“I was proud of our guys [on Tuesday]. I really was. Going on the road, trying to get over the adversity that we faced Saturday night and the disappointment we faced Saturday night. To step up and have P.J. [Hairston] as hot as you can be in the first 12-to-14 minutes of the game and then for him to get hurt with Leslie [McDonald] already sitting back here in Chapel Hill. You know then we had Reggie [Bullock] getting hurt during the course of the game with a head-on-head collision with the other player and really struggling in the late stages of the game.
“But I was really proud of our team. The adversity that you face and trying to do it in front of somebody else’s crowd is something that we’ve struggled with this year. There’s no question about that. We had a few North Carolina fans there last night and they let the people from Boston know at the end and they got soundly booed when they stood up and started letting them know. I was very pleased with our kids.”
Can you take us through what happened with P.J. while he was down on the court?
“Yeah, Dexter [Strickland] screwed it up… That’s the bottom line [laughs. I went out and checked on P.J. and Dexter was still standing there and I said if you’d done what you’re supposed to do I wouldn’t have to be out here. Dexter was the help. He should have been in the middle of the lane crossing the lane then it never would have happened. All the time we say you’ve got to take care of each other. P.J. tried to make a big play and Dexter felt terrible about it. Dexter played probably one of his best defensive games of the year. It could have been Dexter… It could have been James Michael [McAdoo] but the bottom line is that a North Carolina player wasn’t where he was supposed to be.
“That gave the guy a straight cut to the basket and P.J. tried to make a good play. Dexter tried to recover late and really did a good job. Then he went up and his forearm or elbow caught P.J. right in the chin. His legs fly up and he hits the floor really, really hard. I couldn’t see the contact but I did see him when he was parallel to the floor. He didn’t hit his head on the floor. He did take a huge fall.
“It was a tough thing and it was definitely painful for him and it stunned him. It was like he was almost in shock a little bit. Needless to say, he had Boston College and their fans in a shock going 4-for-4 from the 3-point line up until that point.
“It was difficult. You get him up and you think okay, he’s okay now, then all of a sudden he almost collapses again there. That’s when they decided to bring out the stretcher. He was coherent. He could listen to you and understand but it was a very slow response. When they took him back in the training room with the doctor and the trainer from Boston College and the emergency medical people he really responded pretty well.
“He wasn’t going to be able to come back in and play, but he responded pretty doggone well. He slept a good bit during the night last night and this morning. He’s probably not going to play on Saturday but we’ll make that decision on Saturday. It’s Wednesday right now. Who knows? They did some of the concussion tests this afternoon and I think they’ll keep checking him and do more things. Chris [Hirth] will be with him tomorrow. Chris and Dr. [Tom] Brickner were with him this afternoon.”
Thoughts on P.J. Hairston’s improved play as of late:
“It’s a shame because he was 5-for-8 in Raleigh on Saturday night. He was 4-for-4 last night. Those are pretty good percentages anywhere much less the 3-point line. P.J. is a big-time shooter, but he’s really struggled shooting the ball in games on a consistent basis. Two or three games ago we played Maryland and he’s 1-for-8. But we’ve had games like UNLV where he was great offensively and great defensively and was the player of the game. He’s made some big time shots for us.
"Leaving the locker room Saturday night against North Carolina State, I almost started him in the second half. It’s something that he has been getting better and better. He’s averaging more minutes in ACC play than he was in non-conference play. He can really be a good defender. He can be an aggressive rebounder. I was dumbfounded watching tape with how active he was in those 12 minutes he played. He was getting to the boards. He was really doing a great job defensively much less hitting four threes.”
Have you seen Coach Dean Smith lately? How is he doing?
“I saw Coach Smith and said hello to him twice last week. Coach is struggling, there’s no question about that, but Coach will still every now and then get that gleam in his eye and knows what the heck is going on everywhere. And I saw him, in fact, I think it was Monday right before practice this week and I told him I was getting ready to go down to practice and his eyes lit up a little bit at that. But this is a tough thing he’s going through. So many people genuinely love the man and should do that. It’s a difficult time for him and his family, but I love seeing him when he comes by the office.”
Thoughts on the ACC and the emergence of Miami this season?
“You can say they’ve been a surprise but we knew they were going to be really good. When I say ‘we’ I’m talking about coaches because they have four guys that started for them last year returning who were very good. It’s crazy with the unbalanced schedule, which we all do not like. Miami is in first place and we play them twice. We play Duke twice. We play North Carolina State twice. We play Virginia twice. And we play the teams at the bottom once. The bottom line is that it’s the ACC and you better be ready to play every night.”
Thoughts on Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes being named to the NBA Rising Stars Game?
“I’m really happy for Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes for being able to make that game even though it puts a little cramp in our plans because we were going to honor Tyler Zeller that weekend.”