Comments on win over Kentucky:
“It was a fun night in the Smith Center. The crowd was sensational. The white out looked great. If I would have thought of it at the end of the game I would’ve grabbed somebody’s shirt and put it on and waved at everybody and then jogged out of there but I was just interested in getting in the locker room and getting with my team at the end of the game. Our kids really felt good. The locker room was a lot of fun. There’s no question about that but it was a tough game. Things weren’t real neat and pretty and everything like that. We had some adversity during the game and I think the toughness that we had was really big for us and then the little rascal was something else. Marcus Paige -- and James Michael (McAdoo) too -- but that second half by Marcus Paige was about as good as it gets.”
Comments on Marcus Paige being named the ACC Player of the Week for the second time this season (first UNC guard to do that since Ty Lawson) and more on his big second half performance against the Wildcats:
“I don’t think we had the player of the week the entire season last year. Marcus getting it twice, it’s pretty special. Going back to 2009 and comparing him to Ty Lawson that’s pretty good company, too. At halftime, he’s 0-5 and his only two points were from the technical with 1.9 seconds to go in the half so he basically played 20 minutes without scratching. He was really in tune to what we wanted to do in the game even when he was missing shots - he was just trying too hard. I told him that, one, was he was trying to get it off too quickly. One of them was a bad shot and I haven’t had to say that to Marcus too often at all because he is such an intelligent player with the way he plays. I told our staff that the second half he’ll be really good and I really believed that. I think that he took that on himself to be a little bit more aggressive. He and Coach (Hubert) Davis and myself and a few other players, I tease them all the time because I hate those stupid little floaters, but when they go in they’re pretty. I told him that ‘you’ve got a chance’ and I don’t need to see Kennedy (Meeks) or Joel (James) trying that junk, but for Marcus he’s getting better and better at it. Both of them went in but I wouldn’t have said anything if they missed because he has the ability to do that. His toughness and the mental side of his game is just off the charts. Last year you heard me say many times he was a tough little nut and he really is. He sort of took them on his back. He wanted to be fouled. He wanted the ball. He was willing to try to be aggressive. I talked about the little oxymoron kind of statement about how ‘I want you to be aggressively patient and you can’t do those kind of things.’ I want us to be aggressive and attack but use your brain and use your patience to get the kind of shot we want. We shot like 56 percent in the second half. It was just a great day for all of them.”
Comments on grades being returned to players after the completion of exams:
“Early returns are really good. I’m very pleased. We have probably two grades that we’re not pleased with but you’re never going to be completely satisfied. I think the guys have done a really nice job.”
Was rebounding brought up as an emphasis at halftime against Kentucky on Saturday?
“It was brought up kindly in a nice manner at halftime. I think they had us 24 to 15 or something like that at half so that was one of the things we discussed in the locker room. It was a big emphasis for us during Friday’s practice as well because I just thought they were a great rebounding team. Before that game they had gotten 46 percent of their shots they had rebounded themselves. That leads the country in percentage of offensive rebounds so UAB beat us to death on the backboards and they had gotten like 38 percent of their shots. Kentucky was No. 1 in the country so it was a big emphasis for us.”
Comments on J.P. Tokoto’s play as of late:
“I thought he really did some nice things against Kentucky. You take away the behind-the-back dribbling in the middle of the court -- which is strange because this summer the old guys played the young guys in the pickup game at camp and he did the same thing when it was game point. I said, ‘I hope you’ll learn that lesson; you cannot do that and put the ball behind your back in traffic’ and he didn’t learn it. I told him today that ‘now if you don’t learn it then now we have problems.’ Other than that I thought he really did some good things. We needed him in there but his foul trouble cut down his minutes. He showed good savvy too. One of the out of bounds plays at the end after Kentucky called a timeout we had Kennedy take it out because he is such a good passer. I set it up for J.P. to sort of take off but I didn’t tell Kennedy it was okay to do so I’m trying to get Kennedy’s attention and he’s over there politicking with the referee and the cheerleaders or something. All of a sudden J.P. did show savvy and instead of going to the centerline and turning to one side or the other he saw that it was open and he just took off and Kennedy made a great play. I thought that J.P. has been really good for us. He’s trying to cut down on his turnovers. That’s a key for us. He’s trying to be very selective with his outside shot. He has improved his shot. He’s still got a long ways to go but if he gets into the situation where he’ll hug the idea of being a great defender then I think we’re really going to have something.”
Thoughts on playing Texas on Wednesday:
“They’re really good. They beat us by 8 million points last year and I remember that. They won at Temple, which is tough for people to go into Temple and play. They won an overtime game up there and a kid made a big shot for them at the end. Rick (Barnes) really does a great job. We had some great battles for many years when I was at Kansas in the Big 12 with Texas. He’s beaten us up a little bit in the last couple of years. We did win two years ago in the Smith Center but they beat us in Dallas, they beat us in Greensboro and beat us in Austin -- not that I’m keeping count. But I do remember those games.”
In the recruiting process, obviously the NBA is an aspiration for all of these guys, how do you address the NBA with them, also knowing that you'd like them to play college basketball for you?
"It's an issue that we do talk about, it's an issue that we cover with every kid. I hope that every kid I do recruit has that dream. I had that same dream also, it wasn't very realistic for him, but it's a lot more realistic for them. The NBA is just such a big animal, we can't compete with that - the amount of money and everything - in a lot of ways it's been harmful to a lot of things about basketball. But it's a big time dream for those kids. We've had 28 guys that have been drafted in the first round. I tell them upfront I cannot put them in the NBA - 'I cannot put you in the NBA, you can do that. You've got to have your help from the man upstairs to stay healthy, you've got to be lucky and all that stuff, but you can do that.' But I know what we did with those 28 guys. We found something that worked with guys and that's what we try to do. When I recruit a kid I tell them 'My No. 1 deal is you come here, we want to win championships, but I also realize you have your own personal dreams and personal goals and I try not to never lose sight of them as well.' Every year when our guys go to the NBA, after training camp or early in the season I always call them and ask 'Did we prepare you?' Every kid has said 'Coach, I was ready.' I'll never forget the first time I talked to Paul Pierce after he goes to the Celtics and I said, 'Paul, did we do the things that made you ready - or are you more ready than the other rookies?' He said, 'Coach, there is nothing that we've been asked to do that I haven't already done. Some of these knuckleheads can't even run a play.' I've done that with Tyler Zeller, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson - every player that's gone up there I've asked them 'Did we help prepare you' and I've never had a kid say anything but positive things."
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