UNC-ECU: Roy Williams Postgame
“Needless to say, we feel a heck of a lot better than we did Wednesday night. I think we had invested a heck of a lot more over the last couple of days. Mentally, we were more into the game. Jeff [Lebo] and I talked before the game, and he was pulling for us hard Wednesday night because he’s a North Carolina graduate, but also he didn’t want us to be as mad as we were and as upset as we were, and I told him I agreed. And I said after the game that he was right because we had much more attention to detail today than we did Wednesday night.
“First half, we had one turnover. First two-and-a-half minutes of the second half we had two and another one that should have been a turnover, so that’s the reason I took those five guys out because we’ve got to take care of the basketball. And after that, we played pretty doggone well. Guys coming off the bench the other night didn’t give us much, and today they were 14-of-19.
“Brice [Johnson] was off the charts, rebounding-wise and scoring-wise, and he was better defensively, but he can even be much better defensively. His whole mind was out of the game the other night. He missed his first two shots and got a call that bothered him, and then he was out of it. And today, he missed his first three shots and kept playing and kept rebounding the basketball, and I would assume that’s a career high rebounding-wise. We need Brice and Kennedy [Meeks] to rebound the ball like that. The first half, they had one offensive rebound. In the second half, they had more, but they missed more shots. We need to do a better job of rebounding, a better job of boxing out. We shared the ball - 27 assists for us shooting 60 percent for the game. Again, we were into it mentally and we’ve got to have that same kind of attitude every night.”
Of the things that went wrong against Iowa, what were the ones that you hammered down most with your team?
“A failure to box out. We fouled too much, and we talked about that. We’re starting exams, we had exams Friday and Saturday. The game was Wednesday night, Thursday was off, Friday we just came in to do some shooting, and it was good for them because I was going out of town recruiting. I told them they had 24 more hours and that maybe I would calm down. And Coach Rob said, ‘No, he’s just going to be simmering.’ And it did simmer for another 24 hours. So yesterday, we got after it probably as hard as anybody on this team has ever had to practice the day before a game. You can’t do the things rebounding-wise and you can’t do the things one-on-one selfishly like we did Wednesday night and be a good basketball team.”
What do you remember from Jeff Lebo’s playing days?
“I remember I’d like to have him on this year’s team. If he was on this year’s team, we’d be a heck of a lot better. His toughness, I loved his understanding of the game and his savvy. He wasn’t the greatest athlete in the world, he was a very good athlete, but he was not Vince Carter or Michael Jordan. He was always in the right spot defensively, and he could shoot that basketball. He wasn’t afraid to take big shots, and if he made one, he might make another. If he missed one, he was going to make the next one. I would take Jeff on our team; we’d be a heck of a lot better. Not at his weight right now, but if he still had the ability he had in ’88, then I would take him and he’d start on our team.”
Does it gnaw at you that Brice played the way he did tonight but not last week?
“Does it gnaw at me? Yeah. But I’ve said that since the start of the year. I said we had a couple of big guys that had to step up. And when they step up and be really big-time players, we’re really a good basketball team. That’s putting a lot of pressure on guys, but heck, it’s college basketball at the highest level. If you want to be good, your best plays have got to step up and play. I challenged him – there’s no question about that.
“I didn’t start him against UCLA and he won the defensive player of the game award for the first time in his three years and he was really good defensively. I got ticked off at him the last three days and he was really good today. But I’m getting to be old. I can’t stay mad all of the dadgum time, so he’s got to be able to do that himself. His rebounding today was really impressive because he got to rebounding the ball in a crowd and didn’t act like a little wimp. And he did better things defensively, too.”
How about his jumper? He tends to fade a lot of times when he shoots it and his release point is a little lower -
“Now, woah, woah, woah – you’re not that good. Okay, let’s just get that straight. You’re not that good to evaluate.”
But that’s the case, though.
“No, it’s not, either. The bottom line is he missed some shots. His first three shots, I didn’t like any of them. But Brice Johnson, you get somebody that’s a good shooting coach, they’ll tell you that his shot looks good. It’s good. Period. His shot is really good. Now, his shot selection was frickin’ awful on Wednesday night. And then today, his first three shots – he was 0-for-3 – and then he was 9-for-12 after that. But Brice’s shot is not the problem. It’s the physical play that he’s got to understand he’s going to get hit, but we need him to post up low. Guys, when you talk about posting up, that means you get as low as you possibly can. He’s willing to do that eight feet from the basket or 10 or 12 or 14 or 16.
“At the first TV timeout, I’d say Brice’s first two shots were jump shots and Kennedy’s first shot was a jump shot. We don’t need that. I’d rather Marcus be shooting jump shots and those guys running, but there’s nothing wrong with Brice’s shot. If anybody’s told you his release point – there’s a guy on my staff that’s the third [best] career 3-point shooter in NBA history and Roy Williams knows how to shoot the basketball. There’s nothing wrong with his shot. It’s his brain, now. That may be part of it.”
Were you happy that Isaiah Hicks came in and took the ball to the basket instead of taking jumpers?
“Well, I think he listened when I was telling those guys on the bench and during the timeout that we don’t need big guys to shoot jump shots. I was really surprised – 3-for-5, four rebounds, eight [points]. And he took the ball to the basket. One time he shot a jump hook and it sort of slipped out of his hand, but he took the ball to the basket. We need Isaiah to be a big-time player for us.”
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