Work in Sports
In a position to win
Posted: Friday February 04, 2000 04:48 PM
Sylvia Hatchell coached North Carolina to a national championship in 1994. The Tar Heels finished the 1998-99 regular season 24-6 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. North Carolina is currently 11-10. Check out Hatchell's diary every other week on CNNSI.com.
February 4, 2000
Well, we're coming off a big game at NC State last night. We lost 86-76 and you never want to feel good about a loss, but the fact is that we played a pretty good game there. We only had three turnovers in the first half, 10 for the game. We know there are a couple of areas that we can improve in, like rebounding, that made the difference in that game. We feel like we put ourselves in a position to win by leading at halftime (41-40) and having the lead in the second half, but we've just got to do a little bit more to pull games like that out.
I do feel like we're on an upswing. There were times last night when we had extreme intensity and we looked like the Carolina teams of old. I think the players feel good about the way they played and they're looking forward to the upcoming games. We've got four of our next six games at home as we finish the regular season, starting with Virginia on Monday night. We know that's going to be a major, major game for us.
As far as our chances of making the NCAA Tournament, the committee always looks at your last 10 games. I feel like if we can really come on strong here at the end, play well, win a lot of these games and make a strong showing in the tournament, we'll have a good chance for a bid. But, that's still a long way off. We've got a lot to do to achieve that.
It's great to have Nikki Teasley back in the lineup. She was on a leave of absence from the team and missed seven games, but has played in our last two. She hasn't been starting, but has done some nice things for us. She's still not back to her old self as far as her aggressiveness on offense and defense, but I feel like as she gets out there more, her intensity level will pick up. She's still trying to get back into the flow of things and help the team by getting the ball to different people. I think she'll step up even more as she gets more comfortable being back out there.
To look on the bright side, some of our freshman guards were able to get great experience while Nikki was gone and they're really playing well. Cherie Lea only played 11 minutes last night, but she was 3-of-5 from the floor with only one turnover. She's doing a much better job of getting the team organized. In the first and the second half, we made our runs with her in there. Coretta Brown is feeling much more comfortable out there, too. They're playing so well that they're really pushing the older perimeter players. I'm seeing a lot of positive things from those young players.
Overall, our goal has been just to keep working hard and keep getting better. We want to improve every time out -- that's what we've tried to keep our focus on. We know we're in the ballpark, we've just got to get our consistency back. We feel good about what we're doing right now. Our practices have been shorter, but very intense. We're just trying to stay focused and realize the best for this season is yet to come.
-- Coach Hatchell