|Inside Carolina audio is available to IC premium subscribers. To listen, you'll need an updated version of Windows Media Player - click here to download the software.|
"It was a gutty performance by our club. I kidded the little fella, called him Dennis the Menace, and that's exactly who he is. But I've never seen Dennis the Menace as tough as I saw him today.
"As we were leaving the bench to start the second half, I told him don't worry about the first half. He played very well, he had one field goal in the first half. It was a lay-up. Said when we played Duke last home game Senior Day, first half he wasn't very good. In the second half he was sensational, and he even took it up another level today. He showed why he was the Player of the Year in the league. He had 21 points in the second half, and ended up with 6 assists, 0 turnovers.
"Saying all that it was the North Carolina team again. My favorite play of the game was Danny missed the three, and that wasn't the favorite part, but Danny missed the three, and the ball went far out to the corner, Wayne chased it down and knocked it back into Danny, and Danny had enough courage to realize he was wide open and take the shot and that time he knocked it in. I'd been on Danny a good bit in the second half, and couldn't have been happier for that shot to go in and how big that was for us. Somebody said it took us from 4 to 7.
"But we made shots. They made some unbelievably tough shots. Danny guarded Marcus right in front of their bench and he made a basket that I didn't think he could get off, but it shows what a talented player he is. But then we got fortunate and he missed a couple of shots.
"We were really effective on the offensive end. Early early in the second half we were not good defensively at all. But after that we buckled down, and I'm extremely pleased. Very happy for these kids, but extremely pleased for my team."
Just to clarify, did he have any type of pain killing shot at all?
"No, no. He felt better yesterday, and he did a little bit. But he didn't convince me at practice. Then last night he felt a little bit better, and didn't have any swelling from the practice. This morning, when he came to the shoot around he left out the little gel pad in his shoes, so he's still Dennis the Menace at 12:00 o'clock today.
"So he couldn't do as much at the shoot around, but I walked out about 15 minutes in the warm-up and said compare to how you felt two weeks ago when we played against Duke. He said, 'I feel a little better.' I said, 'I'm not talking about after you had the shot. I'm talking about before you had the shot.' He said, 'I feel a little bit better.' That's why we decided to put him in as a starter."
Do you think you could have won this game without Ty today?
"We'll never know (laughing). That's the only answer I can give you. I didn't feel good when I thought that he might not be coming back in the game. But also I've been so impressed with Bobby Frasor's toughness, that the biggest worry at that time was that Bobby already had two fouls, and I didn't know how much Larry Drew was going to be able to play today because he hurt his back at the end of the game against Radford and did very little at practice yesterday. So I knew if Ty didn't come back, we were really thin at the point guard spot. Fortunately for us, he was able to come back."
It seems you have something unique about you that you know when to take the shot. Is that something that comes naturally when your team's down that you know you can give them a juice injection?
"Really I just try to make something happen. Make a play. It's not really a bucket or anything like that. It's just making a play. You know, down the stretch you've got to step up. And someone has to step up and make a play. When the ball comes to me I just try to make a play and make something happen to our team."
You guys are a part of the first Carolina program to have 30 wins in three straight seasons. I know you enjoyed the journey. But what does that mean to you guys every year you guys have 30 wins, first time in this program's history?
"It means a lot. It's always fun to win. You never want to lose, you know, we just really listen to Coach and do what he tells us. And it shows that, you know, as long as you listen and assert yourself the right way it pays off on."
Could you talk about the toughness of the performance, and is that an example of how valuable he is to you guys?
"Definitely. I'm not saying if we didn't have him today we wouldn't have won the game, but he definitely stepped up and made some big plays for us. He's very valuable for us. But I believe even if we didn't have him today, we were tough enough mentally to get the stops we needed and the box shots we needed, knocked some shots out of hand. And Ty had some big free throws, got some key drives to the basket and made some tough lay-ups. He's very valuable to our team, and we're going to need him in the end for us to be successful."
Did it take you awhile to adjust to the pain?
"It took me a minute to feel it out, because on defense it's hard to slide and things like that. I just had to figure where I could get my points at and where I could drive and what felt good on the foot."
How does the toe feel now?
"It's real sore – it's swelling up as we speak right now."
On a 1 to 10 scale, where are you at right now?
"Probably like a seven or six."
What happened when you left the game in the first half?
"I tried to pivot off the toe, and I heard something pop in my foot and there was immediate pain. I didn't know what it was, so I decided to take myself out. The trainer looked at it and said I probably popped some of the scar tissue, which we were trying to get rid of anyway, so hopefully it's a good thing."
Are you worried now about your foot?
"No, not at all. Hopefully I can get a couple more days of rest. We don't play until Friday, so just rest it and ice it and keep doing what I've been doing and hopefully it will be all right."
What lead to your second-half surge?
"The situation in the game. It was a tight game, and I either had to score or get shots for everyone else. With me driving, that's what normally happens, so that's what I started doing."
Coach Williams rarely calls timeouts to stem runs. What did he say to you when he called the timeout in the second half?
"He just kind of called us all out and asked us if we were ready to be done and questioned our emotion. And we responded very well."
"He's coming fresh off an injury, and he basically really hasn't practiced. It was his first game back, so it took him awhile. He came out in the first half and missed some shots that he normally makes, but he definitely made up for it in the second half. He came through and made some big plays for us down the stretch when we needed him to."
TRENT JOHNSON & PLAYERS
"Obviously, for this team, for these seniors, it wasn't supposed to end like this. North Carolina's a really good basketball team. You know, there is a period there we came out in the second half, there was a stretch there where we were making plays. We were executing them. I think we took the lead. There was about a 4-minute period where we couldn't get a break. But these guys fought all year long. They played together as a team. They came into this year and embodied and receptive to everything we asked them to do. They have nothing to hang their head about. I just wish I could have found some ways to help them a little more to be successful tonight."
I know you don't put a lot of stock in atmosphere and don't really talk about that. But are you proud of the way the kids held their composure in what had to be the toughest place to play in the country tonight?
"Yeah, I'm proud of the way we competed. These guys, I think Marcus alluded to it, I know Tas feels the same way, I know Garrett feels the same way. It wasn't like we didn't come out here thinking we couldn't beat this basketball team. We're not into moral victories. And as long as I'm representing the LSU Tigers men's basketball team, we're never going to be in moral victories. I don't care where we play, who we play, when we play."