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March 20, 2009
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina Tar Heels Â– 84
LSU Tigers - 70
COACH WILLIAMS: It was a gutty performance by our club. I kidded the little fella, called him Dennis the Menace, and that's exactly who he is. But I've never seen Dennis the Menace as tuff as I saw him today.
As we were leaving the bench to start the second half, I told him don't worry about the first half. He played very well, he had one field goal in the first half. It was a lay-up. Said when we played Duke last home game Senior Day, first half he wasn't very good. In the second half he was sensational, and he even took it up another level today. He showed why he was the Player of the Year in the league. He had 21 points in the second half, and ended up with 6 assists, 0 turnovers.
Saying all that it was the North Carolina team again. My favorite play of the game was Danny missed the three, and that wasn't the favorite part, but Danny missed the three, and the ball went far out to the corner, Wayne chased it down and knocked it back into Danny, and Danny had enough courage to realize he was wide open and take the shot and that time he knocked it in.
I'd been on Danny a good bit in the second half, and couldn't have been happier for that shot to go in and how big that was for us. Somebody said it took us from 4 to 7. But we made shots. They made some unbelievably tough shots. Danny guarded Marcus right in front of their bench and he made a basket that I didn't think he could get off, but it shows what a talented player he is. But then we got fortunate and he missed a couple of shots.
We were really effective on the offensive end. Early in the second half we were not good defensively at all. But after that we buckled down, and I'm extremely pleased. Very happy for these kids, but extremely pleased for my team.
Q. Can you explain why, I don't know they didn't get many defensive rebounds second chance points, if any, in the last 16 minutes of the game. What did you guys do, if anything, differently to keep them off the glass?
DANNY GREEN: Well, in the first half we know they got 7 points off offensive rebounds, and we wanted to limit them to one bad shot. We needed the stops, but we got the stops we needed, but we needed to finish by boxing out. So we needed to box out. And make sure they didn't get any offensive rebounds or extra shots on their offensive end of the floor. So we did what we needed to do on the defensive end of the floor, and got the rebounds we needed.
Q. Are either of you guys surprised at all that, not only did Ty play 31 minutes, but after not practicing or playing for a couple of weeks was that effective?
DANNY GREEN: No, I wasn't surprised.
WAYNE ELLINGTON: No.
DANNY GREEN: I know how tough he can be. Sometimes he does limp around sometimes and act soft, but I know how tough he can be. When the game's on the line, big-time players step up and do big-time things. I knew he was going to step up and do some things for us.
WAYNE ELLINGTON: I'm not surprised at all. I told you guys, he just had a jammed toe. There was nothing wrong with him (smiling).
Q. Just to follow that up, in all seriousness, could you talk about the toughness of the performance, and is that an example of how valuable he is to you guys?
DANNY GREEN: Definitely. I'm not saying if we didn't have him today we wouldn't have won the game, but he definitely stepped up and made some big plays for us. He's very valuable for us. But I believe even if we didn't have him today, we were tough enough mentally to get the stops we needed and the box shots we needed, knocked some shots out of hand. And Ty had some big free throws, got some key drives to the basket and made some tough lay-ups. He's very valuable to our team, and we're going to need him in the end for us to be successful.
Q. You guys were down 54-49 and you contributed 7 points. You had a dish to (Indiscernible) and you hit a three and a run, I believe. It seems you have something unique about you that you know when to take the shot. Is that something that comes naturally when your team's down that you know you can give them a juice injection?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Really I just try to make something happen. Make a play. It's not really a bucket or anything like that. It's just making a play. You know, down the stretch you've got to step up. And someone has to step up and make a play. When the ball comes to me I just try to make a play and make something happen to our team.
COACH WILLIAMS: If he knows he's going to do that, I wish he'd tell me. It's not that easy. Those guys guard him.
Q. You guys are a part of the first Carolina program to have 30 wins in three straight seasons. I know you enjoyed the journey. But what does that mean to you guys every year you guys have 30 wins, first time in this program's history?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: It means a lot. It's always fun to win. You never want to lose, you know, we just really listen to Coach and do what he tells us. And it shows that, you know, as long as you listen and assert yourself the right way it pays off on.
DANNY GREEN: I agree. Definitely a lot more fun winning games. But that's the reason we came here. You know, we came here to win games and to play in big games like this. But we're not satisfied. We still have more to go. We're going to achieve more.
Q. Can you speak to the challenges of facing a great defender like Temple, and what were the keys to get open and get good looks against him?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Yeah, I mean, he's very athletic and all. So it's tough to get open looks. I just wanted to keep moving. I didn't want to stand on offense and wait for the ball to come to me. I wanted to move and try to get open, and my teammates helped me. They helped me and sent me some good screens, and I as a result, I got some open looks.
Q. What are your from your point of view the move that Ty made in the fourth where he faked, I'm not sure who it was along the baseline and the crowd went crazy. Looked like Coach was excited about that, too. Can you talk about that move?
DANNY GREEN: Kind of shocked me. I didn't think he still had it in him. It was a great move. The better part was that he finished the play. I was more happy for him and excited about the finish of the play.
But that kind of, I guess, made a statement for him that he was back, pretty much. So I expect him to keep doing that from now on.
WAYNE ELLINGTON: I agree.
Q. The LSU came out in the second half and had quite a run. What were they doing there that y'all were not doing to start the second half?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: They got the ball to Tasmin Mitchell, and he was just outstanding for them. He made some tough shots. We didn't really step up to the challenge right away defensively. We knew they were going to come out and fight. They're a big-time basketball team. We knew they were going to come out and try to fight us. Thank God we stepped up to the challenge and got some stops later and pulled out the win.
Q. You talked about getting the rebounds down the stretch, but one of the big reasons you did was the job that Ed did, could each of you talk about Ed coming and stepping up there and getting as many boards as he did when the game was on the line and you really needed to hold him to one shot?
DANNY GREEN: He came up big for us. Like he always does when he comes off the bench. He gave us a nice little inside presence. Not just the rebounding, but the blocked shots. He had two back-to-back blocked shots that were big and kind of let them know you're not going to get any easy lay-ups in here.
He altered some shots, and his long arms makes them adjust and change, and it makes them miss a lot of shots, even if he doesn't get a hand on it. So it allowed us to get some defensive rebounds and run a little bit on offense.
Q. When games are tied with LSU, they like to go to the high pick-and-roll with Tasmin and Thornton, and you guys did something I hadn't seen anybody do to two guards or two wings as opposed to a big and a wing to defend it. Can you talk about that strategy down the stretch?
DANNY GREEN: Well, like you said, we basically had two guards. I was guarding Tasmin at the end of the game. Basically, we just switched the screen, and we went small. We went small because we thought they were going smaller but they had Tas still in the game, and we just switched the screens on the ball. They were looking to take some threes and put hands up in their face. But Thornton made some tough shots from deep. He got hot in the second half.
PHIL WARSHAUER: We'll continue with questions for Coach Williams.
Q. In the first half, do you know what Chris either took something out or put something in to Ty's shoe when he took it off there and when he came on the bench? And at that point when he came off were you concerned that he might not be able to go back in?
COACH WILLIAMS: I was extremely concerned. He felt a sharp pain, and I have no idea. It was opposite of kryptonite, I guess. I have no idea what doctors did at that point. But he said he felt a sharp pain and it went away quickly. I did not know if he was going to be able to come back in the game or not. I sent Coach Holiday down during the game to check with our trainer and he said, Yes, he's going to be fine. So he was ready to go at any time.
Q. Just to clarify, did he have any type of pain killing shot at all?
COACH WILLIAMS: No, no. He felt better yesterday, and he did a little bit. But he didn't convince me at practice. Then last night he felt a little bit better, and didn't have any swelling from the practice. This morning, when he came to the shoot around he left out the little gel pad in his shoes, so he's still Dennis the Menace at 12:00 o'clock today. So he couldn't do as much at the shoot around, but I walked out about 15 minutes in the warm-up and said compare to how you felt two weeks ago when we played against Duke.
He said I feel a little better. I said I'm not talking about after you had the shot. I'm talking about before you had the shot. He said I feel a little bit better. That's why we decided to put him in as a starter.
Q. Four straight possessions, they jacked pretty quick threes and missed them. Is that the sort of thing that feeds upon itself defensively when you get stops like that and the other team maybe gets frustrated but can find of fill it?
COACH WILLIAMS: Sometimes law of averages get in there, too, because they can't make every three. And if you go back to the beginning of the second half, Tas was really hurting us, so we started to try to double down on Tas, and they made three straight threes because they did a great job moving around the perimeter. Garret made one, Marcus made one, and I forget who made the other one.
But they made two or three threes because we were jamming down. So we decided not to jam down and just challenge the guy to do a better job one-on-one defensively, and try to keep him out of the middle of the court, because from that side it appears that Tas likes to go to the middle of the court more than anything.
You know, they did miss some shots, but it's strange about what perspective you're looking at. Because you said something to the guys about keeping them off the boards in the second half. They had 7 points on offensive rebound. In the first half they had 10. In the second half, on our bench I thought they were getting every offensive rebound for a stretch in there. So I guess it's perspective.
Q. Those were all early in the half.
COACH WILLIAMS: Yeah, until about probably 6- or 7-minute mark of the half, and then they did get one shot.
We tried to talk about giving the other team one bad shot, and that's all. We were very fortunate they missed some shots.
Q. I don't know how much you've seen of Marcus Thornton's game this year, but how impressed were you with the way he played today?
COACH WILLIAMS: I've watched four game tapes in the last 48 hours, so I thought he was sensational. The shot he made over in front of their bench with Danny Green all over him was as big a shot as I've ever seen anybody make. That was an unbelievably tough shot. He had so much more quickness than you think. He drove the basket in the first half, and made the lay-up over Tyler. And I think Danny was guarding at that time. It was so quick.
So you can see why he's the SEC Player of the Year also. He's going to play a lot of basketball somewhere.
Q. Ed Davis had 15 on Thursday, 9 points tonight. Seems like he's playing his best basketball right now.
COACH WILLIAMS: I think so. You hope that your whole team will be because we've had all these practices. Didn't think Deon was playing as well, and Ed got in there, and all of a sudden blocked a couple shots and was more of a presence on the board. So I decided to give him more time, and it worked out well.
But he is a presence in there defensively. I think as long as he can rebound and defend like that, there's always a place for him and he's going to get better offensively, too.
Q. To follow up on what Danny said, do you think you could have won this game without Ty today?
COACH WILLIAMS: We'll never know (laughing). That's the only answer I can give you. I didn't feel good when I thought that he might not be coming back in the game. But also I've been so impressed with Bobby Frasor's toughness, that the biggest worry at that time was that Bobby already had two fouls, and I didn't know how much Larry Drew was going to be able to play today because he hurt his back at the end of the game against Radford and did very little at practice yesterday. So I knew if Ty didn't come back, we were really thin at the point guard spot.
Fortunately for us, he was able to come back.
Q. In years of coaching can you remember a player kind of with such a question mark going up to game time maybe not being able to play and then performing as well as Ty did this afternoon?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, it's hard, but I've coached a long time, guys. Raef LaFrentz was out seven games and came back and hit 30 his first game back. So I've been around a long time. Right now today's the only one I'm concerned about. And that was about as tough a performance by a young man who has had people question his toughness, and I think that's probably the most satisfying thing.
Q. I was going to ask about Wayne Ellington. He's been a good player for you for a while. But in the last stretch four, five games, he seems like he's playing at a different level. What have you seen in his game, and what is sort of driving that?
COACH WILLIAMS: He's a better all-around player, first of all. Early in the year he wasn't shooting the ball very well. I told him, you know, take the ball to the basket, defend people, rebound the ball. There was a stretch there in ACC play that he was our second leading rebounder. He was getting more rebounds than Ed Davis, Deon Thompson and Danny. Tyler was the only one rebounding more. So I think he gained some confidence in that knowing that he's a very good player and the shot doesn't have to go in. That makes it a lot more pleasant when it does.
Then he started making a bunch of shots. Then he went through a stretch where he didn't make as. Again. And I think recently knock on wood he's made 7. And we hope he'll keep doing it. But he's a better all around player.
Again, that effort to knock the ball back into Danny was as good a play as we had the whole game.
Q. Is Wayne on a streak right now that's comparable to what McCants was in in '05 at the end of the season?
COACH WILLIAMS: It's hard to say, because, you know, I'm trying to remember everything. I know Rashad was really good. But he missed four games and played in the ACC Tournament and wasn't very good. In the first two rounds in Charlotte, Marvin off the bench got 20 in both games. So I think when I think of that club, I think of three or four guys doing different things and that's the way I think of this club, too, three or four guys doing some really nice things for us.
Q. When Garrett gets on some guys sometimes they can't get good shots, but you stayed aggressive with Wayne. Was there ever any thought of maybe because Garrett was on?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, that's a good question, but I always laugh when football coaches say we took what they gave us. I don't want to take what you want, okay? And Trent, I don't want to take what Trent wanted me to take. So we challenged our guys to do a better job, setting better screens for Wayne. We challenged Wayne to do a better job with his movement and to not make soft plays.
But Garrett is really, really good defensively. I think he's really good. I've seen four games in the last 48 hours. But I think it was a challenge. Just because somebody's good, I don't think we should ignore him. Wayne is extremely important to us. So we're going to do that.
If you understood what Danny said on your previous question to Danny about there at the end they went small. So we went small. We only had one big guy. We had Danny as our fourman, so it was easy because we started switching the screens on the ball.
End of FastScripts