“We were not pleased at all, not satisfied, not happy about the way we played Saturday night, and yet you have to congratulate North Carolina State. They kicked our tails every which way it can be kicked. They were better in every phase of the game, more attentive, greater sense of urgency, and everything…” (Coach Williams’ opening quotes from his Monday ACC Teleconference)
I can’t say I disagree with Coach’s statements following the performance in Raleigh. The most frustrating part about this loss, outside of my obnoxious NC State friends, was the apparent lack of urgency. One thing Coach Williams’ teams are known for is transition offense. Typically we are the ones running at light speed up and down the court and beating our opponents to the opposite end of the floor. On Saturday, it felt like we were in slow motion. When we finally managed to slow State down and force a turnover, we seemed to simply cough it back up. When we forced them into a missed shot, they got the rebound. State had 12 offensive rebounds to our 23 defensive rebounds. Their starters out rebounded our team. They had 9 steals to our 6. They shot 49.2% from the floor to our 46.5%. They were 53.8% from three to our 36.4%. They MADE 20 free throws, we ATTEMPTED 10. The list seems to go on and on… what it boils down to is that we simply didn’t show up to play. It’s great that we had a late game comeback, but in reality, I would like to forget that blunder and just move on.
After this performance, Coach was asked about PJ’s Hairston’s minutes in the State game.
“P.J. Hairston has played well offensively the past couple of games, yet he’s only played 17 minutes in each of those. What do you think is holding him back from seeing more time?”
“Foul trouble, I think, in the game before. I think he and James Michael both had two fouls early in the first half. That was part of it. And then the other thing, if you go back the last two games, J.P. Tokoto has played probably his best two games. And so it’s not just P.J.’s right to be out there on the floor. Saturday I got so mad at him when he’s going after a loose ball and a North Carolina State player runs from behind him and dives for the loose ball when P.J.’s trying to pick it up. I just can’t stomach those kinds of things. I keep giving guys chances even when they do something like that, but there is no question that’s the reason he sat out for a long time on Saturday.”
This was posted on the Inside Carolina message board under the title “RoyW on P.J. Hairston’s Minutes (Updated)”, and the last time I checked, this post had been viewed 11,778 times and 479 people had replied with their interpretation of Coach Williams’ comments. I quickly remembered why I stopped reading the message boards. Ignore the comment about foul trouble and what was said about Tokoto… After perusing the first page of responses, it was clear that everyone interpreted this comment as “I took PJ out of the game because he turned the ball over.” My interpretation is, “that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
When there is a 50/50 ball rolling on the floor, it’s unacceptable to simply bend over and try to pick it up. In my experience, from as early as Junior Pro leagues in Lexington, KY when I was 8, you were taught to dive on the floor for a loose ball. I specifically remember my coach sitting us all down in the stairwell of the gym at halftime of a game and slamming a ball on the floor. He asked each of us individually to demonstrate how we would go after the ball. After several players stood up from the stairs and tried to grab the ball, Rod Napier dove from the first step and tackled the ball on the floor. Lesson learned. If you weren’t the one diving, you weren’t going to get it, and you’re the one most likely to get hurt when someone takes your legs out! When Carolina hits the floor with zero intensity and someone doesn’t make an aggressive play when the opportunity presents itself, I’ve got a secret for you… they’re coming out of the game. It didn’t have anything to do with a turnover.
Not that I’m biased or like to see our team go down big, but I was hoping to see the Blue Team hit the court in the first half at the PNC Arena!