Saturday, March 12, 2022
Brooklyn, New York, USA
North Carolina Tar Heels
Postgame Press Conference
Virginia Tech – 72, North Carolina – 59
THE MODERATOR: We’re now joined by North Carolina head coach Hubert Davisstudent-athlete Armando Baccot. We’re going to go ahead and open up the floor for questions.
Q Coach, the 9-0 run to start the second half sort of seemed to knock you guys on your heels and it was kind of hard to recover. What happened in that spurt, and what are your thoughts about how your team did not recover there?
HUBERT DAVIS: We just — in the second half, we had talked about halftime, just coming out strong on both ends of the floor, just getting defensive stops, getting the shots that we want on the offensive end, just doing a better job executing. I felt like in the first half everything was difficult, everything was hard, and we were all very encouraged about starting the second half and trying to change things around. It just didn’t happen.
We made some mistakes defensively. On the offensive end, we turned the ball over and didn’t get the shots we wanted, and they were able to capitalize. Just really have to congratulate Virginia Tech. They played well tonight, and they were extremely the better team tonight.
Q Hubert, with Virginia Tech switching screens, I know they did that during the regular season as well, how did that impact your team shooting 3 of 26 from three?
HUBERT DAVIS: Well, particularly in the first half, I felt like we got good looks from three. We just missed them. Then in the second half, I felt a lot of our threes were contested and were forced. They were switching a lot. Their physicality bothered us.
One of the things we talked about was attacking the basket through post or penetration. Because they were switching so much, we felt like we could attack the basket, score, or be able to get fouled and get to the free-throw line, and we weren’t able to do that as well.
So at the beginning of the game, at the 16-minute mark, I told the guys, okay, let’s settle down. I felt like maybe they were a little bit nervous. Then there were parts of the game maybe I felt like they were a little bit tired.
But one of the things I said after the game is I don’t want them to be discouraged, I want them to be encouraged. I know that we’re disappointed that we did not play better and we did not win tonight, but over the last month and a half, two months, I can’t tell you how proud I am of this group. I mean, I told them I remember that bus ride coming back from at Wake Forest, and to think that at that point that this group, led by Armando, we won 12 out of 15. Just as a team, perseverance and fight, and I’m proud to be their coach.
Q Kind of going off the three-point shooting, I know you guys were down by, I guess, a sizable margin early in the second half. But was there any moment when you decided to sort of abandon the three-point game, or was that sort of something you had to live and die by at that point?
HUBERT DAVIS: No, I don’t think there was a situation to abandon the three-point shot. We were just trying to get good shots. It was just very difficult against Virginia Tech’s defense to consistently get great shots. I mean, Armando was 9 of 10 from the field, but it was just very difficult to get the ball into him. They did a great job being physical with him, and as soon as they caught it, they double-team — and this was the first time that they had done this to us. In the previous two times, their double-team came from the opposite side from the baseline.
So at times that disrupted us, and it’s something that we’ll learn from and grow and be better at when another team does that.
Q Armando, kind of piggy-backing off of that, can you kind of take us through what it was like when they were coming with the doubles? How hard was it to anticipate where the pass was supposed to go or even who was coming to make that double?
ARMANDO BACOT: Yeah, it was a little weird. It was more of a unique double-team from what I’ve seen, just them coming from the baseline, and then they kind of zoned up on the weak side. Early on, a lot of my reads, it kind of threw off my timing on passes and stuff just because they did a good job on the weak side playing between two men. It’s kind of hard, and I like going baseline a lot, so it definitely affected a lot of things we were trying to get into.
Q Hubert, what was it about Virginia Tech’s four-guard lineup that presented a challenge for you guys tonight?
HUBERT DAVIS: With their small lineup, there was always an opportunity where there was one of our bigs guarding their guards. And Virginia Tech is a little bit different from the standpoint they were getting the switches, and their guards aren’t necessarily one-on-one, taking you out on the perimeter. Now Armando, now Brady are having to guard perimeter players coming off of down screens and DHOs. Those are things they don’t necessarily do very much.
So that put us in a different situation, put our bigs in guarding differently. So at times we had to go small, but I love Brady and Armando in the game, and so that small lineup bothered us.
Q Armando, can you describe the disappointment of being eliminated, particularly after playing so well the last few games?
ARMANDO BACOT: Yeah, it was disappointing just because we came in with the thought of winning the championship. But like Coach said, I’m still encouraged, though, because we’ve done a good job all year just responding to adversity. We’re all confident in ourselves. We’re just moving on to the next step, and we’re just ready for the tournament. We’ll come prepared.
Q Hubert, you mentioned you got a sense that maybe the guys started to get a little bit tired. Did you mean that more in the physical sense with fatigue and having to play a back-to-back game or more of the emotional sense what the last week has meant for you guys, or a little bit of both?
HUBERT DAVIS: No, it was all physical. The starters play big minutes, and back-to-back high level games aren’t really friendly to starters that play big minutes. Also, the two teams that we played, both of them from an offensive standpoint, they have a lot of movement, and they don’t shoot quick shots. So you’re playing long defensive possessions.
So we played two unbelievably quality opponents back to back, our starters played big minutes. And both of these teams, it’s probably the worst two teams that we can play because of their movement and how much, how hard you have to work on every possession. So it just — but again, I do want to congratulate Virginia Tech. They were the better team tonight, and they just were.
Q Armando, you guys scored nine straight points and cut the lead to 11 with a lot of time still left. Then Mutts scored and Maddox had the four-point play. Could you kind of go through that sequence, and how deflating was that to get that within almost 11 points and then have it balloon back up to 17 so quickly?
ARMANDO BACOT: Yeah, it was tough at the moment because we were trying to make a run. But Virginia Tech, I said it at the beginning of the year, ACC media, I thought they were a top three team in the conference. I believe they are a tournament team. So sometimes when you’re playing good teams like that, they just make shots and respond well.
It’s something to learn from, but hey, it is what it is.
Q Armando, you guys have been playing confident down the stretch of the regular season. Do you think tonight at all affects any of that, that confidence for the NCAA Tournament, and what would you say you guys’ overall mindset is heading into this next part of the season?
ARMANDO BACOT: No, I don’t think that affected our confidence at all. They just played a great game. They made shots. They’re a tough team. It’s hard to beat a good team three times in a row, but we feel good about where we’re at right now. We’re ready for Sunday to figure out what we can play, and I feel like we’re in a good spot.
Q Hubert, you’ve already mentioned a couple things, but anything else you thought Tech did better or differently in the two regular season games?
HUBERT DAVIS: Well, I thought their bench played a lot better. I don’t know the exact statistics, but in the first two matchups, even though Darius Maddox is an outstanding player, they didn’t really outscore us very much from the bench. So 30-6 bench points, that’s significant. I don’t know if that was Maddox’s career high, but it has to be close.
Coming off the bench having that type of performance, you talked about we cut it to 11 and he hit that four-point play on the three, he was really good tonight, and I thought that it was a huge difference maker in Virginia Tech this time as opposed to the first two times that we played.
Q Armando, you’ve had some great battles with Keve Aluma over the last few seasons. I was curious, is there anything specific about his skill set that you’ve noticed that makes him a tough matchup down low?
ARMANDO BACOT: I would say he does a good job of drawing fouls. A lot of times, it puts me in a tough position guarding him because when I’m playing straight up, he does a good job of using his body and getting me to foul him. Also, so much misdirection to get him the ball, like cross screens, and he can shoot the ball too. It’s a lot different guarding him than a lot of other players.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports