Listen to Audio (15:33)
How did you go about helping the team mentally get over the loss against Duke?
"I just challenged them. That game they were not going to give a trophy and we were still going to play again the next day and the sun was still going to come up... it was just one game. It's a little more important this time, because somebody is going to get a trophy and there's no question about that. I think just emphasizing the fact that we play Duke twice every year, sometimes three times, they're always big games, but both of us have bigger goals as opposed to just beating the other team and saying ‘we're successful.' I have thousands of people saying ‘just beat Duke' and that is not really what they want. They want that on the morning after, but I'm hopeful that every Carolina fan would think that if you win the National Championship, that's OK too. We really do have some of those that say ‘just beat Duke' and I'm sure they say the same thing to their guys over there."
How pleased were you with the way the team responded after that game?
"It was tough and I was pleased. I've been really pleased with a lot of things this year, but two of the most pleasing are they way we bounce back after somebody beats us by three million, like they did at Florida State, and then playing tough enough to keep winning some games after such a heartbreaking loss against Duke."
What about the way Tyler Zeller has played since the Duke game?
"He's really played well. He took it as hard as maybe any player I've ever had take a loss in the regular season. He's a special kind of kid and he came in more focused and even more serious. I was worried about it, there's no question I was worried about him, but he did bounce back and really play some of his best basketball since then. I'm hopeful that if the clock is winding down Saturday, I'm hoping he's dribbling the ball outside the three [point line] and some little guard is guarding him and I hope he makes the shot to win the game and we all run off the court."
You started the last game with Harrison Barnes guarding Austin Rivers. What did you see in that matchup that you liked?
"I think Harrison's ankle was bothering him so we weren't sure about the matchups anyways. We stayed with it a little while and then changed it over, but we were concerned about it - if he could handle the ankle part of it, because Austin does try to drive you to the basket a lot and it's difficult for you to slide your feet in a defensive stance if one ankle is hurting. We also know that [Barnes] has some extra size that will bother the jump shot and you can still give a little bit of cushion that may help you guard the drive too. That was the plan and it didn't work very well."
Who do you think deserves to be called ‘ACC Champion?' The team that wins tomorrow or the team that wins the ACC Tournament?
"I think I've said it for nine years… I think the team that wins it through 16 games, to me, should be rewarded with not only the title of ‘ACC Champions' but I think that team should be rewarded with the automatic bid."
How many times have you seen a replay of Austin Rivers' game winning shot?
"Too many, but not often, because I see it and I just turn it off. I don't need anybody else that's not sitting in my shoes to tell me what the dickens is going on. They don't live the part. I saw it once and that was too much."
Do you think voters have not appreciated pass first playmakers over the years while coaches might appreciate them more?"
"I think it is under-appreciated, there's no question."
Listen to Audio (5:16)
What was the key to having at great first half at Duke last season?
"I think we were the aggressors. I think that is big for our team. When we're aggressive is when we're at out best and when we start playing passive and not to lose is when we struggle a little bit. As long as we come out and keep playing hard offensively, take what the defense gives to us and do not settle for anything, I think we'll be fine."
Does Duke defend you differently from other teams?
"Duke defends differently than other teams. They like to put a lot of token pressure on you. Sometimes it is not even to harass you, but to speed you up. I think the key to their defense is their big men. Their big men do such a great job of knowing when to help up the lane and when not to that I think it covers up a lot of their guards mistakes defensively."
Listen to Audio (4:43)
What is going to be the key to winning tomorrow night?
"I think just making sure that we play as hard as possible and concentrate on our scouting report and everything Coach tells us to do. I think if we do that we can do a lot and come out with a victory."
What was the reason for you getting more touches in the first half compared to the second half in the last game against Duke? Was it more your offense or their defense?
"I think a lot of it was Harrison started playing very well. He started hitting a lot of tough shots so we didn't have to go inside as much with him hitting those shots. It's just kind of the dynamic of the game and I think we played very well for 37 minutes, you just got to play those last 3."
How many times have you been asked about the end of the last game against Duke?
"I've been asked a lot. It was not one of my greater moments, but at the same time it did happen. I'm just trying to use it as motivation and make me a better player."
Listen to Audio (2:09)
How much does it help that you all have played at Duke before and it is not going to be a new experience?
"It's definitely a lot of help. Last year we went over there and had a lot of momentum going in the first half of the game. In the second half we were a little flat… coming back with the starting five that was there last year, besides me, they've been in that position before. This will be my first time over there, but just buying in with those guys out there on the court, it is going to be a lot of fun."
Listen to Audio (3:22)
How did Coach Williams make sure spirits were up and the team did not have a carryover after the last Duke game?
"It wasn't necessarily as much physical as it was watching tape, seeing what you did wrong, seeing how you played the last five minutes of the game, how you let that lead slip out of your hands. You can learn a lot from that and hopefully can carry that on to the next game."
Do you remember any pieces of advice from Coach Williams or a teammate that stuck out from the previous game against Duke?
"Just that we got to keep playing. I think we tried to sit on the ball a little bit in those last two minutes and we watched…we had so many opportunities to get back in that game if we had just made two free throws or made a jump shot or gotten a stop here or boxed out for an offensive rebound. Just little things like that, which could have taken the game in a different direction."
Listen to Audio (2:28)
How long did it take you to mentally move past the last Duke game?
"Probably just the next win. After you lose, you always want to win and get that taste out of your mouth, so when we beat the next team, that's when I felt a little bit better."
How is it possible for the visiting team to have a better record than the home team over the past ten or so years of this rivalry?
"I guess the only way is the visiting team is probably more focused than the home team, but we're going into tomorrow hoping to win and it's going to be a tough game and tough environment."