Dec. 31, 2016
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Josh Pastner
“First of all, I want to give a lot of credit to our young men, that’s a great win especially in a rebuild situation in year one to have a win like that. I want to say this just because with North Carolina, with Coach [Roy] Williams and I know it has been said probably about 1000 times, but he is as class of a coach as it gets. For a young guy like myself for an opportunity to coach against him and a guy that I’ve looked up to for so long, he’s as class as you’ll find, and that’s why he’s one of the greatest ever coaches, regardless of sport.
“I’m just really proud of our guys, our execution. We had 16 assists on 22 made field goals which is terrific and 28 for 33 from the free throw line. Defensively I thought really we did a nice job, and it got us the win. We were steady and sturdy pretty much the whole game especially when the continued to pick up their pressure. We did a nice job of handling it. For some of those young guys like Josh Okogie and Justin Moore being freshmen and playing those type of minutes and producing. Ben Lammers and Tadric Jackson, who really hadn’t played a lot in their past, came in and those guys came through. Ben Lammers had a double-double. Then our seniors, Quinton Stephens, Josh Heath and Corey Heyward really stepped up for us, which we need seniors to do, and Kellen McCormick came in and gave us good minutes, so it was a good win.
“That’s just a great win, it’s a great program win, it’s a great way to play. Our guys produced and stepped up especially I thought in our practices couple days. We didn’t play really well on Wednesday, we found a way to win and then I was able to jump them hard Thursday after practice, called some guys out. We had, as I call it, a truth telling Thursday. An honest day Wednesday night and a truth-telling day Thursday. They were told some things that they needed to hear, and to their credit they bounced back, and we found a way to get a W.”
On getting his first ACC win:
“If you saw our team at our first practice in April, I don’t know if we would have won two or three games the whole year, forget ACC, I don’t know if we would have won two or three games the entire season. At our first workout in April, I told Marvin [Lewis] I don’t know if we can get to even five wins, and I want to give two big credits to that. One I think the assistant coaches have done a great job. Coach [Eric] Reveno had the lead scout today, he did a great job. Darryl LaBarrie and Tavaras Hardy had some big-time suggestions, so those three guys have done a great job with player development and really helping our guys and team improve.
“Secondly, that credit goes to the players that they bought in and so from where we were in April thinking ‘oh my goodness’ to where we are now and already in our first year of rebuild to have a win like at VCU, where it’s so hard to win at and a home game against a team that, I think they’re better than North Carolina was last year. They legitimately can win the national championship, they’re going to be right there in the very end when it’s all said and done competing for a national championship. So to have that in year one, there’s a lot of good stuff. I feel great, I also know there’s a lot of games left, and as a coach I want our guys to enjoy it. I don’t take winning for granted, I know how hard it is to win, just to win one game. I’m elated, ecstatic, just totally enthused about it. We want to enjoy it and then we want to get back to work on Sunday night, Monday morning, get back after it and prepare for Duke on Wednesday.”
NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH ROY WILLIAMS
“I went down to Josh [Pastner] before the game was over in case people decided to get on the court and I wouldn’t get a chance to tell him that he did a much better job of coaching his team and getting his team prepared than I did my team. I think early we took too many outside shots, we lost our confidence and gave them more confidence – their zone got stronger. I jumped our guys at halftime and challenged them “if you’re going to be tough enough to take a shot, be tough enough to make it,” and it made them even tighter – it didn’t work. We shoot 5-of-26 from three and they shoot 33 free throws to our 14. That’s basically the game right there because they were more aggressive, they got the ball where they wanted to get it more than we did. As the game went along, they got more confidence and more confidence. And we got tighter. I didn’t expect that and didn’t see that coming. But again, their coach did a much better job of getting their guys ready to play than I did.
“The disappointing thing is I thought that they were much more aggressive, they were quicker to the basketball. We fouled so many times because we were reacting instead of being prepared and playing defense early. It was not a good day for us to say the least — 20 turnovers – it’s an ugly stat sheet. But from my side it was an ugly game. But Josh’s kids…really gave them a lot, they made their free throws, 25-of-28 in the second half, and we needed them to help us down the stretch. They didn’t, and we missed so many shots. Joel Berry, as we said the other night, he’s been sick. But Joel 3-for-13, Justin [Jackson] 6-for-17 – those are not good numbers. But the numbers in my head are much worse for me as a head coach because I have to get things better than I did today. But congratulate Josh and his kids, and Okogie was really big for them too – 26 points, 11-of-13 from the foul line. It was a good day for Georgia Tech and not a good day for us.”
On Joel Berry II’s health:
“I think he’s over it, but he’s not full speed — that kind of thing. During the game on Wednesday night, he said his legs were just dead. So I’m sure he’s not 100 percent, but I didn’t say that to be acting like it was an excuse. North Carolina’s gotta play.”
On the team’s turnovers:
“We tried to penetrate to the basket, and we lost it on penetration. We got an offensive rebound and three different times go up to lay it up and lost it on that. There were a lot of ways.”
On Georgia Tech’s 1-3-1 performance:
“They played it well, they were aggressive. We didn’t move like we wanted to move. We didn’t get to the spots we wanted to get to. We practiced against it yesterday in preparation. You have to attack when they spread it out like that. The 1-3-1 covering the entire half court can really be good, we’ve played it ourselves. But you need to attack it better than we did today.”
On if this loss speaks to the strength of the ACC:
“I think it speaks to the weakness of North Carolina right now. I don’t ever try to figure out what my record’s going to be or anybody else’s record’s going to be. But today Georgia Tech was much more aggressive, had more enthusiasm. And as the game went along, we kept giving them more confidence. One time we go down and miss the layup and tip it and miss that, and they go down and make a three. They were more aggressive. At halftime, they had more…well fast break points ended up tied…but at halftime they had more fast break points than we did and had a couple of them even after we scored. They’d get it out and push it up at us.”