GREENSBORO--- North Carolina starters Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes spoke to the media Saturday afternoon, the day before the Tar Heels (30-5) take on Creighton (29-5) in the NCAA Midwest Regional Round of 32.
Kendall, you guys had said how in some terms how you've been pointing towards March and this tournament, yet something seemed to be missing yesterday, kind of like maybe a spark or a flow. How concerned are you that this could be a lingering problem in this tournament and what are you looking to do tomorrow to prevent a repeat of what happened against Vermont?
KENDALL MARSHALL: Personally I'm not concerned at all. We missed a lot of little chip‑ins, a lot of easy jump shots. And I don't think you can get mad at missed shots. I feel like if some of those fall, maybe we have a double digit lead with 10 minutes left in the first half as opposed to late in the first half and it's a different story. So I feel like we did a great job defensively. We enjoyed the win until midnight. We're looking forward to a great matchup with Creighton and coming out and playing a full 40 minutes.
Either one of you guys or actually both of you guys, after watching some of the things that happened yesterday, how much more aware does it make you that, you know, this is not a given that just because you're a one seed you're going to win?
KENDALL MARSHALL: It was a little scary, actually, because after the first day there weren't that many upsets and it's like, wow, I don't want to be that one.
And then to see a couple of the higher seeds go down, you realize it's still a game of basketball and there's still five players on the court and seeding doesn't matter when you're out there. So you hope it doesn't happen to you. You want to prepare and put your best foot forward no matter who you're playing against.
HARRISON BARNES: Biggest thing I saw was just energy and intensity. All those quote‑unquote 15 seeds that were so much less talented came out with just so much more energy than those two seeds and that ended up winning them the game. So just our focus is to always come out to at least match or exceed the other team's energy.
For either of you guys, Creighton I think is the best shooting team in the country and they have ‑‑ they're also second in assists. How do you guys prepare defensively for a team that cannot only shoot but plays very well together and finds their open shooters?
HARRISON BARNES: This team is very similar to Duke. You got to run off the 3‑point line. Got to make them beat you in other ways. And they're very well coached and they play very well together. So this is going to be definitely one of our hardest games in terms of all around complete basketball teams.
KENDALL MARSHALL: I agree with Harrison. There are a lot of similarities between them and Duke, and I think that one thing that we're going to have to do is make them a 2‑point shooting team as opposed to a 3‑point shooting team. And as well as they shoot the ball, you may not take away all their attempts, but you want to make it as tough as possible. If the degree of difficulty is a lot harder, then there's a better chance the ball's not going to go in.
Harrison, Doug (McDermott) was at the podium and he was asked a ton of questions about you, and I guess I want to flip it around. What do you remember about Doug's development? And he's a first team All‑American. Did you see that coming in him, say, as a junior when he wasn't even starting for you guys at Ames High?
HARRISON BARNES: Well, we didn't quite see it as a junior or else he would have been starting to say the least. But, no, his growth has been tremendous, just having the ability to go to Creighton, go to a system where he's able to grow and develop. And now everyone's starting to see that, see his efficiency magnified, and see him get the shots he needs and the right location he needs them in, and it's been great. And as a former teammate, it's been fun to watch. Fun to watch him grow as well.
Harrison, what memories do you have of rolling around in his Nissan Murano in high school? And he said you got shotgun, I guess, most of the time; you wouldn't have it any other way.
HARRISON BARNES: Oh, yeah. It was‑‑ he was one of the ‑‑ had one of the nicest cars I think on the team at the time, so it was a luxury to be able to ride shotgun in that. But Doug was always there. Any time I needed a ride to the gym, we would always go shoot together, stuff like that, always go out to eat. So he was a great teammate and a good friend.
Kendall, how much will it help tomorrow if John can come back and kind of get things back to normal with the lineup and the playing rotation? What will that do for you tomorrow, if can he play?
KENDALL MARSHALL: Oh, first off, sorry, I don't have any cool high school experiences with Harrison and Doug, but‑‑(Laughter.)
John will help us out a lot. He brings another dimension on both sides of the court. I think that to be able to throw him at Doug with his length, it will make it a lot harder. But McAdoo's doing a great job, so whether we're playing with or without John, we're still going to find a way to go out there and compete and make the most of it.
I got a question for you, Kendall. If Harrison had to get carted around by Doug in high school because he didn't have his driver's license, now that Harrison does have his driver's license, did you guys make him kind of return the favor and drive you guys around?
KENDALL MARSHALL: From time to time. We switch off, but last year when me Reggie and Harrison lived with John, John was always driving us around. So now that we can return the favor to him, Harrison will drive everybody around; sometimes I'll drive everybody. So we try to switch off so everybody gets a fair shake.
HARRISON BARNES: I still bum rides, though.
Kendall, the success you had in that second Duke game, is that going to be very helpful with the way that you were able to defend them better, just the way you guarded them and the way they picked and popped with Kelly and stuff like that?
KENDALL MARSHALL: Definitely, but main thing you can take away from that game is the chip on our shoulder that we came out and played with, the intensity. We were, like Harrison said, running them off the 3‑point line and that's huge for us to be successful.
Obviously defensively Duke and Creighton aren't very similar. But on the offensive end, they share some things that they like to do: the pick and pop fours, very unselfish, things like that. So we just want to translate what we learned from the Duke game into this game.
Given the superstitions of your coach, would you guys share three of your favorites with us?
HARRISON BARNES: Usually if he loses a game, he throws away the tie, potentially the suit. We always eat before we watch film.
And, him ‑‑
KENDALL MARSHALL: One of my favorites is before he comes in the locker room before games, there's always a blue marker and a black marker. Blue is on right; black's on the left. Sometimes we'll switch it just to mess with him, but he always goes and finds the right marker.
I like that.
Harrison, was your relationship with Doug like where both of you would be at each other's houses a lot or was it confined mainly to school? Just how close a friendship was that during high school?
HARRISON BARNES: No, we were close friends. We used to hang out a lot off the court. That was kind of how our whole team worked and that's what gave us the chemistry on the court. But no, we would hang out at his house. I don't think it was NCAA violation because we were teammates, you know, with his dad and everything, but ‑‑ um, that was always fun. No, we were close friends on and off the court.
What are you driving around today now? Since he's got the Murano, what's yours?
HARRISON BARNES: I'm driving around something similar to that.
You mentioned Doug's dad, he talked about the pride that he has in that you showed his son a work ethic to get to this level to become an All‑American. Do you take pride that you kind of set the example for Doug to follow?
HARRISON BARNES: I don't know if I necessarily set the example for him, but just being his teammate we all kind of fed off each other. Just the work that he put in on his shot, I wasn't necessarily the best shooter on the team, so kind of I looked at him for that. And he probably saw the way that I came in the gym and worked out did certain things like that. He definitely dedicated himself to the weight room I think during high school and that really shows now. So I think we both kind of fed off each other.