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March 17, 2013

Reggie Bullock

P.J. Hairston

Marcus Paige

Roy Williams


MIAMI – 87

COACH WILLIAMS:  Congratulations to Miami, it will continue to be a phenomenal year for them.  They won the regular season, and then validated it by winning a conference tournament as well and it's just a ‑‑ a great, great year.  But down there they have four guys in double figures.  They're really a big‑time basketball team.  Shane Larkin is hard to handle out top, he's phenomenal, he really is.  He's probably the most effective player in our league.  He just does so much to help their team and puts pressure on the other team.  He plays hard defensively.  Everybody knows their roles, they take what role they have and they do a great job with it.  Trey McKinney Jones and Rion Brown gettin' 32 between them, it's guys you talk about, it's Miami's guys you talk about, you talk about Larkin and then you talk about Durand Scott, and you should.  And you talk about Kadji and Gamble and you should, and those guys stepped up for them big today and 12 for 22 from 3‑point line it's just hard to handle, but again congratulations to them.  It's a phenomenal year and I thought the way Larkin played today he was the best player in the league.
Everybody on their team did when they were supposed to do.  And guys I got no problem with my team, I got nothing to complain about with my team today.  I'm really proud of my team.  I'm not talking about the entire year, I'm talking about today.  Unbelievably proud of what they have accomplished and how far they have come when everybody was abandoning ship earlier.  I'm really proud of my team, and the way they played today.  We had a mix‑up on an out‑of‑bounds defense and they don't have to make the three from the corner, but they made the three from the corner and we came down and the next possession, P.J. shot, came all the way down and all the way back out.  My team was aggressive, attentive, and yes we made a couple of mistakes, but that's the fame of basketball.  I feel very lucky to be the coach of my team.

Q.  P.J., what change, if any, did you see in the Miami defense, because coming down the stretch you found your shot a little harder to get.
P.J. HAIRSTON:  They adjusted and went smaller to match up with us, they put Rion Brown at the 4 I think, and gamble in at the 5.  They were basically switching everything, trying to keep a smaller defender on me and stay under me and try to make it hard for me to get a shot.

Q.  I would like to ask the players to analyze the difficulty of getting consistent stops one after the other, particularly the second half.
REGGIE BULLOCK:  It was a veteran group, they made some big time shots.  I felt we would make some great defensive stops at times but you know it was just all of two minutes, just lack of focus, getting to those players to be able to capitalize on those shots.  On our mistakes they were just capitalizing.  So they ‑‑ they basically just did a great job at capitalizing on our mistakes.
MARCUS PAIGE:  I think they tried toinvolve our defense with their screen on ball, which is difficult to defend.  You know Larkin usually draws two or three guys, and when you have shooters that are making shots it's just a tough team to defend.  And then you know, long shot, long rebound, sometimes it's hard to chase down those rebounds.  They do a good job of spreading you out, and, you know, they're a veteran group, they know how to run the spread offense with a high‑ball screen.  I mean, it's tough to defend.
P.J. HAIRSTON:  Basically what Reggie said, they made great plays down the stretch.  Trey and Rion hit some big shots.  Like Coach said we had a miscommunication on the inbound play and left J.P. with two people and that left one person wide open.  He had to play two people and he made the shot in the corner.  He didn't have to, but he made it, and that's just the main thing, they had some great stuff toward the end of the game.

Q.  P.J., your hand, can you give us an update on how it feels today and how it felt throughout the game?
P.J. HAIRSTON:  It felt fine, didn't bother me at all.  Just the thought of me having 10 stitches in my left hand stopped me from trying to reach or trying to do certain things but other than that I still played through it, regardless.

Q.  Obviously you guys are disappointed right now but considering the way the game went the last time you played these guys down there, is there any sense of‑‑ not satisfaction but pride that you progressed as much as you did between then and now?
MARCUS PAIGE:  No doubt in my mind.  I know that my team ‑‑ we wanted to win this game we came out and tried to give it our hardest, we made some great plays as a team.  We were showing pride, they disrespected us.  When we went to their place and we just came out, we want passion, in this game we just try to give them a run for their money, you know we had the game, but you know like I said it was a couple of mistakes that they capitalized on, but overall I felt like my team wanted to win this game and we came out and played the hardest.
P.J. HAIRSTON:  I think it started last night when we were watching film.  Last time we played 'em, I'm not going to say this, but it frustrated us to see them‑‑ they were having fun against us, so we wanted to come out today and play with the intensity that we haven't played with against Miami, that Miami hadn't seen, and kinda surprise them.  We came out and played for forty minutes and they just made‑‑ like I said, they just made big plays toward the end and converted off our mistake.
REGGIE BULLOCK:  I agree with what P.J. said watching the film last night on the game at Miami really probably helped our mind set, because you watch that and you take it personal when you see them throwing the ball at the backboard and dunking it and getting wild with shots and high‑fiving during the game.
So we just wanted to come out with the mind‑set that we're a better team than we showed last time, and we had a really great opportunity to earn a ring and win an ACC Tournament Championship.  And they probably outplayed us for the last 5 or 6 minutes of the game, but other than that, it was a dog fight.

Q.  Marcus, most guys you have top defend might be a great passer or a great penetrator or a great shooter.  Larkin seems to be all of those things.  Is that one of the toughest defends that you've ever had?
MARCUS PAIGE:  Yeah, definitely, you don't realize how quick he is‑‑ well, some of you think you realize how quick he is, but until you're out there defending him it's just a different level of quickness.  He's really a complete guard, he's not selfish, he attacks, he finds the open man, he's had as good a year as any guard in the country.  He's a great player.  I know it was probably the toughest match‑up for me all year and we had to have multiple guys help defend and a lot of teams struggled defending him and we did tonight, too, but that's a tribute to him.  He's a great player.

Q.  Attention turns so quickly to the brackets but you seemed emotional about this today, am I right?  That it seems like it's an emotional thing for you?
COACH WILLIAMS:  Well, it is, there is no question about that.  90% of the people in this room abandoned ship, 95% of our fans did.  Nobody knows how hard these kids have worked and you get right here and you would like them to be rewarded even more.
Un, it is a weird day.  I told my guys I didn't ever want to walk in there and say okay, guys, it's over with, we'll see the selection show on TV at 6:00 because I want guys to hurt and learn from it.  So if we get an opportunity again it will be even more important to them.
But it's always important to me, you don't get that many chances to be a tournament champion of the ACC.  As each game goes by it's closer and closer to the season being over with and that's hard to do, too.

Q.  Coach, the way your team played in the last month, wasn't it deeper than just the lineup change?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I think the lineup change is something that just happened.  Talks too much about coaching.  Every one of my players got better and that was the biggest deal.  Each individual got better in what we were trying to get 'em to do and that was the bigger story to me than the lineup change.  Yes, we did that because we thought it would give us a better chance to win but, Marcus is better now than he was in December, James Michael is better than he was in December, Reggie, Dexter, you can go on down the line, P.J., and the credit should be given to those kids who really worked extremely hard to get better.

Q.  They don't give trophies for it but do you feel a sense of satisfaction?  They were right there at the end.
COACH WILLIAMS:  I get satisfaction in my team improving, and it was anybody's ballgame.  I don't watch the score that much but it was anybody's ballgame with five minutes to play.  Again, you have to congratulate them.  Dan's question was a good question but it's not just what did North Carolina fail to do.  That other team has a say in the game, too and you have to congratulate them.  Shane Larkin is a pro.  Whenever he decides to do it and that's not a sly way of me trying to get him to leave by any means, I wish he would catch a 24‑hour cold when they play us, but he's a phenomenal player, you got to give him credit.  You gotta give gamble ‑‑  gamble, the first half of the game he kept setting screens, setting screens, and then all the sudden the second half he found some openings in the slit, and they got the ball to them, and got offensive rebounds for baskets, so you have to congratulate their team but I'm proud of how my team got better, I'm proud of those kids.

Q.  Coach, Coach Larranaga three decades going was an assistant in this league, on the losing end of a couple of title games, you've known him for a long time, but he's taken a different course to get to this day.  What can you tell us about him that is different and unique what's interesting about his story of his age, coming into this league and winning a title in his second year?
COACH WILLIAMS:  Jimmy has done a fantastic job.  Those kids have bought into what Jimmy wanted to do, and they're experienced and they're talented.  They could have resisted but they bought into what he wants to do, and I think that's the true sign of a coach that can get players to buy in for a common goal.
That's the most significant thread, you know.  Whether a different path to get here or not, you know, I'm sure Jimmy had some opportunities from Western Kentucky, George Mason.  He might have been able to leave earlier, but he was happy where he was.  When he was an assistant, I was a calendar salesman at that time.  They let me come and sit on the bench and practice every day, but I was a dog‑gone calendar salesman.  I don't think anybody went the same path I did.  You have to congratulate him.  He's a very intelligent man.  He cares about the kids, it's not just about the number of points and the rebounds.  He's the kind of coach that you would want your son to play for, and that's a big of a complement as another coach can give.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned the people who, as you put it, "abandoned ship" or gave up on this team.  Was there a moment or a day or a week that you saw something or had a message that got this ship, in your sense, "righted"?
COACH WILLIAMS:  Not really.  You know, being a basketball player at North Carolina is wonderful, but it's also very tough because the expectations never change.  We had four guys drafted in the top 17 picks and everybody thought we were supposed to be better this year than we were last year, so that's a good thing but it's a tough thing.
I don't know that I would say‑‑ I'll give you two times, okay, and I don't know which one is more important or even if they are.  We're 0‑2 and we play at Florida State and we competed our rear ends off and all of the sudden we made a couple of plays down the stretch and we win.  That was huge for us, told us we had a chance.  Then I think the other time was after the game when we played Miami and Duke back‑to‑back and everybody is going to say it was the lineup but it was the kids.  It really was.
They accepted when we were trying to get them to do and tried to play more intelligence and with a greater sense of urgency and we go on a streak there but I would say both of those times would be the ones that I would pick.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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