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March 19, 2011
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
THE MODERATOR: Who has the first question?
Q. Any of you guys, Isaiah, any of you guys, when you think about North Carolina and when you were younger, what do you think about when you think about a school like that in basketball?
ISAIAH THOMAS: Michael Jordan. I mean, the best player to ever play the game went there, and then they got a lot of legendary players. It's basically every kid's dream school. I mean, to go to North Carolina or play against them, it's legendary.
Q. Can each of you guys talk about sort of the pace that you expect tomorrow. This is probably going to be a very entertaining game from a spectator's constant point. I assume it's fun for y'all to find another team that wants to run with you.
JUSTIN HOLIDAY: It's going to be a fast-paced games. We're both teams that like to run in transition, so there might be a few heartaches here and there. It's uptempo. That's the type game we like to play. Hopefully, we can have a good game for the crowd, but really we want to get the win in the end.
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: Definitely uptempo game, something we love. We feel we're at our best when we're running the floor. Coach always says you got a good shot in transition, take it. He's always giving us that kind of green light. He thinks we're going to make the right decisions. I think it's going to be a lot of fun just being able to play with a team like that.
ISAIAH THOMAS: Going to be a great game. It's going to be fun, like them two guys said. It's a team that wants to play like you. You don't want it any other way.
Q. Matt, I assume you'll be matching up with Henson, at least a little. What have you watched of him so far? He's very disruptive on defense. What have you seen of him so far?
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: A really good talent, lot of length. Obviously with his size and his wingspan, gets to a lot of blocked shots. Just got to be physical with a guy like that. Lot of shot blockers, I block shots myself, you kind of like to get people so you can get an opportunity to block shots. Try to just close that gap, be physical with him on both ends of the floor, and getting your body into him so it's more difficult so he's leaning back so he won't be able to block as many shots as he usually does in the past.
Q. Not let him be far away from you?
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: Kind of close the gap. Lot of shot blockers like their space. So being able to back up to get distance away from me or whoever he's guarding in the post so he can go up and get the shot. If we can I suppose play the position to close that gap, I think it will be a lot more difficult to block shots.
Q. Because of Carolina's length and their size, do you feel like you can penetrate and get to the rim tomorrow or will this be a game where you have to rely more on offense from the perimeter?
JUSTIN HOLIDAY: I think we will be able to go inside. It's always to our advantage and something we used in games. We can't stop doing it now. It's what we've used to get to this point. Going inside will also help our perimeter scoring or success tomorrow. I think we're still play the inside out game like we always do off of penetration or going into the post. Just because they're long, we're a pretty long team ourselves. We'll be okay there.
MATTHEW BRYAN-AMANING: A lot of things that we like to do obviously play inside and out, we have great penetration. Obviously Isaiah, doing what he does, our guards being great shooters, being able to pump fake and get in the lane. I think we're going start out that way obviously, playing inside, a lot of -- I've been double teamed a lot lately. So hopefully I'll be able to get some one-on-one action on the block and being able to go to work.
I think these guys will look for me. And also doing what they have done in penetrating more and settling for the outside game after.
ISAIAH THOMAS: I'm going to do what I always do, try to force the action, be very aggressive to make plays for my teammates and get in the paint. I mean, a team like that, you still got to run your stuff. You still got to what what's got you here. I'm going to be highly aggressive to make plays for my teammates.
Q. Justin, Harrison Barnes, what have you seen from him? Can you tell how you may be able stop him?
JUSTIN HOLIDAY: He's also another real good talented guy. He can score in multiple ways. I think I'll have to make sure I'm there when he catches the ball. Probably even limit him some touches. Do that to the best of my ability. He's still going to get the ball. When he does, contest every shot he shoots. That's all I can pretty much do from there.
Q. Isaiah, what are your thoughts about playing North Carolina in North Carolina?
ISAIAH THOMAS: I love it. I mean, backs are up against the wall. We have very few fans here. So, I mean, feels like everybody is against us like it's been the whole season. So it's nothing new. We know it's going to be a lot of baby blue in the crowd. We're ready for it. It's the NCAA Tournament. So I mean, you have no excuses.
Like I said before, I can play in my home town and we can end up losing. You got to be the more mature team and really, really fight through adversity because there's going to be a lot in games like this.
Q. Isaiah, because of that, because there's going to be a lot of fans there, you guys haven't gotten off to the best of starts lately. How key, how important is it to be aggressive right from the get-go, not fall into that same hole and let the crowd get all over from the early part of the game?
ISAIAH THOMAS: It's important. Whatever happens, happens. You got to dig deep and play defense. That's what comes down to. It's basically a road game for us and a home game for them. We've been in a lot of road games where the environment has been crazy, and I know their fans are going to be behind them a hundred percent, but we're going to be behind our teammates and coaches a hundred percent.
We got to dig deep and give it all we got and get stops on the defensive end in environments like this because if they go on a run, we know the game's built for runs and they're going to go on runs. We got to sustain it and get some defensive stops.
THE MODERATOR: Anyone else? Okay. Thanks guys. We're ready to start with Coach Romar.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Could have stayed here and just had breakfast after the game early this morning. But we're excited to be back, excited to be able to move on to the second round. We all know our opponent is a very good basketball team, outstanding program. Goes without saying, we're going to have to play a really good game in order to be successful in this game, but we're looking forward to playing.
THE MODERATOR: First question to our left.
Q. Lorenzo, at least since the West Virginia game last year, you've made a point that teams get not only better but bigger in the NCAA Tournament. And you've tried to adjust for that. Can you talk a little bit about the North Carolina bigs and your ability to adjust to matchup with that?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: They are big. I would agree with that. They are -- when you go out there and you see them out on the floor, that's one of the first things that struck me was their length. They have great size. There are times we can put a line up out on the floor that I think can come close to matching their size.
Q. Coach, Roy Williams had some pretty scathing criticism of you in his press conference.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: That's usual.
Q. He said number one, that you owe him money for ice cream. Number two, that you had a daughter that went to UNC and that she was the only smart person in the family. Can you respond to those accusations?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: He's unbelievable. (Laughter). He begged me to walk to the store with him to go get ice cream, first of all. I was minding my own business, "Would you please, I don't have anybody to walk with me? Would you please walk with me to the store so we can get some ice cream. I'll buy."
Okay. All right. I guess I didn't want to be rude to him. So we went, yeah, bought some ice cream.
And my daughter did go to North Carolina, that's true. I may as well tell everybody the story. No, never mind, I won't. Let you tell him the story. Coach Williams is unbelievable.
Q. Tell us.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: The story?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: I don't know if this is one of those in-house stories I'm not supposed to tell. It probably be better if you asked him about going into a recruit's home that we were recruiting, also.
Q. He said that.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: He did? So it's out of the bag. Since he fabricated the ice cream story (laughter), how did he tell the recruiting story? Let me hear it. Someone tell me.
Q. He said both of you were recruiting Marvin. He looked at Marvin and said, "Ask Lorenzo where his daughter goes to school."
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: I knew he would mess that up (laughter). It was Martell Webster, it wasn't Marvin, it was Martell Webster. And he was talking to Martell Webster about how many people really loved North Carolina and the Carolina blue. He said even his own son -- when Coach Williams was at Kansas, even his own son went to North Carolina. He said, you know, Coach Romar's daughter even goes to Carolina. I thought that was interesting, he brought that out in the home visit.
Q. Neither one of you got him. Didn't he go pro?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: He signed with us but he did go to the NBA, so we never had him.
Q. Where was this alleged ice cream incident?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: My version is not alleged (laughter). This was -- this summer when we were -- I think we were on a USA Basketball Committee helping select one of the teams. We in the same motel. That's when he begged me to go get ice cream with him and promised me he would pay for it.
Q. This is Colorado Springs ice cream?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Pretty sure there was Blue Bell there and Blue Bell is usually sold in the South. It was San Antonio. There you go. It was San Antonio up.
Q. Cup or cone?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: No. It was a pint (laughter). If I don't have the facts, I won't say the story, unlike Coach William.
THE MODERATOR: Back of the room.
Q. I really hate to end this fun, but I was going to ask you, you were talking about the West Virginia game a little bit last year and the emphasis on the bigs and that. How important was it for you to go out and find that 7-footer to be able to combat a team like North Carolina in the off-season?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: It was extremely important. I've said it many times, few years ago we played Louisville and walk out there and just see that size. We play against UCONN, 2006, you walk out and see that size. We saw it against West Virginia and Purdue and we just knew if we wanted to have an opportunity to go further in a tournament, we needed to have that type of size. I think we've made some strides in the right direction that way.
Q. Coach, can you just talk about finding another team like North Carolina that likes to run like you do and what you expect the tempo to be and what you want -- what needs to occur for your team to win tomorrow?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Well, there's going to be a lot more possessions, that's for sure, than we been accustomed to playing with.
They are so good in transition. They not only get the ball up the floor, but they're very organized in their approach. You can be back, you can have all five guys back and still not stop them, because they're not just running, they're running with a purpose. They're very efficient in their transition.
So they want to do that. We want to push the basketball. Both teams I think get up and try to pressure the basketball. I would imagine it will be a lot more possessions than we're accustomed to seeing in our last few games.
Q. Coach, you coached at UCLA. Talking about the tradition of North Carolina, what can you say about the deep tradition that they have and how much is it a motivator for you as you're trying to build your thing at Washington?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Well, when you look at the programs like that, and there are not many that are like that, that's something that takes time, takes a long time. North Carolina has been doing this in terms of being successful at a high level for many, many years, many decades, and you just don't pop up overnight and in few years all of a sudden establish a tradition like that.
Again, we joke about it, but my daughter did graduate -- our daughter did graduate from Carolina, and I've gone through the Dean Dome and looked at the campus and you just -- the tradition just jumps out at you. Just oozes with success there. So I think that's pretty special. You can see they've been doing that for a long, long time.
Q. Coach, two questions: You changed your starting lineup for the Georgia game. Will you go to that same lineup again tomorrow? And then number two, the players were asked about their ability to penetrate and get to the bucket against the bigs, and they all think they can. Can you talk about those difficulties tomorrow?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: We'll see about the starting lineup. As far as getting to the rim, you better have a purpose and a plan because they're long, they block shots effectively. If you're going to go to the basket, you need to go strong but you also need to make good decisions. Can't be stubborn against those guys. Regardless of what happens, they're going to maintain that length. When you go to the basket, you have to be under control and you have to be very purposeful.
Q. Coach, you're such a good story teller. Could we get your version of meeting a ten-year-old that you later recruited in the game of horse?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: I'm glad you added horse instead of saying I beat a ten-year-old. The rumors would really fly on that one.
Friend of mine named Herb Anderson who played Little League with me, or I played with him, and we had stayed in touch over the years and he had moved away and I was coaching at St. Louis at the time and he was going to be in town visiting some friends. So he asked not only could he come by for the Fourth of July and see my family but could he bring this other family with him that he knew really well? So sure, bring them on.
So the family comes over and we're all there together and we're eating, playing ping-pong, watching television, that type of thing. There were a lot of kids around, you know. When it was over, as they were loading up their van, there's a little hoop in my driveway that their ten-year-old son was -- kind of took the ball and shot one or two. And I said, "How about you and I playing one-on-one. Let's see what you got, little man."
So we played one-on-one. And as I always say when I tell this story, I'm not boasting but I beat him, okay? (Laughter). He was ten years old. He got in the van. Everybody was smiling but him, but I didn't pay too much attention to it. Well, he began to cry on the way home because he was so upset that some old man beat him one-on-one. And his dad, you know, we kind of became friends. And they began to call me, I'd like to bring my sons to your games, St. Louis. They would come and talk.
He said, "If my sons son is ever good enough, I'm going to let you know." Sure enough, when he's in the ninth grade, he said he was good enough and we began to recruit Scott Suggs and he's in his third year playing for us and has done a very good job for us.
That's the story and it is all the facts are there and it's true (laughter).
Q. Unlike Roy's ice cream story?
A Unlike Roy's ice cream story. And now that we understand, some of his other stories (laughter).
Q. Have you played a lot of one-on-one since, and could you still beat him?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: We haven't played one-on-one since. I probably need about three to four months to get in shape enough so that I'm in shape to play him.
Q. Just going back to Roy Williams for one second, what was the first time you actually met?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Actually met was probably in recruiting. I was at UCLA as an assistant and we were recruiting Paul Pierce and we ran into each other quit a bit then. That was probably the first time. Obviously I was aware of who he was, but we actually met around that time. And I would say, ask him but I don't know how much validity there would be in it (laughter).
Q. Coach, Terrence Ross kind of admitted there was first game jitters on Friday. Did you see that and what could you expect with him going forward?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Terrence Ross said he had jitters? I didn't know it was possible for him. I would say on one account I'm a little surprised. On the other, maybe that's to be expected first time in the NCAA Tournament. What I would expect from Terrence Ross is for him to bounce back and be fine.
Q. Coach, the players talked about playing Carolina in Carolina and kind of related it to an us-against-the-world mentality in some ways with the amount of Carolina fans. Can you use that as a positive to kind of play that up as a form of motivation?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: We have these conversations on the side, riding on the bus, in the airport. What do you enjoy the most, being at home, the crowd is going crazy, you go on an 8-0 run, it's just loud, you can't hear yourself think, or going on the road and it's just silence because you've gone on your second 8-0 run?
As a player, they're both a lot of fun. I think you have to be able to do both. And the main thing with us is we know we're playing against a great basketball team and a great environment in a big stage, NCAA Tournament. Whatever is thrown at you, you have to be able to go out there and play with poise and kind of be even -- on an even keel the entire time, regardless of what happens.
We know it's going to be pro North Carolina, Carolina blue being there, and they do a great job of supporting their team.
Q. Coach, I'm not sure about the crowd. Everybody has talked about you coming here and playing North Carolina. I think the Duke fans get tickets to the game tomorrow.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: They do, huh?
Q. You know what to expect. They'll be converted Husky fans.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Okay (laughter). We'll see. We'll see what happens.
Q. Coach, it sounds like you've gone against Roy quite a bit on the recruiting trail. Can you just tells what it's like to have those battles with him?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Coach Williams is one of the most relentless recruiters out there, if not the most relentless as a head coach. There are some head coaches that once they become head coaches they leave all the recruiting to their assistants.
Coach Williams became a head coach and has continued to recruit like he's an assistant and there are a handful of head coaches that do that. Nowadays, all the recruits sometimes they base -- based on how interested you are is how involved the head coach is.
If that's the case, they will always know Carolina has a lot of interest because Coach Williams is very involved. When you're going up against them in recruiting, you know you better have your A game because they're going to work really hard.
THE MODERATOR: Anyone else?
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: I see Eric out there. Did he recruit you, Eric? No, because he wasn't -- he recruited you as Kansas.
I know you guys are doing the interview (laughter) but did his assistants recruit you or did he recruit you?
Q. You have to test the validity of my answer.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: If you don't remember.
Q. I was always very impressed with Coach Williams.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: He does a great job in all aspects.
THE MODERATOR: Anyone else? Okay. Thank you.
COACH LORENZO ROMAR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports