CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina improved to 2-0 on the young basketball season Tuesday night with a 77-58 victory over Kentucky (0-2) in the Smith Center. Shortly after the game, UNC head coach Roy Williams and Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie spoke with reporters.
UNC HEAD COACH ROY WILLIAMS
"Well, we like the fact it went in the correct column. We had a fantastic first 10 or 12 minutes (early in the first half), and then after that I didn't think our defense was nearly as aggressive and with the intensity we had opened the game with."
"I thought our defense, forcing the turnovers, was key in the game early, and then after that, we just more or less meandered around a little bit like we did against Penn where it (the lead) was 15 to 18, whatever it was, and it basically stayed that way most of the game."
"You look at the stats---we shot 41 (percent from the floor), they shoot 44. We did shoot it better from the three-point line (seven-for-13). Free throws, they (Kentucky) are better than we are. The only stat that jumps out at you is the turnovers. For us to get 70 shots and them to get 45, that is a huge margin right there, so if you had to pick a stat that would probably be the most important stat of the game. We've got to get better than we were."
Thoughts about the play of leading scorer Deon Thompson…..
"I thought Deon was important to us. It's encouraging. I think Deon, other than Tyler (Hansbrough), probably worked harder than anybody else on our team in the offseason. He may have done it the last two years. He's been working on his body and it's really satisfying to see a change in being able to transfer from that work on his body, and also the work he puts in transferring into success out on the court. That part is satisfying."
"I think that he (Thompson) did a really good job. We missed some awfully easy baskets, and he's right there to get some offensive rebounds. You look down (at the stats) and he's got seven offensive rebounds. I think Deon was extremely important to us throughout the whole game. I thought he was extremely important, extremely good for us, and we need for him to play like that."
Were the early turnovers a result of UNC's aggressiveness or mistakes on Kentucky's part?
"Probably a little bit of both. I thought we were aggressive. That's where we wanted to be, and put some pressure on them. Maybe their inexperience or maybe some casual play or whatever---you better talk to Billy (Gillespie) to see what it was on their end---but I think probably the combination of our defense and then some mistakes and bad choices they made."
"If you've watched me for five and a half years, that's the way we play. I'm not going to change. We're going to try to pressure people and see what happens."
Thoughts about turnovers and forcing teams to a low shooting percentage…..
"We're going to try to turn people over. I'd like to not allow them (Kentucky) to shoot 44 percent, but if you're going to gamble and press, they're going to get some easy ones."
"What I'd like is if we could take the ball away and make them turn the ball over and keep them to a low field goal percentage. If you never gamble, you can keep teams to a lower field goal percentage, but I like to get us running so we can gamble more, regardless of who we're playing."
"Just try to make sure we had a hand up on his (Meeks') shot. You look out there and they're struggling for a little offense. If it's not Patrick (Patterson) inside, it's got to be Jodie. Again, we wanted to hold his (shooting) percentage down, and you look and he (Meeks) was five-for-20."
"He's really a good player, but he's got a lot of load to carry right now to get the ball in the basket for them. You'd have to get Billy's opinion on that more-so than mine, but we wanted to make sure we kept his percentage down, and then really try to make sure we didn't let Patrick go off on us completely, too."
Comments about Tyler Hansbrough and his recovery…..
"He did 'Dummy Offense' in practice (Monday) is all he's done. He's been in the swimming pool. I'm not all that concerned about his conditioning---just getting him in practice and getting him in where he's running up and down the court and banging people and doing those type of things---hopefully by Thursday we'll have a much better idea."
"I think the bottom line is I think---and make sure you emphasize the word 'think'---I think that he (Hansbrough) probably could have already played. But why rush something like that? I said it from day one of the whole deal that we were going to be extremely conservative, and that's what we've been all the way. "
Thoughts about the defensive improvement of the UNC guards…..
"I think Ty (Lawson) is getting into the (opposing) point guard a little bit more and pressuring that. Wayne (Ellington), Danny (Green), and Bobby (Frasor) are doing a little bit better job of getting out in the (passing) lanes. They're not necessarily scrambling as well as I would like for us to scramble---meaning our double-team stuff---but I think just our pressure overall is better right now, but it should be."
"At the end of the year last year we got to be an average defensive team, and I want us to be a very good one, and start it right now and work on it every day."
"I think Danny did a great job taking a charge early in the game---he got hit in the mouth and then after that he made one free throw the rest of the way---you've got to be able to take a little blow and still be able to come back and play basketball."
KENTUCKY HEAD COACH BILLY GILLESPIE
Thoughts about Kentucky's loss to the Tar Heels….
"I think it had to do with execution and aggressiveness and those kinds of things. We're just making too many mental errors, even though it's the second game of the season against a really good team and really well organized team and fine executing team. You can't make the mistakes that we made like picking the dribble up, not being strong with the ball, getting destroyed on the offensive ball."
"Even though the numbers on rebounding doesn't look like we did, they (UNC) had 18 offensive put-backs. That was a key. Our transition defense had too many mistakes with guys who didn't communicate well enough. We creep back into the game. We're not in bad shape no matter how poorly we had played, and then we sub, and we don't guard the right guy or don't guard a guy and they make a three (pointer)."
"But I did think we fought extremely hard, and when we got in the half-court, our defense was extremely good for the most part I thought against good players and a really good team. They shot 41 percent and they're not going to shoot that percentage too many times. They're not going to score only 77 points (very often). I know that's way too many, but you take away the points that we gave them, and I think we're going to be all right."