The between-the-leg pass tonight. Was that planned?
“It went there. It wasn't exactly how I planned. I was trying to go around him. But he moved, and it went between his legs, and I was just happy it got there so Coach wasn't going to cuss me out.”
Could you have asked for a better birthday present?
“No, I couldn't. As long as we won today, my birthday is going to be fine. Plus we have an off-day tomorrow. So that's definitely going to make it that much more fun.”
You guys are in second place right now. That's got to feel like a big accomplishment.
“Definitely. It's a big thing for us. We recognize where we came from. For the most part it's just been satisfying to do things that people thought we could never do. That's big for us. And we're going to take that and hopefully continue to build our confidence.”
How much fun is it to play with these guys?
“It’s been fun, because every day in practice we go at each other, we go hard. And these guys, I know they're a lot younger than me, but at the same time, just seeing how silly they are, how immature they are, it just makes me laugh. I know I was in that position before, and sometimes I go back to that because I'm a kid at heart. So it's been fun.”
You keep talking about the surprises of this team. Last year's championship team was 7-1 in February. Now you are 7-1 in February. Does that boggle your mind at all?
“No, not too much. We had high expectations for this team from the beginning. We knew that not everybody else did. But we knew what we were capable of. We knew if we went out every night and played, that we could get things done. That's what it's been for the most part.”
Now you've got a Senior Night coming up. What's that going to be like?
“It’s going to be goosebumps. It's going to be chills. It's going to be some of everything. It's definitely going to be an emotional experience for me. But at the same time, my four years here is done, so it's time to give these other guys the chance to have the spotlight.”
On the team's flow…
“Offensively we just weren't moving the ball as well as we should. But again, you play hard, you play with a little bit of intensity, you feed off your defense, and good things are going to happen. Maryland missed some shots, unfortunate for them, but that helped us build a little lead.”
When this team talked about preseason goals, where did a top-four seed in the ACC rank?
“I think that's always a goal, especially this year with the tournament. You don't want to play on the first day of the tournament, so to secure that bye, that's a big goal. And there are still many more we're trying to get to.”
Talk about Tyler's ability to finish. He's a better three-point scorer than the guards are, because he gets banged around so much.
“That's right. I want to find out the statistic for how many three point plays he's had without shooting it behind the arc. I think that'd be amazing. It's amazing how he gets the ball up. There's two, three, four guys around him, and they're all over him, and you don't know how it's going to get up. All of a sudden it's dropping in, bounce off the rim a couple of times, and it's an "and-one." It's phenomenal. Sometimes we don't move as well on the perimeter for him because we're just standing there watching him.”
He ran you over again tonight, didn't he?
“Was that him? Because I was about to go complain to the ref again, I thought I got killed. But the ref said it was my own teammate. So, thanks, Tyler. [Laughs]”
This team didn't play its best basketball today, yet you still won by 24. Is that just a sign of maturity?
“Yeah, I think that's a good thing. When things aren't going as well as you'd like, you still want to be able to compete and win convincingly. That's a good thing for this team, and it gives us confidence. Maybe we didn't play as well as we're capable of doing, but we still did some nice things and got a win against a good team tonight.”
You guys turned it over 17 times and still won by 24. How does that happen?
“Luck, I guess. We just got lucky. Things are starting to go our way. We just can't turn the ball over that many times. We had a great game--we only turned the ball over six times--against NC State. Tonight, Maryland just came up short. They weren't making as many shots as they usually do. So we got lucky.”
Gary Williams said that you guys played incredible defense.
“We definitely were scouting out their flex [offense], and we worked hard this week to guard that. I think we did a great job on the defensive end, giving that extra effort, not letting them get easy baskets. We beat them by eighteen rebounds last game, so we knew we could beat them on the boards. We played great defense on their shots, and we went to the boards.”
You guys were kind of bogging down, Maryland made a little run, and then David hit a couple in a row, helped get a couple of stops. What kind of lift did that give you?
“That's what David Noel's been here doing this whole year. He's been making shots when we need them, and he did the same thing in the NC State game. Tonight he really kept us in it. Like you said, they brought it down to 11, and he was there to make big shots again and keep us ahead.”