“Well, it was a big-time performance by Marcus and Brice offensively. I liked the toughness of our team at the end of the first half because things weren’t going that well, but we made a pretty nice run the last five or six minutes of the first half. Marcus and Brice certainly gave us something we needed offensively. We’ve been struggling scoring-wise. And also I think that we still made some mistakes that gave me a lot more gray hairs down the stretch. We foul a guy shooting a 3-point shoot, we turn it over on a sloppy pass, but I think this team has learned some things and hopefully we’ll take those kinds of plays and not make them anymore.”
It looked like a couple of times you got animated with Brice despite his strong numbers. Is this a case where the learning curve is still in place?
“While if he makes  and 12 and makes fouls and mistakes, think how good he could be if he didn’t make the fouls and mistakes. You’ve got to live with some things. He’s still growing; not physically, necessarily but growing as a basketball player. We’re asking him to do a lot of things, but to just make a casual pass when the other team is pressing and it turns into a layup for them, you’ve got to learn from that.
“We need his scoring, there’s no question about that. And I think he will, but if he’ll learn from this game both ways – a very positive feel for what he did and then learn from the mistakes and not make them again – it’s going to be a great day for him. He has some gifts to put the ball in the basket, but he’s got to play with more intensity and play with more intelligence down the stretch.”
Are we going to see more of the zone look defensively moving forward?
“We were so bad defensively against Belmont that we’ve got to try some things. We have been working more on the zone this year than any team that I’ve ever had. We gave up some straight drives to the basket, which the zone is supposed to stop that kind of stuff, so we’ve got to get a lot better at it. But we’ll play it some more, there’s no question.”
Do you think Marcus is nearing the completion of his evolution into an off-the-ball scorer?
“He was a scorer in high school as a point guard. And he can be a scorer for us as a point guard… I don’t know that it’s any easier to score [at the two]. As a matter of fact, I’ve always thought that it’s easier to score as the point than it was as the wing. Somebody’s got to throw you the ball at the two. One, it’s already in your hand. But he was a scorer in high school. I think he is a scorer. I don’t think it’s that big of difference.
“Last year he was a freshman and came in and thought he was going to be backing up Kendall Marshall and all of a sudden he’s thrust into that role. It was a weird year. We played in one lineup and then made drastic changes and played another, so he never really got settled down. But yet, if you go back and look at his stats in the second half of the year, what do remember? You remember him shooting the ball better the second half of the year. I think he is a scorer and we’ve got to do a better job screening for him and getting him the ball.”
McAdoo finished with just six field goal attempts. Was Richmond doing anything specifically to limit his touches?
“They’re good defensively. You’d have to talk to Chris [Mooney] to find out exactly. They play a matchup zone, a sagging man-to-man, sometimes it looks like one, sometimes it looks like the other, but they’re really alert, they’re really active defensively. Their big guys are good defensive players inside. A couple of times James Michael took it to the basket. I thought he was going to go to the free throw line one time there at the end but they called a charge on him. But, to be honest with you, I was pretty pleased with the way James Michael played. I’d like for him to score more, there’s no question. I’d like for him to get more than six shots. He didn’t go to the free throw line the whole second half.”
You consistently said this summer that you were optimistic that the P.J. Hairston situation would work out. Is your optimism waning at all that you will coach Hairston again?
“I think I will. There’s no doubt in my mind that I think I will, but you don’t know. It’s a very unfortunate thing for him. It’s a very unfortunate thing for our team, for his teammates, for our program. You look at it and he was our leading scorer last year. He played five minutes a game less than James Michael and seven minutes a game less than Reggie [Bullock], but North Carolina is going to play hard regardless of who’s out there. And that’s what we’ve got to focus on. We can’t be concerned and spend all of our time worrying about somebody who’s not here. We just have to sit there and wait and we’ll find out at some point what happens and then we’ll go from there.”
At what point in the last couple of weeks did it turn from Hairston and McDonald eventually playing to this is our team moving forward?
“It’s basically been that. I had to remind the team of it the other day because I think we’re still looking over our shoulder wondering when the cavalry is going to come back. And I told them we’ve got to play with who we have right now. And if the cavalry does show up, then it might strengthen us. If they don’t show up, we still have to play. It’s something that our staff felt like the kids were maybe more concerned about it than they had been earlier because it has gotten into this stage of the season. But for me, I’ve always said we’re going to play who’s on our team on that day.”
“They’re really, really good. They present challenges for you in every area. They play extremely hard. They defend like crazy. They can score. They come at you. It’s a big-time team. Rick Pitino is one of the great coaches in our game – high school, college, pro, it makes no difference. He’s got some very good players that do what he asks them to do. That’s a recipe for success.”