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Listen to Audio Part I (5:37)
Listen to Audio Part II (5:34)
Opening remarks -
We’re glad to be one of the 32 teams that are still playing. We’re extremely excited about that. We got off to a great start and then I think it was so easy that we lost our focus. Then we got sloppy and made some bad decision. But give Eastern Kentucky credit because they kicked us for about 12 to 14 minutes there. We were on our heels offensively. We were turning the basketball over. Then we couldn’t stop them defensively. But I like the focus of our guys. Brandan [Wright] made a free throw to get it to five, then Ty [Lawson] made a move inside and got it. Then all of a sudden we got it to Tyler [Hansbrough] several times. That opened things up, and we got on a big run of our own. But we have a really young team with 11 freshmen and sophomore, and I think we thought it was going to be too easy and we didn’t bring that intensity. That’s our part of it, but you still have to give them credit, too.
On coping with the loss of his sister -
It was a difficult day, there’s no question about that. She passed last night at 6:45 p.m. It was Alzheimer’s. It’s been a very difficult time, especially for my niece and nephew. I thanked the team after the game. I think the last game she really had everything mentally and she saw me coach was the national championship game. After last night, my niece told me she had her mind back now, and she would be able to watch the game today.
Will you have to miss any time with the team?
We don't know yet. We’ll have service either Sunday or Monday. Right now it’s basketball that keeps me going. And the kids didn’t know anything about it until after the game.
What kind of part did Marcus Ginyard play in the game?
I was extremely disappointed with some of our play off the bench in the first half. We had about six turnovers off the bench, when they played about a third of the minutes the other guys did. Marcus only got two of those. I felt like defensively, I wanted to have him in there, and he really did a nice job. I shortened the rotation, not because I thought it was better for our team; it’s just that I was mad at those guys how they played when they got in there. Those were some of the ones that thought it was going to be easier than it was. It’s no big deal. I told everyone to have a smile on their face tomorrow, and I fully expect to have one, too. I’m going to give those guys a chance to go out there and do well, and I suspect they will do well on Saturday. In some ways, Marcus may have deserved more minutes than he’s gotten all year long. [Quentin Thomas] came in and did some nice things, and I didn’t play him at all in the second half against NC State in the tournament finals. Our bench is extremely important to us, and they’ve got to play well when they get in there.
More about his sister -
She was 60. Alzheimer’s is tough. If you want to choose something, don’t choose that. We were close. She was important to me. That’s probably enough about that.
On the youth of the team and playing more consistent -
I’m not concerned greatly at all, because that’s the game of basketball. Coach [John] Wooden always said there are going to be runs in the game, and you just hope your runs are more significant than the others. For some reason I think this team has gotten a reputation for something that I don’t think is fair. We led against a very good Maryland squad and they got the lead late in the game, and we still had a chance to tie with six seconds to go. Part of it’s the game of college basketball, but a little part of it is the youth. I’m not going to go back to the hotel tonight and lay awake about it. All year long we’ve played really well during some stretches and we’ve had some bad stretches, but give the other team some credit. I think Eastern Kentucky did a really nice job. It was a great run by them.
On lessons from playing Michigan State two years ago in the national semifinals -
Michigan State is a very athletic team. They’re pretty good defensively, and we just have to worry about playing Carolina basketball, and everything will take care of itself.
On his play down the stretch helping put things away -
I was just trying to take pressure off our point guards, take care of the gaps and attack their defense.
On the team playing more consistent -
I just feel like at time we have some letdowns, but I think we’ve adjusted to it. I think we’ll work on our offense the next practice and see what we come up with
Was the new mask more comfortable?
Yeah. I don’t think I’m going to like the mask, but it was a lot better. It’s a flatter on my face. I can see a lot better. It’s a lot more comfortable wearing the mask. I’m probably going to have to wear it Saturday against Michigan State. We’ll just see how it goes later on.
On Michigan State -
I haven’t seen them play much. I know they’re a tough team in this tournament, and we’re going to have to be ready to come out and play. All I’ve know is what I’ve seen them play is that they’re a pretty good rebounding team. I’ll have to work on getting on the boards.
On how anxious it got for the team when EKU cut the lead to four in the second half -
I think it was more of one of those things where we had to stay poised and within ourselves. At the same time, to get back and try to get some stops defensively.