NCAA Sat.: UNC PC (w/audio)

NEWARK, N.J. --- Inside Carolina's Saturday press conference coverage includes quotes and audio from head coach Roy Williams and North Carolina's starting five, who spoke to the media at the Prudential Center as the Tar Heels prepare for Kentucky on Sunday.

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Opening comments:
"Well, needless to say, I say it all the time, if you are fortunate to be in this situation, you are very happy to be here. It is a wonderful game for us last night, and the first half particularly. The second half it was sort of surviving out there and trying to do enough to make sure it didn't go crazy. But I was really pleased with my team and their preparation and how we were ready to play when we started out. I am thrilled with where we are now. But at the same time we hope that we can do a heck of a lot more. I know we are facing a fantastic Kentucky team that's been in some tight games here and has made big plays down the stretch. So we're looking forward to playing."

This is for Kendall: Can you talk about the similarities or differences with your counterpart in Brandon Knight and what you have seen so far?
KENDALL MARSHALL: "Brandon, he is a talented special player. He made a lot of big-time plays. I think he showed throughout his career what kind of player he is. He's the anchor of the team, the point guard, keeping them going. Two big shots in this tournament to keep the season alive, and I am looking forward to going up against him."

Roy, the first time you guys played can you take anything out of that game? You were so different, they are so dramatically different or that's very much in the past now?
WILLIAMS: "A little bit of both. Both teams are drastically different. I think both teams improved greatly since that time. Personnel changed for us. I think that both teams were very young and still very young, but I think the experiences that we've gained have made both of us a much better team. I think you have to look at it as a coach because you don't want to overlook something, but I do think that the teams are really different right now. And there might be some adjustments made during the course of the game, but I don't think we'll make drastic adjustments just because of what happened in that game."

Coach, can you talk about what makes the big three, I guess, so effective in Henson, Zeller and Barnes? Do they all bring a little something different? And if I can get one of those guys to talk about that as well.
WILLIAMS: "Well, our front line of Harrison, John and Tyler have been very productive scoring-wise, rebounding-wise and got better and better as the season has gone along defensively. I think Kendall, Dexter and Leslie and the other guys that come in, add something to the mix, also. We do have length. Z at 7 feet and John 6'10" and Harrison 6'8", we can bother some shots around the basket and also score around the basket.

"But to me the best thing is the versatility because they can run. Harrison can stretch the defense. We do have some offensive weapons there, but they also guard you and do a good job on the defensive end of the floor. But I think Dexter and Kendall particularly do a really great job of getting them the basketball where they want it. I thought the first half last night may have been our best passing game of the year, I think we had three turnovers at halftime. So it is those three guys do a great job, but it is about all five of them."

JOHN HENSON: "I was talking to Z, probably about seven feet."

WILLIAMS: "He has grown since the season started October 15th when we measured him. JOHN HENSON: I kind of walk besides Z and we are pretty close. But as a unit I think we play well together. We kind of feed off each other and, you know, I kind of just I want to get the ball to Z, just like everyone else on the team. And Harrison is the outside guy and I kind of pick up what's left. And I think it's just working out for the best."

WILLIAMS: "$10 billion contract and two microphones and no cookies for the players in their holding room."

This is for Tyler and Coach, Tyler first: Ever since about, I don't know, six or seven weeks ago when Tyler Hansbrough was back in town for a game, it seems like your play is more physical, getting more and-ones and you get fouled and the ball gets to the rim a little more. Is that a signal point when things started to change? Coach, how did you notice Tyler's game within that respect improving the last two months?
WILLIAMS: "First of all, if I thought it had something to do with Tyler Hansbrough coming back, I would have his ass here tomorrow. Okay. But secondly I don't think it has anything to do with it at all. I think Tyler Zeller has played better, gotten better and more physical and has been able to understand that he has played a whole season this year. Now, if you tell me it has been because the big fella is back here, I will fly him in and I will let him answer the rest of that."

TYLER ZELLER: "Tyler, he's always been somebody I played against and learned from. But I don't think it had anything with him coming back. I think it was just kind of going through the season and I think I just started to become more assertive towards the end of the season and progressed from there."

Coach, could you speak a bit about the level of trust and communication you need to have in your starting point guard and vice versa. And then explain a bit how you and Kendall seem to have achieved this in such a short time.
"It's easier for me because he is such a bright young man and he understands how to play the game of basketball. It's been an easier transformation maybe than any point guard I coached. Jacque Vaughn was sensational at the 2, academic All American those things, but Kendall played a lot of basketball. He played a lot with very good players and that's who he is up here on the table with, is talented individuals. And he understands their play and where they want the ball and what they can do.

"The best thing I have with Kendall is that most of the time, I just have to say something to him once and he understand what we're talking about. Whether it's, you know, if we want to run B3, which side you go to, or B1 hold which side you go to or away and he understands that and he keeps it and puts it into play on the court. For me, he is so intelligent a player, he is not very intelligent off the court, okay, but he has been a very intelligent (smiling) player on the court and did some really good things. I am on a roll.

"No, but it has been easy because he is such a fantastic young man and fantastic player. Did you want Kendall to answer? "

I feel like he deserves a rebuttal. Do you have anything to add, Kendall?
KENDALL MARSHALL: "I was about to say "thank you". I am second-guessing that. I think me and Coach's relationship has definitely went to the next level. He put a lot of trust in me that I can lead this team and hopefully take us to the next level. And again, it is not just me and Coach, it's our whole team and how we have all bought into the fact that we want to win and we're going to do what it takes to win. So I think a little bit of it is the relationship with me and Coach, how it has grown, but ultimately I think it is our whole team's relationship."

Dexter, in the first game were there any possessions you can recall where you ended up on Knight? If so, what do you remember about it?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: "All I can say he is a special player. And I remember he likes to drive. I played him before and I think the adidas Nations Camp and I pretty much knew what type of player he was. And like I said, he's a great player. And there was some plays down the stretch where he drove to the basket and got and-ones and stuff like that. But I think we just got to go out there tomorrow and just play supportive defense and play the way we have been playing."

Are there any possessions where you actually ended up with him?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: "Off the screens and guard-to-guard screens. And Larry Drew pretty much played defense on him the whole game, but throughout the game there has been a little bit of switching and stuff like that."

Dexter, given what's happened to this team in the last 17 months, are you surprised you're one win away from the Final Four? And if not, why?
DEXTER STRICKLAND: "I am, especially the season we had last year. And just to have the season we had this year, it is a great feeling. We had some losses throughout the season. You know, with Larry and Will and stuff like that, but I just think that brought this team together even more. And the team chemistry I think is at an all-time high and I think it is key to our success."

If you would, compare the challenges Kentucky presents tomorrow as opposed tomorrow to in early December. What kind of cookies would you like?
WILLIAMS: "Peanut butter, snicker doodles, sugar, we like all kinds of cookies. We used to like brownies a lot more but Danny Green told everybody about it.

"I think I have seen Harrellson grow and grow into even more of a scorer opposed to a screener and rebounder and defensive player. He does a great job of setting the screen, rolling to the basket and getting the basketball and finishing the play. And I think he developed so much defensively. For the huge part of the game last night he guarded Sullinger without any double-teams, so that allows the other players to stay out on the floor and not jam down. I think Brandon is always been a really good scorer, but I think he has developed even more to a true point guard, a leader out there. And an even better defensive player, and I don't know if in high school he was asked to be a great defensive player, but I think John pushed him in that role.

"I think Doron has developed as a scorer even more so than I ever thought he would, and I thought he was going to be a very, very good player. But he had 24 against us, and has continued making big shots throughout the course of the season. I was trying to go down their line-up. I think Terrence got off to a great start and perhaps might have hit a lull but some of the games lately have been like what he was before. Liggins last night may have been as impressive a player as there was in the entire game.

"I think to me the first thing I see is how much each individual player has developed. But the other thing, you know, John is going to go a little wacko on the sidelines because he is John, but I don't think the players drive him to that as much as they did earlier. It speaks well for those kids being able to buy into those things and do it. I think everybody has grown."

This is for the three players that were here last year. I was wondering, and Dexter...
WILLIAMS: "We don't have anybody that was here last year."

I was wondering if you can talk about it, the three players and Tyler touched on it, what you learned last year you might have been able to take over to this year?
TYLER ZELLER: "I think the basic thing we learned is how bad a season can go. Before the ACC we did all right. But the ACC play started and we plummeted. And then the NIT we were able to turn it around. But you can learn a lot based on how focused you have to be in every game, how prepared you have to be. And then the consequences of not doing that. I think there were times we didn't prepare for games as well as we needed to, or we didn't take our scouting report and put it into the game. And you could tell in the game that we weren't prepared for the game. And they had advantages, which they shouldn't have had. So you learn a lot of things, and then I think we have done a great job of staying away from making those mistakes this year. And then just trying to do as much as possible."

DEXTER STRICKLAND: "I would same the same thing."

JOHN HENSON: "Same thing."

This is for Harrison and Tyler: Coach has twice said Kendall gets the ball to you in the right position. Can you talk about the right position and what that entails?
TYLER ZELLER: "The right position is when he throws me the ball and there is nobody within five feet of me (Laughter). No, when you are posting up you always have a certain frame of which you have an advantage against your defense, or just a place that, I mean, a difficult pass to make in which you can get the ball on the post and make a move. So it entails a lot of things and it is a very complicating thing. I can't really put a sentence on the right time, but it makes our jobs so much easier when we get the ball and we catch the ball cleanly in a position where we can score."

HARRISON BARNES: "As a perimeter player Kendall does a great job of getting me the ball close to the three-point line opposed to earlier in the season. They were close to half court or 10 feet off the top of the key. So it makes it difficult to attack and difficult to get into a good shot. What Kendall's penetration does as a shooter, he allows me to get into a rhythm which allows me to make a lot more."

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