I'm extremely proud of our guys and their effort. I don't think many people thought we could come in here and be in position to win a basketball game a talented Duke team. So I am really proud of our guys, yet I disappointed we lost. I felt that way about our last two games. But, we're getting better and that's all I can ask of these guys. It's been tough losing games, but I think you've seen the character of this team that they have not given in and have hung together and they continue to battle. I'm proud.
With that, we missed some foul shots, we gave up some offensive rebounds, the offensive rebounds they had gave them 15 points. I thought Duhon really gave them a lift. I really don't know why he gets criticism against and all that kids does is learn. He's a kid I tried to recruit when I was at Notre Dame and I think he is one of the classiest kids I have gotten to know. He's a special kid.
On how players have given everything that last two games but have faltered down the stretch, if fatigue has been a factor
It could be fatigue, it could be good defense by the other team. It could be a lot of things. I think you could look at a point there where Duke struggled to score. Whether it was fatigue, our defense, or was it them missing shots, I couldn't say. In a college game where you have so many called TV timeouts, I don't think fatigue's as big an issue as it's made to be.
On the play of David Noel
I think with David it's confidence. I've always talked a coach can give half the package of confidence and the players have to give the other half of the package to make it full. And David, by inserting him into the starting lineup he has realized that the coach has confidence in him and he has responded.
The things he did in the Blue-White game at the beginning of the year, I think he had 22 points in that game, I kept pointing to him, ‘David, that's you. It's not an imposture, that's you.'
Kenny Smith called maybe a month ago and left a message on the voice mail and said to make David Noel just play like he did last summer. And I had David listen to the message. He's a talented kid and he's playing great. And if we can get everybody healthy I think we can be a really good basketball team. Not only with Sean (May), but with Rashad (McCants).
Rashad's in obvious back pain. His attitude was fantastic tonight. He was ready to play but he was not 100 percent. I know about back pain, that's not a fun thing to play with. He said let me be at the foul line and I'll be the screener. And here's a guy who is one of the star players and he said ‘Let me be one of the screeners' and he hit David Noel for a layup. I think our guys are really together and were mentally ready.
And I've said going into the last couple of games, you have to emotionally invest. If you emotionally invest there are no guarantees. But if you don't emotionally invest there is a guarantee you're gonna lose. So we invested again and we had a chance to win. So now we have to regroup.
On when Duke went from a 61-61 tie to score on its next 11 possessions
I think there were some breakdowns with ball screening at the top of the key, and I think we didn't handle that very well. That's probably the main thing.
On Jawad Wiliams' leadership
I have said all year long that Jawad's leadership is fantastic. His attitude has been fantastic. Every time I am talking to the team he is starring right at me. He echoes what I say to the team when they go back on the floor. He's communicating with me, saying "What do you think about this?" That's special. It's his growth. I'm proud of him and his growth as a young man. He's grown as a player but I'm more proud of his growth as a young man.
Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.