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March 11, 2015

Marcus Paige

J.P. Tokoto

Roy Williams


North Carolina – 81
Boston College – 63

COACH WILLIAMS:  Well, we feel really good about the outcome.  It was hard for BC to play two straight days like that.  It's hard in this tournament.  We've got to put that out of our mind because we get a chance to do it tomorrow, and it's an opportunity, is the way we look at it.  But I think that Hanlan is just so, so hard to guard.  I think J.P. really did a nice job on him.
Marcus had him some, Joel had him some, but he's a big time, big time player and our goal was just to make sure he didn't shoot a great percentage.  I think 5 for 19, that happened.
But Jimmie has really done a heck of a good job with his club to have that big losing streak and then turn everything around at the end and win four in a row is something that I'm sure the BC people like the end of that.  But he's really, a good, good, good coach.
Again, you look at it, Aaron Brown has 20 for them, and Hanlan has 18.  Those are their two leading scorers.  Again, we were trying to make sure they didn't shoot as good a percentage.  They shoot 37 for the game.  As a matter of fact, (Indiscernible) was 49 too.  We ought to get all over Jaye Coleman.  If he hadn't missed that lay‑up, we would have been 50% for the game.
I thought Marcus with 17 points 9 assists 6 rebounds, J.P. with 4 assists zero turnovers, 9 rebounds.  Brice early was a scoring thing for us.  He didn't score as well.  And second half one stretch we missed three lay‑ups out of four possessions, but the guys kept playing.  They got it to eight, and they shoot a three from the corner and it goes all the way in and comes out.  That could have been a five‑point game.  Instead we go down, and Joel Berry gets fouled and makes two free throws, and Marcus makes a good pass to Brice and we score again.
So it was at 8 and we scored again and it was 14, so that was a big moment for us right there.  But we got three straight great shots during that time period there.  Feel fortunate and happy to continue being here.

Q.  Marcus, how close are you to a hundred percent now?
MARCUS PAIGE:  I feel pretty good, honestly.  Like I said after the Georgia Tech game, that was the first game I had played without any pain, and then the Duke game was the same way, and this game I felt really good too.  I would say I'm very, very close to a hundred percent.
I can't give you a number, but I would say above 90%.  So I'm happy I'm finally able not to worry so much about my foot and just worry about how I can help the team.

Q.  Marcus, kind of going off of that, when your foot is feeling closer to full health, what does it allow you to do a little differently that can be more aggressive?  How does that change how you play?
MARCUS PAIGE:  Yeah, I do a better job pushing the ball and shooting from the floor, two‑pointers.  Today I guess, yeah, I made some two‑pointers.  Usually when I had my foot injury, I felt myself kind of floating around the perimeter and not being as aggressive and attacking.  It also helps me defensively in other categories where I can be a little more athletic and not have to worry about it.
COACH WILLIAMS:  Yeah, you were five for five on two‑pointers.

Q.  Coach, what did you say to Hanlan when you stopped for a minute after the game?  And J.P., did you take this as a personal challenge against him coming into the game since he's the leading scorer in the ACC and a huge part of their team?
J.P. TOKOTO:  I didn't really take it as anything personal, but I knew if I did a good job defensively today it would help my team tremendously.  So I did go in with the mindset when I was guarding him to make it tough for him, make his shots tough.  We kind of let down‑‑ well, I let down and let him get to the rim a few times when I shouldn't have, but overall, I think we did a great job on him today.
COACH WILLIAMS:  I think he did a great job and blocked the jumpshot from the baseline in the first half, and I think that always affects a guy because J.P. is quick enough and long enough that he can do those things.  What I said to him at the end was a little personal thing about how good a year I think he's had.

Q.  Roy, couple questions about Kennedy Meeks.  What is your prognosis?  What can you tell us about him?  Also, Coach Smith used to say a team can rally around the loss of a player for a short term game or two, long‑term of course it will hurt you.  Do you ascribe to that?
COACH WILLIAMS:  Yes, I do.  I think that so many times since I've been coaching, especially when I was working for Coach Smith, I saw that kind of thing happen.  But I'd love to give you some information, and I'll give you everything I have.  We have no idea, guys.  We have no idea.  The doctors may have known something because we took him back for some more lab work today, and they didn't know what the result was before the game.  During the game, I didn't ask them.  But my guess is if we find out, Steve will let everybody know.
But I don't expect him to play.  He hadn't practiced.  He hadn't run up and down the court since the Duke game, not one single time.  So I really don't expect him to play.

Q.  Coach and J.P., there are a lot of players and coaches in this league that have mentioned that J.P. can be one of the best defenders in this whole league.  Yet on your own film grade he's usually not graded as the best defender on his team for the game.  Is there any way to explain both of those things?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I'm one of those coaches that says J.P. could be the best defensive player in our league also.  You know, it's two or three things.  We're asking him to do a lot.  He's got to get to the backboards.  He's got to get to the offensive boards.  I think he was sensational there for us today.  He had a game against NorthCarolina State in Raleigh that was as good a defensive game as I've ever had a player play against a very good player.  I think he did a great job today.  He did a fantastic job against BC up at BC, if I'm not mistaken you were 5‑0 assist ratio at BC and 4‑0 today.  So we're asking him to do a lot of things.
Now defensively, you have to have a lot of discipline, and you have to be focused and the whole bit.  When J.P. puts his mind to it, he is really, really good.  Sometimes his mind tends to waiver, okay.  But I'll let J.P. answer that.  But I have tremendous confidence that he can really be a big‑time, big‑time defender, and he's shown that he can do that.
But I think the little things, and again, I'd like to see what he says, but I think the little things sometimes he lets that slide by thinking he's going to block the guy's shot by jumping over the trombone in the band.
J.P. TOKOTO:  Yeah, sometimes I do think things are easier than they look.  For instance, I will sag off on a play trying to bait the pass to the wing.  Sometimes I'll get it, but sometimes I won't.  Those kind of things I'm working on cutting out but at the same time, I know if I do get it, it can help our team out so I take those chances.
But the bad grades come from that, overplaying and overrunning and stuff like that.  But there are a lot of things that go through my mind defensively through a game.  It's just about making the right decision.
COACH WILLIAMS:  Nice job.  He's a Riverboat Gambler on the defensive end of the floor.

Q.  For any of you guys, the game against Louisville, the first two this season have been thrilling finishes.  What are you expecting tomorrow and are you looking forward to a third game?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I'm definitely looking forward to a third game because that means I'm not going back and packing my junk up and going home.  We have had two sensational games.  They probably should have won the game at our place, and we probably should have won the game at their place.  But it's two teams that really, really fight like crazy.
We came back from a big deficit at our place.  They came back from a huge deficit at their place.  I think it's two teams that like to compete.  They really man handled us at their place on the offensive backboards especially in the second half.  So what kind of game I expect, I would expect it to be a hard‑fought game, but I have no idea.  You just wait until you get out there.
MARCUS PAIGE:  He pretty much nailed it when he talked about the performance at our place and then their place.  You don't see that very often a team losing a big lead in two different ways, each team doing it.  So I'm excited for the rematch just because not only is it a chance to go on to the semifinal, but when you lose the way we did at Louisville, and that was the last one, so that was the one that resonates for me more.
You want to have a chance to erase that memory and play for 40 minutes of a full game.  We've got to do a great job on the backboards, because like coach said, Harrell does a great job of making it tough for teams by pounding the offensive glass.  So it will be fun.  It will be a lot of great players in the gym at one time, so it will be exciting.
J.P. TOKOTO:  Piggybacking off what they said, this is possibly the last game we can play in this tournament, so why not give it your all?  We're going to look to get on the offensive and defensive backboards, try to hit them first, come out with more energy than they can.  Like coach said, two teams that love to compete, two great coaches that know how to coach.  So it's going to come down to who wants it more and we've got to be that team.  I'm just looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.

Q.  Coach, with Kennedy and Theo out, it seemed that you tinkered quite a bit with different lineups.  What exactly are you trying to look for when you're doing that?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I'm looking for some guy to make a good play when he gets in there.  I wanted to give Stillman a chance in the first half.  I've been thinking about it, because he's finally getting healthy.  You know, we've been playing all year and Stillman can make some shots, and I wanted to give him a chance in the first half, and just get his feet wet in case we needed it down the line because we are thin.  The guys with the experience and without Kennedy and Theo and the other guys that we've already lost, so we'll probably try to give him another chance again tomorrow.  We put him with the first team yesterday during the time period during practice, and he did a nice job, so we'll probably try that again tomorrow too.

Q.  That's six straight double‑figure games for Justin Jackson.  Now obviously the shot, especially the three‑pointers are starting to go in for him a little more.  How many more options does that give you offensively?  How different does that make it for you as a coach?  Also, Marcus, if there was a point that you saw where things started to turn around for Justin a little bit in practice or in games?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I think even today the three misses right in front of our bench, and it looked like it was going in also.  But I think he's getting to be a more confident player.  When he's shooting the ball in from three‑point line it opens up so many other things for Brice, Isaiah, J.P.'s drives, Marcus's drives.  So it does give us another scoring threat that can shoot a good percentage from the three‑point line.  I can't tell you exactly any game.  I think it's been a steady progression for him the entire season.  I'd like for him to run that streak about nine more games.
MARCUS PAIGE:  Yeah, he's doing a great job letting the game come to him.  He got great shots today, great looks today.  It always helps especially as a freshman, going through the grind of the ACC can be tough.  It helps to make your first shot or get an easy first basket.
He got a good look from three today, and that kind of set him up.  He's been doing that a lot lately being the benefactor of great ball movement and knocking down the open three.  Because then he can get his floater going or get a putback on the offensive glass, trying to get out on transition.  He does a great job running the floor.  When J.P. hit him the pitch ahead today, that's a great way to score.  He's just settling down.  We've always known he was capable of this, so it's good to see him putting together a good stretch.

Q.  Roy, I don't know if you've seen the proposal out of the NABC about early entry for the NBA draft.  The upshot is an invitation‑only combine for undergraduates, and a late May withdrawal date to get out of the draft.  Your feelings pro or con?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I'm trying to remember what I was told to say.  I think there's going to be some more information released from it.  But I've been very pleased to be part of the discussion, and I really wish I could remember what.
We're not supposed to say anything until it's officially released, so I'm being a bad interview, I just can't tell you anything.  I've been part of the discussion, and I'm very happy that we're working together.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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