Well, it’s a better feeling in that locker room, there’s no question. Boston College is really a hard team to play. They are very well-coached, their kids do the things that Steve (Donahue) asks them to do. They make those three’s, they are hard to guard like that. They are good ball-handlers, they put the ball on the floor and break you down. And yet I thought at times we were really good.
Kennedy gave us a huge lift. It’s a hard match-up for Kennedy and Joel, and all our big guys like that because they play so much defense out on the court. Kennedy does give us an ability to score more inside. As a matter of fact, when I put him in I think I took James Michael out. He had the guy posted up and ended up shooting a turn-around, fall-away jumper from 33 feet instead of trying to get fouled. On the other end they are driving the ball to the basket and getting fouled. Then when I put James Michael back in I thought he was sensational on both ends of the court, blocking shots and doing everything.
Five guys in double-figures, you like to have that. We shot over 50 percent both halves. We are just very, very, pleased, relieved—you can put any adjective that you want to in there—but it is a much better feeling in that locker room.
What went into the line-up change with Jackson (Simmons) and Leslie (McDonald)?
We had lost three in a row and you have to do something. I’ve told them, I’m very open about it—I don’t know that Leslie had done enough to deserve it, but I wanted to do something. Jackson plays hardER than everybody else and that is the reason that he got the chance. I may stick with it at Charlottesville and I may not, but I don’t want to sit back and not do anything, so we tried to change it up.
I was really disturbed that Jackson got the cut so early because I think he would have really helped us set the tempo defensively a little bit early. He’s undersized to play that spot, but he really does some good things for us. Again, Kennedy gave us a huge lift off the bench. Brice did some really good things for us as well.
Could you talk about the job Tokoto did on #21, (Oliver) Hanlan, the second half on defense?
I thought J.P. was great. I’ve got to work with him on his dunks. I was just dumb enough—I said, ‘I hope Kennedy doesn’t throw it long because it’s an eight-point game, something like that, and he threw it long. J.P. got it—all of a sudden I felt pretty comfortable—then all of a sudden the ball is bouncing off the back of the rim.
J.P. is getting better and better. I think each game he’s getting better and better, and we need him to do that. I think Marcus (Paige), and J.P. and James Michael, who have given us a little bit of consistency, we need them to keep doing it and find those two guys in the other spots to do the same thing. But six assists for J.P. also. And those guys are hard to guard, as I said earlier. But I think J.P. and James Michael, Marcus really did something. I put Leslie back in, and I said he hadn’t made but one shot all day, but he’s going to make a big one for us—and I think the three that he made for us was a big one.
Steve said that you do what you do better than BC doing what it does. How did you get the game in the 80’s—was there anything defensively you could do?
Well, we still try to pressure them a little bit and see if we can get the break going. I don’t know what it says we had in fast break points—eight to five. That’s not a big game for us on the break. But we did try to pressure them but be—this is probably and oxymoron—it’s like conservative pressure because we wanted to get just a hand in the passing lane and not get too far out and open it up for back door cuts because they do such a good job passing the basketball. But we wanted to get the ball inside, try to take it to the basket, and we did that during certain parts of the game. And we wanted to try to get the break going a little bit better.
But you look at the rebound totals, 32-29, they had three rebounds on the next-to-last possession kind of thing. I didn’t think we had rebounded it badly, but I wanted more options on second shots on the offensive end.
You hadn’t shot better than 40 percent in the game in the ACC this year. Like you said, 50 percent both halves—what was the difference today?
The ball went in the basket—stars and moon were aligned properly. You know, we’ve worked on our shooting the same way, but today the ball went in. And I do think that Marcus making a couple in the first half—I think he missed one shot in the first half, maybe two. What did you tell me? He was 6-for-9. We’ve got to get him to be a little more offensive-minded in the second half. But 4-for-12, I’d like to make more. I don’t care if we shoot more than 12 three’s, but I’d like to make more than four.
When you had the bigger line-up what was the key to defending their three’s where sometimes James Michael was chasing Lonnie (Jackson) around?
I think James Michael can defend on the perimeter, I’m not too worried about that, and J.P. can as well. I even went on time with Luke (Davis) because Luke is a good defender as long as he doesn’t reach and go flying in there and helping and over-helping and they throw it into the corner and they make a three. But we’ve been working awfully hard on everything, guys. We have been working hard defensively, we have been working hard on trying to run it, doing everything. We had a couple of really good practices, three really good practices this week, and I think it helped us today.
You mentioned that Boston College likes to drive the ball and had some success there. Is that just them making long shots or is that something else they were doing to have success?
Well, they were driving the ball to the basket and we were over-helping sometimes, and then that allowed them to have three. And then Joe (Rahan) and Hanlan, even Lonnie I think, one time, they really drive the baseline looking for shooters, which is a little unusual, but they really do that better than anybody. They drive the baseline, draw us in, and hit the guy on the weak side, but again Steve does a really good job. With Hanlan and Jackson and Joe, they’ve got three guys who can penetrate. Odio shot one that would have been three, four, or five feet behind the NBA three-point line, so they’ve got shooters. They use those other guys to try to break you down.
We went zone one possession. I used to think this was going to happen all the time with teams in the past. We’d go zone in the past and they’d make a three. Well, today they did that as well, but I was really made at Marcus and James Michael. It was right in between them when neither one of them would speak English or French or Spanish or any language. They don’t talk at all, and so the guy gets an open three, so we didn’t go back to it after that.