Needless to say, it was a great day for us—63 percent (field goal percentage) for the game and only have eight turnovers. It was a good bounce-back from a very disappointing game Wednesday night. We felt like, as I said at the press conference Wednesday night, I thought we did some good things over there, but Duke made bigger plays down the stretch. People were worried about carry-over; I wasn’t worried about that. I was worried about having enough players to dress out—that was my biggest concern.
We got things going for us, and it sort of snowballed against Georgia Tech. They have played so many games—I think they have nine games where with one minute left in the game they were within one possession in seven of the nine and the other two were four points. They ended up having nine losses out of those games. So it sort of snowballed on them today. We made some shots and got them to miss some—and got the ball really going up and down the court in a speed that we really like.
They tried to come out running us, and they have done a great job of that all year and hurt us early, and then we did a better job of getting back. We just caught them on a good day—a good day for us—and we feel very fortunate to have played the way we did.
First possession with Four Corners—obviously a tribute to Coach (Dean) Smith. It was also fitting that you got a lay-up out of it.
Very much so. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time—for two weeks, anyway. Some way to do something that would mean a great deal to him, would mean a great deal to me. It worked out great. I was hoping they would be man-to-man, but if they weren’t we were going to hold it for 20 seconds out there with everybody holding up four (fingers). I was a little disappointed that more of our crowd didn’t have more savvy, but I felt like they were asleep most of the day anyway, so it was about all right.
Not intended to be criticism, but it’s criticism—we need some dadgum help. We go on the road and we play, and they people are screaming like banshees or something, and today is was like every time I yelled at a player they turned around and looked at me. I yelled at a player Wednesday night, and they never even knew I was over there frickin’ yelling at them—thought I was doing exercises. So if you want to act like I’m chastising the fans, just tell them to come in and invest. We need some help when we come play back here. We’ve been on the road four out of five games, we come back—Joel (Berry) couldn’t play, we didn’t know if we were going to have Brice (Johnson), and we need some help so show up with your lungs rested on—when do we play again? Tuesday night.
Everybody’s in the locker room—I know because all my coaches agreed with me. Steve (Robinson) is trying to get me to calm down, but we need some more support. My gosh, we are trying to honor the greatest coach I’ve ever been around and maybe one of the greatest individuals I’ve ever known. I can understand if you didn’t recognize it because it is sort of went quickly—and its nice that we got a backdoor lay-up—but don’t sit over there and feel like we have to entertain you; this is a team thing. Now, does anybody want to ask me more questions about the game, now that I’ve got off that soapbox?
How much have you practiced the Four Corners, how often did you guys do that?
I’m such a great coach, we walked through it one time yesterday, and I guarded Marcus. That’s it.
I drew it up on the board. Had some people watching practice yesterday and I waited—we went in the locker room, waited five minutes until everybody left, and went back out to make sure nobody was there because I wanted it to be something very sincere from our team. The University of North Carolina Basketball TEAM—to Coach Dean Smith. And so we didn’t want anybody sending out a dadgum Twitter or fax or whatever the dickens would go on. I wanted it to be something from my team to Coach Smith, and that worked out great.
You said it meant something to you as well—can you elaborate on that?
Well, that guy on that screen right there behind you, John Thompson one time said that Coach Smith shared with him the knowledge. That’s the greatest thing you can have, and that’s what Coach gave me—gave me his knowledge, gave me a chance. (He) used to get me to try things on the JV team to see how they worked, and then we’d try it on the varsity. Needless to say, when I went to Kansas and there was a 45-second (shot) clock when I first got there we didn’t play Four Corners very much. He called me one night and asked me about it. I said, ‘Coach, I love it too, but my team is better right now just running the dickens out of it.’ So we didn’t do much of it after the 45-second clock, and then it went down to 35 and we do almost none of it. So I think he knows that I honor him, and he knows that for 64 years I’ve tried to make him proud, but it was just a way of Roy Williams saying thank you.
How much do you feel like the team, in these last two weeks, has learned more about Coach Smith and embraced it?They didn’t know too much about him to say the least, except for me talking about him all the time. I think you should talk about your experiences, especially when they are positive and special, and so they have learned a lot more but the last two weeks has been much more educational for them and they understand. Most of them didn’t know about all the stuff off the court so they have learned about that now. And the significance of what he did for basketball and the type of individual he was—always putting the players first. You know, John Calipari is using that now, but it started with Coach Smith and John would even tell you that himself. I think he even wrote an article about it so I think they know more about it right now, and it is something that they should know more about.
Not to get you back on your soap box, but why bring up concerns about the atmosphere today?
I haven’t noticed it all year. But today, guys, usually when I’m on the road and I’m yelling they have to be able to read my lips from 65 feet. Did you guys feel like it was really lively out there today? Now, be honest. All right. And we’ve been gone; it’s not like we had a home game two days ago, and two days before that, and two days before that. And they criticize me, and that’s fine because I’m telling the truth. But I’ve never thought that this year—I really haven’t. We lost to Notre Dame, we lost to Iowa, we lost to Virginia, so we’ve lost three home games.
I like the home venues to be so demanding that it is really, really a positive for you. But even in those games we lost I thought the crowd was fine. (To Athletic Communications Director Steve Kirschner) Have I even said anything behind closed doors? No, I haven’t. But I thought—and maybe the occasion of Coach Smith, maybe that had something to do with it too. But I can tell you one guy that was disappointed in it. That guy right up there (Dean Smith). We always talked about, ‘Let’s hope the crowd is in it, but we have got to do our part.’ Well, we need some help. Let’s put it this way: am I 100 percent sure I’m correct? No, because I can make mistakes. But, by God, I think 99. Because I’m yelling out there today, ‘Joel.” (Then demonstrates a head turn as if Joel James heard him because the crowd was so quiet.) Most of the time they can’t hear what I’m saying.