“The biggest part of the game was that we were not very sharp to say the least. I probably gave them too much time at Christmas. We played Saturday and let them go and didn’t bring them back until seven o’clock last night. We were not sharp to say the least and that was a huge part of the game but at the same time I didn’t think we had the intensity and the concentration level that we needed to have. When you added both of those together, I think we weren’t very sharp. It makes you miss easy shots or throw the ball to who knows.
"A couple of times we were passing it to each other instead of shooting it and then all of a sudden it goes out of bounds. I was not pleased defensively or on the backboards or attacking the basket. We had a tremendous size advantage and one of our goals was to attack the basket. We didn’t get a single low post-up or take to the basket the entire first half so I was pretty frustrated at that.
"We put in those five guys to start the second half and I thought they gave us a tremendous lift defensively, did some really good things for us. That sort of turned it around. You’ve got to congratulate Northern Kentucky, they came in here and didn’t care if it was North Carolina or where it was and did some nice things and were much more aggressive than we were, especially in the first half.”
Do you expect to have P.J. (Hairston) on the bench anymore this season?
“Guys, I’m trying to coach the guys I have. I have no idea. He’s not on our team. I love him to death but he’s not on our team. I love him.”
Comments on the implementation of the press in the second half:
“We went to 44. It helped us against Davidson. We got two turnovers out of it tonight. The whole thing was just guarding the basketball. We were much better at it at that time and particularly early in the second half.”
Has the tendency to play lackadaisically at times against lesser opponents due to the maturity of this team?
“I hope it is because maturity means that we can get there. Lack of maturity now means that we can get there eventually so I hope that’s what it is. We are an extremely young club but also we’ve played 12 games so we’ve got to be able bring it. I really do think that I’ve got to shoulder part of the blame because I could’ve brought them back Christmas night but I thought if we did that then J.P. (Tokoto) and Marcus (Paige) were going to have to leave unbelievably early on Christmas day.
"The best coaching job I ever did was coaching the JV team a hundred years ago. I gave them 29 straight days off and brought them back with no practices and we were great. It didn’t work today.”
How much has Leslie McDonald’s return helped this team get better?
“Well making shots makes everybody better. There’s no question about that. He made I guess three of them in the first half. The second half he can’t have better shots than he had in the second half but one of them he shot it so quickly on semi-break where he pulled up and shot the ball and he didn’t even have a grip on it. I jumped on his rear end then. He’s been here long enough to know that you don’t do that but Leslie does have an ability to shoot the ball and that really helps us. Hopefully it’s going to help us even more down the line.”
Comments on the decision to start a different group in the second half:
“It was because I was ticked off. I just wanted to try somebody different. I didn’t know what it was but my staff did a great job because what I wanted to do was stay out at halftime and run sprints the entire frickin’ half and they thought it was not the right thing to do. God, I wanted to do that so badly. I will never ask them again because I’m going to do that one of these days. I know by God we’ll make Sportscenter then.”
How much energy did the Isaiah Hicks dunk bring to your team at that particular point in the game?
“It brought a lot to the head coach. I don’t know what it did to everybody else but I think 18,000 people came and that was the loudest I heard them tonight. I think it fired up those guys on the court and it fired up the guys who were not playing at that time so I think that was good.”
Why do you think Northern Kentucky was able to score more points in the paint tonight despite the significant size advantage for UNC?
“They attacked. If they’re driving to the basket then I don’t know if they give you points from the paint from the free throw line but they were driving to the basket. We were shooting fadeaways.”
Did Isaiah Hicks have his best game tonight?
“Well I think he got 12 minutes, that’s up there with his minutes. I need to give him some more time and I want to give him some more time but he’s just running around out there. He’s going to be a really good player.”
What do you think the five to start the second half brought to the floor for you team?
“It’s got to mean something to you. I think that might have been the biggest thing. I thought it might mean more to those five that I put in there then I thought it meant by the actions of those first five that I had in there because you’ve got to care. If you really care and you want to be a big time team then you don’t make those same mistakes now that we were making September 27th. I would just say that I wanted guys in there that would compete and make me feel like they cared more.
I should coach execution, but as you’ve heard me say before, I shouldn’t have to coach effort and I shouldn’t have to coach concentration either if it means a lot to you. Who was our leading rebounder? It’s Marcus Paige, nine rebounds. Some other guys have got to rebound the basketball better.”