UNC-Pitt Quotes
Release: 01/31/2017

North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams

Opening Statement

“Weird game. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but some way somehow I have to figure out a way to do a better job coaching on the defensive end of the floor. I’ve always taken great pride that we can do some things there. They really shot the ball well, they played well. If Kevin [Stallings] gets that kind of concentration and that kind of effort and that kind of focus they are going to have a nice run. They have had some close games and then they’ve had two blowouts. They were really a good team tonight. We did enough to hang in there, enough to keep a little lead. Down the stretch we missed a lot of free throws that we haven’t done this year so I think that was good for us to be honest with you, to put ourselves in that position. Hopefully we’ll make a bunch of them the next time. They’ve been averaging eight threes a game and they made thirteen tonight. The problem is the plan then for us is we don’t want to take away some of our offensive power on the backboards. I think it was 20-6 points on offensive rebounds. If you keep Kennedy [Meeks] and Isaiah [Hicks] in there to keep those kinds of things happening it also means they have to go out and chase. They have to play [Michael] Young out at the three-point line or [Jamel] Artis out at the three-point line or Cameron Johnson at the three-point line. I like the way they took what we were trying to do at the end of the game. Use one foul that we had left and then foul so that they didn’t have a chance to shoot three and make them go to the line. I have a great deal of confidence in Kennedy taking the ball out of bounds and getting it in, so I like that part. Again, we need to make those free throws but that’s the first time we have been in that situation this year and I think it’ll help us next time.”

On struggles defensively

“Just getting up on the shooter. If Kennedy is standing out there and Michael Young is 3 feet behind the three-point line, Kennedy Meeks is not comfortable. I think Michel Young made two in a row, and it was Isaiah and Kennedy both times, so that’s uncomfortable for them. It’s hard to handle but we have to do it and we are going to face a little bit of the same thing the next game because Notre Dame shoots a bunch of threes. Some way, somehow I have to get smarter and we have to do a better job.”

On Joel Berry II bouncing back after Miami game

“He internalizes it so much; he gets so mad at himself. I walked out today at pre-game and Coach Robinson said something to him and he smiled, and I said ‘Good God, what’s your name? Did I hear Coach call you Joel Berry? Because the guy that showed up on Saturday was not Joel Berry,’ and I thought we had some alien that climbed up his body. I think it was Joel at pre-game and shoot-around today and I know he made three in the first half and 5-9 from the three-point line.”

On reunion with Kevin Stallings

“He’s part of my family. I had it as good as you can have. Think of this, I’m going to Kansas, this is pretty doggone good, I’ve never been a head coach, but I have Jerry Green, Kevin Stallings, Mark Turgeon, and Steve Robinson. That’s pretty good. They were my security blanket and I would trust Kevin Stallings with my life.” 


Pittsburgh Head Coach Kevin Stallings

Opening Statement

“Dang. I’m really disappointed for my guys. I thought that under the circumstances they gave a terrific effort, and I was really proud of how they competed and proud of how we hung in there in the second half and how we got the game closed. I actually pulled a Roy on them in one of the timeouts there towards the end of the game. We were down three and they were shooting free throws with a minute to play, and I said, ‘we’re going to have a chance to win this game if we’ll do this, we’ll do this.’ It wasn’t a great shot, but if you would have given me a shot to win the game at the start of the night, told me okay you’re going to have a shot to win it, I’d have signed with a sharpie. So we’re disappointed. Certainly, congratulations to them. They’ve got a really, really good team. I’m fine with their coaches too, but I don’t like them very much right now.”

On breakdowns the team had in the game

“We closed out too short a few times. [Joel] Berry [II]’s got terrific range. [Justin] Jackson’s got terrific range. And we closed out on them like they were normal guys. Okay, I’m kind of close to you and you’re six feet behind the line, or seven feet behind the line, so you’re not supposed to shoot that, but they make those. There were, and I think it’s unfortunate, my former boss may disagree, but I think they had three air balls in the first half that they came up with. That’s just kind of fortuitous. We get them to shoot an air ball, and somehow the one right before the end of the half Luke Maye makes a great play. He didn’t give up on the ball and our guys kind of did, and they get a bucket. We had breakdowns of all kinds, but you don’t play Carolina, nobody plays Carolina, and not have breakdowns of some kind.”

On Justin Jackson improvement since Vanderbilt scrimmage Halloween 2015

“He’s a way more confident shooter. He’s a way more aggressive player on offense. He’s playing a lot harder on defense. He impacts every aspect of the game, it feels like to me, whereas a year ago…to now he is an amazingly different player.”

On what the team tried to do offensively

“I don’t know that we had that many open shots. I think we made some contested ones. We tried to do some things offensively that we thought could take advantage of what they like to do. I did work for him for five years, so I’m familiar with [Roy Williams] and he’s pretty hard-headed. He doesn’t change much. But the thing is, and why he’s so great, is they’re so good at what they do, and so they just stay with it, stay with it, stay with it, and then they beat you. He hasn’t won 800 and some because he’s been asleep at the wheel. He’s really good, and we just tried to put them in some spots where maybe they’d be a little uncomfortable.”

On moving forward from this game

“It would have been a lot better obviously if we could have won the game, but I think that we’ve had some bad performances and we’ve had some unfortunate things happen to us. I’m hopeful that they can derive some confidence. As I told them after the game, ‘let’s not take any comfort in the fact that we played well and almost this and almost that. We lost, and until you win, you lose.’”


North Carolina Player Quotes

Justin Jackson, Junior Forward

On his shooting

“I feel pretty good. Tonight I missed some easy ones that I’m kind of kicking myself over. I’m just stepping into every shot confidently, just trying to be aggressive whenever I can. I think tonight I did a better job of not really pressing, just letting things come to me. I’m just trying to play confident, aggressive and trying to help my team any way I can.”

On his improvement

“It’s just a different confidence level, and it’s just a different looking team. We have more put on us than we might have had last year, we’re playing more aggressive this year than we might have been. For me, I’m just trying to stay confident and know that the preparation I’ve put in will translate once I step out there on the court.”

On the defense

“It’s just staying in front of the ball. Tonight, they hit some tough shots honestly. We gave them a lot of easy ones too, but they hit some tough shots to go towards that great percentage that they shot. We’ve got to stay in front of the ball better. We’ve got to communicate. I know [Isaiah and I] had a letdown there that cost us three points and I think we had a few more that cost us a few baskets. For us, it’s just being locked in the whole time. I think the second half, even though they shot I think like 60 percent somehow, we did a lot better with a sense of urgency in the second half.”


Isaiah Hicks, Senior, Forward

On how the team played down the stretch

“Sometimes you have to be tough at the end. That’s why [Coach Williams] said in the huddle ‘I like this because it shows toughness.’ You have to be tough to finish these games. We just had to get a few stops and transfer over and score. The effort and energy got us there. We were pushing and attacking and getting to the free throw line. Even though they were hitting shots, we got the stop that we needed.”

On Pittsburgh’s 3-pointer with one minute remaining

“They don’t want to lose. You are going to have people who make tough shots like that. You just have to keep fighting until the end.”

On the challenges of defending the perimeter

“It was very challenging, especially [Michael] Young and [Jamel] Artis because they are the leaders in points. They can shoot, but they can also drive. You just have to be worried about both. You have to get up on the shooters and then don’t get up so much that they drop.”

On how the team handled Pittsburgh’s outside and inside shooting

“We definitely could have done better. There are a lot of moments where we would have been great if we just talked. I’ll use Justin and I as an example. I think [Jamel] Artis set a screen for [Michael] Young, and Justin and I didn’t talk and they got a layup. It’s just little stuff like that. If we would have talked it out we could have fixed some of those mistakes. “


Joel Berry II, Junior, Guard

On taking the last place ACC team down to the wire

“It’s the ACC, and I know that they are at the bottom, but they are a good team. They have the top two scorers in the ACC. They shot 55 percent for the whole game. The last couple of games we have given guys a lot of opportunities, a lot of shots and they have been knocking them down. We’ve just got to get better defensively. They came out and competed tonight. That’s what you expect in a conference like this.”

On Pittsburgh making shots consistently

“They had a couple of good looks. No. 23 had a number of threes that were just wide-open practice shots. I expected him to knock them down. Some shots were contested, but I think we’ve got to continue to do a better job of making a guy uncomfortable. We can do that and take the offense out of what they want to do. That will help us. We’ve just got to get down and guard.“

On the midseason stretch

“Against Miami we faced a little adversity and didn’t step up to play. They just outhustled us in every aspect of the game. I think tonight was a good game for us to show our toughness. Like I was telling the team, it might have been a two point win, but it goes to show that we have the capability of closing out close games.”

On getting his first shot to go down

“It was very important, but I expected to come out tonight and have a good night shooting the ball. When I came back after Miami, I shot 500 shots and then I came in the next day and shot 600. If you put in time, you’ll get the results. It helped me get back on track. When I saw that first one go in, I knew I was going to have a good night.“

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