Comments on UNC's play this past week:
“I think we’ve continued to get better as the season has gone along especially ACC season. Once P.J. (Hairston) got inserted into the starting lineup, he’s had some big games for us and I think a lot of guys have gotten some confidence from that. Playing anyone on the road is difficult whether it’s Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Duke you name them. It’s hard to win on the road these days. Our guys didn’t play great but Georgia Tech didn’t play great. We kept on competing and kept on battling defensively. We did a good job - obviously didn’t make many shots down there - but if you can stay in the game defensively on the road and make the big plays we need to that’s what we did down at Georgia Tech and obviously N.C. State speaks for itself.
"It was a fun atmosphere from the get go and it was a game of runs. We had a lead there and got up by ten early in the second half. Then all of a sudden look at the score and we’re down four then ended up being up fifteen and sort of closed it out. That was really good for our guys. They worked hard and they were focused on that. It was a little payback for what happened in Raleigh.”
Do you think the strong finish and the five for five substitution at the 13:29 mark against N.C. State in any way related?
“Probably. I’m glad it worked out that way. Coach turned to us and said write five guy’s names down I want to get them in the game. We were like well we sort of like what is out there but you know. He did that and Scott Wood made the two threes to give State those six points and Marcus (Paige) had made the three originally to put us up one. I think it sort of lit a fire under the other guys thinking we got to start playing better if we want to get this done and we can’t keep doing what we are doing. Obviously it worked out and our guys just started rolling.
"We got really good shots and got defensive stops. We did a little bit of a better job on Scott Wood after that. He hadn’t played great against us in Chapel Hill for the most part for his career and he is a great shooter. Richard Howell dominated the boards in the first half but in saying that they didn’t score a lot off of his offensive rebounds luckily for us. They were killing us. He had thirteen rebounds at the half and we had fourteen as a team. We were obviously worried about that going into the second half and we did a lot better job of getting on the boards and us getting the offensive rebounds and that was a big difference in the second half too.”
Comments on Marcus Paige’s performance against N.C. State this weekend:
“He did a great job and had a huge second half. He made some shots and he made that big three when Coach went with those five other guys. He’s a really good free throw shooter so anytime he gets fouled we’re pretty confortable with him going to the line. He does a good job facilitating our offense. We like him to have obviously those assist to turnover ratios. It’s easier said than done in the conference and being a freshman but he’s had some really important big games as of late. He played really well against Virginia Tech at home.
"I think he amongst all the other people on our team feel more comfortable at home and seeing that ball go into the basket more often than not at home always helps. He was huge and he did a good job with Lorenzo Brown. Lorenzo just never seemed like he felt comfortable during the game and so Marcus did a good job picking him up early. And our big guys did a good job sprinting back and sort of building a wall there so he couldn’t get a full head of steam. That was a huge thing for us defensively.”
Comments on Reggie Bullock’s double-double performance this weekend:
“I think he had six rebounds at half on our defensive end and he kept that up in the second half. T.J. Warren is sort of a tough matchup for him because he’s used to guarding perimeter oriented players. He usually guards Scott Wood for us but the way they changed their lineup we had slide Reggie down with P.J. starting now and put Dexter (Strickland) on Scott Wood. I think T.J. got a few offensive rebounds early but then Reggie did a good job after that.
"Then Reggie stepped it up. He was struggling a little bit in the second then he got an offensive rebound off a missed free throw. I can’t remember who missed it and kicked it out and he made a couple of three’s after that. I think that offensive rebound got him going and when he made his first shot it started coming a little easier. I think he got his confidence back and those three’s hurt them pretty bad.”
Thoughts on the smaller lineup forcing more turnovers and getting more opportunities to score in transition:
“You’ve got four perimeter players most likely at all times. I don’t want to see P.J. on the block and Coach doesn’t want to see him on the block. Every once in awhile he’ll be down there because for some reason he gets stuck down there. A lot of times we want that guy to go down to screen and get him out of there. P.J. is used to running the court a little bit quicker. We always have a big guy inbound the ball and P.J. isn’t used to inbounding the ball so it’s almost like just one guy that’s going to inbound it and that’s James Michael (McAdoo).
"Then P.J. is getting out on the break and so we can push it up and it gives us an extra ball handler so we don’t turn it over as much. And we get another active defender on the perimeter or even inside. P.J. did a good job of running around C.J. (Leslie) to get a couple of steals when he was trying to post him up and he used his quickness to get a couple of steals there and we got out on the break. It definitely just increases the tempo a little bit more which is what we like.”
Do you think this UNC team has gotten tougher as the season has progressed?
“I think we have. When you’re a freshman or even a sophomore that didn’t play that much last year going into ACC play you think you might know what the intensity level is and you think you might know how hard you need to play but you don’t know until you actually get into it. Now that we’re in the second half of the conference season our guys have understood it and they realize what it takes to play a little tougher.
"If you’re playing out of position like P.J. is he’s feeling like he has to play bigger or play more physical because he’s inside guarding a big guy. That might work on the mentality that they got to go rebound more. They’ve got to go attack the glass more as opposed to just saying I’m just going to come out and be a three point shooter. Even James Michael goes from not usually guarding the biggest player on the other team to now he’s guarding the biggest player on the other team every time having to box out every time. I think that mentality has sort taken on the whole team.”