March 11, 2005
Recap | Box Score
Clemson Head Coach Oliver Purnell I’m proud of the way our team played here at the tournament. We played pretty well against Maryland, winning convincingly. We played well today for 37 minutes against North Carolina, arguably the best team in the country or the second-best team in the country. My hat goes off to these guys. They have come a long way to be playing at that level. Obviously, we are very disappointed we didn’t close the deal here to advance. I feel we will be playing some more basketball. We have more room to improve, but these guys deserve respect. They are playing at a high level and have become a good basketball team. I’m not sure they are getting the respect they deserve.
(On shot selection during the last four minutes) We definitely tightened up. We turned it over in the backcourt, we turned it over in the frontcourt and we didn’t take very good shots. North Carolina had everything to do with that. They really turned up their pressure defense. It all got started coming out of a timeout. We broke the press and turned it over in the frontcourt. That is one of those four-point swings. In this kind of game that is everything. Instead of having an opportunity to score and get to the free throw line they go down and score. That changes the working margin. Obviously it motivated them more. They turned up the pressure. We didn’t handle it very well.
(On turnaround of Clemson team since loss at North Carolina in February) I give these guys all the credit in the world. They have been a resilient team all year long. We had our heads handed to us at North Carolina. That could have been an opportunity to get down on ourselves. They choose the opportunity to elevate our game. We learned our lessons, regrouped and came to Maryland to win. They have been playing at this level since then. That is why I want these guys to get the respect they deserve. They have worked extremely hard under tough circumstances. In this league, no one lets up. They got themselves up and crawled off the deck.
Clemson Guard Cliff Hammonds There were times where they made a run and we fought back hard. They went on a run at the end and we just did not fight back hard enough. If we had fought back harder we could have held them off.
Clemson Forward Olu Babalola It is a disappointing loss. If we could have knocked down more foul shots to extend our lead it could have been a different outcome. This is real disappointing right now.
Clemson Guard Shawan Robinson (On North Carolina’s comeback) We just got tight. We had them tight and they were making mistakes. When we were up five we were playing like we were just trying to hold the lead rather than just keep attacking. They just took advantage of it. They’re a real good team.
(On center Sharrod Ford) Sharrod’s been our anchor all year. He’s been averaging almost a double-double. He’s been our anchor emotionally and on the court, so he’s had a real good career here, and it’s not over yet. I think we’ll still get an NIT bid.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams That was a weird basketball game to say the least. To shoot 39 percent and win the game, I think it had a lot to do with the will of this team and the will of these two guys up here (Raymond Felton and Jawad Williams). When it was a 10 or 11 point game I made that crazy substitution just so that I could talk to the guys a minute. Jawad was the one guy I left in because I had talked to him before so I left in there with some guys that hadn’t played. I told him I just need to get the rest of the guys together and talk to them for a minute and then I would put them back in with him. He comes up with a big steal at the center line, goes down, gets fouled and makes the free throw. Next possession we score and all of the sudden it’s a five point game, so I think it was at that time our guys realized that there was still enough time left in the game and what we needed to do was keep playing every single possession. I didn’t think we had done that up until that time.
(On Felton taking over) Raymond didn’t just take over the game by himself at the end of the game. He played like we practice a lot of times. Clemson played a great game, but they have respect for the other weapons so they’re not going to rush in to stop Raymond’s penetration and allow him to pitch it out to Rashad, Marvin or Jawad, who can make the outside shot, so that’s part of our offense – Raymond’s penetration. I think he really did force it two or three times in a row after we made those two big plays. I would like to tell you that I had some big plan when I made that crazy substitution, but I was searching. I don’t mind saying that. Whatever we were doing wasn’t working. I just wanted to tell those guys that were in the game that there was still plenty of time left and to just be ready to compete.
(On his first ACC Tourrnament win) I told the guys before the game that there wasn’t a single one of them that had ever won an ACC Tournament game. I told them that it should be extremely important to them and I didn’t think it was a much early on in the game because Clemson was the aggressor and we weren’t. Our defense has been slipping the last few games, but I loved our toughness and competitiveness there at the end. Our defense has to get better.
North Carolina junior center Jawad Williams I think we did a great job of keeping our poise. They (Clemson) played a great game today. Guys like Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants stepped up big for us down the stretch and that really made the difference for us.
(On the return of Rashad McCants) He played great. He hit some big threes for us and he gives us another scoring weapon out there. The defense has to focus on Rashad when he’s on the floor, so that frees other people up. It freed me up.
North Carolina junior guard Raymond Felton Tough game … I think that sums it up. Clemson has been playing their best ball towards the end of the season, so my hat’s off to them. They made us play a great game. We just decided at the end of that game that we were going to play harder and get that win.
(On experience in big games helping today) That definitely helped us. We knew that we were down nine points with two minutes left against Duke and came back to win that game. So we knew that no matter what we could still be in it. We were down nine or 12 points, but there were 10 minutes left so we knew we had enough time and continued to play hard.
North Carolina junior Rashad McCants (On the toughest part of being out) Watching the games. Watching things that I felt like I could be doing on the court, like contributing and helping the team. But, I think the team did a great job without me. They were able to get key wins, especially against Duke.
North Carolina junior Sean May (On his second half offensive struggles) I just wasn’t putting the ball in the hole. It wasn’t anything I was doing different. It was a tough battle in there and I had a tough time finishing plays.
(On the second half comeback) When we were coming back, coach said not to look at the score, just look at the time. Just make plays and get stops. There was a six-minute span where we didn’t even look at the score. We didn’t know what the score was, and the next thing you know we’re up two.
Raymond led us back. His will and his play tonight were incredible.
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