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Listen to Audio (6:07)
Opening remarks -
We’re very pleased with the end result. It’s a frustrating night in some ways, but I loved a lot of things that went out there, too. We’ve just got to become a lot smarter basketball team than we were down the stretch. I got very frustrated with our play for the last 20 minutes. But at the same time, if you don’t care enough about your kids to get frustrated with them when they don’t do things right just because the score is in your favor, then I don’t think you’re really coaching. I don’t think any player that’s ever played for me will say that I stopped coaching at any point.
We caught Tennessee on a night when the ball didn’t go in the hole early, and they missed some free throws that helped us in the first half. In the second half they started making a lot of shots – a lot of threes, but we were able to score some on the other end as well. We didn’t take care of the basketball nearly as well. At halftime it was 14 assists and nine turnovers, in the game its 22 assists/24 turnovers. I don’t think I’ve ever had a team that runs into a charge as much as this team does. I told them to go home and tell their parents that what they wanted for Christmas was some brains. One of the parents heard me in the back and said, ‘Good, because that doesn’t cost very much.’ We’ve got great parents, too. We made some shots and did some nice things, and it’s not as bad a taste in my mouth as the last time I was here. I told the kids, the last time I was here we lost twice, and later that year we played for the national championship. It’s still really early. I’ve got a really young team. If you look at it, it’s two freshmen, two sophomores and one senior in our starting lineup. It’s a work in progress, but I do think we have some great material to work with.
On getting the ball inside to Tyler Hansbrough -
We had a tremendous size advantage. They have Duke Crews that’s 6-7, then their next guy is Dane Bradshaw, whom I have a great deal of respect for. He’s their starting four man at 6-4 and 6-5. They can bring Ryan Childress (6-9) off the bench that gives them more size. We do need to get the ball inside where our big guys do have such an advantage. If we keep going inside, hopefully we’ll shoot more free throws than the other team, but they shot just as many as we did today and they shot a lot of threes.
Have you every enjoyed a win less than that?
Oh I enjoyed the win; I just didn’t enjoy the way we played. It’s how you play. You have to play well on the defensive and offensive end, because you’re aiming to get better and better, and you have some big time dreams and hopes for the end of the year. If you improve every day, it’s going to help you. I told the kids if they would play and play effectively and intelligently, that I would go the entire second half without ever looking at the score. I couldn’t do that, because we weren’t playing very smart. I even jumped on Coach [Joe] Holladay. I want to win the dadgum game. The game is never over. The way we play is a lot more important than the final score, because we’re trying to do something at the end of the year.
On his reaction to the flagrant foul
I just saw Tyler get up, and he’s a fiercely competitive kid. He was getting up very quickly, and I just wanted to make sure that was all he was doing – getting up. I did think that it was an intentional foul and I did think that we should have gotten the ball and two shots. I was surprised when the youngster was ejected. Out of the corner of my eye I wanted to make sure no one on my team was leaving the bench.