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March 23, 2008
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
COACH WILLIAMS: Before we get to the fun stuff, you guys write a little bitty note in your columns that the NCAA that say that I can't bring a Coca-Cola cup up here, they can say everything in the world, can't say let's stop putting those stupid logos on the floor where kids slip and slide around and somebody is going to get hurt and I've said that for years and years and years. And every coach here at this site said this is a mistake to have that.
The tournament committee people that run this building were fantastic and tried to do everything they could do, but that is dangerous. Now that I can get off my high horse and preaching and things, we were pretty doggone good, we really were. In the second half, we were not very good defensively, but they shot about 67 percent I think at the 12-minute time-out.
But offensively we were really good and in the first half defensively we were much better. We talked earlier this week about Deon and Alex giving us something at the four-spot and today they were 13 of 13. We talked about needing to make shots, and I think we did that.
Rebounding-wise, the first half, they had six offensive rebounds, and so did we, so we tried to emphasize that. We didn't miss a lot of shots to get a lot of offensive rebounds ourselves. We are ecstatic to be one of the teams that are still playing, and I could not be happier with these guys that I've got up here with me.
Q. It looks like you guys are in peak form, would you agree?
DEON THOMPSON: Like me and Alex are playing well right now along with the rest of our teammates that's always been playing well all season. I feel in my mind Danny Green our spark plug off the bench, he's playing well, but he has his full strength and me and Alex playing the way we play, that's us at our full strength.
MARCUS GINYARD: Just to follow up what Deon said, our guys right now are playing well. We felt like a couple of guys are not necessarily playing up to their potential and making some mental mistakes and things like that. But I think the team overall is happy with our performance this weekend. Like Deon said, we can all get a little better and play a little harder and play a little smarter. We are going to head back to Chapel Hill and get fired up and excited and get focused again for another big-time weekend.
Q. Can you talk about your approach to guarding Sonny Weems tonight? Particularly in the first half, you seemed to make it very difficult for him to get shots and to get explosive like he did against Indiana.
MARCUS GINYARD: You know, like I said all along, really when we're faced with a tough matchup like that, the biggest thing you can do is try to make them as uncomfortable as possible.
Obviously when you have a guy that's as talented as Sonny Weems, and you see the game against indicates Indiana, just getting into the flow and hitting big-time shots, that really helped him out. So just try to get him out of his flow and out of his strength and try to make him uncomfortable. He's still going to make some shots and that's going to happen with a big-time player like him. Just have to get all over him as much as possible and try to limit him to one shot.
Q. What has it been like just to dominate simply like you guys have been doing in terms of, how much fun is it, does it feel like practice, is it hard to keep up that tempo, what's it like to play as well, so consistently like you guys have?
MARCUS GINYARD: That's what we work for. That's why we put in all the hours in the gym, all the time we spend in the locker room in meetings and watching film and putting all that on to the court allows us to play well. Those are the rewards for how hard we work; not to say that we cannot work harder. All three of us and even coach Weems are always going to get back to the point that we can always play better and we are never satisfied with the way we play, even when we play as well as we did today.
To answer your question, I feel like it's a reward for us when we play so well.
THE MODERATOR: Would you like to comment on that?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: No. (Laughter).
Q. There may be no simpler way to put it, but did you expect a little bit more resistance from Arkansas today?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Well, I think they came out and I think we were just, you know, running the ball real well. You know, I think we played our game, definitely, well.
But it is tough inside. I thought Hill, he's difficult to play with, just because of his length. He presented some toughness inside, and also, Townes, he's a pretty tough post, player, too. They were tough inside but I think Deon and Al were the X-factor for us tonight. They came in and got a lot of boards and really played well.
Q. Would you talk about your jumpshot, and just how you were on tonight, and just the way everything was going for you offensively.
DEON THOMPSON: Shots were feeling good and my teammates were finding me in places where I need to be shooting the ball low in the post. The ball was just going in tonight. I guess just putting in extra work and just getting in the gym and shooting shots in practice that I was shooting in the game paid off.
Q. Did you expect a little bit more resistance from Arkansas today?
MARCUS GINYARD: Yeah. I guess we expected the game to be a little closer but I think when you look back and look at some of the things that we did out there, we made it tough for them to make a run back at us. I think it speaks for our team and the way we played today.
COACH WILLIAMS: Let's be honest, too, Arkansas had some open shots in the first half that they just missed. When you add to that how well we played, it was a pretty tough day for them, but they are a really good basketball team that today just wasn't their day.
Q. One thing that jumps out about the stats and watching you in the game today is how well you moved the ball. You had 28 assists against seven turnovers which is a pretty stunning ratio and you were doing that the other night. Is that something that's been a point of emphasis recently?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Yeah, Coach really stressed movement and moving the ball well and intelligently. It's something we work on in practice and just carried over these last couple games.
Q. As well as you guys played, do you think there's anything to having been tested in the first couple of games that can help you down the road?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: You know, I think there's some advantages, but also I think we take some things from these games, also. I think defensively, you know, Coach really wants us to improve and get some stops.
I think we can take some things from these games and definitely work on them.
Q. Would you just talk about, it looks like Ty is pretty close to being back at full strength, and he's getting pretty explosive and he's driving the ball now and scoring again; what does it mean to the team to get him back in that condition?
MARCUS GINYARD: It means a lot for this team, obviously, to have Tywon's presence out there on the court; his speed in the transition game, his decision making abilities; obviously his toughness inside and his ability to score inside, and shooting the ball as well as he did this weekend. He's just a huge asset for this team, and obviously with him at 100%, this team runs a lot better.
But we're just hoping that if he's not at 100% that things will continue to get better for him, and I think that he's going to have another big-time weekend this weekend. He's been huge for us.
DEON THOMPSON: Whatever Marcus said was good. Ty is like the engine to this team and makes us go. And his speed, I've never seen anyone so fast in basketball, and that's a lot of our play is to get up and down. So to have him at full strength is a big thing for us.
Q. How do you guys handle your success? How do you stay humble?
MARCUS GINYARD: I think that's really an easy question for us. We don't think that winning two games in the NCAA Tournament is a huge success for us. Coach just talked about it in the locker room; we have another two games to play next weekend, and that's what we are focused on right now.
At this point, this game does not mean anything to us anymore. You know, at this point we are trying to get ready for our next opponent.
Like I said, you know, this is just not where this team wants to end up, so I think that it's not a problem for us to have to handle any success, because this is not where we want to be.
Q. Has any team ever played a more complete game in an NCAA Tournament game in your career?
COACH WILLIAMS: Thankfully we've played in a few of them so it's hard to remember all of them. We played well, but defensively, again, I think at the 12-minute time-out, they were shooting 67 percent in the second half. You can't have things like that.
But offensively, we were effective. You know, Tyler said that it helped to have Deon and Alex getting rebounds, and it really does. Deon only got one more than my wife got, and that's the note I passed down to him when Tyler said that about their rebounding.
But I think for us, we need to have everybody playing as close to their potential as they can. You know, we won last week -- a question down here in the front asked about some tough games. We felt like we had three tough games last week in the ACC tournament. Throughout the course of the year, we've had a lot of tough games, and if you get fortunate and have two games back-to-back like we've had here, we felt good about that. It enables us to have Tyler only play 31 minutes, and yesterday he played 20-something -- or two days ago, he played 20-something, so that's important to us.
I can't remember -- we played pretty doggone well one year up in Dayton against Syracuse in the second game against a really good Syracuse team and won by 25. We've had some good games. The game against market in the Final Four in 2003, I never looked at the score the whole first half and walked off and looked up and we were up 29; that's pretty good.
Q. Can you comment about the early part of the game, you miss your first shot, or it's blocked and then score on 15 of 16 possessions; were you getting the ball where you wanted in that stretch?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, we were being unselfish with it and I keep talking to our guys about move yourself and move the ball intelligently. Sometimes we watch one guy try to beat his guy but when we move and we move the ball, we can score. Deon may have talked about it, we have worked hard in practice about shooting shots that he shoots in the game. I even got a tape and showed part of his routine for ten straight practices and he was not shooting the shots he shoots in a game and I think he got refocused.
You are not going to have that very often. The way I look at it, enjoy it while it's there, and see how long you can extend it go and go from there.
Q. You've won these first two games by more than 30 points a piece now and you've played from behind a lot of times during the season, but maybe do you feel, or how surprised do you think you'll be and how ready will your team be to play when they first find themselves behind in a game in a tournament?
COACH WILLIAMS: This team has shown some toughness all year. We've been behind and we've been behind at home and we've been behind on the road and they have reacted pretty well.
You know, last year, gosh, I can't even remember who we played. I know we were 16-down in the third round in the second half to Southern California and we came back and I really loved our toughness and two days later couldn't handle it against Georgetown.
I don't get too caught up in how well we played today and how that relates to how we'll play next weekend. A hundred years ago before some of you were born we played in the Big Eight Tournament and they asked the same question, are you so happy you're peaking right now, we won the semifinals by 40 and lost the next day, less than 24 hours later.
We have to enjoy this, but put it behind us and get ready for next week.
Q. I'm maybe beating a dead horse here, but in a perfect world, would you rather have had one game where you were tested and pulled away or is two blowouts back-to-back good enough for you?
COACH WILLIAMS: It's good enough for me. Maybe I'm not a deep enough thinker. In 2005 we won two games very easily, somebody could probably look it up, but it was well over 20 both games and then went to Syracuse and had two really close games. Then we go to the Final Four and we're down at the half to Michigan State and played great in the second half. Then we played Illinois in The Finals and we shoot 65 percent the first half and have a 16-point lead on the No. 1 team in college basketball.
So I didn't feel really excited or really depressed about any of those things. I am a little old-fashioned, old school, whatever, and you have to play today and whoever we are playing, we have to play well. Next weekend in Charlotte, they are not going to give us extra points because we played so well.
Q. Obviously all good teams want to move the ball well and want the players to have space, but is that something that you have been emphasizing recently in practice? It just seems these last two games, the passing the ball, the movement seems to be superior.
COACH WILLIAMS: I think one thing is when you get Ty back, you get some easier ones and all of a sudden that's a little deflating to the other team when they score and we come right up their backs and get a layup. Then it's a combination of things, our guys start moving a little bit better, and then all of the Q is in the game and he finds a guy wide up underneath for a layup.
I think it's the kind of thing that's catching. We've had 87 practices and 12 run and shoot periods, so we have had them out on the court 99 days, and every day I talk about moving yourself and moving the ball intelligently. And the more you move the ball, the more pressure you put on the defense.
Q. I'm sure you haven't looked ahead too much at the opponent, but if you follow scores, Washington State plays kind of a grinding style. Do you have to kind of prepare your team extra for, hey, it's not going to be this easy?
COACH WILLIAMS: We try to prepare -- the question back here -- did we expect it to be difficult today; I tried to prepare them like it was going to be a one-point game and let's make a shot with 0:0 on the clock and get out of town. We try to prepare for the toughest game possible and you don't have to believe me but it's true. When you were asking questions about the 3 guys here, I was trying to figure out who we play next and I had no idea and I started thinking, who was the 4-5 game and I think Washington State beat Notre Dame, was the 5.
I don't look ahead; it's just we have to play who we are supposed to play today.
Q. What do you know about Style?
COACH WILLIAMS: Tony Bennett, his father Dick was a great coach. I loved little Tony as a player, loved watching him. Derek Lowe their point guard, we visited with several times about him coming to Kansas when I was still there and his leadership and play, I've followed his success this year.
Last year I thought Tony maybe did as good a job or better job than anybody in the country and I think he may have received some National Coach of the Year awards. I have seen them play late night a couple of times on the Pac 10 games, and his dad and I, I really have a great deal of respect for his dad; he didn't fall far from the tree.
Q. Could you talk about the second straight site here where you have guys slipping all over a logo, and it looked like something that really concerned you late in the game; anything you can do about it?
COACH WILLIAMS: Annabell, he asked the question, Lane, he asked the question; I made my statement.
Look, I'll give you this, Larry, our assistant AD, two years from now we have been asked to play in a tournament, and I'm refusing to play in the tournament if we have to put logos in our floor. They are slick. I've said this for five or six years. They are slick; somebody is going to get hurt.
Lane Kennedy and the people here have done a great job of trying to do everything they could do. They washed it with amonia, they washed it with Wendy's super burger, whatever, and they did everything you possibly -- they need to rip the daggum things up; it's just a fact.
Q. How important was Marcus's defense on Weems early in the game and getting you off, also, to that big start in because it looked like Weems was really uncomfortable out there.
COACH WILLIAMS: Marcus did a good job but let's be honest, Weems missed two wide-open shots, too. You know, you've got to get the guys to help you a little bit. They have got to miss some open looks. Everybody does not make every open shot they have and so if we can get some teams to miss some open ones and then guard them better some other times, it really helps us. But I've said all along, Marcus is wonderful defensively. And I think he did a good job, and the other guys gave him a little help.
One thing we tried to do today was double down in the low post on Darian Townes and Charles Thomas because they are both effective inside scorers. We did a nice job getting turnovers early in the low post and we have not done that very often this year. It was team defense. But Marcus really is good.
Q. What specifically were you seeing from your guards to push the ball up-court and knock down those jumpers?
COACH WILLIAMS: What I looked at even better than that is Ty and Q were 10-0 assist ratio and without looking at it, they were 11-0 today. We are moving the ball and finding the open man. Earlier in the season, I had to tell Tywon, you are a good shooter, so look for your shot, too. Those guys can shoot the basketball, and if we are shooting it in from the outside, it opens things up from the inside.
End of FastScripts