. I don’t think that has anything to do with it. We just played as sloppy as you can possibly play.”
Can you accept the trade off between losing the rebounding battle to an opponent with getting an edge in fast break points and points off of turnovers?
“No, I’m not going to accept it because tonight it was lack of effort. If we try to box a guy out and they beat us to the ball and that kind of stuff then I can accept it but we were very inadequate on the backboards, to say the least.”
Would this problem be just as frustrating in November or is it heightened due to the fact your team is at a critical point in the season?
“It’d be just as frustrating in November but tomorrow is March. You shouldn’t do those kind of things. You know it’s a long year. College basketball is a long season, a lot of games. My team has bounced back when everybody was abandoning ship early. We got tired of hearing NIT and all that kind of junk. We just try to play every single day. They’ve really done a pretty doggone nice job. But second half today my coaching stood out. It had to be it because there play has been a hell of a lot better than my coaching recently.”
What do you like best about what Dexter Strickland has done lately especially tonight?
“He made his layups. He made two jump shots that were big for us too. When they were trying to…We got turnovers and he can run like crazy. He’s the fastest guy out there on the court so he should get more involved on the break. I think he had one turnover and that was in the far corner first half trying to throw it in the side when Desmond [Hubert] was wide open. He did some good things but defensively nobody did anything and rebounding nobody did anything. It’s hard for me to stand up here and sing the praises of Ol’ Roy or our players right now.”
The assist-to-turnover ratio was 19-9 tonight. Does that have something to do with the small lineup or has the team just been playing better as of late?
“The maturity, I think, more than anything. I mean it should have been really good. We had two turnovers at half and I can remember now five of the seven we had in the second half just like that. The five that we should not have had. Clemson had some unforced turnovers as well. They threw the ball sometimes not where their guys were either. I think that for us, for James Michael to go driving the baseline and jump up in the air thinking he’s Meadowlark Lemon.”
Can you talk about your ability to keep Clemson from every really getting any momentum?
“I think there were two things. We got a good start early. The crowd never really got into the game and I’ve been down here where it’s been really loud and really tough for any communication to go on with our players on the court or from the bench to the players. So the good start helped us keep the crowd out of it a little bit. Then early in the second half when we got some of those break away layups. Dexter had two or three dunks. You take away our layups it was a bad shooting night because we had several fast break opportunities in the second half. We were eleven for twenty-three. Reggie had two layups. Dexter had three so we didn’t shoot the ball very well either.”
Comments on earning the 55th 20-win season in program history:
“I really haven’t been there that long. This is my fortieth year of coaching. It just says a lot about some great players, great interest from our fans and great enthusiasm that really helped us at home. The great players who have had some toughness to win on the road. Dean Smith and what he meant to the program for so many years and today is Coach’s 82nd birthday so happy birthday to Coach. We had some ice cream and red velvet cake yesterday. It’s been downhill since.
"We’re proud of it. I’m proud of my team. I’m proud of the record because we started out and it wasn’t the smoothest thing in the world this year. We have one senior who missed the second half of the year last year with an ACL (injury). We have two juniors and one of them missed the entire year last year with an ACL (injury) and the other one missed half the year before with a meniscus tear. We’re all freshman and sophomores. They’ve really done some nice things and have gotten better as the season goes along. I feel very flattered and very lucky to be the coach at the University of North Carolina.”