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Needless to say, we’re very happy to get a road win in the ACC. To get a road win in basketball is always very important to you. The TV people told us this summer during ACC meetings that 69 percent of the time the home team wins. As far as we’re concerned, any road win is good. We played well.
They came out trying to spread the floor and we didn’t panic. We had enough patience and enough intensity to play defense for the whole 35 seconds, and then go down to the offensive end. For the first six or seven minutes, I thought we did a good job of getting the ball where we wanted it to go.
It’s tough for you mentally when Rashad [McCants] has just [four] shots for the entire game. I think, with some teams in the past, even last year, if he wasn’t scoring it was difficult for us. But I liked the way everybody else picked us up and helped us put the ball in the basket.
I do think we had an advantage inside with Sean [May] and Jawad [Williams], and that was extremely important for us. I was really happy for Raymond [Felton] knocking in his shots. With the cast on his wrist, it’s kind of difficult for him. With seven turnovers, that’s not the way he plays, but he’s awfully important to us with the tempo that he sets. Marvin [Williams], David [Noel], Melvin [Scott] and those guys coming off the bench enabled us to play nine guys. That way fatigue was not an issue when we had to chase them for 35 seconds on the shot clock.
On Rashad’s struggles:
“My favorite play of the game…he had not scored with four or five minutes left in the half, and he got the ball at the top of the key and was open and he faked the shot and threw it inside to Sean for a layup. I don’t think he would have made that play in the past.
He is much more mature. In the second half he got back and made two sensational blocks. In the last part of the game he was still hustling, and he wouldn’t have even done that in the past. Needless to say, my big worry is not about Rashad McCants.
On the halfcourt defense in the first half:
What we try to do in basketball is take away the easy play, and try make you do something that is a little more difficult. It’s hard to make a backdoor pass if there is pressure on you. So we do try to make them do things that are not really simple.
Again, in the first five minutes of the game, we had to have some patience, because they were spreading. We went to zone one possession and thought about playing it even more. Then Carlos [Dixon] made one from the corner, because when they went small and made Dixon the four-man, I didn’t want him running the baseline. Because he’s a good shooter, we decided to stick with the man-to-man.
But the kids have been working extremely hard defensively all year long. We take a lot of pride in looking down and seeing the other teams not shooting a good field goal percentage. The biggest problem for us was just turning the ball over. We turned it over 28 percent of the time in the first half. Twenty-two turnovers in a game are way too much for us, but you have to credit their defense.
What did you think of the atmosphere?
Well, if I payed much attention to it, which I don’t, then I might be able to give you a better answer. We played pretty well and played pretty well early, after about the 10-minute mark of the first half. We had a little bit of a run there, and the crowd was never a factor again.
If it’s a one-point game at the half, and then they score the first couple of baskets coming back, then the crowd gets into it and becomes more of a factor. A lot of times you can control the crowd by your own play, and I think we did that today.