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November 29, 2002

Matt Doherty


MATT DOHERTY: Our guys are trying to learn how to cut down nets and hopefully we get to do that a few times this year. I said this the other day, how proud I am of the guys. Jawad Williams, the guy who doesn't get a trophy for All Tournament or anything like that but his defense in the last two days has been terrific. And his leadership and selflessness, it's just what Carolina basketball is all about. To be here in Madison Square Garden New York City, winning preseason NIT. For a kid to grow up in Long Island is pretty damn special. So I am just proud of our team. Very fortunate and hopefully we can continue to grow. We played well and I think Stanford didn't make a lot of shots but I still think we could even play better, knock on wood.

Q. Are you at all surprised it's kind of come together as quickly as it might seem?

MATT DOHERTY: I don't know. I have been asked that question and I don't know if "surprised" is a good word. Happy. I don't want to say surprised because that's -- that's something -- most people didn't think we were going to beat David Cason and most people didn't think we were going to win this tournament. I am proud of our guys. They really can play basketball. It's just a good team because Sean May didn't have his best game. Rashad, although he scored 18 points, got in some foul trouble. Jackie Manual scored some points but his defense has been really special and guys coming off the bench are doing their thing, and it's just been fun. It has been a lot of fun.

Q. What is the difference from last year; you, the players; how can you explain it.

MATT DOHERTY: I think we can guard people a little bit better. Our team speed and quickness is pretty good. I think as a result every night you can count on good defense, you hope, offensively may turn the ball over, you may miss some shots, but the team may try to slow you down, throw in a zone, do whatever. But defense, you hope you can bring that every night. Knock on wood, we have been pretty good defensively most of the games we played.

Q. Seems to be a chemistry that goes well beyond just five games at this point. What do you attribute that to?

MATT DOHERTY: I think we have good kids. You try to recruit not only talented players but kids with high character. Raymond Felton was highly touted as a recruit. He's a "yes, sir," "no, sir" kind of kid. Raymond is all about winning. When I talked with him in my preseason meetings I said, "What are your goals for this season." Some kids would rattle off "I want to be all ACC," this and that. He says, "Coach, I just want to win." That's pretty cool when a kid like Raymond tells you that. Sean May tells you the same thing. They just want to win. They are a competitive group. It was a really good chance to bond over the summer. I think they played more pick-up games this fall in a while so they have a good feel for each other. They understand the game. They are smart players. They listen. They trust. They believe and those are basics in any relationship; listening, my wife doesn't think I listen real well but I hope, I trust and believe. But these kids listen. They trust us as coaches, and they believe in what we're trying to do.

Q. Have you ever seen a group of young players seem so unafraid about playing so many minutes for a storied program?

MATT DOHERTY: I guess the first group that comes -- yes, I guess I have. But I think this is some of these kids are pretty special. They are not in awe. This is a big stage against big teams and I think they enjoyed being in this situation.

Q. It sounds to me like you are saying this is more than just basketball town. There's and a maturity --

MATT DOHERTY: I think they have certainly a maturity and a basketball maturity. Sean May knows how to play the game. Growing up his dad Scott May, grew up around the game and he has a great, great feel. Rashad has a great great feel. Raymond has a great great feel. David Noel great great feel. Then the other -- the sophomores and the seniors, I think the sophomores have really grown, Jackie's defense has been fantastic. Matt Lottich was one of 8, you know, and that was his primary responsibility. He's had some tough players and Jackie is a guy that I wouldn't want guarding me.

Q. Some concern for physicality that maybe he doesn't have that might show up -- intensity --

MATT DOHERTY: Definitely concerned about that. I have talked about that a lot. Look at the rebound totals 18 offensive rebounds. That concerns me. 46 rebounds to our 31. That certainly concerns me, yes, and there's only so much we can do. Jawad has got to get stronger and fight in the post. I think Rashad McCants needs to do a better job on the boards. Only 3 rebounds. Needs to do a better job rebounding the basketball. We need to rebound the ball as a team. Byron Sanders as he continues to grow and hopefully Damion Grant continues to grow. If those guys grow then we have got some beef.

Q. Have you found yourself already kind of stepping away from -- they are already kind of a semi-veteran team?

MATT DOHERTY: I don't know. We have only had five games. These are new experiences for these teams, to have to control some tempo against a team like Kansas, to come from behind against a team like Rutgers to go on the road and play Old Dominion to open up their arena. I think there have been a lot of opportunities to learn and grow. Fortunately we have had a chance to do that through wins. But they are quick studies. They learn quickly. They have good high basketball IQ.

Q. Carolina has always had high expectations, as long as before you were there, long ago. Now you are back in the national spotlight; people are going to talk about you again. What is reasonable --

MATT DOHERTY: I hope we're not ranked and I hope we can just go through and win a lot of basketball games. I don't care about the rankings. I just want to play basketball and those things become distractions. The expectations, the rankings, I could care less about that stuff. We have won five games. We're very fortunate to win five games. We need to get better. We're going on the road playing Illinois, and Kentucky at home, I don't know anybody that has got a tougher schedule and having to deal with it with such a young group. I talked to you the other night about being paranoid. As a coach you are paranoid. We won, expectations, you guys are going to write some good things which you should. We're a good team, but you know, you know how it goes. So we have to continue to go forward. Coach Williams would always say you could be on the right track but if you are standing still you are going to get run over.

End of FastScripts...

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