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March 21, 2014

Brice Johnson

James Michael McAdoo

Marcus Paige

Roy Williams


North Carolina – 79
Providence – 77

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by University of NorthCarolina head coach Roy Williams, student‑athletes Marcus Paige, James Michael McAdoo, and Brice Johnson.  Coach, if you would make an opening statement, then we'll take questions for the student‑athletes only.
COACH WILLIAMS:  Well, we feel very fortunate to say the least.  We really did some good things and we really did some bad things.  But we made a couple of plays at the end.  We had a couple of guys that made big‑time shots and a couple guys that got big‑time rebounds for us.
We were down 7, and the kids kept fighting.  It was 3:55, we were down 4 in the timeout.  I talked about how tough we have to be the last four minutes, and I thought our guys were really tough.  Again, they made some big‑time plays.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  James Michael, you obviously got a lot of questions this year about your free‑throw shooting.  Coming to the line at the end, how are you feeling that you have the chance to potentially win the game there?
JAMES MICHAEL McADOO:  I just felt confident.  I knew my teammates had my back, and I knew they were confident in me as well as the coaching staff.  I knew I just had to go up there and focus on the rim and just continue to do the routine I've been doing all year.  As you can see, I was able to do it.

Q.  Marcus, how hard is it when Brice is going like that and you have your offensive game going, to fight the school‑yard mentality of going one‑on‑one versus continuing to be a point guard and running your team?
MARCUS PAIGE:  Yeah, he had a phenomenal game.  It seemed like whenever they needed a basket, he came through for them.  He's really quick and can score off the dribble or shoot the jump shot and get all the way to the basket.  So it was tough for us, but we switched our ball screen defense up in the last couple minutes.  We changed the way we were defending it, and I think that helped us contain him a little bit better down the stretch.
But, yeah, that was an interesting one.  It was fun.  When someone has the hot hand like that and we're doing everything we can to stop him and we're coming at him with the balanced attack, it was a fun game.  Because we won (laughing).

Q.  Just talk about your three‑pointer to tie it up 77‑77.  Did you come out and was that play designed for you?  Just talk about the shot?
MARCUS PAIGE:  I'm not sure.  Was that the one off the offensive rebound or the one off the dribble?
Okay, yeah, it wasn't called.  We were just trying to get into our freelance five game zone offense where we're screening and moving, and James Michael set a great screen, and they didn't help out.  So I was able to knock it down.

Q.  James, I wanted to know, how could you maintain your composure while being able to play with two fouls early in the game?
JAMES MICHAEL McADOO:  I think the biggest thing was just realizing that I have been in that situation more than I wanted to this year.  But also, Coach putting me in there and just trusting me.  I felt like I was still able to go out there and still play aggressive and play my game.  But also just really help the team without fouling though.  I think that was the biggest thing.  But Brice stepped up huge, Kennedy, Desmond, Joel, you can go down the line.  Those guys stepped up phenomenally and definitely helped. 

Q.  This question is for Brice Johnson, after the Pitt game, you're kind of the bellwether of the team's offensive rebounding that you guys relied on to score.  How did it feel to get back on the boards?  You had four offensive boards tonight.  Could you tell me about your mentality going into the game especially on the offensive glass?
BRICE JOHNSON:  Well, it was just in practice Coach getting on us every day about getting to the glass and being able to get second‑chance points and not allowing the other team to get second chance points.  That is the big thing he's been emphasizing the last couple days in practice.
That is the one thing that we wanted to do, myself and Kennedy, James Michael, all of us got a couple of big offensive rebounds and we were able to convert on them.  We could have converted on them a little bit more, but we still hit the glass harder than we have been in the past couple of games.
THE MODERATOR:  Okay, gentlemen.  We'll let you go.  We'll now take questions for Coach Williams.

Q.  Could you tell me about the 86‑80 drill, and how it may have figured into your team's success?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I apologize.  I didn't have any idea what the first part of your question was.

Q.  Could you tell me about the 86‑80 drill you run in practice and how it may have helped you tonight?
COACH WILLIAMS:  We don't have an 86‑80 drill.  We have a thing that we do that we haven't done the last few weeks.  You're ahead 86‑80 with three minutes to play, and how you play down the stretch.  We also have it where it's 80‑86 with six points down and three minutes to play.  So it's just working on time and score.
Brice said the best thing there.  This week we really concentrated a great deal on trying to run better and trying to rebound better.  The last two games we've been outscores 41‑16, I think it is offensive rebounds.  And tonight that was a 26‑13 advantage for us.
But the 86‑80, what than means is you have a six‑point lead and three‑minutes to play.  You've got to get a great shot on offense and be really sound fundamentally on defense.  When it's 80‑86, that's when we're full‑court pressing and scrambling defensively and we still have to get a great shot, because I always say if it takes five more seconds to get a great shot or to get a better shot, that's what we're going to do.
Marcus' three that tied it up I think was an example of that.  We had a couple of opportunities where we could have shot it a you little bit earlier, but we waited and got a great one and he made it.

Q.  Coach, how would you compare Bryce Cotton's performance tonight to some of the other great performances you've coached against in your career?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I've coached a long time, guys.  I've had a lot of people play great against me.  Lindsey Hunter an NBA coach last year for Phoenix, he got 47 against us one night, but we won the game.  Anthony Peeler of Virginia got like 45 against us one night, and we won the game.  We held Big Country, Bryant Reeves, to zero for the conference championship and Randy Rutherford the guard got 43, but we won the game.  The youngster Tyrese Rice from Boston College got about 1,000 in the first half against us at Boston College, but we won the game.
We did change the first half I didn't want to play zone.  I didn't want to play our 1‑3‑1.  I wanted to save that for the second half that perhaps it might cause more confusion if they don't have a chance to talk about it at halftime.  I don't know if that worked or anything at all.
But the other thing we did is late we started squeezing the ball screen and going under, which is what Marcus was talking about, and it did help us a little bit.  But Bryce Cotton played one of the best games I've ever had anybody play against us.  My whole thought defensively was what can we do to stop him?  I think you look at that line.  I mean, 13 for 23, 7 for 7, 8 assists, that was as good a performance as any of those other ones that I gave you, even though they scored more points because he was truly dominating the game.
He's a sneaky little rascal too, because on the three that Marcus fouled him on, it looked like he kicked his foot out.  But I knew when he went to the free‑throw line that he was going to make the free throws.  So it was an impressive performance, and I said that to him when we were shaking hands.

Q.  I want you to talk a little bit about how your team plays as a unit.  You have a point guard in Paige who is a good floor general.  You have McDonnell who is a good shooter.  You have Tokoto who is a great all‑around player, and then you have two bigs in McAdoo and Johnson.  Talk about how they seem to play as a unit.  Obviously, this isn't your most heralded squad, but they play well together.  Talk a little about that.
COACH WILLIAMS:  It's been a fun team to coach.  We've had a little adversity on the court, off the court and this stuff early.  We got off to a start of 1‑4 in our league, and the kids never started pointing fingers.  We do have a plan.  I've been called frighteningly organized one time in my life.  I don't know what that really means.  But we have a plan and the kids have accepted it.  Every single day they tried to get better.  That is our mantra, let's get better today.  When it was 1‑4, I told them we were going to be okay.  We've just got to play better.  And I think that the kids gave us a much better sense of urgency in their play.
Marcus and James Michael are great leaders too.  They're leaders by how well they played.  They're leaders by how intelligent they are.  They're leaders how unselfish they are.  But when they say something, the other kids listen to them as well.
I think that the leadership that we get from that makes my job a heck of a lot easier.  But they've trusted our coaches.  You heard James Michael use that word right there.  He said he trusted me.  I walked out to him before, and put him back in with two fouls.  I said I'm going to put you back in, but I want you to be a basketball player and play with your brain.  I said I know you can do it, and I do trust him.  And I did that.  But they trust us too.  It's that special bond you have with a coach to a player. 

Q.  Coach, what is it about this group that you said they can play so well and so terrible, and they turn around so quickly from trouble.  Why does this group throwaway the bad plays so quickly?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I talk to them all the time about next play.  I mean scream at J.P. for a silly turnover, and I say it's behind us now.  Next play.  We do trust each other.  Again, we believe in each other.  I'm just dumb enough that I don't think the game is ever over with.  We were down against Pittsburgh by about 1,000 the other night, and I still thought we were going to come back and win the game.  I do try to instill that in our team.  And they trust us, but it's an unusual group.
We have one senior, all right.  Leslie is the only senior, but Marcus and James Michael are the only two on our club that's ever played significant minutes in an NCAA tournament game.  So it's really a young club.  But they follow James Michael's lead and Marcus's lead, and those are two great kids.  We're very fortunate.

Q.  Coach, can you talk about the mood in the huddle and what you said to James Michael when he was going to the line there the last few seconds?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I told him it was easy.  I told him, I said one time I was in a golf tournament, a guy said if you make this putt we win $55,000, and I backed off and started laughing.  I said why in the dickens did you tell me that?  I said it's a six‑foot putt, downhill, right to left, it's not the easiest putt in the world.  But I'm going to make the sucker.
So if I can make a putt for $55,000, and I said it's for my charity.  Not for me.  I didn't win $55,000 for me.  I didn't lose $55,000 by missing.  I said two free throws, that's easy compared to making a putt for $55,000.  So I was basically trying to get him to stop thinking about it so much.

Q.  Did you make the putt?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I did make the putt and we won $55,000.  You think I'd tell the story if I missed the sucker?  Come on.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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