Carrier Classic: PC Interviews

SAN DIEGO -- North Carolina head coach Roy Williams and the Tar Heel starting five spoke to reporters aboard the USS Carl Vinson on Thursday in preparation for the Carrier Classic.

CARRIER CLASSIC PRESS CONFERENCE
Listen to Audio (27:20)

ROY WILLIAMS

On the event:
"This is a celebration. The basketball game, from the tipoff till the final horn, we're going to be working our tails off about the game. But every single second prior to it and as soon as the game's final horn is over with, we're thinking about hopefully putting a smile on some people's faces who represent our country and serve our country. I'm as thrilled as I could possibly be. They're not fake — I've got cold chills up here talking about it. It's the neatest thing that I've ever been involved with."

On playing outdoors:
"When Tommy and I played, we used to play outside. But kids don't play outside anymore. We better get a lot of shooting in today and tomorrow because we haven't been outside. He may have outsmarted me, but we haven't been outside."

On the pressure facing the players:
"It's an unusual environment. The elements will be a factor, but both of our teams have been on pretty good-sized stages before. When the game starts, the focus – in my opinion – will be pretty much on the basketball game. Our kids have seen cameras before… So I don't think it will be that big of a deal. And I'm not putting down the President, by any means."

MICHIGAN STATE HEAD COACH TOM IZZO

On some players reportedly saying they would rather play inside:
"I would be willing to bet 90 percent of our players will be thrilled to death to do something that nobody else has ever done. That's the uniqueness of this, too. There are a lot of great players, a lot of great programs, but you talk about a memory-maker, there's been no player that's ever done something like this. So if they want to play indoors, I hope they tell me before the game; I'll make sure I don't play them. Unless it's a starter."


KENDALL MARSHALL
Listen to Audio (2:29)

On approaching the game:
"I think a lot of it is mental. It's just a different surrounding. You have to get used to it. Some people are going to want to use the excuse of the wind and being outside, but at the same time, both teams are having to shoot in the same circumstances, so I think it will be a fun game to play in."

It looked like you were paying attention to the lights in the corners:
"Yes. I was just trying to shoot from all different angles. When you're going this way, you have the big [tower] in the background, but if you're shooting on this end, you just have the sky on both sides of the backboard. So there are some differences and some things that you're going to have to adjust to."


HARRISON BARNES
Listen to Audio (2:47)

What changes if wind is a problem?
"You just try to get in closer and don't try to shoot so many outside shots. You just don't rely on that."

How are the sightlines for shooting?
"For example, when you're shooting free throws, it is a limited depth perception, so you have to adjust. But the rims feel big compared to where we've been shooting at and they're loose, so it's kind of a shooter's field."


TYLER ZELLER
Listen to Audio (2:56)

On the wind:
"Right now it's fine. I don't think it will affect us at all right now. But if it does pick up, it could definitely be a challenge shooting from outside."

On playing for the military:
"It means a lot. For one, they give us so much. They give us our freedom. They're always fighting for it, so it's great to be able to give back to them and entertain them a little bit."


DEXTER STRICKLAND
Listen to Audio (2:54)

On the event:
"This is a great experience. The tour yesterday makes you appreciate all that you have, seeing how those guys live and how they support our country every day. It's a great feeling."

Is it odd that most of these sailors are your age?
"Yeah, that was amazing. I actually talked to somebody on the ship who was 20 years old. And just the things that he does and the amount of people that depend on him is amazing. It makes you appreciate everything."


JOHN HENSON
Listen to Audio (2:00)

Does it make it mean more when you walk out and there's military out here?
"Yes, it does. That's something where we don't thank them enough. If just for this one day, we're going to put them in the stands and hope they enjoy themselves and not have to worry about what's on the other side of the world for that moment. It's good for us."

Do the video screens behind the goals pose a problem?
"That's what I was talking about on the free throw line. It was almost like you could watch yourself while you shoot, which is going to be kind of weird. But hopefully you can focus on the backboard and the rim and it will be fine."


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