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March 2, 2017

Sylvia Hatchell

Paris Kea

Jamie Cherry

Conway, South Carolina

Syracuse - 83, UNC - 64.

SYLVIA HATCHELL: I was really proud of these kids, our whole team for battling and fighting hard through a lot of adversity with injured players and being very, very young out there. You know, of course with one junior, one sophomore and the rest of them are all freshmen, but the biggest difference was in the game was the second-chance points. Actually our field goal percentage was actually better than theirs, but it was just the rebounding and second-chance points that was the difference in the game.

But I'm proud of our kids, and we're going to work hard in the off-season. We lose no one, and we get some of these hurt and injured players back, and we've got a really good group coming in, class coming in next year, and so we're looking forward to working hard and getting back to being a great team next year.

Q. Coach, could you talk about the contributions that the freshmen have made to your team, not just to night but over the entirety of the season?
SYLVIA HATCHELL: Well, I'm sure the roles they've had to play is very different than what they expected. It's different than what I expected, too. But they've been thrown in the fire, especially like Taylor and I'm sure that Olivia never expected the situation that she was in. And then with Li-Li and Emily, all of them, they've had to play a lot of minutes, and they've been in the heat of the battle against some of the top-ranked teams in the country. But this can do nothing but help them. In the off-season they'll get stronger, get more physical, and they're young. I mean, and you look at the top teams in our league, they're very heavy with seniors, and we have none, and one junior.

So you know, the future is really great, especially as we get some players back healthy.

Q. As a follow-up to that question, with the injuries and the extreme youth, have you had to change very much your coaching style during the course of the season?
SYLVIA HATCHELL: Mm-hmm. If you noticed, we basically have had the philosophy lay-up or setup where we've always been a real up-tempo, fast-breaking team. So we've really tried to either -- if we had something off transition, but if not, we've tried to make the other team, we've tried to make their defense work and move the ball around a lot, and then also run some things -- especially those last several weeks for these two to get shots. They've taken most of our shots. Taylor has taken some. But we've really tried to, again -- I don't really want to say use the clock, but more, like I said, make the other team's defense, we're looking for them to have some mismatches or mistakes, and then we had things set, like I said, for mostly for these two to get most of the shots.

Basically it's worked pretty good, especially in the half court, because again, our shooting percentage was good. It's just I thought we got a little tired. But the rebounding was the biggest thing there. You know, so -- but considering our situation, I thought we've done a pretty good job really.

Q. Coach, you've got two great players next to you, but I couldn't help but be impressed by Olivia Smith playing really the entire game and guarding the Player of the Year. I think Peterson had 20 or more points in the first half, and I think she was fairly neutralized, so to speak, in the second half. My question is what was your thought process in doing that?
SYLVIA HATCHELL: Well, we didn't have anybody else to put on her (laughter).

No, Olivia is a great kid, and at halftime, I think Peterson had 20, and I challenged her to come out there and play good defense on her in the second half, which -- she's going to give you all she's got. She's going to stay on her. She was on her a lot.

And then Taylor was on 20, Sykes. She was on 20. And so those were the two players that we were trying to focus on the most.

But Olivia, she gets down and she's going to guard you and hustle. She's always going to hustle 100 percent the whole time.

But she did a great job, and that's what we ask her to do.

Q. Jamie, you had two huge nights here in the tournament, but you did go down and were on the floor for a little while. Are you okay? What happened there?
JAMIE CHERRY: I got undercut. I mean, I went back to the back and my trainer told me I had seven minutes so I basically just sucked it up even though I was in pain. My team needs me. It's kind of been that type of season. We're just trying to get back out there and fight to the end. It was very important to me.

Q. Jamie, could you talk about how this freshman class compares to other ones that you've seen at your time at UNC?
JAMIE CHERRY: I mean, I've seen two freshmen classes do some stuff, which they kind of play similar roles, both freshmen classes, because Steph and Des, they didn't know they were coming into the roles they had their freshman year having to play a lot of minutes and having to grow quickly, and I think that's kind of been the season for the freshmen this year having to grow quickly. And I think they took on the challenge and they've done fairly well over the course of the season stepping in and playing minutes and doing what they had to do in order for us to win.

Q. Paris, talk a little bit about what it's like to play with Jamie Cherry on your team.
PARIS KEA: Oh, it's amazing, great distributor, and definitely when I drive and kick to her, she helps me stack up on the assists. It's great. Takes a lot of pressure off of me.

Q. Coach, you guys were in the Elite 8 not that long ago, and now where you guys are at now, but looking forward to next year and what you will become, how do you contextualize this moment for UNC basketball, where you've been, where you are now and where you could be?
SYLVIA HATCHELL: Well, I think the future is exciting, especially because Jamie will be our only senior next year, and then our juniors, of course, will be Paris, and then we will have Stephanie and Destinee back, which they were both McDonald's All-Americans. As the year has gone by, first of all, when Hillary Fuller went out, we had to adjust to her being out, and all we had was the freshmen. And then just as soon as we started adjusting to that a little bit, then Destinee goes out. Well, then we had to adjust to that. And then another week or 10 days later, then Stephanie goes out.

So it's been hard for us to get some kind of consistency with who's going to be -- who can do what out there, and like I said, the young ones, we were starting three freshmen in most -- and they were playing like 40 minutes.

But again, with all these kids back and then with who we've got coming in, we've got a McDonald's All-American 6'4" center coming in that's really going to help us a lot. And then we've got a 6'2" kid that was South Carolina Player of the Year that's coming in. And then the kid on YouTube, the three-point shooter, Leah Church, which she was here tonight. So we've got some really good kids coming in, and then with the other ones that will hopefully -- and Jocelyn, Jocelyn Jones, I forgot about J.J. So that's another one. So we'll have -- you know, with the ones that were hurt and the new ones coming in, we're going to have six or seven really good players to add to all the rest of them that are back. So that's exciting.

But again, we've got to get some -- they've got to heal up. We've got some procedures, one is having one Saturday and another one in a couple of weeks, so they've got to have some procedures to help them get well in all that time.

But again, yes, last year was a little bit down year because of those kids that left, you know, because two years ago we -- I guess, what, Sweet 16 and finished top ten in the country there two years in a row, and then the kids that left because they thought the NCAA thing, which, again, I mean, I really can't make any statement about that. But it is what it is.

But yet I think our future is really, really bright because of who all we got coming back and the leadership that we'll have, especially from these two.

Q. How hard is it when you know that this could be the last game of your season and you're down late? How hard is it for the players to make sure that you're still giving it all you can and trying to those last few minutes give everything that you have?
SYLVIA HATCHELL: I didn't have any question that they would do that. In fact, that Jamie was able to come back, and I'm sure she's going to -- her back, because she got undercut pretty hard there. But the fact that Jamie came back out there, I mean, she's just so physically tough. Both of them are. They're just physically tough, and they love to compete and love to play.

I was really surprised that she was able to do that.

But knowing Jamie, I'm not surprised.

JAMIE CHERRY: I don't know. Coach said it great. But of course we're going to come out and compete hard. Honestly we weren't even thinking that this was our last game. Every minute that we play we think we're going to come back, and we compete hard every play. That's been the motive for especially me and Paris and the rest of the team the whole season. So yeah.

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