Does this (off the court stuff) make you want to contemplate retiring earlier than you planned?
No. I’d like to be part of the solution.
... What’s the solution this year for outside shooting?
We need to shoot it better. I hope Marcus will shoot it better, the returning players I hope that they shoot it better. I do think that Justin Jackson and Joel Berry are better shooters. We need two things, the influx of the three freshmen will hopefully be something that helps our shooting percentage from three-point line and the free-throw line. I also think that J.P., Marcus, some of those other guys have improved their shooting as well. We finished third in this league and won 24 games and didn’t shoot it worth a darn.
Have you gotten support from other coaches?
I’ve gotten it tremendously from other coaches and the messages they have sent. Whether it be a call, note or what they say to me in private. I can’t let it dominate my life, but I do care what people think about Roy Williams.
How do you feel about your frontcourt?
Either individually or collectively, those guys have got to really step up. If they do, then we’ve got a much better chance to be even better. To me, that’s the biggest thing with this whole deal is how can we get better? The one area that we need to get better, we need to score inside, protect the rim better, but we also need to shoot three-point shots better. We’ve got to improve in every area of the game. If two or three or collectively of those guys step up, we have a chance to really be good, particularly with the big guys.
When recruits parents ask you about academics has your response changed going forward?
The biggest thing I’m trying to do is answer their questions. I’m not going to try and make something up and give them a presentation. But if there is something that I can do to answer their questions, that would make them understand it more I’ll do that. They’ve already heard all that in the home when I’m recruiting them, how much I think of this university.
Have recruits or prospects come to you with any questions?
Oh yeah. … I told them what happened. It’s what it is. I can’t make anything up. I can’t snap my fingers and change it. I still believe in the values that my team has, my coaching staff, my players have. We try to push that. I still believe that North Carolina is one of the great educational institutions and always will be, and hopefully we will be even better because of that. We’re trying to be proactive; can we answer a question that you have? We’re not trying to sit back and hide.
Are you dealing with negative recruiting from other schools?
We’re dealing with everything that’s negative right now, not just any item of it. The story requires a great deal of negativity. I haven’t been focusing on that, we haven’t had any one instance where I said ‘they’re badmouthing us’ or anything like that. What we’re trying to do what right now is see what the mistakes are and see if we can figure out a way to improve them, and at the same time recruit and coach and have media day. There’s no question it’s already hurt us in recruiting, it’s something we just have to make sure we understand.
Is negative recruiting as common in basketball as it is in football?
I don’t know what it is in football. Listening to what they say, I don’t think we have nearly as much as they do in football. I think a lot of the negativity in recruiting in football comes from the fact that they make the early commitments that they’re not really commitments, they’re reservations. Please reserve that scholarship for me, I’m going to tell you I’m going to come, so hold that scholarship for me until I get a better menu, so I can see what’s on a different menu. I haven’t experienced anything like some of the stories I hear. …
We’ll get some info and I’ve approached a couple of coaches in the past. Called and said ‘This is what I was told’ and see what they say and move on.
When you have four coaches in this league who have won nine national championships, how does that setup with you all in the league chasing the same conference title from now on?
It’s an unbelievable league, period. The great institutions we have, the great basketball programs. … The guys that coach in this league must be pretty doggone good or they wouldn’t have the jobs they have. I’ve never outcoached a guy in my entire life. Never won a game in my entire life. Coaching is trying to get your kids to do what you want them to do, better than the other coach gets his kids to do what he wants them to do. You better be ready to play, regardless of who you’re playing or where – or you’re not going to win. You better be ready to play to the best of your ability or you’re going to get massacred. It’s not going to be 70-72 - this league with the coaches and teams we have, it can get ugly on some nights if you’re not ready to play.
Every game (in the ACC) is a dogfight now isn’t it…
It really is. There are not any of those (easy) games anymore. Every team in our league has probably been in the tournament the last two or three years. It’s a phenomenal marathon that you have to run during the course of the season.
How has Kennedy Meeks come along as far as maturity and consistency?
He’s getting much more consistent. He is no more mature than he was when he walked on campus. Physically, the changes he has made is making him a more explosive player; a player that we expect more of going up and down. We’ve seen some of those results. He’s got to stop spraining his ankle; he’s sprained like both ankles twice already. He missed the second half of practice yesterday; we have to keep him healthy because he’s pretty doggone important for us.
Was there a transition period for him getting used to the weight loss?
I think there still is, maybe more of a transition period for Brice. Because Brice is worried about the extra weight affecting his running and jumping. I said it’s not going to do that if you put it out of your mind, but it can affect your strength and your ability to get the rebound in the crowd. I think that he’s worried about the extra weight being a negative and I’m not thinking it is.
Have you seen anything through the first month of practice that somebody can step up and take Leslie’s role as a secondary shooter?
Leslie was a streak shooter. He had some games like Duke at the end of the year, what’d he make, five? He made 43 the whole year and I think he made five on two or three different occasions. We want somebody to be a little more consistent with it. Joel Berry can make a three-point shot; Justin Jackson is going to be a really good shooter before his career is over. J.P.’s gotten a lot better; Marcus still needs to make a bunch of them. Stilman White’s made a lot of shots. So he would probably be one of those guys that, in a particular situation, might be a guy that can shoot some more.
Are you surprised at all with how vital Danny Green has been to San Antonio?
… The NBA is getting yourself in the right situation, at the right time for the right team. Timing in the NBA, Danny was in Cleveland, then the NBDL, then Europe. I called ‘Pop’ (Gregg Popovich) trying to get him a 10-day contract, so they do and he gets mad at Danny and cuts him. So Pop and I talk together and we both jump all over Danny and get Danny to do better if he gets another chance. To Pop’s credit he gave him another chance and Danny did better. Danny deserves so much credit for hanging in there and changing the perception that Pop had of him, because I don’t think that initial perception would’ve translated into what happened.
Has the balance of power changed in the ACC with Louisville and Syracuse coming in?
Well, I hope we’re still there in the conversation. But there’s no question, there’s more of us in the conversation. The crazy thing about this league, last year this time you didn’t think about having Virginia in that conversation and they were very realistically in that conversation.
Do you feel like those teams have changed the character of basketball in the league?
No, I came from the Big 12, they came from Big East. It’s ACC basketball.
Check back tomorrow for Part III...
Q&A with Roy Williams, Part II
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