UNC-MSU: Roy Williams Postgame

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Inside Carolina's postgame coverage includes a transcript of head coach Roy Williams's postgame press conference following UNC's win over McNeese State on Saturday.

Opening comments:
"Well, I feel like the dickens so I'll just let you guys ask questions, and if you don't have any questions, we'll all go home and get ready for Santa Claus."

What were you most happy about in this game?
"Marcus having nine [assists] and zero [turnovers], I'm happy about that. We were 8-for-17 in the first half, 5-for-11 in the second half, then we had a couple--Leslie had one wide open at the top of the key, Reggie had one wide open at the top of the key. But pleased with that. More so after the first four or five minutes, I felt we got much more active defensively. We were not as active defensively those first four or five minutes as I thought we were after that. They try to spread you and dribble penetrate, and for the most part I thought we did a nice job with that, which we've struggled with in some of the other games. It wasn't as physical a game as it was against Texas, and that's one thing we have to handle a little bit better, so we didn't have that, but we did have a problem with dribble penetration and trying to contain and I thought we did a great job with that."

Is it frustrating to have nights like this shooting the ball after what happened on Wednesday?
"I think we can really shoot, but if you can really shoot, you're supposed to do every night. You're not supposed to have those nights when you go 3-for-22 or whatever it was. It makes it more frustrating. But also we have to establish more of an inside game to have balance. I think to me the key of the game today was we made a lot of shots. You've heard me say a thousand times everything looks better when the ball goes in the basket. But we've got to have more balance inside. James Michael at the half was 4-for-5, and I like that. In the second half, he couldn't get it to go in the basket for him. But he was active. I think this break is coming at a good time for us, gives us a couple days to rest a little bit and go home and spend some time with family and come back, 'cause it's here now. UNLV, the ACC, and that's all we have. Big-time basketball is coming."

On the number of assists:
"I think at half we were 18 assists for 20 baskets. The second half we didn't handle it as well. The first half I thought we had three turnovers and all three were Desmond's. The second half we had 11 turnovers but we had two or three at the end of the game in the last two minutes. When we move the ball and we're unselfish with it we can make a lot of shots."

On Marcus Paige's assist count:
"Nine and zero is the best he's been. His assist-turnover ration has been okay but it hasn't been great. But 9 and 0 is great. We had a nice chat yesterday after practice. I think he's a really good shooter too, but the ball hasn't gone in the basket as often for him this year. But I think he played better defensively too. The last two games I thought Dexter and Marcus didn't do what we wanted them to do as the two guys out in front of our defense and I challenged them before the game."

On McNeese going zone and leaving perimeter open:
"How many times do you hear a football coach say, 'We took what they gave us'? I think that's dumb as dirt. If you want to give me something, that means you think it's to your advantage. I want to take what I want. When we had Wayne and Danny and Ty and those guys who could shoot the crap out of it, we also had Tyler and Deon who could score inside, so then you really create problems for somebody. I think you live by the three, you die by the three. You should always live by getting to the free throw line.

"Our teams in the past have been so good at getting to the free throw line. This year we barely have shot more free throws than our opponents. And last year we were pretty doggone good. We shot 390 more free throws than the other teams. Now the ABC people will say that's just because of the Carolina refs, but we challenged the basket a heck of a lot more. If you tell me that I'm going to shoot 10 free throws more in every game we play, we're going to win most of those games, so that's the reason I think you have to have balance.

"We have some stuff that we can run to get the ball inside against the zone, but I do always laugh when somebody says 'Well, we take what they gave us.' That just doesn't make sense. I want to take what I want. And I have to do good job to get what I want."

On defensive improvements:
"I think Marcus and Dexter the past couple games haven't done what we wanted them to do defensively, and I challenged them yesterday. I told them we can't have defensive plays like that and I really think they stepped up and did a better job. Even simple things like retreat in the direction of the pass and support and stop the drive, I think they did a better job."

What was your approach with the team following the Texas loss?
"I gave them the day off. I went recruiting and got sick as a dog, so there wasn't much of approach to it. We talked about it a little bit on Friday, but there's nothing you can do about it. I challenged them and said now you should have learned something else. It's going to be April and we're going to be saying we learned something again. At some point you learn things and you have to do better. But we didn't step up to the plate physically, I didn't think."

On the day off:
"They always need a day off from me. Maybe I should try this. I told them I was sick as a dog and I didn't want to be screaming in their faces making them sick, so play better. It worked today."

On whether the team can build on today's performance:
"I think so. Again, I'll go back to the defensive side of the ball more than anything. We've had trouble this year stopping dribble penetration, and I said whenever the preseason press conference was that I thought we'd be a good defensive team. We have not been so far. Teams haven't shot a great percentage against us in most cases, but we haven't been a great defensive team, and I think we did some things today that we can build on."

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