Press Conference: Players' Comments

CHAPEL HILL - UNC basketball players shared their thoughts at a media gathering Monday night after watching AD Dick Baddour introduce Roy Williams as the new basketball coach.

Jawad Williams

I think the thing everyone noticed right off the bat was the suits you all were wearing. Was there a memo?

(Laughing) We got that too, but we also saw a couple articles calling us thugs, which is far from the truth. I want to get that out there right now. There are no thugs on this team. We are all just regular people. A lot of us were coming from work-outs, class, and things like that. We want to kill that image right away.

In retrospect do you think it was a mistake to wear the clothes you wore the last time?

I wasn't here that day, but I don't think anybody expected it. That media event was sprung on us just as it was sprung on you guys. We didn't know anything about it. We got a call and had to rush over here, as far as I know. But I think we did this to show that we are not thugs. We are just regular people, just student-athletes.

Was that an ufair portrayal?

Very unfair. If you sit down and talk to any of us, you'll figure that out.

What did you think about what Coach Williams said and about having him here in general?

I'm ready to play. I've been ready to play every since we heard that Coach Doherty was leaving. I just wanted to get out there and play basketball and move on. I think it's going to be a good experience for all of us.

Is there anything in particular that he said that struck you?

He's going to be there for us. That's what we need. We need somebody that's going to stand with us, and we are going to stand with him.

You guys had some differences with Coach Doherty. Coach Williams worked with Coach Doherty for seven years at Kansas. Is there a concern on your part there at all?

No. The only thing we are concerned about is winning games, and it's going to start tomorrow, as soon as possible. We are ready to get out there and work hard.

He has been at Kansas for 15 years, been to four Final Fours, two national championship games. Does his resume' matter?

No, not really. I think we realize that he's a great person, and that's really going to help us in the future.

Some of you guys were nodding approvingly when Coach Williams said, "We're going to win." What did you guys think?

I'm with it. I did a little bit of winning--not much my first year. It's going to feel good to be back on top.

He looked at you and also put some challenges out to you. What did you think of that?

It's nothing we haven't heard before. We don't back down from challenges on this team, so we are going to stand up and do what he tells us.

What did you think when he said you were going to play fast?

We are capable of doing that. We did it at times this year. If that's what he wants, that's what we'll have to do.

But does it excite you?

Of course. Running up and down and playing exciting basketball--that's what we came here to do.

There will be some walk-on seniors on the team next year; however, they don't have the game experience you do, and I'm not sure they've been on the team since their freshmen years anyway. You are going to be one of the players with the most seniority. Do you have a special role on the team now in the transition?

Making sure everybody works hard and does what coach tells us to do. I had that same responsibility this year. With another year under my belt, I can be even better in that leadership role.

Many coaches are hardest on their best players and the ones with the most experience. Coaches need somebody who is saying the same things he is when he's not around. Do you feel like you can be that guy if he sees you as that person?

Of course. If Coach Williams feels he needs someone to get on, I want it to be me, so other guys can learn by watching. I want to make sure this relationship starts off on a high note.

What does it mean to get a coach of this stature? You came to North Carolina, knowing the tradition. That meant a lot to you. You've been through a down period. Now you have one of the best coaches in the country to go with the school. What does that mean to you?

It means a lot. It shows that he's going to be dedicated to us, or els he wouldn't have made the move to come coach us. It will be a lot of fun. We're going to get back to playing exciting basketball, and, hopefully, get a lot of victories.


Melvin Scott

Coach Williams has been successful at Kansas. Do you guys get a confident vibe from him?

Absolutely. I was just looking at him, and the things he said made me smile. He gave me confidence already, and we are not even on the basketball court, so I know he's going to lift everyone's game and every's spirit.

What did he say that made you smile?

Just the fact that we are going to be a family, we're going to be unselfish. If he asks you to do something, do it. He's going to work harder than us. That's what you want in a coach. That's what I dreamed of coming here: family, working hard, winning all the time. That's what I dreamed of North Carolina. People are going to smell the roses. It's going to start to happen.

Is there a better coach in the country to take over this program at this time right now?

I just think at this particular time Roy Williams is the right fit. He did great things at Kansas. I just think that of the people we could have gotten this was definitely the best situation for him. Like he said, he turned it down before because it wasn't the right time, but now it seems like the best time. He just took his team to [the Final Four]. Anyone would want to lead Collison and Hinrich. He was loyal to those guys. At the same time, I know it was a difficult decision for him to make. With what this program has been through in the last few years, I think it was the best decision for the program.

Is there any concern that Coach Doherty has ties with Coach Williams, since he was an assistant at Kansas for seven years?

Absolutely not. Coach Doherty was very young. He's a young coach; we were a young team. We all were learning at the same time. I think Coach Williams, the [advantage] he has over Coach Doherty is experience. He's been through situations. He's been under Coach Smith. I think he will handle it well. It won't be the same as Coach Doherty--no disrespect to him. I just think Coach Williams is more experienced.

You guys look sharp tonight in your suits. Was it your idea to dress casually last time?

No, absolutely not. Last time we were warned that in 10 minutes we were going to have a press conference. We didn't know. We just had to run out here. This time, they told us a couple of hours before. We're used to dressing like this. We aren't thugs. There were some articles saying we dressed like thugs. We were just dressed like young men.

Do you think that was an unfair portrayal?

Absolutely. It was unfair to us. If somebody tells you we're going to dinner in 10 minutes, you think you can be ready? If your girlfriend says, 'Be ready in 10 minutes,' she's going to leave. I can't get dressed in 10 minutes after taking a shower and things like that. I think it was unfair, but, hey, that comes along with the territory.

When you found out it was Coach Williams, what were the players talking about among yourselves?

We were just a little nervous like 'Man, is he coming? Will we get him? What's he going to be like? We were just anxious and nervous. We want to do so well. He has high expectations for us, and we just want to succeed.

Is the the guy you wanted?

Yeah, I think he was. He's just been to two Final Fours. He's very loyal. I can tell that he's loyal. He has a great respect for the University of North Carolina. He's going to instill that in us, and we are going to do big things.


Rashad McCants

While you were sitting there listening to him, did you get a positive vibe from him?

Definitely. Being a winner myself, I know a winner when I see one. He definitely loves to win. He's very competitive. It's just a good feeling to know a guy is on the same page you are and have always been. I think all the players feel that way.

How much of a relief is this?

There was never any pressure. I just tried to do all the things I was brought here to do, to go to school and play basketball.

Do you feel better knowing the direction the program is going, differnt than a couple of weeks ago?

It's going to be differnt, but I didn't come here for the coach. I came here for the program. The program brought in a good coach to lead us to the promised land in where we want to go. It's not really a concern.

Doesn't having Coach Williams improve the chances of you doing the things you want to do, win the games you want to win, and other things?

I think so. Our team is very capable of winning a lot of games, regardless of who the coach is. And I think we have a big advantage in having Roy Williams who knows how to win and knows how to take advantage of situations.

You guys and Coach Williams have a lot more to talk about, but did you like the things he said about how you are going to play?

I liked the way he said we were going to set a lot of screens and get the ball inside and work from there. That's how I've always played.

What did you think about him saying you are going to play fast and play man defense?

It's no problem to me. We have the fastest point guard in the country, and he's probably the best point guard in the country. He's capable of adjusting and so are we.

What else did he say that stood out in your mind?

Respect and love for the players and his relationship with them.

Was there any concern about Coach Williams having a relationship with Coach Doherty?

I don't think Coach Doherty had anything to do with Coach Williams being hired or any kind of feelings we had toward him. Coach Doherty was a great coach for us. We respect him. He's a good guy in our books. We have a new coach, so we have to go along with it.

What is the feeling among the players about what people have said about you guys since Coach Doherty left and up to this point? And is this a kind of wiping the slate clean?

First of all, I'd like to say that anything the media put in the papers that embarrassed Coach Doherty, we disregard that. We would never do anything to disrespect him in any way. He's always been a great guy to us and a great coach. It's unfortunate what happened, and we wish him the best.


Raymond Felton

Are you excited about basketball practice now?

I was excited last year because I was in Carolina blue. Coach Doherty was a great guy and a great coach. It's definitely going to be exciting. I'm going to work hard. I'm excited every time we step on the court.

Will it be exciting through the summer months?

Oh, yes. I know we have a chance to be in San Antonio next year.

What did you think when Coach Williams said he is going to care for you the rest of your lives?

That made me feel great. That let's me know what type of man he is. He's very loyal, he's passionate. He shows love for his players and his former players.

What did you think about what he said about the style of play--setting screens, going inside, passing out, playing fast, man-to-man defense, all of that?

It's great. I'm willing to do whatever it takes for my teammates and I to win. I enjoy passing the ball more than I do shooting, so it will be a great thing.

Is it a relief to finally be able to move on after all the rumors the whole year and now the last couple of weeks?

Definitely, because of all the chaos and all the questioning, and all the media being around every time we come to the Dean Dome, all kinds of things like that. I'm not knocking the media because that's their job, but just all the quesions that we really didn't know. That's why I was like 'No comment.' I never knew anything. I'm happy he's here and all the questions are over.

On if Williams coming home is a perfect fit

I would say yes, yes. It's when everything just falls into place. It's a feeling that he had that he wanted to come here, and I have a feeling that we're going to be in San Antonio next year, but we have to work hard.

On if he thought Williams was coming

At first I didn't think we were going to get him because he loved his player, the fans and the people (at Kansas). I knew it was going to be hard for him to leave, but deep down in my heart I knew he was going to come.

On if he watched Kansas in the Final Four and thought that was how he wanted to play their style

Definitely, that's my style. That's the same kind of style I played in high school.

On the confident vibe when watching Williams addressing the media

I got a confident vibe from him because I knew he is a great coach. So once I heard he was coming I had a confident vibe from day one. But you know, hearing him talk, he's a very respected guy, he loves his players, he's going to work hard every moment to make us better. It's going to be a great thing.

On the experienced assistant coaches, which include for Florida State coach Steve Robinson

He brought great coaches, we have a great coaching staff. Not saying that the past coaches weren't great because I loved them all, but this is going to be great to have people like that coaching us.

David Noel

Is it good to finally be able to move on after all the chaos of the past couple of weeks?

It's going to be great. It gives us a chance to isolate ourselves and just be with our teammates and grow together and get things back to the way they were. Now we don't have to answer any questions. We know what's going on and things like that.

You had the promise of a scholarship from Coach Doherty. Was there any concern about that when he left, and do you still expect to get a scholarship?

I was promised by Dick Baddour that he would fulfill that, so I'm not really concerned about it. I'm going on his word. If it doesn't happen, I'll still be at Carolina. There are a lot of things that will happen this summer. I'm just going to try to work hard and prove to Coach Williams that I'm capable of getting a scholarship to play at Carolina.

You were one of the players who declined to meet with Dick Baddour after the season. Why didn't you meet with him?

My feelings with Doherty were up. Coach Doherty and I had a great relationship. I knew that a lot of the guys had negative things to say. I didn't really want to get involved because it seemed like I was the only one--or mayb a couple of guys--were the only ones who were going to go and say something positive. Coach Doherty and I had our run-ins, but I could put that to the side. I really didn't want to meet with Dick Baddour because I didn't feel like that was right. I talked to Doherty about everything, and he was fine with the decisions that were made. We just ended it on a good note.

On how when Williams says jump they need to say ‘How high?'

We are, we will. He's the head coach. When he says jump we will say ‘How high?' We are going to be like that all the time. That's the way to win the national championship.

On if Williams spoke to the players before the game

He talked to us right before we came out, that's why we went back in. He just asked us how we were doing. We were sitting down. I love that he is a man of respect, and that when he came in and met with us (before the meeting) that he told us we looked great. I am looking forward to playing for him.

On Williams commenting on how the players were dressed – they were all in suits and most wore ties

I didn't attend the press conference a couple of weeks ago and I heard a lot of rumors about the way guys were dressed. It's not about that. Carolina Basketball is Carolina Basketball. We're trying to represent it the best that we can. But at the same time, the clothes don't make a person. I understand some people have their thing about that, but clothes don't make the person. We're still great guys on the inside no matter what we have on.

On watching Williams speak to the media and having confidence in him

He just brought it out from the jump and said he cares about us and we're going to be coached and coached well. And when you have a coach like that all you can think about is how good we're going to be coached and how good he's going to make (us). Once we get going and we realize some of the things he wants us to do and how good we can be it's going to be great.

On if he watched the national title game and what he thought watching Williams

I had a gut feeling he would come, but I didn't want to make any speculations at the time. I had a feeling but I wasn't too sure, but now I'm glad it's over.

On if he was pulling for Kansas

Yes, yes I was.

Jackie Manuel

On what was going through his mind watching Williams during the press conference

Basically a new start. They say we have to get ready so we will. It's a new start with him.

On if he now believes the program will be where he anticipated when he signed with UNC

Yeah I do. I feel like he's going to take us back to the Promised Land. He's a great coach, that won't stop.

On if he could feel a confident vibe from Williams just being near him, watching his speak to the media

Yes I can, and basically I can't wait to talk to him, to get to know him, and can't wait to play for him.

On if he is glad this whole process is over

Yeah, I am really glad. It's been a while.

Byron Sanders

On his thoughts about Williams being hired

I am really excited. I was really nervous about the whole situation, but I'm okay now.

On what he sees in Williams, knowing how successful he has been and seeing him for years on TV in big games

When we first met him in the locker room, I felt it. I was feeling great about it, I was like, ‘I like him.' He's going to be real good for us.

On if he believes Carolina basketball will return to where it had been for so long

Yeah I do, I do. He's going to be great. I feel so much confidence with him.


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