Wednesday PC Interviews

Inside Carolina's Wednesday press conference coverage includes quotes and audio from head coach Roy Williams and Leslie McDonald, who spoke to the media at the Smith Center as the Tar Heels prepare for their ACC home opener against Virginia Tech on Thursday.

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Has Dexter Strickland evolved into the player that does all of the little things for you?
"Well, he's aggressive. Just like there was a loose ball, Harrison chased it down and threw it up over his head and it goes way up in the air and I look and Dexter is our guy that is going to fight for it. Farrakhan was there and Dexter was there. And it was a good feeling, because I had this feeling that we were going to come up with the basketball. He has got tremendous speed [and] he's very aggressive.

"He dove on the ground another time because he made a bad pass and had turned it over and tried to knock it back loose. But he is an aggressive kid and I'm confident in him doing some things. I don't know if I would say he does the little things – I don't think I'd go that far. There was a bad bug on the scorer's table that I tried to swat because he wasn't doing the little things. But I do think his aggressiveness and being able to come up with certain plays and loose balls is very important."

How big of a confidence boost was it for this team to win on Saturday in the fashion that they did?
"Well, I hope it will be good, but we won't know until the next one comes and then the next one comes. I know if I were a player, it would give me some confidence. It would give me the feeling that something can change. Let's be thinking about the next play, not the last play, so I'm hopeful that's what will happen with them."

On his current team not allowing the long runs that hurt them last year:
"The bottom line is you stop runs by scoring. My gosh, if you can't throw the dadgum thing in the ocean, then you're going to have trouble stopping someone else's runs. We had struggles last year putting the ball in and we had struggles Saturday putting it in, but so did the other team."

How much more confident are you in Leslie this year than last year?
"That's pretty easy – look at the stats. He's shooting 20 percent or 40 percent. Every time he pulls the trigger now, I think it's going in if he gets set. We were trying to go 2-for-1 at the end of the Virginia game in the first half, and he took a terrible shot, so I didn't feel like that one was going to go in. But every time he has his feet set and he starts to shoot it, I think it's going to go in. He's been shooting it well and I think we need him to continue it."

Have you been impressed or pleased with how well this team has played defensively?
"Neither, if you use impressed or pleased. A coach is never pleased. But we need to be a good defensive team. That's what our goal is. At times this year we've been really good defensively and at other times we have not, but we're looking for that consistency and I think we've got a chance. I really do. Last week – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – was about as good, no, it was better than this team has ever practiced. Defensive group work, golly bum, we were flying around, we were talking, we were doing all of this stuff and then we got up there and couldn't guard a bath tub. So who knows?"


What part of Saturday's win encouraged you the most?
"Just our comeback. We were a little down in the first half, not all of our shots were going in and the defense wasn't quite there, but we came back with the defense and finally started making shots. That's really what we had to do to come out with the victory."

What did you work on most during the offseason that lead to your improvement?
"Just my technique, making sure I get my footing correct with the right placement, making sure I follow through and get great extension on my shot."

On what was different between the Texas and Virginia games:
"Texas was pretty hard with the last-second plays and everything, but we felt like if we would have done our assignments in the beginning of the first half and second half on defense, then it wouldn't have come down to a last-second shot. So we made sure down the stretch against Virginia that every defensive play was crucial to us. We felt like if we could stop their offense, then it wouldn't go down to a last-second shot, and that's what happened."

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