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March 30, 2002

Nick Collison

Aaron Miles

Roy Williams


CHRIS PLONSKY: We're going to allow Roy to make several opening comments, then if you would direct your first questions to Nick and Aaron.

COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, we're very disappointed in the outcome. Congratulate Maryland, their staff, their kids. They played very well. I think it was a case of they basically played better than we did. We made some mistakes. We missed some shots, gave them so many second-shot opportunities during one stretch there. Then all of a sudden it's an 18-point game. Then I was about as proud of my team as I've ever been in my entire life. I think it was 18, it may have been more, may have been 17, I don't know. They kept believing that they could still get it done, made a fantastic comeback, got it to five. We had the ball with a minute and 23 to play I think it was. But we couldn't quite get over the hump. Juan Dixon I thought was sensational. We went to a box and one, four-man zone, Steve Blake jumped up and made a three. It was during a stretch there that everything we tried didn't work, and everything they tried did. We just couldn't quite overcome that margin. You know, a lot of times guys make fun of me at this time of year because they say I'm crying. Doggone right, because these kids mean something to me. I'm going to miss coaching the seniors. But, God, I enjoyed this year, every single day I went to practice, it was a fun, fun time. Even when I got mad at this bunch, it didn't last very long. They've been a sensational team. They've done it on the court. They've done it off the court. It's a team I'm really, really proud of. I'm just sad that I'm not going to get to coach this bunch right now the way it is. And, yeah, it hurts not to be playing Monday night, but it doesn't hurt one iota, doesn't hurt one ounce for Roy Williams in any record or championship. It just hurts because I'm not going to get a chance to coach them in the National Championship game. Not going to get the chance to coach them anymore. But congratulations to Gary and his club. They were really focused, I thought. Perhaps being here last year and coming back was a driving force for them. I don't know. But they played better than we did, and he coached better than I did.

CHRIS PLONSKY: We'll take a few questions for Aaron and Nick, please.

Q. Nick, can you talk about the match-up inside with the front court players of Maryland, your perception of how they played?

NICK COLLISON: Well, I think they did a great job. They're so deep. You know, Wilcox kind of set the tone early by blocking so many shots. Tahj Holden came in, played a great game. I give them a lot of credit. People talked a lot about the match-up going in. They either played or outplayed us. They had more points in the paint. Got to give them a lot of credit. They played very well.

Q. Nick, looks like you guys had a little bit of trouble getting in sync early on. Was that something that was happening from your end or something they were doing to you?

NICK COLLISON: Early on we were up 13-2, we were in sync early on. After that it seemed like we just weren't moving the ball well enough. I think they picked it up defensively. You know, that whole -- after we made the run, the rest of the first half, we really weren't in sync. I think -- I don't know what the deal was. We weren't moving. There's been times this year where we haven't moved and we've struggled a little bit.

Q. You make the huge comeback, but you have someone like Juan Dixon on the other end that seemed like every team you came back, he was there to stave off the drive.

NICK COLLISON: He's just a great player and he stepped up. You know, we were down by so much that it's hard. Any basket that they get is so huge in that type of situation. Dixon seemed to step up after they struggled a little bit, turned it over a little bit, missed some shots. I think Dixon just stepped up and made two or three that were back-breakers.

Q. Aaron, can you talk specifically about the comeback and what you guys did? You were down 20 with six minutes to go in the game. That was really a terrific comeback, the fact you didn't quit. Talk about what coach wanted and what you guys did to get back in the game.

AARON MILES: Basically none of us gave up. I mean, we believed in ourselves. Coach just told us to go out there and believe in ourselves, just go as hard as we could. We tried to pick it up defensively a lot more and pressure them a lot more, try to create turnovers. Unfortunately, we weren't able to come back all the way.

CHRIS PLONSKY: Aaron and Nick, we'll let you go back to the locker room. Congratulations on a great season. We'll keep Roy here. Additional questions for Coach Williams, please.

Q. Again, Juan Dixon, talk about his kind of play, what he did against you guys tonight.

COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I thought he was sensational in the first half. He has 19 at half. Then early in the second half, he made a couple of buckets. We wanted to get off to a good start in the second half. I think Wilcox made the dunk on the first play, then I think Juan made the next basket. He was just hard. First team All-American. He's hard to guard. It didn't help us any that Kirk was in a little foul trouble, because he is our best perimeter defender. I think he's a sensational player, not just what he did on the offensive end. I don't know how many steals he had. It says two. I think both the steals ended up being lay-ups on the other end, he made what I call savvy plays, came off his man, made the steal, laid it up. I thought he was sensational. Like Nick said, Chris Wilcox, the shot blocks early, was difficult for us. Then you get Baxter in foul trouble, you think that's really going to help you. But Tahj Holden was really big, too.

Q. Can you talk specifically about Aaron Miles' play? 12 and 10 as a freshman, look forward to having him back.

COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I do. The gentleman said it was 20. I don't spend a lot of time looking at the clock. But I kept begging, pleading with our guys that this thing is not over with, we've got a chance, we've just got to play the way we're capable of playing. We started making a little bit of a run. I think I was able to sell them on the idea. I think they started believing. I think Aaron probably believed it more than anybody. He was doing a much better job of putting pressure on in the backcourt and came up with a couple of steals, then goes to the free-throw line and makes them. You know, we did cut it to five and had the ball. We missed at least two if not three free throws during that time period. It could have been even closer. I think Aaron, assists, defensive play, he's going to be a sensational defender for us. Heck of a game for anybody, much less a freshman. I am, needless to say, going to enjoy coaching him.

Q. It looked like Maryland may have just been better than you all today. Was that your impression? Do you think the three blocked shots on Drew early in the game kind of took him out of the game?

COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, I think one of the coaches even said at half, "They just played better than we did the first half." I think there is something to that. I think Maryland has had a great, great year, been very consistent all year. We knew that that wasn't the match-up that we necessarily wanted. We wanted to play Alvamartech (phonetic), but they weren't in the tournament here at the Final Four. I do believe for the first 34 minutes of the game, they just played better than we played. Wilcox's blocks I think were really significant early. It took us out of sync a little bit. Somebody said it was 13-2, my, it was pretty good. We made three 3's during that time. We got nothing inside except Nick Collison's opening drive. They made some steals, were able to go down. We made some really bad plays in the first half. We fouled Juan Dixon shooting a 3-point shot. I think that's not the smartest play in basketball, to say the least. One time Nick Collison helped on the drive. Had a guy to double-team. Keith jumped up in the air, came down and fouled him. We were putting him on the free-throw line in the first half, as well. I think Chris had a big-time game, particularly early, and it did bother us.

Q. You saw the one defense that worked, you went box and one; didn't work out. Blake hit a shot. The one defense that worked was the pressure. Towards the end, do you not go to that any sooner because you know the ebb and flow in a game like this, because you're going to get more possessions, "Let's keep going, sooner or later we'll start knocking down some shots"?

COACH ROY WILLIAMS: The problem we had, I wanted to pressure earlier. The reason we played zone a little bit, we played zone one possession the first half, and Nick Collison has to come out and play the guy on the wing. There's no way our match-up zone should have Nick coming out and playing on the wing. They made a three that possession, too. The reason we didn't -- the reason we played some zone, and the reason we didn't go to our pressure stuff sooner, we wanted to see if we could buy some time and keep our best players in the game. Drew had four fouls , Kirk had four fouls . It didn't work. So that's the reason we went to the pressure even more. But, you know, when it's that big of a thing, pressure, that helps us. If it was the first possession of the second half, there's not that pressure on Maryland. But at the end they're trying to protect the lead, they're not trying to score as much. So you have that emotion involved later in the game that you don't have early in the second half, too. We haven't been a very good team all year trapping in doubles. What Coach Smith used to call a scramble, probably the worst scramble team I've ever had. But you can't just keep letting them beat you without trying something.

Q. Can you talk about your feelings after this one compared to other years? Do you feel in a lot of ways you got more out of this team than maybe you ever have before?

COACH ROY WILLIAMS: You know, it always hurts. It makes no difference, Final Four, second round, whatever. Again, I enjoy my relationship with my players. I've told some of you guys, maybe some of you guys have seen it on my desk, a little glass, says, "Statistics are important, but relationships last a lifetime." So regardless of whether it's Final Four, Sweet-16, it still hurts because I'm not going to coach those kids. I thought we were going to be pretty good this year. But I didn't think we were going to be as good as we were. This was really a good basketball team. This was a basketball team that, boy, gave me a lot of fun. And even losing, feeling like this right now, some people may not understand that. That's their problem. I'm very fortunate. I'm doing exactly what I want to do. A guy told me one time when I was 14 years old, I knew I wanted to be a coach. You guys don't need a history lesson, I know. He said, "When you coach a person, 30 years later, you can see something you gave him. And, Roy, you make darn sure it's something positive." With me, I've tried to live like that. This bunch is a heck of a basketball team, and they took old Roy for a really good ride. I would have liked to have gone a couple more days, but they took me for a great ride.

CHRIS PLONSKY: Coach, thank you very much. Wonderful year, great team.

End of FastScripts...

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