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March 26, 2011
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined now by Head Coach Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina. And Tar Heel student-athletes, Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall, Dexter Strickland and Tyler Zeller. Coach, please make an opening statement.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, needless to say, I say it all the time, if you are fortunate to be in this situation, you are very happy to be here. It is a wonderful game for us last night, and the first half particularly. The second half it was sort of surviving out there and trying to do enough to make sure it didn't go crazy. But I was really pleased with my team and their preparation and how we were ready to play when we started out. I am thrilled with where we are now. But at the same time we hope that we can do a heck of a lot more. I know we are facing a fantastic Kentucky team that's been in some tight games here and has made big plays down the stretch. So we're looking forward to playing.
Q. This is for Kendall: Can you talk about the similarities or differences with your counterpart in Brandon Knight and what you have seen so far?
KENDALL MARSHALL: Brandon, he is a talented special player. He made a lot of big-time plays. I think he showed throughout his career what kind of player he is. He's the anchor of the team, the point guard, keeping them going. Two big shots in this tournament to keep the season alive, and I am looking forward to going up against him.
Q. Roy, the first time you guys played can you take anything out of that game? You were so different, they are so dramatically different or that's very much in the past now?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: A little bit of both. Both teams are drastically different. I think both teams improved greatly since that time. Personnel changed for us. I think that both teams were very young and still very young, but I think the experiences that we've gained have made both of us a much better team. I think you have to look at it as a coach because you don't want to overlook something, but I do think that the teams are really different right now. And there might be some adjustments made during the course of the game, but I don't think we'll make drastic adjustments just because of what happened in that game.
Q. Coach, can you talk about what makes the big three, I guess, so effective in Henson, Zeller and Barnes? Do they all bring a little something different? And if I can get one of those guys to talk about that as well.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, our front line of Harrison, John and Tyler have been very productive scoring-wise, rebounding-wise and got better and better as the season has gone along defensively. I think Kendall, Dexter and Leslie and the other guys that come in, add something to the mix, also. We do have length. Z at 7 feet and John 6'10" and Harrison 6'8", we can bother some shots around the basket and also score around the basket.
But to me the best thing is the versatility because they can run. Harrison can stretch the defense. We do have some offensive weapons there, but they also guard you and do a good job on the defensive end of the floor. But I think Dexter and Kendall particularly do a really great job of getting them the basketball where they want it. I thought the first half last night may have been our best passing game of the year, I think we had three turnovers at halftime. So it is those three guys do a great job, but it is about all five of them.
JOHN HENSON: I was talking to Z, probably about seven feet. (Laughter.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: He has grown since the season started October 15th when we measured him.
JOHN HENSON: I kind of walk besides Z and we are pretty close. But as a unit I think we play well together. We kind of feed off each other and, you know, I kind of just I want to get the ball to Z, just like everyone else on the team. And Harrison is the outside guy and I kind of pick up what's left. And I think it's just working out for the best.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: $10 billion contract and two microphones and no cookies for the players in their holding room.
Q. This is for Tyler and Coach, Tyler first: Ever since about, I don't know, six or seven weeks ago when Tyler Hansbrough was back in town for a game, it seems like your play is more physical, getting more and-ones and you get fouled and the ball gets to the rim a little more. Is that a signal point when things started to change? Coach, how did you notice Tyler's game within that respect improving the last two months?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: First of all, if I thought it had something to do with Tyler Hansbrough coming back, I would have his ass here tomorrow. Okay. But secondly I don't think it has anything to do with it at all. I think Tyler Zeller has played better, gotten better and more physical and has been able to understand that he has played a whole season this year. Now, if you tell me it has been because the big fella is back here, I will fly him in and I will let him answer the rest of that.
TYLER ZELLER: Tyler, he's always been somebody I played against and learned from. But I don't think it had anything with him coming back. I think it was just kind of going through the season and I think I just started to become more assertive towards the end of the season and progressed from there.
Q. Coach, could you speak a bit about the level of trust and communication you need to have in your starting point guard and vice versa. And then explain a bit how you and Kendall seem to have achieved this in such a short time.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: It's easier for me because he is such a bright young man and he understands how to play the game of basketball. It's been an easier transformation maybe than any point guard I coached. Jacque Vaughn was sensational at the 2, academic All American those things, but Kendall played a lot of basketball. He played a lot with very good players and that's who he is up here on the table with, is talented individuals. And he understands their play and where they want the ball and what they can do.
The best thing I have with Kendall is that most of the time, I just have to say something to him once and he understand what we're talking about. Whether it's, you know, if we want to run B3, which side you go to, or B1 hold which side you go to or away and he understands that and he keeps it and puts it into play on the court. For me, he is so intelligent a player, he is not very intelligent off the court, okay, but he has been a very intelligent (smiling) player on the court and did some really good things. I am on a roll.
No, but it has been easy because he is such a fantastic young man and fantastic player.
Did you want Kendall to answer?
Q. I feel like he deserves a rebuttal. Do you have anything to add, Kendall?
KENDALL MARSHALL: I was about to say "thank you". I am second-guessing that (Laughter). I think me and Coach's relationship has definitely went to the next level. He put a lot of trust in me that I can lead this team and hopefully take us to the next level. And again, it is not just me and Coach, it's our whole team and how we have all bought into the fact that we want to win and we're going to do what it takes to win. So I think a little bit of it is the relationship with me and Coach, how it has grown, but ultimately I think it is our whole team's relationship.
Q. Dexter, in the first game were there any possessions you can recall where you ended up on Knight? If so, what do you remember about it?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: All I can say he is a special player. And I remember he likes to drive. I played him before and I think the adidas Nations Camp and I pretty much knew what type of player he was. And like I said, he's a great player. And there was some plays down the stretch where he drove to the basket and got and-ones and stuff like that. But I think we just got to go out there tomorrow and just play supportive defense and play the way we have been playing.
Q. Are there any possessions where you actually ended up with him?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: Off the screens and guard-to-guard screens. And Larry Drew pretty much played defense on him the whole game, but throughout the game there has been a little bit of switching and stuff like that.
Q. Dexter, given what's happened to this team in the last 17 months, are you surprised you're one win away from the Final Four? And if not, why?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: I am, especially the season we had last year. And just to have the season we had this year, it is a great feeling. We had some losses throughout the season. You know, with Larry and Will and stuff like that, but I just think that brought this team together even more. And the team chemistry I think is at an all-time high and I think it is key to our success.
Q. If you would, compare the challenges Kentucky presents tomorrow as opposed tomorrow to in early December. What kind of cookies would you like?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Peanut butter, snicker doodles, sugar, we like all kinds of cookies. We used to like brownies a lot more but Danny Green told everybody about it.
I think I have seen Harrellson grow and grow into even more of a scorer opposed to a screener and rebounder and defensive player. He does a great job of setting the screen, rolling to the basket and getting the basketball and finishing the play. And I think he developed so much defensively. For the huge part of the game last night he guarded Sullinger without any double-teams, so that allows the other players to stay out on the floor and not jam down. I think Brandon is always been a really good scorer, but I think he has developed even more to a true point guard, a leader out there. And an even better defensive player, and I don't know if in high school he was asked to be a great defensive player, but I think John pushed him in that role. I think Doron has developed as a scorer even more so than I ever thought he would, and I thought he was going to be a very, very good player. But he had 24 against us, and has continued making big shots throughout the course of the season. I was trying to go down their line-up. I think Terrence got off to a great start and perhaps might have hit a lull but some of the games lately have been like what he was before. Liggins last night may have been as impressive a player as there was in the entire game.
I think to me the first thing I see is how much each individual player has developed. But the other thing, you know, John is going to go a little wacko on the sidelines because he is John, but I don't think the players drive him to that as much as they did earlier. It speaks well for those kids being able to buy into those things and do it. I think everybody has grown.
Q. This is for the three players that were here last year. I was wondering, and Dexter --
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: We don't have anybody that was here last year.
Q. I was wondering if you can talk about it, the three players and Tyler touched on it, what you learned last year you might have been able to take over to this year?
TYLER ZELLER: I think the basic thing we learned is how bad a season can go. Before the ACC we did all right. But the ACC play started and we plummeted. And then the NIT we were able to turn it around. But you can learn a lot based on how focused you have to be in every game, how prepared you have to be. And then the consequences of not doing that. I think there were times we didn't prepare for games as well as we needed to, or we didn't take our scouting report and put it into the game. And you could tell in the game that we weren't prepared for the game. And they had advantages, which they shouldn't have had. So you learn a lot of things, and then I think we have done a great job of staying away from making those mistakes this year. And then just trying to do as much as possible.
DEXTER STRICKLAND: I would same the same thing.
JOHN HENSON: Same thing.
Q. This is for Harrison and Tyler: Coach has twice said Kendall gets the ball to you in the right position. Can you talk about the right position and what that entails?
TYLER ZELLER: The right position is when he throws me the ball and there is nobody within five feet of me (Laughter). No, when you are posting up you always have a certain frame of which you have an advantage against your defense, or just a place that, I mean, a difficult pass to make in which you can get the ball on the post and make a move. So it entails a lot of things and it is a very complicating thing. I can't really put a sentence on the right time, but it makes our jobs so much easier when we get the ball and we catch the ball cleanly in a position where we can score.
HARRISON BARNES: As a perimeter player Kendall does a great job of getting me the ball close to the three-point line opposed to earlier in the season. They were close to half court or 10 feet off the top of the key. So it makes it difficult to attack and difficult to get into a good shot. What Kendall's penetration does as a shooter, he allows me to get into a rhythm which allows me to make a lot more.
Q. Roy, everybody points to the game where you inserted Kendall into the starting line-up as the game where everything clicked and changed. Was it really that simple?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I don't think it was that simple. Kendall had been very important to us prior to that, but we still had Larry at that time. And when I put Kendall in the starting line-up I felt as a coach I needed to do something because I wasn't pleased with what we were doing, particularly the way we played at Georgia Tech. And we put Kendall in there, put Larry coming off the bench and for four of the first four games, Larry played very well for us coming off the bench. Even the last game at Boston College before he left the team he had either nine assists, zero turnovers, or nine assists and one turnover.
It was not just that day, because those four games and then I think it was major that when Larry decided to leave that it was Kendall's team then. And we have talked about trust here a moment ago, and I think that I have tremendous amount of trust for these guys up here. Every single one of them. They have a tremendous amount of trust in Kendall and vice versa. I think it was more of a gradual thing with the exception of when Larry left, it was Kendall's team as a point guard to run and everyone knew that. And still to me one of the highlights of my year was when he did set the freshman record for an ACC game. And I told him and said it in front of the team in the locker room, the happiest guy was Dexter. And very emotional and showed him, how enthusiastic he was. And it says a special person to enjoy other people's successes other than just your own. And Dexter had been starting and the whole bit. But he was genuinely very happy for Kendall and I think it says a lot about the kind of kids that I am sitting up here with. And also Mark told me, I apologize, I said Doron, but it is Doron Lamb and I should remember how to pronounce his name since he got 24 against us last time.
Q. What is so difficult about trying to keep up with the tempo of you guys? I mean LIU tried to do it and it backfired. Washington tried and didn't work and Marquette tried to an extent. And it doesn't seem they figured out should they run with you, slow you down?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: It is a good question. It is a hard question to answer quickly. In coaching, this is my opinion and I'm not the best by any means, but in my opinion there are certain things that every coach really emphasizes more and hopefully they do that better because you emphasize it more. We emphasize running. I really want it to be in the 80s and 90s all the time and wouldn't mind it higher. One of the greatest games I coached we beat Texas at Texas 110-103 and some other coaches are not comfortable with that but I am. We work on it like this. It is hard, I use this example, Vince Lombardi, the Packer Sweep, we are going to run the sweep. Everybody knew they would run it but they still had to have personnel to stop it and worked on it every day. When John Robinson at Southern Cal and people knew what they were going to do but they practiced it and did it every day. The team that were trying to get prepared for them only had two or three days to work on it. I think that is the most difficult thing.
There are things that John does with Kentucky and things that Buzz does with Marquette that they do a lot better than we do because they work on it every single day. And that's their emphasis. And I think that's the best answer right there, is that we emphasize it more than anything. We practice it every single day. And yet we do have some teams that have made it difficult for us to run, and it's the reason that my job as a coach is I have got to be able to figure out how to win. As I always said we have to figure out how to win in the 50s and 60s also. This year we won one when we scored 48, which is beyond any belief I could have. We emphasize it more and the other teams don't have enough time to prepare just for that.
Q. Roy, we go through this exercise every year of asking players what they're going to do? Are they going to the draft? Are they going to stay? School? Sullinger last night is up here and everybody makes a big deal about what he says. As a coach who deals with these guys on their futures every year, how do you view this kind of interplay during the Tournament where it seems like guys are more focused on saying the right thing than saying what they are really doing.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I will go back farther than that, a lot of times the kids don't know what they are doing. And the kids, tremendous number of them, a huge majority of them try to emphasize and concentrate on what they are doing right now, you know, and that's not just thinking about what might be done. And I have no idea what Jared said last night, I have no idea, I haven't seen it. But I think that it's a difficult question to ask. And I know it's going to be asked every year. I hope it is, because it means I have very good players.
But it's almost, you know, it is an impossible question to answer. You know, you are not thinking about that. You know, the big snafu or the thing that I said in 2003, I really didn't care anything about North Carolina at that point, I cared about those kids in the locker room and I thought it was the worst question somebody could ever ask after I told them, don't ask me that question of the air. And if you don't know what I am talking about, okay.
But it is a hard question to answer because -- Marvin Williams, Marvin Williams left us after we won the national championship in 2005. If you asked him after the national championship game if he was coming back, he would have said yes, and he would have meant it 100%. 2000 I said I hope if I have another press conference it will be when I am retiring or dying and I believed it right then. Regardless of what you ask, you should know that you will not get the complete full answer because most of the kids don't know. They haven't had the research done by their coach. They haven't had the research done by their parents. They're just getting over a great win or just getting over a horrific loss. I think that's the part that is difficult for you guys to understand, and from our viewpoint it is hard to understand because we think, why would you ask that?
In 2003 I had one of the greatest teams I had and the kids were in the locker room crying and somebody wants to ask me that kind of question and I did not appreciate it. Never will appreciate it and never will forget it. There is a human factor that everybody has to understand, too. In your job, I guess, you have to ask it but you also have to understand it is also not going to be a very good answer.
Q. Roy, you can answer this question because Calipari does not operate a computer, do you have a match-up situation tomorrow night with Knight? Now that Larry is not around, do you have to put Dexter on him?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: You know, we have done that in other games that we played in the Tournament. If the point guard was quicker, more of a penetrating point guard, you know we have made some switches and put Dexter on him, and put Kendall on the two-man. And we have done that several times during the course of the season. That game was over with last night close to midnight. We met as a staff this morning, met with the team. I've watched one entire game and a half of another game today. So the truth of the matter is, we don't know who we're going to match-up with. I am not any better with a computer than John is but I have the laptop that tells me to press this button, the game shows up and that's what I watch. But we have done that several times during the course of the season. And last night Cadougan kept driving Kendall to the basket and so the last four minutes of the game I got Dexter and Kendall to switch last night. It is something we are comfortable with, yes.
Q. Coach, I asked about Tyler earlier. The reference point when Hansbrough was in town it seemed that's when he started playing with more physicality. Are there series of conversations you had with him about using more of his full body, his strength and did the light go on at some point in the last couple of months?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: You know, there is no magic day. I mean, I talked to him about that since the first day he stepped on campus three years ago. Every day that he goes in the weight room that's one of the things he's trying to work on, is to get bigger and stronger and more physical and be able to handle the blow and still finish the play. I have never had a player like Tyler Hansbrough that would make the play and then realize the referee blew the whistle and oh, you called a foul and I get to shoot a free throw, too. Most guys go up and are thinking of drawing the foul or screaming "oh!" when they hit him.
What we are doing with Z, we have been doing for three years. I don't think it's a light switch, gradually he has gotten better and better and he played more games this year than he had in either one of the first two years. And so the more experience of playing, I think, is the answer to the whole thing. But that was about as big a reach for me because I have seen Tyler and I can't tell you what game he came in or anything. I think it had zero or less to do with Tyler Zeller's game. The restaurants in town liked it a lot better when he came back.
Q. Roy, I know as coach you never want to go through a season like you did last year, but has it made you appreciate getting back in this position maybe more than past seasons?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: You know, I guess you can say that. And you can turn it around and say it made me appreciate what we had done previous to that more. I said several times in 2005 we were presented our national championship ring September 19th in that fall, the first time we ever took time or I ever took the time to say, my gosh, we won a national championship. In 2009 I tried to consciously to make sure that we, as a staff, took some time to realize it and enjoy it, and you can't. So many things to do, it is hard to sit back in a rocker chair and look up at the stars and say how great it was because you are still trying to work and get ready for the next season or finish the recruiting, whatever it is.
Last year was a horrible year, in my opinion, for my career, for my basketball livelihood. It was a wonderful year because we had our first grandchild but that is the only daggone thing that happened that I am that proud of. But I think what it did is it made me realize the things we had done previous to that were pretty doggone good. And I think it really made me appreciate how this team handled a lot of adversity. Last year we had a lot of adversity. The top eight guys missed 48 games. Last year's team weren't able to handle did as well and be as successful. So it made me appreciate that group of kids just in a wonderful, wonderful manner.
And you know, the way we were laughing with and at each other up here, it is just a marvelous group of kids to be around.
Q. Coach Williams, going off of that, we were just in the back with half of your team and they are playing Catch Phrase. It was an intense game and they are having a lot of fun. Can you talk to the fact how loose this team is going to a big stage.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I don't know if they are that loose or just that immature and don't know what the heck is going on. It is a little bit of both. But they are kids. And that's the reason I get upset with the media or fans fact like they are supposed to be perfect. They are not perfect, they are kids. (Loud noise off to the side).
I'll tell you something funny. Last night in the coach's room beside the locker room and I said, guys, guys. Got everybody to be quiet because I could hear this ticking. I looked down and on the wall there is a hole and there are some wires coming out and then I realized it was the game time clock ticking off. So you know buildings we are evacuating the building, things are falling, I am a little on edge, you have to understand that.
But it is just a group of kids. And sometimes people expect too much of them. They expect them to be perfect. And what you see is what I see every day. And what I see was you guys should have had your cameras on outside, we actually thought we were getting to leave. And they were sprinting. You talk about tempo, if we had run that frickin fast yesterday against Kentucky tomorrow against Kentucky we would be better off. They are kids and that's what they are. On game day they did nice things with focus and toughness and it's whatever happens tomorrow, nobody can enjoy their team more than I enjoy mine.
Q. Roy, Harrison Barnes game in with incredible expectations on him and got off to a slow start. I wonder what your observations were during this time when he was struggling. What was your counsel to him during this time and how satisfying was it to see him snap out of it?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: You know, all of it has been extremely satisfying to see him because it wasn't easy for him. The expectations were off the charts and they weren't very realistic and you can use any phrases you want to. But he was under more of a microscope than any player I ever remember at North Carolina. We brought in Tyler Hansbrough and he wasn't in that type of microscope. I was there when Michael Jordan, James Worthy, nothing like it was for Harrison. So he is human. It bothered him some, but he is so focused and driven and disciplined, he kept at the task at hand. He is a task-oriented kid. And he went through his workouts, and went through practice and listened to what we were trying to get him to do. And every week, and I really mean this, I saw him getting better every week and it just didn't transfer to the games quite as quickly. You know, he played at Ames, Iowa winning a state championship two straight years, undefeated two straight years and pretty much had his way. And now he is playing against guys that are big and quick and athletic like he is.
So for me it is extremely satisfying, but it is really got to be satisfying for him. And he made the reference last night, someone said about his cold start. He said, "I went 0-for-12 in the game, you think that was a cold start? That didn't bother me." It is really satisfying and it has to be satisfying for him, too.
Q. Roy, from what you have watched of Kentucky, what makes them so effective defensively?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: They have size on the perimeter. You know 6'4" to 6'7", 6'8" guys that can really slide their feet. Long arms who can stay in front of you, they can stop you from penetrating the ball to the basket. They can close-out on you, if I can use a football term there, that you think you have a gap and you are going to be able to get an open shot and they close on you so quickly. They have the guy Harrellson, who may not be a great shot blocker but really clogs it when you do drive in there, so the perimeter players feel even if I make a mistake he will take a charge or make it not easy. And Terrence, and the other perimeter players are big enough they can block shots, too. I think it is their athleticism. John and his staff and their attention to detail, and they want to guard you. They realize how important it is.
Q. Roy, I was curious, you look at the other three regions and at least one team in there where you sort of, you know, raise your eyebrow as little bit. People will look at this and say sincerely Carolina, Kentucky and 4,000 combined wins and 31 Final Four appearances or whatever, but when you met in December, did you see potential for either team to kind of get to this point? Or were you so raw at that point you had no idea what you had?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I can't evaluate Kentucky because I prepared for them in playing that game, but I didn't really look and try to decide where they could be later on. But you can talk to the local guys and girls around our place. In November I said, our team will get better and better and better as the season goes along. I said that in November and December when we were 4-3. I said, guys, I am not ready to panic. There were a lot of people jumping off the ship. And abandoning ship as fast as they could. And "old Roy's lost it. He didn't do anything last year, he's not going to do anything with this group." And I kept telling everybody this team will get better and better. And it wasn't because that I am a great seer in the future but I believed it. And I think the kids believed it and we went to practice every single day.
So did I look upon it that we would be sitting up here having a press conference in the Elite 8? I don't think in those terms. But I thought we had a chance to be a big-time basketball team and I think our team has done that.
Q. Coach Calipari has talked about his pregame routine and his experience he brings into an Elite 8, especially with the competition that he is facing with you. Can you talk about your pregame routine, getting your team just to on this quick turnaround focused and ready to play tomorrow?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, John has been around it a long time. I mean, this is my 38th year as a coach. 23rd as a head coach. Most of the time if you do some things and they don't work, you stop doing them. And most of the things that you find that does work or it doesn't harm your team, you keep doing them. That's the way I do. We've tried to prepare our team throughout the course of the season the same way we did in 2005 and the same way we did in 2009. But you never know. I'm telling you, and I know you probably don't remember and you shouldn't, 2008, I walked out of the locker room before our game against Kansas in the Final Four and I was convinced that we were going to continue playing great. And we had played great in those four games prior to the semifinal at the Final Four and we laid a rotten egg. So you don't really know. But I was convinced we had done everything the same way, everybody was positive, I was positive, very confident. I was trying to be extremely positive with my team, just like we had been the four previous games of the NCAA and the three games in the ACC Tournament. So we're going to do those same kind of things.
We had some quick turnarounds in our own league we play and had one game off and play again. I think we had two of those. And at this time you have to also be concerned about the legs of your team and not take their legs away from them, you have to play tomorrow. My whole idea is to give them as much information as I can today that they can comprehend that they can remember, but I'm not trying to win tomorrow's game today. And so that's the way I look at it.
Q. Coach, Tyler Zeller was just saying that the Kentucky game, the first one this year, was really important to him because it showed him what he was capable of doing. How important was that to this team, especially early on? And how did you see him change, if at all, after that game?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Well, I think it was important to Tyler, and his next few games weren't, if I am not mistaken, he had 27 I think that game but his next few games weren't anything like that. But I do believe it gave him a great deal of confidence that on a big stage against a big-time team he can score. He has always been a scorer. He was an unbelievable scorer in high school. So I think it gave him some confidence.
And it was a game that we needed. You know, we needed to win one of those. And we had played Minnesota when they were ranked in the top 25 and lost. Vanderbilt ranked in the 25 and lost. At Illinois in the top 25 and lost. Texas, Texas may have come after Kentucky but the other thing I know came before. We needed to win one of those and I think it did give us some confidence. And I think it showed Tyler what he can do. But he didn't drastically change the next day, but that was probably the foundation of his confidence.
Q. Coach, just curious if Rupp and Dean Smith could be sitting upstairs and having an HD TV and having maybe a pop and a big bag of popcorn and get to catch both teams tomorrow, what do you think they would say of the style of ball, the quality of ball, how the game has changed and by golly, how each guy would want to beat the other guy because of the love of each school?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I would be a little better off than John because Coach Smith would be pulling like crazy for North Carolina. And Coach Rupp would understand the Kansas ties a little bit. It may only be 1% or 2% and I would have a little more than John. I would have a little more support there.
I think they would be, they would be pleased with the athleticism and the team play of the two teams that they are going to see tomorrow. I think that would please them. I think they would be pleased with the defense that both teams would try to play tomorrow. I think that during Coach Rupp's time at Kansas, you know, with Dr. Naismith and Dr.(Phog) Allen and those people it was a much different game from what he played and he was a big-time player, too. But I think it would be something that would please him with what he saw at the end of his coaching career.
You know for me, thinking of that, I sort of feel, you know, very special to be somewhere down the line. I've had some connection with those kind of people, so I think it would be something that I would hope they would be very pleased with to say the least.
Q. Coach, you came close a few times before your team's won the whole thing. Coach Calipari's come close a few times. Do you still think there is a perception out there in the world of college basketball fans that a coach has to win to validate?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I can't answer what the typical fan, but there probably is. Or maybe I should say there may be. I don't think there is in coaches. You know, amongst us the peer group. I said in 2005 and the same thing in 2009 that Coach Smith said in 1982 that three hours before, you know, what happened in the last three hours didn't make me a better coach and I truly believed that. And in the coaching profession we realize there are big-time coaches. I coached against a couple of guys that I thought were great coaches. Norm Stewart at Missouri, never even made a Final Four, and I thought he was a great coach. Gene Keady at Purdue a great coach, never made a Final Four. And you can't put that label on somebody in my opinion. Now what the fans do or say or even some people in the media, I don't necessarily think it's fair because that would be like you guys saying you weren't a success at all unless you wrote for paper A or were on TV on a certain night and I don't think that is the way anybody's life should be qualified or graded whether it was a success or not.
Q. Coach, you were asked earlier about the match-up with Brandon Knight. And in general terms, is that what this tournament boils down to, just the match-ups?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: There is a lot of it. When we played Duke we put Dexter on Nolan and Kendall on Seth and we have done those things in the past. I do believe it gets down to a match-up a lot of times. But last night's match-up of Harrellson and Sullinger. You look at the stats and you say Sullinger may have gotten him a little bit, but it didn't make any difference because Kentucky's team won. You can do some things, go down and look at some of the things that happened in the Duke game when we played them anytime. Well, this part of North Carolina's team outplayed that part of Duke's team or vice versa. But it didn't make any difference. At the end it either Duke won or North Carolina won or Duke winning again. And the match-ups have a tremendous influence during the course of that game.
But I'll say this, too. I don't think that's the biggest thing in this game because you have two teams that really are teams. It's not one guy scoring 30 and getting -- and this isn't nothing reflecting against anybody else in the Tournament. It is just that I love it when we have five guys in double figures. And John probably likes it that way himself. It is not just one guy, so perhaps a little less in this game than some of them.
Q. Coach, you've had a lot of highly touted freshman in your coaching career and there are a lot here this weekend. What factors determine if a freshman succeeds or falls into a hole they want get out of?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I don't think I can answer that because I don't think there is a formula. And I am not the smartest coach but I am not the dumbest guy either. I don't think anybody figured it out better than I could. You have to have that will power, you have to have the confidence, you have to have the hunger, the passion. You have to have the understanding of how good the other people are and sometimes it may not be as easy as it was in high school. And if you do that, then you can keep going. If you go and you think it's going to be just as easy as it was in high school and you don't have the work ethic, that is the two things I guess that I can say will lead to failure.
Other than that, you know, I had freshmen come in, the expectations may not even be realistic at all. A guy in high school may have just been bigger and stronger than everybody in high school and faster and drove it to the basket all the time and scored and couldn't shoot a lick. And guys 6'6", 230 in high school scored like crazy but in college he has to play on the court. So many factors there.
Q. Coach, to me it seems like Dexter is a very confident player. What can you say about that? And how does it show in his defense?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: He is a very confident young man. He was a defensive player of the game for us last night. He had their leading scorer, did a nice job. Got help from his teammates, too. Sometimes he's too confident because he tries to do things and split the gaps when it's not there or outrun people and it is a one-on-three situation. But I would rather have it that way opposed to not being confident. And I think that I'd like Dexter to get a little more confident, even in his shot. He has some things he needs to work on because he has a couple of flaws in there. If he can do that and be a confident shooter, then we really have something.
Q. When the time comes to talk with the NBA guys, and give them information and talk to the families and the kids, how are you going to deal with the lockout thing? What are you going to do there? April 22nd will be here pretty fast.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I am going to look at it realistically. Everybody tells me there is going to be a lockout but I will also do one thing, that I have always done -- here is the information, what do you want to do? And then I'm going to support what that individual wants to do. I had strong feelings with some kids what they should be and I have told them that. I've not had strong feelings in most cases and told them that. Saying whatever you want to do I'm going to support. And I'm going to have feelings and opinions as the time comes closer on all of our kids. And I'll tell them that. But then I step back and say, hey, tell me what you want to do and I'm with you. And I just think that it's a rule made by the NBA for the NBA for their better purpose. And we've got to understand that part of it and we have to emphasize the college game as much as we can, too.
Q. Coach, what's your perception of the Blue Steel on and off the court?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Great group of kids that have been very, very helpful to us. The kind of kids that you like to be with. And they have accepted their role in trying to do it as best they possibly could.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports