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March 2, 2016

Sylvia Hatchell

Stephanie Watts

Jamie Cherry

Greensboro, North Carolina

Pitt - 82, North Carolina - 72.

SYLVIA HATCHELL: I thought we played hard. These two kids right here battled about as hard as they could out there, and Destinee really stepped it up in the second half. But rebounding, it's been our problem all year. I thought rebounding was really big. But we battled hard.

These kids, I don't know how much more we could get out of them because they've given about all they've got, and we've had a lot of close games this year. We're very thin. I need to thank all the five walk-ons that we've had. We have not had a walk-on since 2004. I think Megan Alston in 2004 was our last walk-on until this year, and we've had five, and those kids have worked hard and sacrificed and been there for us in practice, and also I definitely want to give a shout-out to the walk-ons that we've had.

But these kids have battled hard and fought hard. I was proud of the way they fought today, and I think it's just an indication of things to come. Congratulations to Stephanie for Rookie of the Year, and we have nine new players coming in for next year to go with. We have, what, four of our five starters will be returning because Hillary Summers is coming back. Hillary Fuller will be back, also. She was injured this year. And then of course Destinee, Stephanie, Jamie, and then we've got nine new kids coming in. A lot of you all know Paris Kea. She's from here. Every year when I come over -- I see some heads shaking. Every year when I come over here y'all always ask me about her, so we finally got her. We had to go by way of Vanderbilt, but we finally got her, so Paris is going to be a great addition to our team, as well, and then all the new kids coming in.

Probably the best thing, and I'm really looking forward to -- you think right now, Coach Hatch will, hey, just let's get this over and move on. But no, that's not the way I feel at all. I'm excited about these kids and how they battled today because they have worked their behinds off and have gotten better and better. With the new kids we've got coming in and the kids returning, and we're having our international trip this summer. We're going to leave the 28th of July, we get to have 18 practices this summer with the new rules of summer practice, and then the number of times that we can practice because of the international trip. So that's going to be really good, and the fact that we get to have 18 practices. They'll be in summer school, and then we get to go overseas and play, and the first time they'll wear a Carolina uniform will be in Scotland and Ireland, so that will be great for us as far as preparing for next season.

I'm very excited about it. We've been in a difficult situation. We're not expecting, but I've learned through adversity you take the positives and sometimes that's hard to do, but trust me, I've learned to do that. And so that's what we've tried to do all year, and we will take what we've been through this year and use it to make ourselves better but also the team better.

But I'm proud of the way these kids have handled themselves and how they've fought and just the kids they are and how they've believed in me and what we're doing. They know that there's much better days to come. We'll go back and get back to work.

Q. Coach, what does it say about your team that a lot of teams that have had tough seasons might just kind of give up on that first game and have it done, but y'all obviously didn't do that and you also got three players coming back that will be your leaders next year that, each of them played 45 minutes today. Talk just about the character of your team this season.
SYLVIA HATCHELL: Well, you're right, character is who you are when no one is looking, and these kids are very, very tough, Jamie and Destinee. And I think Destinee, as of last week, she had played more minutes than any player in NCAA this year. But we haven't had -- today we got in foul trouble, and I had to put some walk-ons in there, but that's been our situation all year. We haven't been able to -- if you've watched us play in the past, you know we like to run and fast break, but you've got to have some bodies to substitute if you want to be an up-tempo fast break team, and we haven't been able to do that as much as we'd like to.

Also we've always been a very good rebounding team. We've always been one of the top rebounding teams in the country, and we're probably in the bottom this year I imagine. I haven't looked lately. But that's been big because of rebounding.

And then defense. I love to get out and get after people and trap and do different things like that. We like to create offense off our defense. So the qualities and characteristics that have been Carolina women's basketball over the past few years, we have not been able to do that a lot this year, and also foul trouble. We had to be really conservative defensively because of getting in foul trouble, and so that's been the hardest part for me as the coach. The frustration is having to make all these adjustments and do things that -- that's just not my style and what we've been known for over the years.

Hopefully we get back to that, and again, I want to do it mainly because these kids came in to play that style. They came in to play for me and to play up-tempo, fast break type basketball, and like we've -- so I want to get back to playing like that because they came in to play like that, and that's -- but they gave it a lot for 45 minutes, and I don't really even think they were that tired at the end. I think a lot of that was just the will that they had.

Q. This question is for all three ladies. What was the game plan going into the overtime, and what went wrong?
SYLVIA HATCHELL: They can talk, but we was continuing to set ball screens for the guards. I thought we got some good looks, we just missed them. I thought we got in there, and it was very, very physical, and I have to be careful what I say, but I thought it was extremely physical. We were driving. We were setting a lot of ball screens and trying to take it and let the guards take it in, and we had been successful with that.

But you know, we -- it didn't go our way. It was really physical, and we were not being able to finish that off. But I thought that's really what got us back in the second half when we were being successful with it, and then they made a couple threes. They've got four -- we gambled a lot because they had four kids out there that could shoot threes, and we tried to stay on 14 as much as we could, and was it 2, I believe, the other 2 that had made all the three-point shots. Yes, 2, yeah, 2 and 14 were their three-point shooters. So we gambled some with that.

And then they made a couple down the stretch there that really hurt us. And like I said, when we drove in, we couldn't make the basket and couldn't get on the foul line. That really hurt us some, too.

JAMIE CHERRY: I think coach said it all.

Q. For the players, how has the season made you better players? Are there ways you think you've improved because of this season?
STEPHANIE WATTS: Most definitely. I just feel like most people are learning on the bench from watching mistakes, but we're learning firsthand. That definitely prepared us more for the seasons to come.

JAMIE CHERRY: I think it taught us how to fight through adversity, even though we came out on the short stick. I think we all came in with the attitude to get better every day to try to change that.

Q. Coach, you've talked about how as Jamie Cherry goes, so does the time. How true was that today?
SYLVIA HATCHELL: I thought Jamie had some really good moments out there. She started off with doing a really good job with driving, getting inside, getting the ball to the basket. We weren't going inside as much as I wanted us to at the beginning. I thought Hillary Summers was open quite a bit the first few minutes, and I think we were looking -- guards were looking to try to take it in and score instead of trying to get it into the post. And then we ran a few things. After one of the timeouts, we ran three or four different things for Hillary, and we got it to her and she scored. She had about three or four buckets in a row there. We've just got to learn -- a lot of this is experience, you know, and we've just got to learn to mix it up a little bit more.

But I thought overall Jamie did a good job. We're moving things around, putting Destinee up there some, and she's learning as a freshman, and then also with Stephanie. We did the baseline play there. I think Jamie did it once in the first half and then Stephanie did it, and she got a charge called, and we gambled a little bit there. But I think that's a play, as she gets more experience, she's going to learn to take it in there and score because it's hard to guard her one-on-one like that, and she'll learn a little bit more as far as attacking that as we move along.

But I believe in her. I believe in both of them. They're great kids, and they are very skilled players. They're freshmen and sophomores. Jamie played not very many minutes last year, and Stephanie is a freshman. They've both got great futures.

Q. Jamie, you played on one of the best teams in the country last year, and it looks like you're going to play on one of the best teams in the country next year. What do you hope to take from this season into the rest of your career?
JAMIE CHERRY: I would have to say being a leader, especially for the freshmen, just trying to will them in and teach them, and I think they did a great job over the season of getting better and learning and listening and taking in what we have. But I think that's going to be especially the key next year. We've got nine new players coming in, and just trying to teach them so they can know the system and just try to get better every day.

Q. Coach, the fact that you had been through so many tough things personally before this, did it make it easier to swallow losing a lot of basketball games?
SYLVIA HATCHELL: Well, I'm not a good loser, and I hope I never become one. But it definitely -- yes, it's definitely helped me because as we go through the different things -- right before the game today, I get an email from a lady that, she said, Coach, you don't know me, but the day you came in to Lineberger, you were being admitted, she said, I was bald-headed and I was walking the hall, and I stopped and spoke to you. She said, we haven't seen each other since then, but I came to your game today and I brought my daughter because Lineberger saved my life. I want to come over here and support you. She was sitting in the front row today beside the band. I didn't remember her so I went over before the game and spoke to her and her daughter.

You know, things like that help you keep things in perspective.

But again, winning is important to me. Taking care of these kids, teaching them how to be winners, and even though we didn't have the season that we're used to having, I think in a way I have taught them how to be winners because every situation every day is not going to be warm and fuzzy and just perfect. You've got to learn to fight through the hard times, and it will make you better. It will make you stronger, it will make you better and make you tougher. And what they've gone through this year will make them tougher, and they will have some good moments as they continue their career at Carolina.

Q. Jamie, those last-second desperation shots that you continue to make, they don't seem to be desperation shots. Am I looking at that the right way?
JAMIE CHERRY: Yeah, it's the norm. I mean, I practice it every day, so I mean, it's just second nature to me.

SYLVIA HATCHELL: She practices it before and after every practice, I promise you. She's out there before and after every practice, and that's Jamie's routine. It's amazing how many of those half-court shots they can make, so I'm not surprised when she does it to be honest with you. I don't think any of our team is.

Q. Both of you are very talented; which aspects of your games would you like to improve as you mature?
JAMIE CHERRY: Probably a little more leadership, being more vocal, and probably my defense.

STEPHANIE WATTS: For me, as well, just being more like locked down on defense. My man is not scoring, have that more mentality and get better laterally on defense.

Q. Jamie, during the game at one point you were walking over to the bench and kind of leaning over and it looked like they came and helped you out. What was going on there?
JAMIE CHERRY: Just tweaked my knee a little bit. It wasn't nothing too serious.

SYLVIA HATCHELL: When I saw it happened I saw her get hurt and Sylvia Crawley said, Coach, you need to get Jamie out, she's hurt. I looked at her and said, "who are we going to put in?" Because we were in foul trouble, and I did look down the bench -- and I think, again, I preach that the walk-ons have been great. Like I said, they're great kids and two of them are going to be doctors. They're just wonderful. I love those kids to death.

But next year having more scholarship players is going to push them harder. It's going to make them better players. They haven't been pushed. The guys come in some and practice with us, but having 11, 12, 13 scholarship players out there will definitely push them. It may take some of their minutes if they let them. I mean, it's theirs to keep right now, but those kids will push them and it will make them better. But that's a component -- most people haven't even thought of, but that is something that will make them better is when someone is out there competing against you in practice every day and pushing you to be better, and we have not had that.

Q. To the players, what happened on the last play in regulation? What do you remember from your perspectives?
STEPHANIE WATTS: Jamie being Jamie and just taking over the game. She's our point guard, our leader, and when she took the shot, I just knew it was going in. That's Jamie's second nature. Like she's just always a level-headed player, just took it like a regular shot, and that's just her. I just knew it was going in.

JAMIE CHERRY: Mine was just hit the shot so we can get a second opportunity to win the game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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