"It was probably the most emotional locker room I've ever had in 26 years as a head coach. It was not easy and I've said before, the most inadequate feeling you can ever have as a coach is what do you say to the kids in the locker room after the last game. I'm not brilliant enough to come up with anything that's any good. It doesn't erase the moment, it's not a mulligan that you can get in golf or a do-over or anything like that. It's just a tough scenario for the kids. It's tough for the coaches, it really is. I really have really enjoyed this team. They've been so important to me and making me enjoy my life this year, it's been a really neat group. First time ever, I brought them back in this afternoon and we graded the tape of the game yesterday during the day. I brought them in at four o'clock and showed it to the team. I showed the clips that we picked out. It was 17 minutes of clips, it only took me an hour to get through it because we do go back and forth quite a bit, but I did it for teaching purposes and for them to know. You're that close to advancing and then you think gosh that next matchup may be a good matchup and boy maybe that next one may be a good matchup for us as well.
"Every game is important and we tell them all the time that every play is important. Clemson is in the NIT, if they get the basketball inbounds with Pittsburgh with two seconds to play then they would've been in the NCAA. Every game has big time plays and swings that go from one way to the other. We definitely had that one yesterday. Friday night we made some plays and Providence helped us by not making plays. Yesterday, we didn't make some plays and Iowa State did not help us because they did. They made seven of their last eight shots and the only one they missed J.P. (Tokoto) blocked and they got it and layed it up, so they scored the last seven times they had the basketball. It was a difficult time for us. It wasn't one guy, it wasn't one thing, and it was just North Carolina didn't play quite as well in the last five minutes as Iowa State did."
On the final sequence of the game against Iowa State:
"We screwed it up first, it's not against the officials. We screwed it up. We have five players on the floor, we coach, we talk and we teach. They'll tell you this, I'm not jumping on them. We're supposed to call timeout and we're supposed to have five guys signaling timeout. If it's seven seconds or less we call a timeout, if it's over seven seconds then we're going to attack you. Not a single player was calling timeout. I was calling timeout and the referee was running right by me. Even Jay Williams this morning on SportsCenter—I was at the barbershop getting my haircut and I didn't want the daggum thing on TV but there it was—and he said he couldn't believe the official ran right by me and I'm standing there signaling timeout. They score with 1.6 seconds to play. We should've called timeout and that was our mistake, that was us. We didn't call a timeout, got the ball in and Nate (Britt) starts bringing it up to the centerline and calls timeout. When I looked up at the clock, the clock was zero and that's what I thought it would be because I thought it took us more than 1.6 to get where he was, but I said ‘do we have any time left?' and they were going to go to the monitor. They go to the monitor and you see them talking and they go back to the monitor and you see them talking and then I think they went a third time. I had plenty of time so I diagrammed a play from sideline OB half court with 0.6 of a second. We diagrammed a full court play with 1.6. I diagrammed my gold swing for next month. We had all kinds of time to do it and we still had one timeout left so we diagrammed a play to take it out of bounds and throw it to the centerline and call another timeout so we had plenty of time.
"I didn't feel good about it, there's no question, and so when they called us up there Tony Greene said ‘It's a really hard situation but no one saw a timeout being called until the very end and we went over to see if we needed to put any time back on the clock, I didn't see your players calling timeout and pointed at one of the officials and said he saw you signal timeout and your players at the end, because Nate was calling timeout at the end. When the timeout was granted, there was no time on the clock. We went to see if we should put any time back on the clock and in doing that we also realized that the clock started late, that the clock should have started sooner and if it had started sooner then when your timeout was granted then the time would've already been gone so basically what I'm saying is the game is over with.' You can stand there and act like an idiot if you want to and rant and rave and scream and holler but the bottom line is the game is over with. That's what it was and it didn't bother me. Blaming the officials is not what you should do – period - but we made the mistake and I felt like that it would've taken us more than 1.6 seconds to get to the centerline anyway. If I had gone wacko or anything then I would've been begging and pleading without a leg to stand on. I just turned to Fred and told him ‘congratulations' and shook his hand and hugged him and went on down the sideline."
Referees have a button to control the clock on their waist during the regular season but not during the NCAA Tournament. Would you think that would be a good idea moving forward for the NCAA to look at that?
"Let's have some common sense, if it's a good thing to do the whole frickin' year then why do you stop doing it when it counts the most? That doesn't make any sense to me, but that's what it is. The tournament committee has to make that decision, but if it's good enough to use when North Carolina and Duke are playing or when Duke and Syracuse are playing then why is it not good enough when you're playing in the NCAA Tournament? That part doesn't make sense to me at all. Would it have changed the situation yesterday? Who knows, because when did they recognize the timeout and how much time? Again, we made the mistake, we should have called timeout so how can I get mad at three guys when we have five guys that made a mistake. We're accountable for it and we talked about it today in the meeting. We didn't get it accomplished but you have to congratulate Iowa State. They made plays."
On David Robinson visiting the locker room Friday night after the win against Providence and the other notable Tar Heel fans in attendance such as Danny Green, Jesse Holley and Mack Brown:
"Friday night was a lot more fun. They came in the locker room and said David Robinson was outside and wanted to say hello to me. I met David several years ago and he's always been great to me. In fact, he tried to talk Kendall Marshall out of going to the NBA at an awards dinner in New Orleans a couple of years ago. David had two of his sons with him so I went outside and talked with him and took him in the locker room and then he had a couple of moments outside before the press conference with James Michael (McAdoo), Brice (Johnson) and Marcus (Paige). "Jesse was there. Jesse came by our shootaround so I saw him a little bit during the day on Friday so I knew he was there. Danny was playing Friday night and so I saw Danny in the stands and he came by the locker room after the game. It was still a pretty emotional time when I saw him that time. I knew Mack was there, but I did not see Mack."
On the fans welcoming the team back to Chapel Hill:
"It was about 2 a.m. A majority of them were students and it was really nice of them. Students don't quite go to bed as early as the old folks do, but it was nice of them to be there and they really said some nice things."
Looking ahead to next year, do you have a feel for what kind of team you may have?
"You have to do two things. We're still recruiting - we're always recruiting, we don't stop recruiting, period, the end. So we're still looking for some other people. And then you have to find out how many of your people are coming back. ... Right now you have no idea, but if guys come back, we have a nice core, we have three kids coming in that I believe will really help us, I think we'll be a much more gifted offensive team and hopefully with the year we had this year, we'll continue to get better defensively."
When do you start that transition from this season to next season?
"I'm always looking ahead ... We discussed today (high school) sophomores that I'm going to go see. I've seen freshmen. I'm mad because I'm not going recruiting tonight. I don't want to sit on my rear end while someone else is getting work done. ... I think the three freshmen coming in are really gifted basketball players. They know how to win - all three won state championships and I love that - and I think they'll really help us. And with the core we could possibly have coming back, I think it'll be a fun year."
So 2013-14 has come to a close, what happens for you now the next six weeks?
"Well, there's always recruiting. There are some dead periods around the Final Four. I'm on a few committees so I have to go to Dallas for the Final Four. It's a lot of fun when your team goes because you have a chance to win the national championship and you get out of all of those meetings. I'll be there for a couple of days. Rams Club meetings start going on pretty soon at the end of April and the first of May. May is the month that you do get to catch your breath a little bit except for conference meetings.
"Recruiting is like shaving, you take a day off and somebody notices. I try to make sure that nobody notices. That's always a primary concern of ours and trying to make sure our kids do a nice job academically. At the start of this year, I challenged our team two ways, I said 'Let's be a really good basketball team and let's really do a great job academically this year.' There's been a lot of junk going on around here that I don't appreciate. There's been some things said that I don't appreciate. I'm extremely proud of what my team did first semester and I think they're going to do the same kind of thing second semester. Do those kind of things that student athletes you want them to do and as coaches we emphasize it. It's not like in the old days when you could coach the season and then go to the lake for six or seven weeks or anything. It's pretty much a year round job."
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