March 8, 2007
NC STATE Quotes
I thought we played a very solid ball game, both physically and mentally, but more importantly mentally. We made runs when we had to. We talked about that in the locker room, that we needed to make a couple of runs and these guys did a great job of doing that against pressure defense. We executed our offense extremely well, we didn't pre-determine who was going to get the shot - we took what was there - and then we got big stops down the stretch. We had some guys that just played a tremendous game for us.
On beating North Carolina, now Duke:
It's no secret that it's great basketball tradition down there and you have three schools that have great basketball tradition, three schools that have won national championships, three schools that have tons of NBA players to come through there. Any time those three lock up it's a big game and like I told our guys before, it's not something that I made up, it was something that was there when I got there as a player. Someone told me they were big games so nothing has changed. It's always exciting when you get a chance to play them and certainly come off with a win.
On the absence of Duke's Gerald Henderson:
I mean obviously it did, he's a very important piece to their team. He gives them the athleticism, he gives them rebounds, he gives them another guy that can score the ball and defend. Any time you miss a player like that it's going to affect your ball club, as we did when we didn't have Engin (Astur) the first game we played them. We didn't have our point guard and I think you saw a totally different team tonight than you saw without Engin, so any time you miss an important piece like that it's going to affect your team, your rotation. Different guys have to play now, some guys might play more minutes than normal. It certainly has an effect I think.
On early play that kick-started overtime:
We came out and wanted to get a good start off, and (Josh) McRoberts gave me the lane and I took it and I got the three-point play and it gave us a lot of energy and a lot of confidence going into the overtime.
On success during the game:
It was just a lot of pick and rolls and it just happened that the man they were switching off to was smaller than me, and it just happened that I got the most shots today and got to take advantage of the mismatches.
On scoring 21 points in second half:
We were patient and we let the game come to us. We didn't care who shot the ball, and in the first half they were switching the pick and roll so we tried to throw back the ball and go inside to Brandon (Costner) and Ben (McCauley) and we were successful. It was their first-half and then they made some adjustments and we made some adjustments, so I was able to get some shots up in the second half.
I think we have a young team obviously, and we're learning from every game. We decided to just keep it together and be patient and be smart and play together, play unselfish, and at this point we've got nothing to lose. We just want to finish our season strong and we're playing together. We're smart and we just don't want to finish our season as quick as losing the first game in the tournament, so I think we were mentally stronger than ever and we want to keep doing this.
I want to congratulate Sidney (Lowe) and his team. They've been a close group the whole year. It shows the balance in our league that teams that weren't fortunate enough to finish a little bit higher have kept up their identity, their togetherness. It's a tribute to Sidney, to Frank (Haith) in the game before us. That's what makes our league so good. The effort of the NC State kids was terrific. Costner was just extremely difficult to stop. And then Atsur's ability to have a calming influence no matter what amount of pressure we put on him was big. He hit huge shots for them; probably the biggest was when we took the lead by one point and he hit a three to put them up 70-68. Big time kids, not just big time players, they do those things. And Engin did that, he played like a real senior.
We have not played well defensively for two weeks. We have to play defense. We've given up almost 90 points a game the last three games. We're just not going to win ball games unless we play defense. We're not playing together on the defensive end of the court, and they took advantage of that. We took maybe one charge tonight. You can't have all those drives to the basket without someone coming over and taking a charge. As a result, a team gets a rhythm against you because there are no stoppages, no obstacles. Right now we're not providing very many obstacles to an opponent on the defensive end of the court.
You have to talk on defense. In the last two weeks we're not communicating on defense. So guys are playing individually, instead of collectively. The most important for team man-to-man defense is communication, coordinated with effort. Effort is coordinated as a result of having talked. If you don't talk very well you're looking around. You're not concentrating on what you're doing. You're reacting to the offense. Our defense is reacting to the offense. However in saying that, they probably should have 25 points in the first half. We gave up a couple of buckets at the end, in the last minute, that we shouldn't have given up.
On not having Gerald Henderson in the game:
Gerald is a real key player for us; he has been all year. We definitely missed him out there on the court, but we had to play without him. We definitely could have done a better job tonight. Not taking anything away from NC State, they played well. They created some mis-match problems and we really had a tough time defending them tonight. But we've just got to take our hats off to NC State.
On losing in the first round:
It really hurts a lot. I've been here two years, and in those two years, we've won this tournament. Not being able to have that opportunity this year really hurts. But we have to move on from this and somehow find a way to look back on this and make this a growing opportunity for our team.
On the recent difference in Duke's defensive performance:
It's not where it was before. Like Coach alluded to before, we're not playing as one. We've got to communicate more and show more effort. It's one of the things we've been trying to focus on. We didn't do a good job again today either.
On defending NC State's pick-and-rolls:
They did a good job executing that. We tried to give a few different looks, but with just the way Costner was playing today, he got in a rhythm early. With him picking and popping or him rolling, it gave us a lot of problems today.