Postgame Quotes • December 27, 2013
North Carolina 75, Northern Kentucky 60
North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams
"The biggest part of the game was not very sharp to say the least. I probably gave them too much time. At Christmas we played Saturday and let them go and didn't bring them back until 7:00 last night. We were not sharp to say the least. That was a huge part of the game, but at the same time I don't think we had the intensity and the concentration level that we needed to have. When you add both of those together I think we weren't very sharp. It makes you miss easy shots or throw the ball, who knows. A couple of times we were passing it to each other instead of shooting it and it goes out of bounds. I was not pleased defensively or on the backboards or attacking the basket. We had a tremendous size advantage and one of our goals was to attack the basket and we didn't get a single low post-up or taking the ball to the basket the entire first half. So I was pretty frustrated at that. Putting those five guys to start the second half, I thought they gave us a tremendous lift defensively. [They] did some really good things for us. That sort of turned it around. You got to congratulate Northern Kentucky. They came in here and didn't care if it was North Carolina or where it was. They did some nice things and were much more aggressive than we were, especially in the first half."
On changing to a full court press in the second half
"We went to ‘44'. It helped us a great deal against Davidson. We got two turnovers out of it tonight. Guarding the basketball - we were much better at it at times in the second half, particularly early in the second half."
On whether beating Michigan St. and Louisville but struggling tonight is a maturity problem
"I hope it is because maturity means that we can get there. Lack of maturity now means that we can get there eventually. So I hope that's what it is. We are an extremely young club, but we have had 12 games, so you have to be able to bring it. I do think I shoulder part of the blame because I could have brought them back Christmas night, but I thought if I did that J.P. [Tokoto] and Marcus [Paige] would have to leave unbelievably early Christmas Day. The best coaching job I ever did was coaching a J.V. team 100 years ago. I gave them 29 straight days off and brought them back with no practices and we were great. It didn't work today."
On if Leslie McDonald's return is making the team better
"Well, making shots makes everybody better. There's no question about that. He made three of them in the first half. In the second half - you can't have better shots than he had in the second half. One of them he shot it so quickly on the semi-break where he pulled up and shot the ball and he didn't have a grip on it. I jumped on his rear end. He's been here long enough to know that you don't do that. Leslie [McDonald] has the ability to shoot the ball and that really helps us. Hopefully that will help us down the line."
UNC Player Quotes
Jackson Simmons, So., F
On Coach Roy Williams' advice during halftime
"In the first half we didn't make the best decisions with the ball and we didn't play as hard at times on defense. Coach just wanted all of us to come out in the second half and play and just play the way we're supposed to play. The first group really set the stage and we played like that the rest of the way."
On the team's inconsistency
"We have to fix that because once you get in the conference - you have to play up. Everyone is vying for a championship and we have one more non-conference game against UNC Wilmington like Coach [Williams] said and we need to prepare like it's a big-time game. Every game should be a big-time game and we have to understand that. Everyone thinks that anybody can be beaten on any given day and we have to come out and treat everyone like a big time opponent."
Leslie McDonald, Sr., G
On the team's flat-ness
"There were multiple things weren't that great. Mostly it's within us, we have to have that mentality. I don't think we were mentally ready. Defensively, we have to have that mentality because we have to bring it every game; every game is a fight and we have to understand that. "
On difficulty of bringing energy when the crowd is restless
"For players, we don't need to focus on the crowd. We know what we need to do; energy should be amongst our team whether the crowd is up or down. This is our team; we need to have that mental focus, that camaraderie. We need to be together and have that push on defense and on offense."
Marcus Paige, So., G
On the team's game plan
"We wanted to get Brice [Johnson] the ball inside the whole game because their biggest guy was like 6'6"-6'7" so we wanted to do that the whole time but they just started pushing him out farther and farther and he started getting comfortable scoring around 15 feet away from the basket. Our job and our mission was to get him the ball as low as possible every time but I'm not really sure why we went away from it."
Northern Kentucky Head Coach Dave Bezold
"I'd first just like to thank North Carolina for giving us the opportunity to be here. I thanked Coach [Roy] Williams before the game because this is basketball royalty, and for us to be able to take a program that has been in Division I for two years and be at Kentucky and then here is unbelievable for our university. So that was very special to give us that opportunity because they didn't have to. We've struggled to get out of the gate, and we did again to tonight and then again in the second half. But I was proud of our guys in the first half to [be able to] settle in and figure out some things we could do offensively and settle in defensively. Then in the second half we did a little lineup switch but they [North Carolina] had some energy and made some plays early. They got that comfortable 10- to 15-point lead, and we were really unable to make enough plays or stops to put pressure on them, to get it to four or five or six [points]. We had a little idea of fouling some guys, and they stepped up and made some, so we had to throw that out of the plan there for a little bit. But I was proud of our guys for our effort."
On if he was encouraged that his team was able to hang in the game despite shooting 33-percent from the field
"Yeah, in a way, but I felt like we had some really good shots especially in the first half. [We had] wide-open look after wide-open look. Our guys are still wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. I mean you're in an incredible environment. It's really only our second big-time environment like this. We were at Purdue, and it's a smaller atmosphere, but we played really well there. But to have these types of programs, top 25 and to be here...the percentages...it looks like they're wide open but we don't [normally] have 6'10'' guys running at us when we're trying to shoot. It's much more difficult, so for the most part I thought we did good things on both ends of the floor being undersized and some things."