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March 23, 2013

Tar Heel starters talk Jayhawks

North Carolina's entire starting five (Dexter Strickland, Reggie Bullock, James Michael McAdoo, Marcus Paige, and P.J. Hairston, spoke with reporters Saturday afternoon, the day before the 25-10 Tar Heels take on top-seeded Kansas in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.


James Michael, when the lineup switch happened, how did your role and responsibilities change?


JAMES MICHAEL McADOO: I think the biggest thing was playing the center position, I was going to have to block shot more, really have to pick up the rebounding. With that, offense. A lot of screens have to be set. Being the center, that's really one of my primary, you know, things I have to do on offense, getting open. Now that we having four other shooters on the court, makes my job a lot easier.


You're playing Kansas, played them last year in the tournament as well. What are your lasting recollections of that game?


JAMES MICHAEL McADOO: I mean, it was a hard‑fought game. It hurts that we lost. We didn't have Kendall, but we still had an opportunity to win the game even without him.

They're a great team. They're not the same team they were last year. But it was a competitive game, so that was the big thing I remember.

REGGIE BULLOCK: We fought hard last year. This year we're matched up against them again. We just have to go out and get our face back. It was a pretty good team last year. Like Mac said, they're not the same team they was this year. They got Withey down low, blocking a lot of shots.

As a team, they score the ball a lot of different ways. We just have to go out and compete a lot different than we did last year.


James Michael, I wanted to ask you about Withey, what you remember last year or what you've seen on tape this year. Is there a difference in how he plays?


JAMES MICHAEL McADOO: I know last year he was still a good shot‑blocker. But I feel like going to the game last year, we didn't really look at that as one of the biggest things we were worried about. But definitely this year knowing that they have him down there, I think he's, if not leading the nation in blocked shots, he's really comfortable with that.

I feel like he's great on the offensive end, too. His teammates look to find him. I think that's a big thing that we just need to limit his touches deep in the post.


Considering some of the places you've played this year, the reception you usually get when you go on the road, is playing Kansas in Kansas City that big of a deal?


P.J. HAIRSTON: Well, I'm pretty sure it has something to do with it 'cause that's most of their fan base. I don't know how far Lawrence is from here, but I'm pretty sure it's closer for everyone to get here.

I feel like their crowd will be a big part of their game. That will be like the sixth man on the court.

MARCUS PAIGE: Yeah, we've played in some hostile environments this year. We got to go to Indiana, that was a crazy game. At NC State was crazy this year. Even Cameron, like it always is. We're used to hostile environments largely against us.

It hopefully won't have much effect on the game. We just have to worry about what's happening on the court.


Jeff Withey said last night they're mainly a defensive team, they did that last year. From watching them, what do they do on defense that tends to slow the game down a little bit?


REGGIE BULLOCK: I feel like they play a saggy defense. They don't really get out and deny the ball. They try to make you get out of your sets, limiting touches to the bigs down low.

Last year, you know, they just fought hard on the defensive end. They took us out of things we wanted to run. Hopefully this year will be a better outcome.

JAMES MICHAEL McADOO: Like Reggie said, the first thing coach said when we were talking about them is they're the No.1 defensive team in the nation. They just do a lot of things really good. Just try to limit touches, take you out of what you're comfortable running, I guess that leads to a lot of turnovers. They do a great job of rebounding the basketball as well, just limiting you to one shot.


For any of the wing players, Kansas has been beaten a few times or susceptible from the outside, three‑pointers and the like. Considering you do that pretty well, how do you feel you match up on the outside?


REGGIE BULLOCK: I feel like we match up pretty solid against them for the wings. We can score the ball from the outside. They can score from the outside. Talent‑wise on the wings, I feel we match up comfortably.

DEXTER STRICKLAND: I think they're a great team. We're a great team also. I don't think there's a disadvantage or anything. We just got to be ready to play.


Dexter, if it's one of those days where the three‑pointers aren't going down, is there a Plan B?


DEXTER STRICKLAND: I think we're a good enough team to have another option. Go down low in the post. With the shooters we have, I think it allows the floor to open up, so myself, Marcus, being aggressive, going to the basket, getting easy buckets like that, is something we can do, so...


Last year against Kansas you really struggled from three. I think you were 2‑17. Do you remember why it was you struggled?


REGGIE BULLOCK: I felt like last year we was missing open shots we usually make. Like you said, we went 2‑17 from the three‑point arc. We had a lot of open looks we missed. Hopefully this year it will just be better when we out there shooting the three.

P.J. HAIRSTON: From what I remember last year, Kansas did make it an ugly game for us. Like Reggie said, we did miss some shots down the stretch. That's when Kansas went on their little run and expanded the lead for them, hit some big shots.
That's pretty much what I remember.


Dexter, I don't know if it will be you on McLemore. What makes him such a dangerous defensive guy?


DEXTER STRICKLAND: I think you have to ask Reggie. He'll be guarding him tomorrow.

REGGIE BULLOCK: I'm just up for the challenge. I mean, I drew that assignment for the defense. I'm just up for the challenge to be able to contain him. We have a similar game. I just got to limit his touches from getting wide‑open jumpers. Just going to be my challenge tomorrow on the defensive end. I'm just ready for it.


James Michael and Marcus, you've played some really good defensive teams this year in the ACC. This won't be necessarily a big shock going against a team like that. What have you learned since going small what this offense can do against quality defense abundance?


JAMES MICHAEL McADOO: Probably the biggest thing that coach really emphasizes is taking it possession by possession, limiting just bad shots, you know, 'cause when you're playing such a good team, bad shots and turnovers just lead to run‑outs for them.

So that's probably the two biggest things we've learned. Really just taking our time in everything we do. Everything we do, just execute.
MARCUS PAIGE: I would say being a little bit more patient instead of taking early shots. Being smart with the ball, driving, trying to set up our teammates. We've been playing unselfish lately, that's been helping.

Against Virginia, we put up 90. We had some of our better offensive games against Maryland. It's not surprising to us to play against a team that has a good defensive field goal percentage. We just have to do what we do best, that's move the ball, share the ball, and take good shots.




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