“Congratulate Rick (Byrd) and his club. They really did some nice things. I did a poor job coaching. It’s on me. I’ve always had the philosophy that if it’s the other team scores and takes the lead if it’s more than seven seconds we don’t call a timeout. We attack right then because we’ve got the ball in the open court. I wanted Marcus (Paige) to go and get the ball but I haven’t practiced it enough. We didn’t execute at that point and that’s my fault. I was proud of the way they came back against a very good team but we dug in ourselves in a hole by mistakes and missed free throws. We made a really nice comeback but I didn’t do the job down the stretch and at the same time that acts like it’s just North Carolina. You’ve got to congratulate Belmont. J.J. Mann scored 11 of their last 13 points. Three of them were three’s that were deep three’s. Just congratulate him. He made plays. We didn’t get out there and guard him like I’d hoped to. He’s a really good shooter. You score 11 points in the last 2:37 you’d have to congratulate him. Rick is a good friend and a really good coach. I’m happy for him but I love those kids in my locker room. Their coach let them down today.”
Comments on struggles from the free throw line:
“Coach (Hubert) Davis even went and got a stat sheet. Three times during practice so far we’ve asked everybody to shoot 200 free throws and everybody on our team shot over 80 percent the last time we did that. James Michael (McAdoo) was 81 percent. J.P. (Tokoto) was 84 percent but it didn’t go in for us today. It was a big part of the game. There’s no question but I still let my team down at the end.”
How is Belmont so effective from behind the three-point line and how do you contain that focal point of their offense?
“Well you know they really don’t. You look at their stat sheet. They made five three’s a game the first three games. They’ve made 15 three’s. That’s five three’s and we’d made four. Against Indiana State, they really did a great job coming back by attacking the basket. Today they came out and made a couple of them early and that gave them confidence. We knew they were capable of shooting three’s. There’s no question but still you’ve got to go by the first three games. They’d made five but today they made five in the first 30 seconds it seemed like to me, and they really got some confidence there.”
What was said during the final timeout before the offensive possession with your team holding a two-point lead?
“We had the ball and we tried to spread and run three burn and get a play. We had Marcus (Paige) coming off a screen but they did a nice job double-teaming and we did a poor job of reading what to do. We didn’t get people in the right spot and then we turned it over. Defensively, we substituted and wanted to get some guys in the game that were better perimeter defenders. The last three or four minutes we had J.P. substituting sometimes for Jackson (Simmons) because Jackson is such a good free throw shooter. We didn’t get the substitution on that play because it was down.”
Would you found out you were going to be shorthanded the start the season were you concerned a performance like this could happen?
“I’m always concerned. There’s no question we’re concerned about foul trouble. We were today. It’s what it is. It’s what we have.”
Thoughts on Paige and McAdoo playing 36 minutes a piece:
“Well I don’t like that but I started to make a substitution and one of the coaches said, ‘Coach, we don’t play again until next Friday so why save them?’ There’s no question that having back to back games with one day in-between, but I asked during on the of the timeouts. We took a 30 second timeout, I said I’d take a full timeout to give them more rest and they both said they were fine.”
How do you handle your team after a loss like this today?
“I apologized to them. I told them it was my fault. I said we did make some mistakes. You need to get shots. You need to not get turnovers down the stretch. You need to make free throws down the stretch or anytime. The biggest thing is Mann is a really good shooter. You’ve got to get up and make that shot a little bit more difficult and we didn’t do a good job of that. In the second half when we started making that comeback, we started switching on every ball screen. The kids really did a nice job of that. We were fortunate they missed some shots but then they didn’t miss any down the stretch.”
What about Dean Smith as a person makes him so deserving of the award he’s receiving on Wednesday?
“Well I’m not accepting it. I’m going to be there with his family. I’m thrilled to be there. I’m very thrilled to have worked for Coach Smith. He taught me so much more about people than he did about zone defense or man-to-man defense or anything whatsoever. I think he’s truly on of the great mentors that you could possibly have and he was a mentor to every player and me. He truly cared about his players. He would be disappointed in me right now but he wouldn’t let me know that. He would try to help me through it. It’s impossible to talk about Coach Smith. It’s hard for me. It’s hard for every other player because if we won by 50 I would have a hard time… Just a unique man and leader for so many people. He used to say as long as we play well and I’d say I’m not as good of a person as you are. I want to win but he tried to teach me.”