UVA coach Tony Bennett talks with reporters after the Cavs’ 53-43 win over #5 North Carolina.
On the defensive performance compared to the previous game: “I think it started with how we got into the ball. We were more active in pressuring the ball. We didn’t turn it over, so they didn’t get as many run-ons. We took care of the ball and then we got back. We’re just really active and connected. They probably didn’t have their best game, but I think we ran our offense really hard. It all played into it. I don’t know if that fatigued them at all. We didn’t let them get too many transitions. You have to do everything well because they’re such a potent team. The post trap was good and then there were some great times that we were defending at the rim, with 8 blocked shots. We were active at the rim to hustle and fight to come up with enough loose balls.”
On Virginia’s shooting tonight: “We need that. We’re going to have to make outside shots, because that’s just who we are. Kyle banked one in the first half, which we’ll take, and they banked one in too. I said at halftime that was fair. Guy’s playing with more freedom, moving hard, and had some good pump fakes. London obviously hit that big one at the top of the key. We needed it all. We got some good rolls, and the crowd was incredible. That was one of the better ones we’ve had. They saw us lay it on the line, and some people probably don’t like that, because it was low scoring. That’s the only way we’re going to beat a team like Carolina.”
On the past game against Carolina and today’s younger starting lineup: “We knew we just weren’t tough enough defensively down there. It was hard. Offensively, we were squirting up some early shots and not getting quality shots. They defended well. Then, we made some shots. When you make your shots – that makes the biggest difference. I thought we had more purpose in our cuts, our screens and our offense. We stayed true to that. We were much better on the ball. We didn’t know if this would give us the win, but we knew it was the way we had to do it.”
On Perrantes’ and Guy’s defensive efforts: “I thought London chased really well. He beat screens and tried to bother shots. I thought Kyle did really well, too. We made a commitment about three or two weeks ago to be a better defensive team by the end of the year. We just have to be better with our slides, tighter in our gaps, and we’re committing to that. We have to stay in games and stay attached. Our defense kept us attached and helped us find just enough offense. Those two did a nice job, as did the other guys.”
On the team’s ball security tonight: “We said before this, ‘This is the time of year where softness does not work.’ Everything needs to be met with two hands. We need to be as sharp as we can and not make home run plays. Make the play that’s in front of you, and keep pounding away offensively. I thought our guys were attentive to that. I think our guys had a mindset about taking care of the ball and completing the pass. To only have 4 turnovers in a game like that is significant.”
On the starting lineups’ height: “We said before this, ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.’ We wanted to scrap and trap the post. Offensively, we wanted to stretch it out. The four-guard lineup gave us a different look, but we went back to our traditional in the second half, which served us better. We were trying to loosen some things up and see if it would work.”
On the increase in playing time for freshmen: “I just thought it was time. They know they have to defend and take care of the ball. They’ve grown in their game and their understanding. Hopefully they’re fresher and they’re ready to go at the end of the year.”