Listen to Audio (19:03)
"We're happy to be here. Now ask if anybody's got any questions, I'll do my best. Or I can add something: I don't know. I can probably give you a little more than that."
Two things: Do you really not know whether Kendall will or most likely won't play? And two, is Stilman White really the guy that's going to play if doesn't?
"Yes, I really don't know. I have a strong, strong inclination that he is not going to play. But at my press conference this week, I said I'll satisfy half of you by saying, okay, he's going to play and he's going to start and he's going to play every minute. And I'll satisfy the other half of you by saying there's no way in Hades that he's going to play. And that should tell you that I really don't know.
"If he comes in to my room tomorrow and says, 'My wrist feels great,' and he drops down to the floor and does 10 right-handed pushups on his right hand, then I'll say I'll probably play his rear end. But I don't expect that to happen. I mean, the guy can't brush his teeth right now. But we've had other doctors say in the Raleigh News and Services, Oh, yeah, he can play and all those kind of things. So that's what's caused in my opinion, all the interest or all the difference of opinion whether he can play or not.
"But the bottom line is, he has not participated in one play since last Sunday when I took him out of the game. He has not guarded one possession, he's not passed one ball, he's not shot one ball-- well, that's a lie, because he's holding his hand up like this yesterday, and he's catching the ball, and he's shooting it like this holding his hand up in the air with his cast on. But he hasn't participated.
"And yet there are people that say that he can play. But there's only two people, three, four, five people that are going to make this decision: first one's Kendall, second one would be his mom and dad, and the third and fourth would be the doctors, and the fifth would be. Me and I think it's going to have to be unanimous and I just don't see that happening.
"Stilman, yeah, he really is. He's the guy that's going to play. Stilman and J. Watts. And as long as their heart is not beating so fast that they pass out before they get to the court, I think we'll still have five guys out there starting."
You're in here and the regional with Kansas and NC State, this is kind of pulling a couple of your personal friends together.
"It's the smoothest thing going, that's for sure."
Are you dreading sharing the building with everybody or conflicted about having all these sort of personal things going on?
"Well, look, there's no question that I would rather not have all the personal things going on. I would just like it to be about the basketball game. There's no doubt, no question. And I'm not trying to be humble. I'm being truthful. I would like for it to just be about my team playing against somebody else's team. But I don't always get what I want or what I like kind of thing. But if it does cause a lot of other questions and different directions and feelings and emotions, but I just hope that we have that problem to be discussing on Saturday."
You guys are North Carolina, you guys have dealt with national stories. You dealt with national stories in your coaching career, positively and maybe injury-wise or whatever else. Does your experience in handling that kind of stuff previously just make this kind of old hat of you just got to tune it out and just go play the ball game?
"I don't think it ever gets to be old hat. I think you gain more experience the more you do things and understand what handles and what doesn't work. But the game of basketball, in college basketball, people are emotional about it. And I love that. That means they're enthusiastic about it and they love it, and all those kind of things.
"Steve was telling me about some website people are putting 5's on their wrists and writing five in some letters, and I'm not getting a dadgum tattoo. I love Kendall Marshall, but I'm not getting a tattoo. Let's get that straight.
"But it's part of it, it really is. But I love the games. I love the pageantry of the NCAA tournament. A lot of other things that go along with it. I'm not that excited about, you know, that kind of thing. But it is part of it. And to me, it's North Carolina playing Ohio, big school/little school, big guy/little guy, ugly guy/good looking guy, doesn't make any difference. We get to play each other out there on the court."
Tyler Zeller & John Henson
Listen to Audio (6:36)
Guys, when you take a look at Ohio on tape, what strikes you about them and from I guess a game-planning standpoint, what do you guys need to do to win this ball game?
Zeller: "I think their guard play extremely, extremely good. D.J. Cooper is somebody that we have seen that can create a lot for himself and his teammates. And then the rest of their guards, Walt Offutt had a great game last game. So it's something that I think our guard play's going to be very important to us. I think that we can attack them a little bit down low. So we're just going to try to play to our strengths."
Henson: "That's pretty much sums up what we need to do. Also offensively I think we need to kind of take care of the ball because I think they are Top-5 in the nation in steals, so that's something else we have to be aware of as well."
How is your family more going to handle the logistics, will Luke be involved in this?
Zeller: "Luke will not be. He's actually playing in the D league in Austin, Texas, so he's got games and stuff so he can't get away. But my both my parents are going to come to the game. I got actually pretty much my whole family lives in the Midwest, so I got lots of ticket requests. But both my parents are coming here because of seniority, it is my last year, so they will both be here."
John, you may have been asked in Greensboro, but how's the wrist?
Henson: "It's getting better every day. It feels a lot better than it did last week at this time. I'm resting it, icing it, and just getting it better."
Guys, is there anything dangerous playing a team that's playing with such a high level of confidence like Ohio is, obviously a 13 seed with playing with an extremely high level of confidence. Anything dangerous about that?
Henson: "Yes, a lot dangerous about that. They're shooting better than they shot all year, 3-point wise. Playing more confident. I mean even in practice when our guys are running their offense, it's tough to guard. So it's going to be a challenge and we're going to play hard and see what happens."
Listen to Audio (7:30)
Can you play tomorrow?
"Here's what I'll first off say. I had surgery on Monday. It went very well. I got my cast off on Wednesday, which was great. I'm now in a brace. Everyday it's been getting better and better. It's still a day-to-day basis if I'm going to play. If we were to jump ball right now, I would not be playing. That's as much as I have to say as far as the injury. It'd be nice if ya'll have any questions about the team going forward – how we plan on playing. That would be much appreciated."
Do you like the way Stilman White has developed the past couple of days?
"I do. I'm very excited for him. I feel like he's going to help our team in his own way. One thing of advice I tried to give him was ‘don't try to be me.' We don't have the same skillset. I just want him to go out there and play the way he's capable of playing and when he plays with confidence, he's a very good player."
How much is Justin Watts going to play and how exciting is it for him as a senior?
"I think ‘J-Watts' is going to play a lot. I think him and Stilman are going to split a lot of time. They've gotten multiple reps at the one. We're not getting away from what we do as a team. We're still going to work from the inside out. The ball is just coming from a different person. ‘J-Watts', he's been around the program for four years. He's done a tremendous job of no matter what he's been asked to do, he's found a way to get it done and this is a prime example. Now he's being asked to play the point guard position and I have complete faith in him and Stilman that they'll be able to come through and still help this team succeed."
How much are you going to push to play and how much would it bother you not to play?
"It bothers me a lot. I think it would bother any competitor. You want to be able to be out there and help your team out, but I'm trying to flip this into a positive and I don't want to put my hand in danger of getting hurt and also a big thing is I want to be able to help my team while I'm out there. If I don't feel like I can help my team while I'm out there, then I'm not going to push it to play."
Do you think Coach Williams will allow you to make the decision?
"Yes, I do feel like ultimately it is my decision, but at the end of the day, he has to have faith that I'm going to be able to be competitive and not put myself in danger. He's told me that if I come to him and say I'm ready to play, he'll definitely look at it, but ultimately he's going to do what's best for me as well."
What are you looking for from your wrist in order to play tomorrow?
"Two things are obviously the pain and the range of motion. If I can get a good amount of range of motion in my wrist to be able to go out there and compete and not play with any pain, then those are the two main things I'm looking for."
How humbling has the "Past Fir5t" campaign been?
"It's been great. It's really opened my eyes and I think I've kind of found a way not just to help me own the court, but off the court. I think it's something that people can really embrace and to put others in front in front of yourself and this is a prime example. Whether or not I'm playing, Carolina basketball still is going to be on the court and that's what's most important, so I've really tried to embrace this ‘past first' mentality and realize now it's about my teammates and what we do collectively as a whole."
Listen to Audio (6:25)
What was your reaction when Coach Williams told the team about Kendall Marshall's injury on Sunday night?
"Everybody was in shock. We were all real excited about the win at first and then once we heard that our captain was down and he hurt his wrist, the whole locker room was a little bit down, but the best thing about this team that I've learned so far is it's by far the most resilient team I've ever been on. People keep going down, but people have also stepped up on this team and taken on larger roles and that's something hopefully we can do again."
Anything the team has worked on the combat Ohio's pressure?
"We've worked on a few things. Mainly just screens and just working on trying to free up the ball-handlers. We know that they're really good at getting steals, so we know they're aggressive on defense, but that's something we're looking forward to. We think if we can beat that pressure that opens up a lot of things for us."
Listen to Audio (3:34)
What kind of advice has Kendall given you?
"Well, first he told me not to try to play like him. I never would do that. No, he just told me to be myself. He feels pretty confident in me, I feel confident in me, my team believes in me and I believe they'll step up and help me if I need some help and stuff like that. Just go out there and have fun and play. Don't feel like you have to make that special play if it's not the right play."
Have you watched any film on Ohio and how they like to pressure the ball?
"I watched some tape in our film session, but I haven't ‘Youtubed' them or anything like that. About their pressure, I heard they like to press. You don't have to dribble to beat the press. You can just pass, so it's pretty simple."