Roy Williams and a couple Tar Heel players, including Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo, spoke with reporters after UNC's 70-58 loss to Kansas Sunday afternoon in Kansas City's Sprint Center. The third round loss ended Carolina's season at 25-11 overall.
COACH WILLIAMS: We congratulate Kansas. They were phenomenal in the second half today. I thought we were both ugly on the offensive end in the first half, but we were swarming so much defensively we were able to get some fast‑break opportunities, had a nine‑point lead at halftime.
The second half we didn't quite have the same energy level and they perhaps had a little bit more. They got into rhythm, started making shots. We couldn't stop 'em. I think their defense even fed off of that. When the ball started going in the basket, I thought their defense got even stronger.
We struggled shooting the ball the whole game. You have to give them credit. They led the nation in defensive field goal percentage for a reason. We never did quite get settled down in the second half and get what we wanted and didn't have the sense of urgency that we had in the first half on the defensive end of the floor.
Again, congratulations to Kansas. They're a No.1 seed for a reason.
I really enjoyed coaching my team. I really did. We had some tough, tough losses early. They kept coming to practice every single day and tried to do what we wanted them to do.
Our locker room's not as happy right now, but I loved coaching my team.
Was it (Jeff) Withey's intimidation? Was it the crowd? Why was the shooting so poor?
MARCUS PAIGE: I don't think the crowd really had anything to do with it. For a lot of the first half they didn't get a chance to get involved 'cause our level of energy and intensity was so high. Withey does a great job protecting the rim, makes it tough to make shots around the basket. Our shooters never had a chance to get into rhythm. We played great defense, but we also struggled to find a rhythm offensively. For the most part, both teams did until Kansas went on that run in the second half.
JAMES MICHAEL McADOO: I think he does a great job of working with his guards, not really leaving the rim that much, which made it really hard to finish a lot of plays.
Everyone on our team got great looks from the outside perimeter. We just weren't able to knock those down. They did a great job towards the end of the game. The crowd didn't really necessarily rattle us. I think we just made mistakes that they turned into baskets.
In the first half, you really bothered them collapsing on the post. In the second half, did they do anything differently?
JAMES MICHAEL McADOO: I think it was a little bit of both. I think if we would have hit the offensive boards early in the first four minutes and get some second‑chance shots, especially in transition. And then they knocked a few threes, which they hadn't done in the past game which I think really just gave them confidence.
MARCUS PAIGE: Yeah, I think from an overall effort standpoint, the first half is probably the hardest we played all year. Everyone was invested. We were flying all over the place. Even if we made mistakes defensively, we usually were able to make up for them, hustle. We got a lot of the 50/50 balls.
In the second half, they got out in transition a couple times. They got second opportunities. From there it just kind of kept going.
James, the first half the rebounding margin was fairly close. Did they do anything differently to be able to control the boards in the second half?
JAMES MICHAEL McADOO: I think it was mostly just on us not blocking out and they were getting second‑chance shots, especially out in transition. Guys on their team missing easy layups, on our half not checking out the guys running in transition.
We knew what we had to do coming into this game as far as keeping Withey, Young, their other three guards off the boards.
They did it better than we could for 40 minutes.
Roy, Marcus was talking about the energy level in the first half. How difficult is it for a team to keep that up for 40 minutes?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, I think it can be done. We've had teams do it before. It was very difficult for us to do it today.
I think Kansas, in my opinion, you'd have to ask Bill, he evaluates his team better than I do, their intensity level was picked up more in the second half.
Then, you know, it's the kind of thing in the first half we were swarming, we got some turnovers. I don't think they turned it over nearly as much in the second half. They turned it over three or four times in the last five or six minutes. In the meat part of the game, the first six or eight minutes of the second half, they didn't turn it over.
So they got good shots and they made good shots. In the first half, they didn't get as good of shots. We had some turnovers and were able to run it out.
I think you should be able to maintain that intensity for 40 minutes, but we were not able to do it. Give Kansas credit, too, because their offense was a lot sharper in the second half. They were 0‑6 from the three‑point line in the game two nights ago. They were 0‑6 in the first half, second half 5‑8, and that always helps.
Was there any particular turning point in the second half or did Kansas beat you to the finish line?
COACH WILLIAMS: I thought the whole early part, we had three timeouts in seven minutes or something like that. Again, I just think they were so much more aggressive than we were in the second half. And the shots were going in for them. They were able to get their defense set.
We were struggling putting the ball in the basket. I mean, we shoot 26 percent in the first half and 35 percent in the second half, and we made our last three shots, I think. So the 35 percent is even a little misleading.
Did you think the way your team approached attacking Jeff Withey was proper?
COACH WILLIAMS: In the first half, I thought it was pretty good. Second half, it wasn't nearly as effective. I think Jeff made better decisions himself. But also the other guys. I mean, they hurt us with dribble penetration. Travis Releford hurt us on the backboards. He got two I think offensive rebounding for baskets in the second half.
You look down and they out‑rebounded us 50 to 36. That's a significant rebound margin. Even if we got them to miss a shot, you add the fact the number of times they got the offensive rebound, tipped it in, their offense in the second half was really strong. All the things we were trying to do with Jeff to get it out of his hands, the other guys took care of it. It wasn't just a one‑man team for them.
You talked about what Kansas was able to do defensively. Comment on what they were able to do defending the three‑point shot.
MARCUS PAIGE: Yeah, I think they just crowded the shooters. Releford did a good job on Reggie (Bullock). He would play him high, try to make him change his cut. Also, you know, they tried to pressure us knowing they had a great shot‑blocker underneath to help them as a second line of defense.
We did get some good looks and didn't knock 'em down. One time P.J. (Hairston) had a wide‑open shot and kind of fumbled the ball. That's kind of how it went for us in terms of outside shooting tonight.
COACH WILLIAMS: I would agree with him.
Coach, this is three times in six years against Kansas in the tournament. It hasn't gone well all three times. Is it any more painful than any other tournament loss?
COACH WILLIAMS: No, it is not any more painful. We lost to another basketball team. The fact that I coached there for 15 years is extremely important to me, but it doesn't add anything today. I hurt for myself. I hurt for the kids in the locker room. NCAA tournament, the suddenness, the swiftness with which your season is over with is dramatic. It hurts everywhere.
The fact that it was to Kansas, you know, we played 1990, lost to UCLA in the second round. I'm still pissed off about that because we were pretty doggone good.
My team got better as this season went along. 1990, for example, I thought we were good enough to perhaps sneak in and win the whole blessed thing.
In some ways it hurts more because of how much these kids have accomplished, but it doesn't hurt any more. I remember UTEP in '92, Virginia in '96. I can name every one of them, losing in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse in the national championship game, my last game as a coach at Kansas. Every one of them hurt.
Marcus, what was your comfort level at the half up nine?
MARCUS PAIGE: We knew we had to come out with the same effort defensively. That's what we talked about halftime before coach came in. We were satisfied, we weren't comfortable, because we know this is a great offensive team. We wanted to come out with the same energy and effort on defense, try to replicate what we did in the first half. We just weren't able to do it for whatever reason.
They got in a rhythm. They got comfortable. They started getting easy shots. They obviously extended the lead. But we definitely wanted to do the same things in the first half, we just weren't able to do it.
Looking in the pros and cons of the small lineup, was tonight the nightmare scenario?
COACH WILLIAMS: It was definitely a nightmare in the second half, there's no question about that. You know, the change in the lineup, I tried to get the best five basketball players on the court for us. We knew we were giving up some rebounding, but we knew we were adding some things offensively from the perimeter.
We decided to make that change. Down the stretch we basically decided to stick with it because we thought that was best for our team.
Friday night we got hurt a little bit because they had two post players, so we made a little change, went big for a little longer, tried to double down in the post, which we haven't done a lot to get it out of (Villanova's) Pinkston's hand and it helped us a little bit.
For me, we had an unbelievably young team, and they tried and tried and tried. We've got a chance to be a sensational basketball team again. That doesn't make the feeling that I have right now any better because I feel it for this team. I mean, Dexter and Frank, the two seniors, Dexter is involved in 106 wins.
That's pretty doggone good. We'd like more, there's no question. This team got beat three or four times this year by good people by big margins. Just kept coming back.
We have a chance to be a sensational basketball team again, but that's not going to help me get through the spring.