Q&A with Jawad Williams

CHAPEL HILL -- Inside Carolina's J.B. Cissell interviews UNC sophomore Jawad Williams at the Smith Center Tuesday afternoon before practice.

I know that the guys on the team were disappointed about not making the NCAAs initially, but you've had a couple games in the NIT, and now you have a chance to go back to N.Y. How are you viewing this tournament?

We're having a lot of fun with this tournament. We're trying to use it as a stepping stone to get better for next year, if anything. We're in it now, and we plan to win it.

A lot of guys on the team have mentioned getting better for next year. Do you see this tournament as beneficial in and of itself?

Yeah, we still have a lot we can prove this year. We have to realize things could be a lot worse.

Twenty wins is now a possibility. That's a mark that can be used to measure teams. Do you see that as significant?

It really doesn't matter, but it would be a good thing, especially coming off of a 20-loss season last year. It would be a great thing for us to experience.

Tough experiences can galvanize a team and create some bonds, which is why many social groups put new members through--maybe "hazing" is not the right word--tough experiences. As a group, this team has been through some tough situations. What would you say are some things that have helped you bond?

Just dealing with the tough losses and the outside rumors with people trying to pick the team apart. But we stuck with it and played through it.

What is something specific that you can share?

The loss to Iona. Sean got hurt, and I didn't play in that game because I was sick. We came together, realized that we had a job to do in winning the next game, and then we beat St. John's.

Was there a players-only or anything like that?

Nah, there was no need for that. We knew what we needed to do. We talked about it among ourselves in the everyday situations and pulled it out.

Who initiated that?

Will Johnson and Jon Holmes brought us together and let us know that there were still some things we could accomplish as a team.

You've said in the past that there are lots of guys on the team who can lead. Will and Jon have obviously been here the longest, but of all the guys who will be returning, you probably have the most experience. And no, this season is over yet, but do you feel yourself really beginning to take a lead role?

I don't even think about that. I take each day one at a time, but when that day comes, I'll be willing to step forward and take that role.

Georgetown has some beef down low. You guys have defeated some teams like that, but you've also lost. Have you discussed how you can exploit your advantages?

We haven't really discussed it, but we've watched Georgetown play throughout the year, and we know what to expect. We have to guard them on one end, but they have to guard us on the other end.

If it's strictly a half-court game, they may have the advantage with their strength. What can you do to minimize that advantage and play to your strengths?

We have to use our quickness and athleticism.

What can you do specificially--press?

We have to play our typical defensive principles: pressure the ball, deny the pass away, box out.

You've been to N.Y. for the Preseason NIT. Does that take any luster off of this at all?

We know what to expect now. There's nothing new. We just have to go out and play hard.

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