UNC-UF: Roy Williams Postgame

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas - North Carolina head coach Roy Williams addressed the media following UNC's win over Florida in the 5-6 game of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday.

Opening comments:
“We feel better than we did after the first night, there’s no question about that. I thought at times tonight we moved the ball effectively and at times it looked like we had never worked on press offense. We’ve been really a good press offense team for years and years and years, but tonight Billy’s press really bothered us. We turned it over 19 times and that’s way too many, to say the least. We had a stretch there at the end where we shot three straight layups and they blocked three straight layups as we’re trying to make sure the thing is won and won easily, but you’ve got to congratulate Billy and his club. They’ve got to get their guys healthy. They don’t have all of their players. If they get their guys healthy, they’ve got a chance to get a heck of a lot better just because of that.

“For us, Kennedy with 18 [points] and 13 [rebounds] is good. We didn’t make as many shots as I wanted to make. Usually when a team is pressing us, we really shoot a high percentage, which we did in the first half – 58 percent – but we shot 32 in the second half and still turned it over. Points off turnovers, they had 24 to our 15 and then other than that, the other stats looked pretty good for us except for the turnovers.”

Did it turn into a battle of endurance in the second half with both teams having played three games in three days?
“I don’t know. We took Kennedy out a couple of times because I thought he was tired. Brice and J.P. once, Marcus once because I thought they were a little winded and we’d need them for a couple of more minutes, but Brice and Isaiah were both in foul trouble quite a bit, so a lot of my substitutions tonight were made because of fouls, too. There were a lot of possessions. It seemed like there were a lot of possessions in the game, and yet both teams, when we got it down the court, I don’t think either team really took bad shots, so it wasn’t quick, quick, quick.”

Can you talk about your team’s start on the defensive end in jumping out to a 20-4 lead?
“Yeah, it’s amazing because I was so mad I was over there ready to pull my gray hair out because I didn’t think we were doing a blessed thing right on the defensive end of the floor. But they missed some shots and turned it over and we were in the right place at the right time. We turn it over badly on one end when we have a layup and then they go down and bounce it off on one of our guy’s foot and it comes back [to us]. That helped. I think it was 12-0. Usually I don’t even look at the clock or score because I’ve never thought I had lost a game when it was 10-0. We just wanted to keep playing and tried to outwork them. I didn’t think we did that at all on Wednesday night and I thought we did a much better job of it yesterday and today.”

What are your primary takeaways after this tournament experience?
“The biggest thing to take is we were exposed to many different things. I think that will help us. Butler’s physical play, and again, I’m not saying negative things - it was fun to watch - I just hated watching it against my team. But their physical play showed us a lot. I think UCLA’s speed early in the game last night showed us a lot. I think Florida’s screen on the ball work is the worst we’ve played screen on the ball all year. I even put five little guys in and tried to switch every screen on the ball just to change things up and they got three offensive rebounds in a row. Frazier, I think, made a three over Isaiah Hicks’ hand that I thought was perfect defense. So we gained some things there. I think we learned a lot more about our team and got a lot of guys some more experience. They should be better later on down the line.”

Do you attribute the early start to depth in being able to weather the amount of play over the last three days?
“Well, but yesterday I think we had two guys play over 22 minutes or something like that. We didn’t play a lot of guys a lot of minutes yesterday, so I think, yeah, the depth probably helped us win the game last night and helped us get off to a better start today probably.”

On the play of Kennedy Meeks in the second half:
“I thought Kennedy made three big plays. Brice made a really risky, hard, desperate, terrible pass and Kennedy caught it and laid it up. Kennedy may have been the only guy on our team that could have caught it. And two other times he got offensive rebounds and scored for us when we were struggling a little bit in the second half. I thought in the second half his work and some free throws were the biggest part of the game for us.”

On the quality of the tournament:
“I talked to Steve Alford last night and in the old days you used to be in a tournament where there would be four good teams and four not-so-good teams. This tournament was a big-time tournament. There was a chance that UCLA, North Carolina or Georgetown were going to be playing for seventh place or UCLA, Florida and Georgetown are 1-2. And those are three really good basketball teams. It’s an unbelievable tournament and it should get you more ready than a lot of the events you do play where you have a couple of wins and play one game… It was a great tournament and a great field and I do believe it really helped us.”

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