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April 4, 2005
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
JOHN GERDES: We'll let Coach Williams start with an opening comment, then we do have questions lined up for the student-athletes first.
COACH WILLIAMS: First question or statement I'll make is I'm really not that much better a coach now than I was about three hours ago, but I surely, surely thank these youngsters sitting beside of me. It's a great moment for our staff, not just for me. It's a great moment for our families. It's a great moment for these youngsters who have these moments and these thrills and these memories for the rest of their lives. The 2005 team was a team out there tonight. We were criticized a little bit. It was a bias towards talent. But our group was a team. Can't say enough about Illinois. They came out in the second half and just made every single shot. I grabbed Bruce and told him, I've been in his position, I've been there, I know exactly what he's feeling, but they've had a remarkable, remarkable year. Tonight we were the better team. If we played them 10 times, who know what would happen. The NCAA tournament is only one game and one win and we were fortunate enough to get it. The City of St. Louis and the NCAA tournament committee were fantastic. These two rascals sitting beside of me and a few other ones in that locker room have given me memories that will be with me forever.
Q. Raymond, can you talk about, did you have to talk Coach Williams into letting you stay in after you got your second foul? What did you see on that last steal when stole the ball from Luther?
RAYMOND FELTON: I just told Coach Williams I was fine when I got my second foul. I told him I'd be okay. I was going to play it smart. On the steal situation, I mean, I just did what Coach Williams been telling me to do all season: deny the pass. Basically, you know, they threw the ball into my hands. I just knocked it away and went and got it.
Q. Sean, what was it about Illinois's defense that led you to have the game you had?
SEAN MAY: You know, they play really, really good defense, especially on the perimeter. But I think they extend so much, it leaves a wide gap, especially the double down. We noticed -- you know, coach told us before the game they normally double from the four, five. We tried to have the four, five feed me. Our guards did a great job. I got it going. They have just kept feeding me. I got to the free-throw line a little bit. It was just a great night for our team.
Q. When it got tight the middle of the second half, you went into Sean six straight possessions. Were you under orders to do so or was that reading the situation?
RAYMOND FELTON: Both (laughter). I mean, he was just killing. Why wouldn't I give it to him. Everybody was screaming, "Get the ball inside to Sean." I mean, it was the right thing to do.
Q. Sean, you said before that you'd like to win a championship to ease the criticism on Coach Williams. What does it mean to you to finally do that?
SEAN MAY: It just means that, you know, a lot of you guys out there who try to pick and find little spots to criticize somebody -- this doesn't mean that he's a better coach than he was yesterday, like he said. Just this means when you talk about some of the great coaches out there who have won championships, you have to say Coach Williams, because he's done it all. For me, it's very gratifying. For many years down the line, he'll always talk about this 2005 team, how special we were, and the things we did. You know, how through adversity we stuck together, even when the outside world, you know, didn't really give us a fair shot.
Q. Sean, you ran off with the basketball in your hands like you wanted to keep it. Who did you give it to? Now that you're 21, do you think your father will allow you to toast with champagne?
SEAN MAY: When I grabbed the ball, Ray was a little mad at me. Normally at the end of games he takes it. I just ran with it. I had no clue. I ran over to coach and I let it go. Where it went, I have no idea. Somebody probably got a souvenir, whatever. I don't really care about that. You know, for my 21st birthday, a very special friend of mine bought me a bottle of Dom Perignon. We'll have some champagne when we get back.
SEAN MAY: Wes Miller.
Q. You matched your father's 26 points in a final game and also matched his most outstanding player in a championship. What does that mean to you what does that say?
SEAN MAY: For me, it means a lot because I tried to live up to my father's expectations, even though he hasn't wanted me to. I've tried to do some of the things he's done, especially the way I carry myself and the type of person I am. It's very gratifying to know that you set goals for yourself and you're able to ache ive those goals. When we sit down tonight and talk about the game, I'll tell him, you might have had 26 points and you might have been a Final Four MVP, but I had 10 boards, and you didn't do that (laughter), so.... We'll have some fun with that.
COACH WILLIAMS: The other thing on that, do you know who it's going to be most gratifying to, his father. It's a great, great family.
Q. Sean, along those lines, I don't know if you've had a chance to talk to your dad yet. If you have, what was that conversation like? If you haven't, what do you think it's going to be like?
SEAN MAY: I think, you know, my dad, he's not a very emotional person, but he might get a little bit emotional, I mean, he pulled so much for me and for this team. I mean, he loves so many guys on this team. He tries to stay back and tries not to get involved with our team. Sometimes I have to listen to all our problems. He nitpicks about every little thing. I'm sure he'll be extremely excited. He probably will get a little bit emotional. I tried to find him after the game. He ducked off into a corner because he's a little shy sometimes.
Q. Did your father say anything special to you before the game tonight?
SEAN MAY: No. We talked before every game. This is probably the shortest conversation we've had. He just said, "Hey, you've been playing long enough, you know what you have to do. You have one shot. You'll never forget this moment if you get it done. You guys are good enough to get it done if you play the way you're supposed to play." He said, "Son, I love you, I'm proud of you, but go get it done." I'm extremely happy to, you know, finally get this done.
Q. You watched your dad's film a bunch of time. Will you ever watch it again? When you watch your own film, what particular parts will you keep playing back over and over again?
SEAN MAY: You know, I don't know if I'll ever watch it again. I've watched it three times in the last two days because a -- I watched it last night. A couple guys wanted to watch it today. It came on ESPN Classic, a little clip of it. When I watch our film, the best thing to me is coach, you know, he said we need three straight stops, and we got three straight stops, but we didn't get the ball. We deflected the ball twice out of bounds, Marvin dove for it once out of bounds. Again, they came down and we got another stop. When Ray got that steal, that to me was the biggest play in the game because it shifted the momentum. You could see the look on some of those guys' faces that they didn't think they had a chance to pull it out.
Q. Raymond, yesterday you talked about it makes you mad when people say you guys are talented and not a team. What does tonight's championship say? What does it mean to you?
RAYMOND FELTON: I'm just waiting to hear what everybody got to say at this point. I'm just waiting to hear it. I mean, we won the national championship. If everybody is still saying the same thing, at this point I really don't care. I think we came out tonight and we proved that we are a team, you know, we are together. You know, who going to win a national championship if they're not together? We also are talented, I believe in that part, but we also are together, too, as one.
Q. Ray, kind of relive those last few minutes for us. You hit a big three, you make the steal, get a big rebound. If you could just talk about the tenseness of the situation, the kind of things that went through your mind down the stretch.
RAYMOND FELTON: I mean, it all boils down to what coach has been saying all season: do whatever it takes to get a win, make it happen. That's what I did. You know, I got a big key steal. I took a big-time shot. I got a key rebound at the end. You know, I just made plays. I just went after the ball. It's all about heart, you know. That's what our team have, we have heart.
Q. What were your thoughts when Illinois tied the score at 70-70?
SEAN MAY: For me, I was very confident in us because we'd been in that position so many times this year. You know, we would have liked, from halftime, blow it up to a 20-point game. It's a national championship. It's not supposed to be easy. We came over to the sideline, coach said, "We're fine. Everybody look at me, let's do this. We'll get a good shot and we'll go down and get a stop." You know, we believe in each other, we believe in coach. That's what we did. You know, we got either a shot or Raymond hit a big shot coming out of the timeout. We came down and got three straight stops. They ended up getting the ball back off all those stops. And we did it again. That just shows the toughness of this team, the mental approach we have. You know, we're just blessed right now to be in the position that we're in.
RAYMOND FELTON: I can't say it no better. Sean summed it up. We just kept our poise and we made plays. We stopped them on the defensive end and we made plays and we hit some key free-throws at the end.
JOHN GERDES: Raymond, Sean, thank you very much. Congratulations.
Q. Coach, you're up three with 25 seconds left, 30-second timeout, did you consider at all giving their propensity for the three-point shot, did you consider fouling in that situation? What went through your mind in that timeout?
COACH WILLIAMS: We did talk about switching every screen so they wouldn't get an open look at three. If you felt uncomfortable that you were trailing somebody on the dribble after he crossed the 10-second line, you could foul. With 25 seconds to go, you know, that's a lot of time. We didn't care about fouling immediately by that point. Now, when it was nine seconds to go or something like that, we did. We even told them to foul. We didn't want it to be an intentional foul. The shot he got at that point wasn't a very good shot. But we did talk about it during the huddle, yes.
Q. You mentioned this being a team victory rather than a talent victory. You held them without a score for the last 2:37. Does that kind of illustrate your point?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think, you know, our defense, I've picked on our defense quite a bit myself. But it was really picked on since Syracuse last weekend. You know, people said some very negative things, that we didn't guard, we didn't do this, we didn't do that. We used that in some ways to motivate our team. But the biggest thing we did, we went back to work for a couple of days at practice. We did, we called it the pit. We went into the practice gym. I took the rims off. We practiced just our defensive drills, our defensive stations for 35 minutes both days. The one thing that I've bragged on and felt so good about with this team is how tough we have been. You can go back to the Duke, last game in the regular season. I promised the kids inside the four-minute timeout we would have a chance to win if they would just commit themselves to doing their job. Sean mentioned one of the timeouts today. I said, "We're fine." They made about five or six in a row. Our guys came over. I didn't really like the look on their face. It looked like they were about to feel sorry for themselves or panic, you put which word you want to in there. I told them we were going to be fine. That was just four minutes. That we were still going to be there if they committed themselves again. Our toughness, our defensive plays being really good at times, other times it hasn't been very good. I think the motivating thing was the fact that we had a chance to play for the national championship, and we didn't care what other people said, we wanted it for ourselves.
Q. Did Raymond have to talk you into keeping him in after the second foul? Did you think about taking him out? I assume the zone was at least in part to protect him.
COACH WILLIAMS: The zone was definitely just to buy some time and protect Raymond. He just made one statement. He said, "Coach, I'll be all right." I said, "Yeah, I've heard that before." That kind of thing. I did think that the mistakes and the fouls he's made in this tournament play has taught him a lesson. I felt pretty comfortable in putting him back in with about six or something, I took him out again because it looked like he was getting a little bit tired. I think sometimes you'll make silly fouls just because you're getting tired. I took him out at that point just to give him a quick breather. Put him back in, and I think we got it inside two minutes before he got his third. But when I see Raymond Felton, I just see one big heart, and the toughness, you know, to make the free-throws, make the plays. But he's a tough little rascal.
Q. You talked in the past about how painful it was to kind of watch from afar a few years ago when this program slipped so far from the status it enjoyed for so long. What does winning this national championship mean, not just for this team but for North Carolina basketball?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, it means a lot. There's no question there. Michael Jordan and Coach Smith both came in the locker room. I grabbed them and said, "These guys and Phil Ford, a lot of other people, made North Carolina basketball. But you guys are going to be a huge part of it for the rest of your lives." You know, I did feel so badly for what happened a couple years ago. I felt badly for Matt Doherty. Let's not forget he's the guy who recruited most of these guys, with the exception for Marvin and Quentin. Jackie and Jawad and Melvin for sticking with it, after starting 8-20. To me it means more for those kids than it does anything that can be said about our program.
Q. I know you haven't had a lot of time to think, but does winning tonight make you feel better or more comfortable about your decision to leave Kansas?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, I've always been about people. I felt great when we've had at least four different Kansas players call me and say they were with us. Before I left the hotel, Nick Collison's dad called. That's 15 great years of my life. It will always be 15 great years. It will never be less emotional than it was because of my love for those kids. It was just off the court that wasn't very pleasant that last year and a half or so. But with each and every year, because the players are gone, those emotions will lessen because I don't have the players there. But 15 years from now, the University of Kansas will be a truly, truly special place to me. Our chancellor, James Moeser told me, it's not immoral to love two institutions, and I do that. The other thing is I had a lot of Kansas friends that are here with me these last three or four days, had dinner with a bunch of them last night. They said, Win or lose, we're with you. I'm very fortunate that I got some friends like that.
Q. Two years ago you had a really hard loss and a really hard decision to make. Can you talk about how difficult the last two years of your life have been, how much travel you've had, and what the end of it is like.
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, the end is I didn't have to curse during an interview tonight like I did a couple of years ago (laughter). I didn't have to say anything like that. Yeah, I mean, it's been a difficult two years. But, gosh, how lucky can you be? It hasn't been the smoothest in the world. But, you know, my secretary's got a three-year-old little boy that's got acute leukemia. My sister's not feeling really good. There's a lot of people that have a lot of difficult situations. Mine is just emotional because I'm an emotional person. I'm doing, as I said the other day, exactly what I want to do with my life. I've got a wonderful family. I was able to go over and hug Wanda and Scott and Kimberly. I've got a lot of people that really, really do like Roy Williams. Even saying the last couple years have been difficult, you know, it's only been difficult because of how emotional I am.
Q. 40 out of their 70 shots tonight were three-point attempts. They only got to the line six times. Can you talk about why you guys were so effective keeping them from penetrating, getting into the paint?
COACH WILLIAMS: We know they like to shoot threes. I always felt like to win a national championship you've got to establish an inside game. But they almost made me wrong on that one. There's no question about it. I like balance. I like to have the basketball inside, to get the other team in foul trouble. I think it helped us tonight, when Augustine fouled out, they had a couple guys with four, because Sean can really get some people in foul trouble. That's the way I coach. That's North Carolina basketball. For 15 years it was Kansas basketball. Coach Smith taught me one way, to have balance with inside play and outside. We did challenge our guys defensively to control the dribble penetration because they like to penetrate just to pitch to shoot more threes. But early in the second half, they surely made a bunch of 'em.
Q. After the way your team played defense in the first half, when Illinois started to explode offensively in the second, how much did that worry you about your team's performance?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, you worry about that possession. But I don't sit back and say, "Oh, gosh, we're going to lose." You're just trying to do the best job you can do on that possession. They were making some big-time shots. They didn't go 37-1 by being lucky. We wanted to continue running, continue pushing, and maybe at the end of the game they might not have their legs; they might miss some of those shots. That to me is the reason, when they made them early in the second half, I told our guys, "Hey, it's just four minutes. I think we lost the first four minutes of the game, too." We lost the first four minutes of the second half, but I told our guys that was just part of the game.
Q. What was your first emotion as the final seconds ticked off you and knew you won? Did Coach Smith say anything to you in the locker room?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, my first emotion, when they missed it, Sean came up with the ball, he's running at me, I just wanted to hug that big rascal as long as I could hug him. Then I wanted to get with my assistant coaches. You know, it's a nice feeling. But I really mean it, I don't know that I'm that better a coach. It is pleasant now that next year you'll be talking about how many hole-in-ones I've had or something like that. But that was a special moment. And I think in really truly special moments, most people don't think really clearly. Second part of your question I forget already.
Q. Coach Smith.
COACH WILLIAMS: Coach Smith. I don't call him his first name. He'll be Coach Smith my entire life. I thanked him. He said, "Don't thank me. This is yours. I'm so happy for you and these players." It was special to have Doug Moe there and George Karl and Bill Chamberlain who was one of my teammates on the freshman team in 1969. He's one of the guys that really knows I wasn't a good player. Special having Michael there. Michael's two sons, to be able to say hello to them in the locker room. That's about it.
Q. Does winning a national championship feel as good or maybe even better than you anticipated? Do you feel like there is a load off your shoulders now?
COACH WILLIAMS: I really don't feel like there's a load off my shoulders except I don't have answer that question. Does it feel as good or better than I thought? I never let myself think that far ahead to have any idea of what it was supposed to feel like. But I did grab Jackie and Melvin and Jawad at one point and hugged the three of them together. They had just finished praying. I thanked them for letting me be part of the perseverance and toughness they had.
Q. While your players were still celebrating on the podium, you went into the bleachers with your family. Could you describe the moment.
COACH WILLIAMS: Probably not. You know, a lot of people have said, including one guy when I walked out tonight, said, "Roy, you're going to be crying tonight." I've had people make fun of that. But not one sucker's ever come up to my face and made fun of it, I can tell you that. I am emotional. When I got Wanda and Scott and Kimberly, I hugged them. All of us had tears in our eyes because they know how much it means to me, they know how hard I worked. I know how much they sacrifice. I've got a family that I truly love and feel very fortunate. It's a nice moment to share with them.
Q. Do you know, how does it feel to have a national championship underneath your belt?
COACH WILLIAMS: Do I know how it feels?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, the only negative thing that I can think of us that Dick has already talked about there's going to be some kind of celebration tomorrow when we get back. I really wanted to go to the first tee (laughter). I did tell the guys in the locker room that we had a reunion last year, and I brought all the former players back, and the '57 team that won the national championship, I think four, if I'm not mistaken, I know four, maybe all five starters came back from that team. I told them in the locker room before the game that, "You have a chance to do something tonight that 48 years later," just like now is 48 years later from the '57 group, "will be special to you and everybody in this locker room will be special to you. Let's go play."
Q. Coach, you've been in Coach Weber's shoes before. Your thoughts on the year he's been through, what he's done, what he's been able to accomplish.
COACH WILLIAMS: It's a phenomenal year. College basketball, the NCAA tournament, is not kind because one loss and you're done. It's great for the fans, but it's horrible for the coaches. Bruce losing his mom like that, that's difficult. You know, I've lost my mom, lost my dad last summer. But Bruce Weber has been through a heck of a lot this year. Bruce Weber's a fantastic coach and a fantastic person.
Q. Interested in your reaction, your national association of basketball college colleagues were pretty much unanimous, quoted in the media, saying they were pulling for you, people like Jim Boeheim and others were really pulling for you to win a national championship. You got to feel awfully good that you have such a wide amount of respect amongst your colleagues.
COACH WILLIAMS: I do feel better about that than anything I do except for my family. I love coaching. My high school coach was the person that I wanted to be like. To see Jimmy Boeheim and Jimmy Calhoun, Hubie Brown, being announced they were in the Hall of Fame this morning, I got a chance to see them, I went over with Raymond for the Bob Cousy award. I have a lot of friends in coaching who have told me those kinds of things, and it does mean a great deal to me. I am pretty dang corny. I can cry at the drop of a hat. I love coaching and coaches. I know what coaches go through. Two years ago, Jimmy's Syracuse team beat my Kansas team. The thing I said to him when we hugged is, "I'm very happy for you." In '91, Mike Krzyzewski had never won one, and they beat us. I remember that moment like it was yesterday, too, because when I hugged Mike, I said, "I'm very happy for you." I do appreciate those thoughts.
Q. Your high school coach, Buddy Baldwin, was crying tears of joy after the game. Can you tell me what that means for you?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, you're talking about a guy that was the first person to give me confidence, the first person to make me feel like I could be somebody, the first person that truly helped me establish some goals. He wanted me to go to North Carolina. He knew I wanted to coach, and he wanted me to go and try to play. If I couldn't play, at least be around and watch Coach Smith. He was the first guy to ever get me on a golf course. My mom and dad were split when I was very young. Coach Baldwin was like a father big to me. Dean Smith and Buddy Baldwin are the best two influences I've ever had. I will never be as good as either one of them, but I do try. I had Coach Baldwin with me in '91, '93, 2002, 2003, at every Final Four. In '93 I stayed in New Orleans and watched North Carolina win it on Monday night. I was sitting with him. He turned around to me at that point and said, "I'm going to be sitting there one night when you win one." So it's good (tearing up).
Q. Like you said a couple times tonight, a pretty emotional guy, we've seen you shedding tears on the podium. You managed to hold it in tonight after such a momentous occasion. How is that?
COACH WILLIAMS: Toughest part was talking about Coach Baldwin and going to see my family. I think one thing is that when I have been so emotional after the losses, it's because I felt that I let those kids down. You know, rightly or wrongly, I feel like there's always something I could have done better. I also had those emotions because I knew some of those kids that I truly loved I wasn't going to coach again. Tonight I probably let them down anyway, but they're not going to remember that. So that's part of it. Then the other thing is that they're going to be part of my life forever, and this moment will be something I'll share with them.
Q. No one works harder at recruiting than you do in terms of your travel. I understand working personally on the top two or three recruits yourself. Have you had time before the game or now to think about the irony of how hard you worked to construct your team in your image at Kansas, but then you win it now with a team, besides Marvin, that you basically inherited? Do you see irony in that?
COACH WILLIAMS: Guy stopped me on the street a couple nights ago and -- I've heard one time -- I've heard this before, he said it to me, "Good coaches can take his'n and beat you with your'n. If he can take your'n and beat you with his'n, you know, that's pretty impressive." I stood there because I heard it before, but I wanted to make sure I got it right, still don't know I did. Joe Holladay, Steve Robinson, CB McGrath and Jerod Haase have been sensational in putting this thing together. The kids, I'm not trying to be phoney or anything, but the kids had to buy into it and had to accept it. You know, Wednesday morning, I'm going to be on the road recruiting because you can go recruiting at 8:00. But I also am going to sit back and understand that these guys, my assistants, this staff and the kids really bought into everything we tried to do. We're 33-4. Again, I feel for Matt Doherty, I really do. If Matt was right there, I would want him to know that this was special and I would give Matt Doherty a big hug. Matt Doherty needs to be back in coaching, too.
JOHN GERDES: Coach, thank you very much. Congratulations.
COACH WILLIAMS: Thanks, guys.
End of FastScripts...