Q&A with Roy Williams, Part IV

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Roy Williams answered questions from reporters for more than an hour at the ACC's Operation Basketball media event. Read everything the Tar Heel head coach said in InsideCarolina.com's five-part transcription ...

Reports came out just the other week, about UNC being the third-largest revenue basketball program in the nation…

Who was 1 and 2?

I honestly don't remember who No. 2 was, but Duke was No. 1.

I would like to see all those figures, because I have a hard time saying someone produces more revenue when they have 10,000 people and we have 21,750.

I think it also took into consideration things like shirt sales nationwide…

And we're No. 1 in all Nike retail sales…

So, you're calling the numbers in to question. That's a better story…

I'm just saying I have a hard time believing it. I don't have to saying anybody's lying, I just say that I don't believe it.

What would make you believe that UNC is ahead of Duke?

I just said, we have 21,750 seats, they have 10,000, you do the math – that's pretty easy to start with. When Nike says we are their No. 1 retailer, when Forbes says we are the most profitable basketball program in the country… I have no comment about whether they're No. 1, 2 or 3 – I have a hard time believing everything that you just said.

Is there ever a discussion between yourself and the Chancellor … does he ever talk to you about budgets? Do you talk about financial matters?

We don't talk. I talk budget with Dick Baddour, slightly, and Martina Ballen, because she's the business manager. Long time ago, I told Dickie that if I come and say ‘we need something' I want you to do everything you can to get it. If I come in and say ‘I want something,' I want you to convince me that it'll be all right without it. I don't have those discussions with the Chancellor, but I know we make a profit. We make more profit than football makes and we make more profit than anybody in the ACC makes.

Have you gotten an opportunity to speak with Bubba Cunningham yet? And your thoughts of him as your new boss?

I had an opportunity to visit with him for about an hour and 15 minutes. Then I visited with him again Saturday at the football game. I had a tremendous majority -- all of the people that called and gave me information or talked to me, said nothing but very positive things to me. Lowry Caudil and the entire committee really did a big-time job. I have yet to find somebody that says anything but ‘Roy, you're really going to like this guy.' At his press conference, I don't know that I've ever seen anybody taking a new job that did a better job of hitting a home run than he did. When I came in nine years, mine was a drag-bunt single down the first base line. My man hit a home run in the press conference – he touched every base. To me he said so many right things it was off the charts. If that's any indication, I think he'll be a big-time person for us. And he's trying to fill some big-time shoes.

When you look around the league, seven new coaches in the last three years – what does that say about the conference?

Today's times are different. Ten years ago, if you took a job in April, there were two or three guys in your state that were really good – that you might have a chance to get. Now kids are making decisions as sophomores and juniors. When I took the North Carolina on April 14, 2003 – the No. 1 junior in the state had already committed and the No. 1 sophomore in the state had already committed. That means it's harder to turn things around quicker. Along with that, you have more of an immediate need to turn things around – people want you to turn things around just like that. And it's harder to do. So, if it's harder to do and you're not successful, what happens? Get out there and let's try to get somebody else.

In the old days, more athletic directors were former coaches and they understood that a little more. This is not an indictment, but now more athletic directors are more business people. They want to see the bottom line change, whether it's financial or win-loss. But it's hard in basketball to take a job and get anybody… I tried my darnest in the spring when I first came in 2003 to get someone to help that next year's team and I couldn't get anybody. I think that has something to do with it too – I had two kids a couple of years ago -- Kendall and Reggie -- who committed as sophomores. It's harder for somebody to come in at North Carolina State to come in and say ‘I like those two kids that already committed.' They've got to wait until those eighth and ninth graders are up there.

What would you like the next basketball upgrade to be – if you got the funds to do it in regards to the arena?

What I would like is for us to get an endowment in basketball where we have our basic needs taken care of by the budget, but anything else that we wanted we could do without making me feel like I'm stealing a cheeseburger from Karen Shelton (UNC's field hockey coach). And I think there's a way that we can do that. If you can build up an endowment big enough and invest it wisely enough and be able to do some things with the interest, I think you can really help college athletics. I think that's one of the great things about endowing scholarships, you make it easier for that University or that Ram's Club to provide that. I don't have a wish list or anything else that needs to be done next. But I would like to see us build up an endowment, which we're trying to do.

Were you able to take any lessons from last year – being highly ranked at the beginning of the season, having a little downside and then back up -- that you'll carry over to this year?

Yeah, the lessons of dealing with adversity and bouncing back is something you can always gain from. I said earlier that there were people jumping off the boat early and if you really looked at it, what happened earlier, Vanderbilt was pretty doggone good and more experienced and had better success the year before. Minnesota somewhat the same extent, at Illinois the same extent. I never felt like last year was going to be like 2010. I know several of you people were at all those press conferences and I kept saying ‘my team is going to be OK.' I think the kids learned some things there too – they also know that just because it's North Carolina and it says that on the jersey, doesn't mean that things are going to be smooth.

The players said you went back to the easier preseason workout schedule, as opposed to last year. Was there any thought to keeping the one from last year?

Oh yeah, what I wanted to do with last year's preseason – I just didn't think we were tough enough. I think we gained some of that. At Virginia, a lot of years we would've lost that game, but were just tough enough to hang in and win. At Clemson, we were just tough enough to hang in and win. I think there's always the fear that during Christmas exam period, we can go out there and do it again if we need to. This team I feel like has got some of that toughness, and the other thing is we really toughened them up mentally. But did we have them as basketball ready, shape wise, conditioning wise? Perhaps we didn't, so we went back to more on-the-court conditioning to try and get them more ready to play basketball.

Did you see some relief from the guys?

Oh, yeah. And Z, Harrison, Justin Watts and Kendall all came and talked. I said ‘Hey if I do this, then there better not be a time when I think you're just giving in easily. If that's the case, I have 20 hours a week – that doesn't mean we have to spend 20 hours shooting.' So, they understand that part of it too.

There's been a lot of fancy new jerseys in college football this year. Can we expect any of that out of college basketball?

Who knows at Oregon – you never can tell what's going to happen there. We've changed ours a little bit, but I don't think we've changed them a lot. Do you, Steve?

Steve Kirschner (UNC Sports Information Director): No, just added the graphics on the back behind the numbers.

I thought we had that last year, or did I just approve it last year?

Steve Kirschner: You approved it a few years ago.

This is the first year, I thought we had it last year.

Did you have any say in that design on the back?

They gave me one at the start that I said ‘No, we're not going to have that.' I think it was the ram at the start, I had them take that off and put the Old Well up there. The Ram didn't look like a Ram to me. … I'm not very creative or imaginative; I just looked at it and said ‘I don't want that.' Nike really does some nice things, and great things for our University. I happen to like the uniforms.

Where is Leslie at right now in his rehab and is he able to stay positive?

I think he's staying very positive. He came on the court yesterday and said ‘Now, what play do we have to call to do this?' He's really into it, still sitting on the side. He's getting a workout every single day. Jonas takes him to the weight room or takes him in the swimming pool. He's doing a lot of work on his body and a lot of work on his knee. Dr. Creighton feels really good about it, so we're really pleased with what he's doing. When it first happened, I said ‘We will not discuss your play this year or possibility of playing this year until December.' And that's the way we kept it. We haven't discussed it one time. I won't, and I definitely will discuss it with him before I discuss it with somebody else. But, we won't even talk about it until then.

I know it's early, but how much more advanced have the practices been considering how much experience you have coming back?

It's a little bit, but it's not completely. We want James Michael to be involved, we want P.J. to be involved. Reggie missed the whole second half of the year last year. You've got to keep those guys up to speed, and it's bad to hold everybody back waiting on somebody. You want to get those guys to pick it up even faster.

Reggie's teammates have said that his game has improved since coming back – have you seen that as well?

The one thing I've seen him do so much more already, in five practices, is get to the offensive boards. I think Reggie has a chance to be really good defensively as well. But getting to the boards has been the biggest difference that I've seen. And then on the defensive end of the floor, he's doing a nice job of denying the pass, reading the lanes – he's probably had more steals out on the perimeter than anybody else we've had so far.

Harrison Barnes said we're going to see a different player out of him this season, including better shot selection. Have you talked to Harrison about shot selection?

He's got to be more efficient; 43 percent, 31 percent, your great players shoot better percentages than that. I think he'll be a better all-around player, he'll be a better rebounder, he'll get to the free-throw line more, he'll be a better defender. But, still the boy scores the ball, that's the biggest talent that he has and I think he'll keep doing that too.

Will having that charge circle finally drawn on the court make a difference?

I think it will. It makes it easier for the officials. I think it helps you, teaching-wise, to get your players all the way across the lane, which is where we wanted them anyway. You can say if you stop right here, it's going to be called a block even if there is a big-time collision.

Check back tomorrow for Part V ...

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