On ending a four-game losing streak against State:
“We’ve been waiting on this game for a while, and it’s good to pay them back. The guys that we have this year are very eager to get out there and beat them.”
On hitting another key shot in the game’s closing minutes:
“Well, you know, my shot wasn’t really falling in the first half, and they played a really good defense--a packed in zone, match up--they did a real good job in terms of containing us as far as three point shooting and driving. So we had to find other ways to score. And we played defense and got out on the break. As far as that last shot, I’m always wanting the ball in the clutch.”
On the matchup against Julius Hodge:
“Julius is very good. He’s a very awkward basketball player as far as what we’re playing against. He’s very wiry, and it’s hard to adjust to him. But I think we did a pretty good job on him during the game.”
State was getting what they wanted in the first half. What kinds of adjustments did you make at halftime?
“Their offense is very complicated. You really can’t be too aggressive with them. You just have to be patient. I think we were really aggressive with them out front, and they just back doored us a lot for us being over-aggressive. So we just had to calm down and be patient and wait for them to make mistakes.”
Is it unusual to lay back and be patient when Coach Williams is telling you to be aggressive on both ends of the court?
“Not really. I think it was more a fundamental pressure for us, just pressure on the ball. When you’re man catches it, make him feel uncomfortable. We didn’t want to gamble too much on defense and make them get a lot of backdoors. So I think we were just very patient with it.”
Did you all work the 1-3-1 zone in the extra practice time this week?
“We’ve had that defense for a while--about a month now. I think it’s a very good defense for us to run on a regular basis because teams aren’t used to it. I think it really worked for us tonight.”
Does it matter to be back at .500 in the ACC?
“Not really? We’re really not satisfied at all, because we put ourselves in this hole, and we’ve got to get ourselves out.”
How does the team feel about going on the road this weekend?
“I think everybody’s going to have it in their minds that we have to win on the road.”
How hard is it to play defense on State with the way they spread the court?
“It’s difficult if you don’t stick to your principles. In a basketball game you’re going to have your lapses, and if you forget what you’re going to do on the defensive end, they’re going to eat you alive. I think we did a good job of setting the tone early and sticking to our principles and not allowing them to back-cut us and get easy layups. It’s difficult because they have so many options. I mean their five-man, Marcus Melvin, is shooting threes and he hit four or five of them. So you’ve just got to get used to it and stick to your principles the entire game.”
What adjustments did Coach Williams ask for at halftime?
“He just said, ‘Get after it.’ Our intensity wasn’t good enough. We were giving them too many easy layups, and he just said the reason why they were in the lead is because we’re giving it to them. We had three straight possessions where we didn’t get a shot. I turned it over, then Dave [Noel] came down and he turned it over, and I think I turned it over again. Coach just said we have to get after it, and we can’t allow them to get points off our turnovers.”
Are teams having more success pushing you off the block and making it harder to catch the ball in scoring position?
“That’s just me. I just have to do a better job of sitting low in the post. The last few games I haven’t done a good job of doing that. And every time I come out [of the game], they’re in my ear about it. I’m trying to get as low as I can, but the timing’s got to be right, and they’re just doing a good job of playing me. Tonight I was getting double-teamed, so I wasn’t really trying to make my move. I was trying to find somebody wide open, and that was it.”
Raymond really shifted gears in the second half. Did the team feed off that?
“Yeah, we told Ray "We’re feeding off of you. If you’re off your man and you’re not pressuring like Coach wants you to, it feeds down the line. If you’re out there and pressuring and doing the things Coach asks, we’re all going to feed off of you and we’re all going to get after it like you do.”
How did Jawad’s injury affect the team?
“Jawad’s just got that toughness and attitude that I wish all of us. Some guys do and some guys don’t, that’s just their personality. But just the way he handles himself on the court and off the court, he’s all about business, and his attitude is impressive, just the way he shows it.”
So how much longer will you be wearing the mask now?
“I thought it was going to come off for sure, but now it’s probably another three weeks.”
You must hate the mask, but are you glad you had it tonight?
“Yeah, if I didn’t have it it probably would have been a lot worse.”
Can you see with it?
“Nah. It affects certain angles. I can’t look straight down, and I can’t look above without moving my head. It makes it harder on rebounding, because if I’m boxing out, I can’t really see where the ball’s going. I have to wait and box the guy out almost out to the free throw line.”
Are these injuries starting to help you make your mark as a warrior, and is the team responding?
“Yes. They’d better respond. If I can do it, anyone on the team can do it. If I can get hit and still try to play, then they can do the same thing.’
Talk about the team’s defense in the second half.
“It was good. We showed a lot of patience on the defensive end. We got out in the passing lanes. That was a big help in the win tonight.”
How much of an accomplishment is it to play another team’s style and win?
“I think it showed more of our toughness tonight. We really showed we can stick a game out. We could have lost that game, because we didn’t score the points we usually score. But we showed that we can stick it out and play defense.”