CHAPEL HILL--- Following North Carolina's six-point victory Saturday afternoon over East Carolina in the Smith Center, head coaches Jeff Lebo and Roy Williams, as well as UNC players J.P. Tokoto, P.J. Hairston, Reggie Bullock, and Dexter Strickland, spoke with reporters.
UNC HEAD COACH ROY WILLIAMS
"Don't know where to start. Hope we did a good job with exams this week. We'll get those grades back, but congratulate Jeff (Lebo) and his team. They kept fighting, kept fighting. We gave them a lot of opportunities, screwing things up a bit. I got more frustrated today, perhaps, than I have in a long time. Looked down at the stat sheet, no post player got an offensive rebound in the entire game."
"Reggie (Bullock) had four (offensive rebounds), P.J. (Hairston) had three, J.P. (Tokoto) had two, and then we got a team rebound, so I was frustrated with that. I was frustrated that we didn't pick up the three-point shooter soon enough. Akeem Richmond, who we knew is a really good shooter, didn't pick him up soon enough."
"They (ECU) were pressing us. We had had one silly turnover and then the other times we converted on the other end. We were making one or two, and then giving up three to them. Not surprised at all by the way Jeff's team fought. It's an experienced team (ECU). He's got a good team. I enjoyed watching them play the games that we watched on tape."
"It was a little frustrating out there, to say the least. But it's another game. It's another opportunity to get better. Yesterday (Friday) afternoon we even had a player leave practice early for something to complete on one of his final exams. So it was a tough week. We look like we hadn't practiced all week, and we didn't do a lot of practicing, but still, it's enough (to win)."
On the empty possessions early in the second half.....
"We ran a set play the first play of the second half, got a guy wide open for a layup and didn't throw the ball. Then they go down and score first (in the second half). They did a nice job. Give them some credit. I'm very frustrated with my team, but around here particularly, we always just focus on our team and don't give the other team credit. But, again, I've never had a game where a post player never got an offensive rebound the whole game."
"I got really frustrated and went really small. We've gone small, keeping one post player in there. Today at one time I had J.P. (Tokoto) and Reggie (Bullock) as the 'four' and 'five.' That way we could switch all the screens on the ball and do a better job and then get where we're supposed to be switching. Then one of the next to last plays, we don't switch and they pull up their big guy for a layup underneath. So, the head coach at North Carolina has got to do a better job."
On his team's shot selection.....
"First half we took four bad shots, and second half I'd have to think back, but I knew exactly how many we took. It's an easy deal. Anticipate your teammates' shot. You guys in the stands, you guys that are knowledgeable about basketball, even people that aren't knowledgeable sort of can tell when a guy is getting ready to shoot. So anticipate your teammates' shot and go to the board. That's a pretty simple thing to do right there. Again, we've got some time periods now for three practices before we play, then a couple more when we get back (from the Holidays) before we play again. Let people go home. We've got a lot of work to do, bottom line."
On Jeff Lebo coming back to the Smith Center.....
"The atmosphere was sort of like my team. It was a little different. We didn't practice until Thursday. Then Thursday we had a pretty good practice, but had to let three guys go early or come late or something like that. Then practice yesterday, I think two guys had to leave early. It was an unusual game."
"It's hard on me. I tried to never look at Jeff (during the game) and it's because that's somebody on the other end that I really care for. I helped recruit him. I helped coach him. When the game was over with, I was happy that we won. I'm ticked off the way we played, but then you look at that guy and he (Lebo) has got an 'L.' His team may have played better, closer to their potential, than our team did."
"It's hard, but he's such a good, I used to call him a kid. I'm not going to call him a kid anymore. I don't know what color his hair would be because he won't let it grow out, but it's different. I'll just put it to you that way. But that's the way our team played today, like we hadn't been practicing."
On finding everyone's role within this team.....
"I think it's taking a little longer than usual. At the 'five' position, we feel like we can go with Joel (James), Brice (Johnson), or Desmond (Hubert), and all three of those players are totally different players. I felt like tonight was a great option for us, but just on the defensive end of the floor we made stupid little mental breakdowns and not getting to the boards, not following through on our rotations on the offensive end."
On practicing during exams.....
"I feel like we shouldn't blame it on exams because we still had time to get better as a team. We had two days to prepare before we played ECU. We were making the right rotations in practice, doing what Coach (Williams) told us to do, but it just felt like we've just got to be a better team at transferring things over from practice to an actual game."
On the differences between the first and second halves.....
"Starting out, our defense kind of took care of everything. We got open shots. We got the shots we wanted. Everybody was working hard. Second half they started hitting shots the last ten minutes. Coach wasn't too happy about that, especially No. 1 (Akeem Richmond). He stressed to us that he saw that all he wanted to do was shoot, and sure enough I think he was five or six (made three-pointers). So Coach wasn't too happy about that, but overall it was a good game."
On his experience and role on this team.....
"I'm definitely more comfortable out there now. It was just that first up and down, then you get your juices flowing and you feel like you can get up and down pretty easily now. It's just getting that experience under my belt. That's about it. I know where I come in. I know where Coach needs me. I know where the team needs me. It helps a lot."
"I don't want to put the excuse on exams. I think we, including myself, do a great job of balancing that out. I just think that we didn't have that energy that we should have had tonight. That's something we'll have to get better on."
On having a sense of urgency on the court.....
"We want to come out with a sense of urgency every game we play. We want to be ready and focused every game we play, so when we play like that it's kind of frustrating. It's just something you've got to learn from, something you've got to build on."
On how well he's passing the ball and picking up assists.....
"It's just confidence alone. It's my last year, so my confidence is at an all-time high since I've been here, with my shot and getting guys involved. But it's because of Reggie, P.J. (Hairston), and Leslie (McDonald) stepping up and making shots, and Brice (Johnson) and James Michael (McAdoo) being ready to catch the ball off my penetration. My team, on offense, I think we're doing a great job."
ECU HEAD COACH JEFF LEBO
"I thought that we battled hard. They (UNC) have a very good offensive team and I thought we did some good things out there. They made some key plays coming down the stretch. We shot the ball very well in the second half to make things interesting. The kids competed awfully hard."
"Coach Williams has a young team, and I've got a bit more experienced guys and I like experienced guys. I'm proud of my group, proud of my team. We battled. First half we got a lot of good looks and we didn't shoot it particularly well. They (UNC) came out on fire, I think they were up around 70 percent (shooting) from the field to start."
On his pregame welcome by Carolina fans......
"When I missed a lot of shots (during my UNC career), they didn't give me a standing ovation here. It's a special place obviously for me having played (for Carolina), and that was awfully nice of the people here to do it. It meant a lot to me as well as my family."
On what this game will mean to his team.....
"I think being able to play in this environment, on this stage, the kids don't get a chance to do it. We competed awfully hard and it'll hopefully give us some confidence. Basketball is a funny game. You can look one way one day and turn around and play two days later and not look like the same team. So hopefully we can build with this. This was obviously big for our University and big for our program. We'd never played here (in Chapel Hill) before.