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November 27, 2002

Nick Collison

Roy Williams


COACH WILLIAMS: It was not a good night, to say the least. They were more focused, they were more alert. They were hungrier. Every way you want to describe the team, they were better than we were. Their coach did a much better job of coaching their team than I did coaching my team. Somebody said that it meant more to them because of where they are, and that's an excuse. It shouldn't mean more to them than it does to us. But they were so much more alert than we were in every aspect of the game. We try to say that we make a living on our pressure defense and we didn't pressure the ball, and we didn't deny the passes, and we didn't stop the drive either. There is not anything we did on the defensive end of the floor that made us look like a good basketball team. I wanted our big guys to be challenged around the basket more, and this is the first time they have been challenged around the basket. I've been concerned about our bench, and our bench didn't give us anything tonight, and our starters didn't give us anything, either. It's one way that we were a team effort; that no one played as well as we wanted them to play. And if I just don't focus on that and don't focus on anything else, I think you fail to congratulate North Carolina for what they did. They executed their game plan the way Matt wanted them to do it. It was something that he made a decision to try to spread us and try to make some back doors and they got the back doors, again because we didn't have good pressure and did not do all of the things we were supposed to do defensively. Again, I congratulate them because their players were outstanding and they deserved to win the game. They were by far the better team and he was by far the better coach tonight.

Q. How can you reasonably expect a group of freshmen and sophomores to perform as well as they did in a Madison Square Garden crowd? Could you foresee a performance like this?

COACH WILLIAMS: I've said the last three or four years, freshmen in college basketball are not like they used to be. They are more worldly, they are more traveled, they have done so many things, played on different things. It's not like 15, 20 years ago, freshmen came in and they were scared to death. It's not even like 10 years ago. They are very gifted. Last year we had three freshmen that were sensational for us down the stretch, even in the run to the Final Four, but I tried to tell our team that they will be focused, they will be really alert. It will be a huge, huge game for them. I think that it was and it should have been for us more than it was.

Q. You mentioned being outcoached tonight. Can you talk about your opinion of the job Matt is doing, particularly in light of the heat that he took last year?

COACH WILLIAMS: Well, last year was an unfortunate year for Matt, more so than everybody but unfortunate for everybody who is a Tar Heel fan, including me. 8-20 is not what you want to go through but at the same time, he is a tough guy. He's a classy guy. I knew that he would be tough enough to handle it. That kind of situation has helped him and helped the team be even more focused on everything that he's trying to do right now. He said on one of the media sources, I don't know if it's TV or radio where I heard this, he said those freshmen do a great job of listening, and then trying to do exactly what he wants them to do. I think he's just trying to praise them, not making a cut that last year's group did, but that's a great quality to have. It was tough on him last year and at the same time, they are very focused right now and very gifted. When you have both of those, that's a good situation to have. For us, I think we are gifted but we were not focused tonight like we needed to be and Matt did a great job. Again, I'm extremely disappointed in the way we played but at the same time if you just talk about that, you don't give him and his staff and his players credit for what they did.

Q. Was this a wake-up call game for Kansas, do you think?

COACH WILLIAMS: I've been disappointed in some of the things that's gone on recently in our practices and our preparations, and I had hoped that we didn't have to have this kind of wake-up call, but, I guess we'll find out in the next three or four weeks. We played -- what I feel like is probably the toughest, if not the toughest, at least one of the toughest schedules in the country. If we play like we did tonight, it doesn't make any difference if it's a wake-up call or not. If we bounce back and focus on what we are doing and get guys that are in that starting lineup to do the little things that I talked to them about doing, we have a chance to come back and be a very good basketball team.

Q. Were you guys taken aback at the way they kept going at you guys?

NICK COLLISON: No, we knew they were very good players. We just didn't play. We didn't defend like Coach said we didn't deny, but we didn't press on the drive and that means we were not ready to play. Coach takes a lot of responsibility for the loss, but it's definitely the players' fault. We didn't come to play. The game plan was great as it always is. We just didn't come to play. I take a lot of responsibility for that, not getting the guys ready to go. But we are going to turn it around. We are going to be ready to play the next game.

Q. Before the game, you and Coach Doherty both said things along the lines of, it's hard to win this game because either guy has to lose. Is there any consolation that while you lost, Matt did get to win a pretty big game for him?

COACH WILLIAMS: Well, there's no consolation for now. I love Matt Doherty, and Walter and Mary love him more, but that may be the only people. At the same time, you are a basketball coach. Down the line, if somebody comes back and says, you really learned something from the North Carolina loss and if we do that's fine. If it really helps springboard them into great things, that's fine. But at the same line of thinking, I'm concerned about how our team is playing. I've said many times, I love Matt to death, but I'm the coach at the University of Kansas, I love my players more. It's my job to get them to be a better basketball team. At the end of the year I'm not going to say, well, Matt that was really good, you guys beat us. And I'm not going to say, Matt, that was very good that you guys beat us. I'm happy for him and his feelings, but that has nothing to do with exactly the way I feel.

Q. Coach just talked about how he saw some of this coming in practice and was not happy with some of the things. From a players' perspective did you see some of that?

NICK COLLISON: Well, I don't know, I think it's definitely been more of a struggle this year in practice than, say last year. Last year we were a more veteran group and just never really had a problem. It was just constantly just positive play every single day and this year we have not had that. Some days are good, and some days are not as good. So it's definitely a lot different team than last year. It's not as easy as last year, but we do have winners on this team. I think we will bounce back.

End of FastScripts...

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