We feel good—don’t feel good about the way we played in the second half—but the first half we were pretty doggone good. We were active defensively, and they didn’t handle it as well as Mark wanted them to handle it, I’m sure, but we were really active defensively, and we were unselfish, moved it, did all those things we like to do on the offensive end, yet we missed some fast break opportunities—three-on-one, three-on-two—we had three of those that we didn’t score.
I was just so pleased with what we had done defensively, and then the second half we got away from being quite as active defensively and we really got away from what had gotten us the lead on the offensive end. We had some shots that good shooters were taking and didn’t make them—and that always makes it look ugly just like it looked pretty in the first half when Reggie was 6-9 in the first half. But the second half we had some open shots we didn’t make—it doesn’t look as good.
We started going a little bit too much one-on-one down the middle. We lost the ball three times on the dribble down the middle and we should never do that because if it’s that crowded you shouldn’t try to dribble it in there. Then we didn’t do a good job of stopping them and their penetration to the basket. But again, we were really, really good in the first half—I want our guys to focus on that, and then the second half I want us to be able to show them on tape and (have them) learn from that, making sure we can try to do the same thing for 40 minutes.
You guys got strong games from both Reggie and James Michael, might have been their best combined in terms of numbers overall. How positive a sign is that?
(Strong) first half. Well, Reggie particularly has been fairly consistent, but Reggie made one basket in the second half, and I don’t know how many James Michael made. James Michael made two just on great, great passes from Marcus, but the first half Reggie and James Michael did carry us, there is no question about that. They should; they are the most experienced players and guys that we ask to do more. It was pretty in the first half guys, I don’t mind telling you it was pretty. It looked like North Carolina Basketball.
Has a light gone on as far as understanding the little things it takes in order to play at the level you guys play?
Well, enough at Florida State and the first half here? That wasn’t as evident prior to.
I think you are right there. At Florida State we had more of a sense of urgency and took better care of the basketball and never got selfish. Today I think that the first half it was really, really pretty, and the second half it was really, really ugly. Young guys do that. And also, when you are younger you see a 22-point lead and you think everything is going to be rosy, but this is the ACC and nobody in this league is going to stop, especially a Mark Turgeon-coached team is not going to role over and play dead for you.
Does that aspect come around for you—are you starting to see that?
I don’t know. I saw it last weekend, and I saw it for the first half today, but I’m one of those guys that wants to see it all the time. So, no, I haven’t seen it all the time, but again the first half. I’m giving myself a pep talk. I want to focus on the dadgum first half.
With James Michael is it a matter of assertiveness?
He didn’t get good shots in the second half. He rushed them. You look at his stats, and I don’t know what he was in the second half, but he made three and every shot was a dunk or one inch from the basket, so the jump shots he missed. He just rushes his jump shot. He made a tough jump shot in the first half over Alex Len, but he didn’t rush it. In the second half take away his three dunks, he was 0-6. But as I say, I’m trying to focus on the first half. You can pick apart anything, and I’ll do that with my team.
Is creating offense from defense even more important against Maryland because of the way they guard sometimes?
They are good defensively, but we can’t revert back and go selfish and go one-on-one and drive in there. P.J.—and I’m not telling you anything I don’t tell them—he has a wide open three, two screens, everybody on our bench wanted him to shoot the ball so he faked the shot and drove in among 77 guys, turned it over. You can’t do those kinds of things, but again you can write it any way you want because right now I’m about as ticked off about the second half as you can be, and I’m going to enjoy the first half.
With a young team, is defense the hardest thing to develop at one time?
I think the consistency there, yes. We were really aggressive and we were flying around. I don’t know how many steals—Dexter had four, they only have Marcus for one. I though Marcus was slapping every ball loose the whole game in the first half. But we didn’t get those kinds of numbers in the second half so it’s the consistency.
How good of a teaching tool is this? You have the first half to show them what you like, the second half to shoe them what you don’t like. It’s pretty obvious, it’s right there for them to see.
Well, Virginia wasn’t very good because we didn’t play any better the next game. What we do—and you guys get tired of hearing this—we are going to go to work. We practice tomorrow; we are not taking the day off. We’ll try to get better, we’ll show them the tape of the second half. There are some signs, but I’ve got this saying: If you can do it once, you can do it more than once. If you jam down in the post and rotate over like we did in the first half once, you should do the same thing. If James Michael can take a charge and stop that drive, and Marcus can take a charge and stop that drive then Brice Johnson and P.J. and Reggie and Dexter have to do that. They scored three baskets—they scored six points off of offensive rebounds in the first half, and they are a really good rebounding team. You can live with that, but they scored 10 (in the second half) and three of them are when our perimeter people didn’t box out, so you can’t live with that.