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Jan. 19, 2006

Recap | Box Score


Congratulations to David (Leitao) and his staff. We wanted our defense to do some great things for us. They are averaging 17 turnovers per game and we forced them into 10. Their guards did a great job of handling the ball. We ran two traps at them and they threw them inside for dunks both times. That means their coaching staff did a better job of coaching them than I did coaching my team.

Their guards dominated the game, controlling the tempo. It seemed like I’m looking down at the most amazing stat in the world–the stats say they had 10 offensive rebounds. I thought they had 10 offensive rebounds in a four-minute stretch. It seemed like every offensive rebound had turned into a basket. I thought Cain and Mikalauskas were huge for them inside, giving them other opportunities. One time we stopped them four straight times on the initial shot, but two of those times, they tapped them in and that’s when we were trying to make a run. To really make a run you have to be scoring and getting stops–we couldn’t get enough stops. Their guards not turning it over was huge.

We expected them to play a lot of zone; they guarded us man-to-man and did a great job. A couple of possessions they went zone, but for the most part they were in man and guarded us well.

You can hope and pray and turn your mouth a certain way, but the bottom line is that you have to put the ball in the basket.

Our failure to convert on the offensive end of the floor was more important than what happened defensively. They only shot 37.9%. Usually that’s pretty good defensively if you can force some turnovers with that and get something on the other end. We need to make shots; we need to do all of the things–we need to box out and finish the defense. I thought their defense really dominated our offense.

It didn’t make me feel like it was going to be a great night. First play of the game, remember that back door pass, that was not going to JR that pass was intended for Sean Singletary. They threw it away by eight feet. JR caught it and threw it back out and a guy made a three. There was one crucial point in the second half, they got an open shot and made the three, we came down made three passes, threw it inside and Tyler threw it back out and we missed the three. We have to make the shots. We have to have better spacing.


Obviously I’m very, very proud of our guys and their effort and ability to hang in there. I have the utmost respect, probably after Coach Calhoun; there is nobody in this sport that I respect more than Roy Williams. I feel the way he conducts his business and the way he is as a man, he represents all that’s good about our sport. As a result to be able to compete and win it means a lot for our guys and it means a lot for our program. In the beginning stages, needing these wins like this, for me personally, to legitimize what I yell and scream about at practice everyday. I’m proud of the way we toughed it out. Some things like early doubles on Hansbrough, Mikalauskas posting up hard today and getting some inside baskets that were very important as they were contesting our perimeter people. We had a terrific second half. Because we played defense, because we were gritty, that was the reason we were able to win.

They were playing on top of all of our sets. I kept yelling to the team to “L” cut and create space to get open. What we did was switch a little bit our philosophy and went with our motion and screening game. That allowed Sean and TJ to get penetration. Carolina’s bodies on defense were on the move and that took away the ability to deny the ball, took away the ability to play as much help defense. It worked and we gained our confidence back and we got some fast break baskets out of it and we were able to sustain ourselves.

We’re young enough and inexperienced enough, looking at it, when they came back on us in the first half, we got counterpunched. We’re not really at the point where we can fall back on what we know because we’re still learning. So when we hit and get adversity, then we’re still figuring out what to do. That’s what good teams, experienced players and that’s what good programs have is a lot of guys in their program that no matter if you are a high or low that you maintain yourself. At that point in the game, I thought we really learned about how to come back especially on the defensive end.

To imagine that Jason Cain had five blocks and a charge it speaks to our growth. Those kinds of stats are stats for aggression, stats for awareness. I thought for the most part almost all game we were alert and aware and aggressive. Today it was blocked shots; sometimes it’s going to be help defense or post defense. Ultimately it is something on that end that will help us win.

I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but those proving points happen fortunately or unfortunately when you win or lose games. When you have a choice, winning is a much better choice than losing. As long as they do the things in practice and conduct themselves in a manner that prepares them to win, then this becomes the ultimate in proving what you’re doing is right, what I’m saying is right and what we’re going to be about is right.

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