“Well, we congratulate North Carolina on making it to the Final Four, it was a much-deserved victory. Real proud of our guys. They played their hearts out, made a few turnovers down the stretch that really shot us in the foot, but I couldn't substitute as much as I wanted. And I had some guys giving everything they had, their heart and soul to try and get a victory.
”Tyler Hansbrough made two shots that you prayed they were going to take, and shows you what an All American he is to make those shots, because they were both challenging -- I was following the flight of the ball; he couldn't even see the basket. That's what an All American does, makes those shots and he's a heck of a basketball player. First time I've seen him up close, and some pro team is going to be very lucky. I haven't seen a guy play every possession like that in a long time. I've never seen it, actually.
”So we congratulate North Carolina. I'm real proud of our basketball team. They've had a very good season and I'm real proud of them.”
Did the pace catch up with you?
“No, I don't think when you make a post move and you get called for two travels that's losing your legs. I think they pulled the chair and played good defense on him. He learned a valuable lesson from that. He thought he was getting fouled in the beginning, and then they pulled the chair on him twice, and he had two. Turnovers hurt us down the stretch, but like I said, they made some real difficult shots. I don't think the transition game was a factor for them. I think they made some very difficult shots, made all their free-throws and we turned it over at some crucial times. But we did a lot of good things offensively tonight, really some good things, shot a good percentage, but they were a little bit better than us, and our guys hung tough in a tough environment.”
Can you elaborate on Hansbrough:
“Because I've coached against Michael in his prime, Barkley in his prime, Kareem when he left, Magic, all the great ones I've been fortunate to watch and observe those guys. Certainly he doesn't have those abilities of those superstars, but just like shooting, rebounding, playing defense, passing, skills, working hard is an acquired skill. Every NBA coach would love to have a player not only because he works hard, but he has a lot of talent. Imagine that. You know, we have an old saying as an offensive rebounder, "treat every shot as a pass to you." And it's a good saying, except most players can't do that. He does that.
”But the shots he made, I mean, I was right there, were unbelievable shots because they were under duress, and he had very little time to get it off, and he came up big. And obviously I don't like to lose, but you've got to give credit to a great basketball player.”
What halftime adjustments did you make?
“We were just turning the ball over too much and we were shooting a good percentage, we were turning it over. You know, turnovers hurt us against Tennessee and turnovers hurt us against Carolina a little bit. You can't work that hard and force turnovers. Some of my great teams would force 23 turnovers, but most of the season we would only turn it over 13, 14 times.
”The second half the reason we came back because we weren't turning it over. And then we got those two travel violations. And that type of turnover doesn't bother me as much because it's a great defensive play by a guy who pulls the chair on him and he traveled. The other turnovers when T Will turned it over on a pass, he was just dead on that play. When our guys did a much better job in the second half. The elements caught up with us in the second half, but our guys did a wonderful job. They're a terrific basketball team. You've got two teams going to the Final Four right now that are both great on defense, terrific on offense.”
What happened in the final 10 minutes?
“They made big shots, and we had a couple of key turnovers, and they got a couple more rebounds than we did.”
“I've never been on the court where someone goes hard for every position, every rebound, dives on the floor and do whatever to make his time win. He deserves everything that he gets.”
“He deserves every accolade and all the success that he gets. Like Coach said, I've never played against somebody who plays that hard, and the kid is just absolutely determined to be a great basketball player. And big-time players make big-time plays and he made two big-time plays at the end of game.”
On what worked during the comeback:
“Well, they're one of the best offensive teams in the country. They played well tonight and did a good job rebounding the basketball. And we came out after halftime and I thought we dug in and slowly chipped away at the lead and tied it up, but it's tough when you dig yourself a hole like that. But I thought our guys did a good job of battling back in and not giving up and trying to get out of here with a win. They were just a better basketball team.”