UNC-UCLA: Roy Williams Postgame

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas - North Carolina head coach Roy Williams addressed the media following UNC's win over UCLA in the loser's bracket of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thursday.

Opening comments:
“We shot the ball better tonight and we didn’t turn it over. We rebounded it better and we caught UCLA on a night where their shots didn’t go in the basket. I think they got frustrated a little bit tonight like we did last night turning the basketball over. When you look down there and we had 31 points off turnovers to their six, that’s a huge, huge factor in the game. We made eight threes today and didn’t make nearly as many last night. And we made free throws today.”

What went into your decision to change the starting lineup?
“You know, they pay me a lot of money to make decisions. I was ticked off and we made some decisions and it worked out fine. I was really pleased with the way those guys that had been starting handled it. They came right in and did some nice things for us. I was really pleased with that. You look down there and J.P. had 10 points, 3-0 on assist-error. Kennedy was 3-6 and Brice had a tough night shooting the ball, but I thought it was Brice’s best night of the year defensively. So I like the way they handled it.”

Your (team's) level of defensive enthusiasm was really noticeable.
“I wish I knew what that was caused by because I thought we would be really fired up last night. I really did. I talked the whole time the day before the game about the scouting report and that it was a man’s game. It was going to be a man’s game. We’ve got to step up and I thought we backed up. That was really harmful to us last night, but tonight I thought we tried to be the aggressor and I think it was really important that we did.”

How important was it to have nine kids score in the first 10 or 11 minutes? You kept UCLA guessing.
“Yeah, I think that was important. We played a lot of guys – we play more guys than they do. I think they had one guy that played less than 30 minutes last night. The other four starters were over 30 minutes for them, so it was important for us to try to have some fresh troops out there most of the time. I thought if it was close at the end, we’d be much fresher at the end than they were. But it helped us early on, too.”

You play a lot of players early in most seasons and then whittle it down. Is this the type of team where you can play larger numbers all season?
“The kids usually make those decisions. I really believe that. There’s something going on in Lexington with Cal – I’m not platooning and stuff like that. But John feels comfortable with that and he’s got the players that fit that. I think players decide who plays and how they perform during games is how they’ll get more opportunities. We’re always proud of our bench when they come in. I tell them, ‘When you come in the game, you’ve got to do something positive.’ And if you do something positive, you get another opportunity to play some more.”

There were a lot of UNC fans here tonight. Does that level of support ever blow you away?
“No, I don’t think I would say it ever blows me away. I’m very appreciative of it. We understand when they say 'from North Carolina,' we hear the cheers at the start of the game. I don’t hear too much after that. And then they announce the other school and it’s not as loud. We realize walking through the hotel – we have people clapping as we walk through the hotel – I think we’re very appreciative and understand that comes from great success that we’ve had in the past and a great relationship that our players have with the fans. I tell our guys all of the time to sign autographs, just keep moving. I’ll sign every autograph that someone comes up to me with but I have to keep moving because we do have places to go, people to see, things to do kind of thing. We’re appreciative of it and we don’t take it lightly and we don’t take it for granted.”

If Florida beats UAB tonight, what can this stretch of Butler-UCLA-Florida mean for your team?
“Well, if we’re successful, it will mean more to us than it will if we get our butts kicked. I think Florida would say the same thing. They played [Georgetown] and UAB and then have North Carolina. I really like Billy Donovan. I really think he coaches his tail off, but I’ve got to pull for UAB because that kid had his knee scraped up for me for four years – four years in practice and three years in games… We’ll give them the scouting report tonight at a late meeting. We still have two more meals tonight? Yeah. We eat more than anybody that’s ever walked. If you could be a better rebounding team because the more you ate, we’d be the best dadgum rebounding team in America.”

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