Jan. 29, 2014
GEORGIA TECH COACH Brian Gregory
“First off, I want to thank all of the fans that did come out and in a way showed their true colors in terms of battling Mother Nature and getting here, especially the students in terms of walking from wherever they came from to get here. But I really appreciate that as do our players; a big thank you to them. In North Carolina you are starting to see the team that was 10-3 in the non-conference and had the number one strength of schedule. They beat Michigan State at Michigan State and Louisville and Kentucky. Those guys are starting to play really well. Their upper classmen are starting to play extremely well and those guys are pulling some of those younger guys along. Usually when you are at home and playing a team that is 2-4 in the league, it’s a little different. But then you see that it’s North Carolina and who they have and all the things they’ve done. It’s a task that you not only need to be ready for but you need to really execute exceptionally well. I thought we ready for it and that our guys played hard. We just didn’t execute the little things. We made just enough mistakes to keep the lead at six or eight and we didn’t make a key shot at a key time. We just need to keep battling through. I thought there were some things we did well today, but when you play a team like that you have to do a lot of things well.”
What do you attribute North Carolina’s second half efficiency?
“Unfortunately, some of it has to do with the physicality. I think they wore us down a little bit at times. We weren’t as good defensively in the second half. We made some key mistakes, some coverage mistakes. Some things happened. And like I said our margin of error is small. Even if only one of those mistakes results in two points, if you add up four or five of those mistakes that’s ten points and that’s what happened in the second half.”
What did you think of Marcus Paige’s second half performance?
“We lost him a couple times in the zone. We had to go to zone because of some foul trouble and so forth, matchups and different things like that. He had seven assists and zero turnovers. When he plays well they are an elite level team. There’s no question about it. When you put the athletic ability of [J.P.] Tokoto, and you have [Kennedy] Meeks, [James Michael] McAdoo and Leslie McDonald. Then Brice Johnson would start on 99% of the teams in the country. When Marcus Paige plays at that level, they are a Final Four caliber team.”
How hard was it to deal with North Carolina’s size?
“I thought it hurt us on the rebounding. We only had six offensive rebounds. We had 17 the other day against North Carolina State. Obviously, [Kennedy] Meeks goes four of four. I thought we did a pretty good on [James Michael] McAdoo who was six of 11. Then Brice Johnson went four for ten. I thought they’re offensive rebounds hurt us. They’re big. But where it really affects us is with our shots at the rim. I thought in the second half that was another key component. We didn’t shoot as well and we missed a couple shots at the basket that led to some breakouts.”
On Trae Golden’s three pointer with 15 minutes to go
“We just have not been able to get that next stop or hit that next basket. I’m not sure how much we were down, maybe six, but we ran a special set for Q [Quinton Stephens] and we got him a wide open three at the top of the key. Over the next three years he’s going to make that, tonight he didn’t. We got them into some foul trouble and so forth. But then we one guy went out of the game, they brought in Brice Johnson and [Isaiah] Hicks – two All-Americans. And what will be interesting when we watch the film will be ‘how many shots around the basket did we not make?’”
On Corey Heyward’s progression
“He’s been doing a good job for us. When he’s in there, he helps us a lot. He has a defensive mentality. He defends well and he did a really good job on [Marcus] Paige in the first half. He rebounds the ball because he has some physicality and toughness. Every minute he gets this year he is going to help us down the road. I still don’t think we will see this year what Corey will be able to do for us down the road. There were a couple drives today where we saw him get a bit of his athletic ability back and I think he’s getting there.”
On Daniel Miller’s performance
“Daniel’s been great. You ask him to do so much. 12 points and again the rebounding total is skewed a little bit. I mean Kennedy Meeks came in averaging four offensive rebounds a game and he got one. Brice Johnson is at over two a game and he only got one. Daniel did a really good job. How many blocks did he have? He had five. But it’s hard right now because 35 minutes is a lot of minutes. We just have to find a way for him to survive right now.”
NORTH CAROLINA COACH ROY WILLIAMS
“The second half, except for foul trouble, I thought were pretty good. When you shoot 67 percent that helps you in any game you play in. I didn’t like the fact that at half time they had shot 10 free throws and we had three. We’ve got to be more aggressive with that. We made the last 11 free throws. That was good. James Michael McAdoo is still working on it there’s no question, but Leslie McDonald, Nate Britt and Marcus Paige stepped up to the line and made their free throws. I feel good about it. Marcus was really something in the second half. In the first half, it’s probably the worst that the combination of Marcus and Leslie and JP Tokoto have played. I think they were 3-for-20 or something like that at the half. In the second half, needless to say we were much better. We got better shots and took a little more time. I think we rushed it in the first half and in the second half we got better shots.
James Michael got his fourth foul in the second half, how worried were you?
“I was more made than worried. We held him out the last six and half minutes in the first half after he had two. I told Brice he needs to step up and I think he made a couple of baskets for us. Desmond Hubert gave us a little bit more defensively. I went small when JP got his fourth foul. I think that helped us a little bit as well. I wouldn’t say I was concerned, I would say I was mad because you have to make better decisions then that.”
Back-to-back games were Marcus has been almost a different player in the second half.
“It’s been weird. We’ve played 20 games and I bet he’s had one half that’s much better than the other in 15 of those 20 games. I can’t explain it. If I could explain it, I’d make him sit on the bench in the bad half and play him the other half.”
You shot 30 percent in the first half and 60 in the second, how much of that was getting better shots?
“It was almost all getting better shots. We were rushing it. Daniel Miller is a load inside and he blocked a couple shots. Everybody was shooting the ball inside a little bit quicker. On the perimeter, we were not getting the shots that we wanted because we weren’t patient. It was one of those things we talked about at halftime; let’s take another second or three or four here and get a better shot.”
Free throws have been tough for you this year, but down the stretch you were excellent.
“Yes we were. I still think James Michael is going to make a bunch of them. James Michael made two to start with and I think that cut it to six or seven at that point. Everybody else just filled in after that. We shoot them well in practice and most the time that translates into shooting them well during the games.”
What attributed to UNC doubling the lead after McAdoo got four fouls?
“I think there was a much greater sense of urgency on our guys. James Michael and JP were sitting over there. James Michael, JP and Marcus have been our most consistent players all year long, with two of them sitting over there on the bench I think everybody understood and raised their level of play. We’ve got a couple of baskets, got Brice in there. I think they cut it to two points with a three and I think Marcus answered with a three on the other side, which may have been his first three of the second half, so everybody else just upped their level of play as well.”