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Well, the last four-to-five, maybe five minutes of the first half I think was crucial for us. We were down a bunch, and I think we had been going through the motions. I told them, 'You can't play basketball if you are not into it emotionally, physically, and everything.' I even felt like--and one of the coaches agreed--that we sort of started feeling sorry for ourselves because they were making a bunch of shots. Some of those shots I thought we did a decent job of guarding them--and over the course of a game if you do a decent job of guarding them you give them an opportunity to miss instead of hoping they miss. I thought the last five minutes of the first half was crucial, and early in the second half we were still pretty good defensively.
Then Wayne [Ellington] got it going, and it was fun to see that youngster have some success, because it has been tough on him. Nobody has wanted to make shots more than he has. He has worked at it, and he has kept a wonderful attitude and tried to do things to help us in other ways. But it was fun to see his shot going in like it was in the second half. Tyler [Hansbrough] has 20 at the half, couldn't get anything going in the second half, and Wayne didn't do anything in the first half and got all 23 in the second half. I probably told him after the game I need to run him more because he got out of shape because he made seven in a row and then missed those two because he just lost his legs on that.
I think another key to the game was Ty Lawson's defense late in the first half and his defense in the second half. Steve [Kirschner of UNC Athletics Communications] gave me this: I knew it wasn't very good early--he had two turnovers and no assists when we were down nine, and then after that he had eight straight assists without a turnover.
It's nice to have the shots go in for us. We struggled a little bit shooting the basketball--and I still think we can be a great shooting team.
We had a difficult time keep them off the boards and trying to guard Jack McClinton is very difficult.
What could this game do for Wayne's confidence?
I have no idea, but I would think it would make him feel good. When you make a lot of putts you think you can make another one. Hopefully, that will be good for him, but he's been a tough youngster. He has kept after it, and he knows that I have kept faith in him, but he's worked himself into the position, and he made a lot of shots tonight and feels good about it.
Could you talk about how tough they were on the glass with the rebounding edge?
They had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, and I guess they finished with 16. I think you have to understand that they were a good rebounding team before they got to the Smith Center. They were leading the ACC in rebound margin, so we knew that was going to be a big part of the game. I think the first 15 minutes of the first half it was their work on the backboards and our turnovers were the reason the score was the way it was and the reason we were playing so poorly.
What did Danny [Green's] defense give you tonight?
I think Danny--Bobby [Frasor] did a nice job on [Jack] McClinton when he was in there too, but he is hard to guard. They set two or three screens for him; he can also put it on the floor and take it to the basket. But I think Danny's blocks and Eddie [Davis's] blocks got the crowd going, but it didn't get our team going. After all that stuff was over, you look up and we are still down seven or eight [points], but I do think it really started when Ty started getting more pressure on the ball. We got two or three steals out in the middle of the court that we converted to baskets. In one of them he goes diving down on the floor and ended up getting it to the other end too.
Were there halftime adjustments that you made that slowed down McClinton, or do you think he just cooled down a little bit?
You know, saying it was halftime adjustments gives too much credit to the coaches. I think our kids did a better job of what we wanted to do in the first part of the game. Again, he made a couple of tough ones. I told them during a timeout, again, let's just make sure that we are there, not hope that he misses. I think we guarded him a little bit better in the second half. Whether or not he got tired or whatever, I don't know, but we were more attentive. We were more attentive to him in the second half than we were [Dwayne] Collins inside, so they have got a nice balance.
When Ty is defending like that on the ball, how much of a trickle down effect is there were passes are harder?
I think it is a tremendous trickle down. I think that you set that stage, the guy is not comfortable, and all of his passes are not right on the money. When I guy is coming off of a screen, he likes to catch the ball in a shooting pocket. When you have that kind of pressure those passes aren't there.
Bobby played point again tonight, and ,from my vantage point at least, it looked like he did a good job. What did you think?
I think he did. It was just three or four minutes. Again, you sit over there, and you've got to try something. I wanted to give us a little bit different look, and I knew he had moved the ball very well and he did. And I thought Larry [Drew] was better when he got back in the second half except for the turnover across from our bench. Sometimes when things aren't going right you feel like you've got to try something.
Would that mean that maybe Bobby can play point some more, because he's got the experience?
He could, but I mean at Virginia I thought Larry was really good. I've told you guys before, I don't have a blueprint. I'm going to play who I feel like is going to do the job at that time. If they are ugly or good-looking, it makes no difference. If I feel like they are going to do a good job then I'm going to put them in there.
Could you talk about Ed Davis's transition from high school to college. He is obviously playing very well right now. What are your thoughts on that?
He's been doing a good job for us all year. He's a defender-rebounder, and he's going to get better and better offensively. He gives us that third post guy that can run in there and give Tyler and Deon [Thompson] a breather. He can block some shots, which changes a lot of things that the other guys do, so he's made a nice transition.
…Tywon set the tone for us. You know, he got on Jack and he made him do some other things--took him out of what they wanted to run. And basically, we just fed off of Ty.
You had been struggling a little with your shot. What did seeing a couple of those [3-pointers] go in do for that?
Ah man, it felt great. I haven't been shooting the ball the way I usually can shooting it earlier in the season. I'm just happy to be able to see a couple go in and just build some confidence. Hopefully, I'll be back in a groove and be back to the way I usually shoot the ball.
Did you know you hit seven three's?
Yeah, that's my first time. It was my first time here.
Can you think of a streak in a game where you have had that many shots go in in about a nine-minute span?
Actually, I think my junior year in high school I had a game like that so--it felt great.
Who did you play against?
I think it was an all-star game, actually.
Did you feel yourself pressing at any point when some of the shots weren't falling in past games? You were getting a lot of good looks, but they just weren't dropping?
Ah, I wasn't really pressing; I was just going to continue to take them, continue to have faith in the way I shoot the ball. That's what Coach wanted me to do too, continue to be confident, and he said it was going to start falling for me. You know, tonight just showed that if you stick with it, it can happen for you.
Danny had a hot game against Asheville. He said some things to you after you got on your hot streak. Do you remember at all what he said?
He was telling me to keep shooting it, let it fly and that's what I did. I just let it fly and once I got in that zone it was like I couldn't miss.
Were you surprised at how open they were leaving you on some of those?
Ah, yeah sometimes. They were trying to get back in a zone, and they weren't really running all the way back. I was just sprinting to the corner, and Ty was pushing the ball and finding me.
It seemed like in the first half you guys struggled, as far as the guards getting anything going. Tyler really carried the load to keep you in it. What was your thought there after that first 15 minutes when you guys--I think guards only had five points in that stretch?
We were just getting the ball in there to him. Every time he touches it in there it is either a bucket or a foul, so we just wanted to continue to get him the ball and ride his back. We knew as soon as we got a couple of breaks and picked it up defensively that we would be fine.
What clicked all of a sudden when those shots started falling? You looked like you were a little uncomfortable offensively in the first half. Then you got that layup and all of a sudden, boom-boom-boom-boom.
I kind of got some emotions involved. I missed some, and I kind of got angry and went and got an offensive rebound and a put-back, and I think that just got me started.
…myself and Ty. That makes teams have to play us honest.
Just take a look at this team for a second. If you continue to shoot the ball the way you have all year, and [Ellington] gets it back, would you talk about how hard that makes this team to guard.
Yeah, it's like I said, it just opens up the floor a lot more for everybody else. It brings a lot more to the table. It just opens up for the bigs more and makes teams have to play us honest. It puts more points on the board for us when he's hitting and everybody's hitting. It's a great thing; it's a beautiful thing, but very rarely do you have a game where everybody on the team is clicking so hopefully we'll have a majority of the people clicking--most games we'll have the majority of the people clicking. Hopefully, we'll have [fewer] games with everybody not clicking. We don't want to have any games like Wake Forest or B.C. when we didn't shoot it really well.
Did you remind Wayne about your hot streak or remind him about it?
Nah, I don't have to. I'm pretty sure he remembers. He learned. He learned. He watched on the sidelines and took some notes, and I think I taught him pretty well. Nah, it's a lot of fun to see guys get hot like that and be able to play basketball without thinking and just shoot unconsciously is a lot of fun to watch. For him to be a part of my team and for us to be winning makes it even better, because if he was on the other team I would probably be a little upset about it.
What about your blocks--could you discuss those? There were some pretty spectacular moves in there?
(Taking a bite of pizza) I'm sorry. My blocks? It's just hustle plays really. Coach just talked about us making the extra effort, just hustling back on defense, getting back, doing the little things, getting back to being that hungry team. As you see, I'm pretty hungry myself (chewing pizza). Getting back to being a hungry team and doing the little things out on the floor--playing pressure defense, executing setting good screens, hustling back on defense, and basically the blocks just came from hustling back on defense, trying to stop them from getting a basket. Luckily it came out good for me and we got some stops, but we need to have everybody in that time of mental--in that type of mode.
Do you feel like those blocks got the team back into it emotionally? It seemed like--
Possibly. I think we started off a little slow, and I think once we got into it we got the crowd into it a little bit. I think we started getting going a little more. Once we got some defensive stops, we got some offensive easy baskets. We had a lot of fast break layups and dunks, just easily because we were playing good defense, and that comes from blocking shots, getting steals, getting on the floor and just boxing them out because they are a very good rebounding team. They get on the boards hard, and we knew we had to box them out. So we knew if we could do that we would be all right.
[A record of] 2-2 may not be where you hoped to be at this point of the year, but considering how things were a few days ago, how does 2-2 feel?
It's feeling good that we are getting wins. We are getting our confidence back, we are getting kind of our swagger back a little bit. We are just playing basketball now, we are playing together as a team, guys are hitting shots. We are executing better. Coaches become more pleased with the way we are executing, doing the things that we are doing. If we continue to play this way and keep making shots forward, I think we can be really good. We have the potential to be a great team.
Do you think a game like this can be used as a springboard to getting back to the level that you were at back in November and December?
Somewhat, but we take every game the same way. We take it as a tough game. Especially in the conference, every game is going to be a tough game, and we can lose to anybody, so we want to come out and play each team as if it was the next big game because it is the next big game for us, because everybody comes at us with their best shot. And we have a target on our chest, back, whatever you want to call it every game, game-in and game-out. We know they are going to give us their best shot, so we want to go out and give them our best shot and hopefully we will come out with the win. We feel like if we do the things we are supposed to do, execute, and play our hardest, that with the talent that we have on our team that it will be very hard for us to lose.
What did you think of Wayne's performance tonight?
I think he hit some big shots for us. He needed it. So, he came out in the second half and just knocked down some shots and got in a groove and kept shooting. Everything was going good for him.
You got off to a great start there in that first half. What were they giving you down on the blocks?
I was just playing my game. I think I was getting low and getting some shots.
How much more effective does it make you all offensively when you've got a guy--Danny can hit from the outside and then when Wayne can hit like that?
Well, when you get guys like that knocking down treys from outside it really opens everything up in the lane because they have to worry about jumping out and guarding Wayne, Danny, or Ty, or whoever is shooting or making three's. It takes away those double-teams and things like that.
Has anything changed in the way you all have played the last two conference games as opposed to the first two conference games?
Well, tonight--I'm going to talk about tonight--but I think late towards the end of the first half, I think we really started playing defense. I think Ty kind of stepped it up and started playing some aggressive defense, and we all bought in to it. From there we made some runs, and Wayne caught fire and started making some three's.
Your defense, probably after the first 15 minutes, it seemed like your defense for the last 25 was probably some of the best defense you all have played all year.
I think we improved. I think we did some things that helped the whole team, and everybody got out and pressured the basketball. We just--everybody was kind of on the same page tonight.
Could you talk about the rebounding from them--how tough they were on the glass?
Yeah, I think that is something that we talked about in scouting report is the way they rebound, and we boxed out but they are just a good rebounding team.
This process of getting back to who you guys are and playing the way you want to, where are you in your mind after playing better now for a couple of games?
Well, I think everyone is starting to play well. I think Wayne is starting to hit some shots. I think that is a big thing for us, if we are making shots and defensively we are getting some stops, and I think that is what really made the difference tonight.
How much more are you consciously going inside and banging versus just looking for more jump shots?
I think I am getting lower. Definitely, my position is getting lower, and that is something I've been working on, and sometime my teammates find me I'm in good position and able to score.
How good was it to see Bobby run the team and run it well again? He hasn't played a lot of point in awhile.
Yeah, it's good for Bobby to get out there and do some leadership role at point guard, but Bob's used to that, he's versatile. It was good for him.
Does this team have one guy that they look to for to give that emotional lift? You all looked a little flat early on. Was there someone--Danny was blocking some shot. Is he someone you all look to for emotional leadership?
I mean, I guess it can be anybody. I think it is on everyone to get themselves to that level, but I think tonight when Danny came out and had those blocks and then Ty stepped it up defensively, those were the two guys that started it for us tonight and everybody else kind of caught on.