UNC-UL: Roy Williams Postgame

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Inside Carolina's postgame coverage includes quotes from head coach Roy Williams's postgame press conference following UNC's win over Louisville in ACC Tournament on Thursday.

Opening comments:
“I’d like to introduce you to our two players, Marcus Paige is the first one, Brice Johnson is the guy that showed up in the second half. I don’t know who was out there in the first half, but Brice was there in the second half, and that was a huge part of our win. I think I told them at halftime I was about as lucky as I ever felt in my life to be down five points, because I thought we had not played as hard as they had. We were not as aggressive as they were. I didn’t think we had done a nice job of sprinting back on defense. We had turned it over on silly turnovers. Again, to just be down five, I told them, I told my staff and I told the players, that is about the luckiest I’ve ever felt. We got off to a good start in the second half. To be honest with you, I thought we shot even better than 50%, but we were able to put the ball in the basket, and then we were lucky too. I don’t mind saying that. When we went zone in the first half about either 7 or 9 possessions, I thought it was good. But we just didn’t do a very good job rebounding out of it. But played a lot of zone in the second half and they missed a lot of shots that they normally would make. But they’re a little like us. They’re challenged at points about making shots, and it worked out well for us. But really happy to still be here.”

Coach, you called a timeout there in the first half and were pretty animated. I was curious, you seemed toplay better after that time out when you got into Brice and J.P. What was the message there?
“I think that gives coaching too much credit. I was really mad. I didn’t think we’d hustled very hard, and I thought we made silly turnovers. I guess I’d had enough at that point. Besides that, it was really hot out there in the first half, and I wanted to take my coat off. Brice keeps wanting to wear one of my sports coats. I started to give it to him and let him sit in the stands there, and he’d feel better at that point. But coaching is coaching. You try to do everything you can to try to get guys to play, but at that point it wasn’t a coaching ploy. It was just that I was extremely frustrated.”

On Brice Johnson’s play:
He had 18 points from the second half. He was 8 for 8 from the foul line. He played a big time game. He messed it up defensively one play about as big as I’ve ever had him, for sure, much less anybody else. But he played his tail off in the second half. I couldn’t be happier with his second half play.”

Couple of things, at 5’11” versus 6’11”, how hard is it to get into Brice’s face?
“He was playing about 5’8” at that point, so I was looking down on him at that point. No, the other guy that I got after was J.P. for the turnovers. If you look at J.P.’s line, he’s 1-for-4. He had three assists and three turnovers, and I’m not taking credit for getting mad at him and changing his play. But he was really big for us. I mean, he really was. The defensive job he did on their jump shooters, the rebound that he got when it was up there and it was either a two point game or a four point game. The steal on the out of bounds play, I mean, you look at that and say two points, 27 minutes, he didn’t do a lot. But I was really, really pleased with what he did in the second half.”

Your zone offense, it wasn’t very good in the first half. What made it better in the second half?
“We got our big guys to move a heck of a lot more in the second half. You know, I think we made two or three threes. We made one I can’t find it. We made three in the first half, two in the second, but we got the ball inside more. Brice and Kennedy passed it better inside. We got it inside a couple times by Marcus dribbled, Joel Berry dribbled in there one time, Justin made a couple of good passes. First half I thought our big guys were really sort of hiding behind the zone. I think I was right, Joel, Kennedy and Brice were like 3-for-15 in the first half. They were 8-for-13 in the second half. Brice was 5-for-8 because we got better shots, and we found that open area in the zone in there. But kids just, I’ll use Brice’s terminology, they manned up and decided to play better in the second half.”

Coach Williams, you got some big minutes from Kennedy especially down the stretch. I think you had back to back baskets and then a big block. What was your assessment of how he showed up today, especially through the illness?
“Got more out of him than I thought I was going to get. 19 minutes from him, 4-for-9, that’s not what you usually get because he’s shooting 56 percent, 57 percent for the year. But I think he did some good things. His passing is important to us. I said to Adam Lucas before the game, Kennedy is more, probably more important against a pressing team like Louisville than he is against somebody else because he does make good decisions out of bounds. But I think Brice and Kennedy and Justin, Marcus all of them made good decisions passing the ball against the zone.”

Roy, going back to Kennedy, when did you find out that he was going to play and you decided you were going to play him?
“This morning at pregame at 10:00 the doctors told me he was medically cleared to play. He came up to my room last night and tried to lobby before the snack, and I told him I said I’ve got to get the okay from the doctors first. Talked to the staff at pregame meal a little bit. And then thought about it between 10:00 and when we came over here, and decided that I was going to give him and I told him last night, I’m not saying I’m not going to play you the whole tournament, but he hasn’t done one drill since the Duke game. Not one live thing. Not one of anything. He may have shot free throws over the side, but I didn’t even see him do that. So I thought it could be three or four minutes, but no more than that in any stretch. The first time he missed a lay up and then tipped it and tipped it again, and he was jumping about as high as I jump, so he wasn’t he’s never a high jumper anyway, but I think he got his legs underneath him a lot better in the second half, and he was a lot more effective for us in the second half.”

Coach, what went into your decision to play as much zone? How did you evaluate how you all played it?
“Two things. We played it against them at their place. I think seven possessions or five, and I don’t think they scored a single possession against it. Our man wasn’t working very well. I thought Rozier was really just taking people. J.P. was in foul trouble. So it maybe slows them down a little bit and makes it easier to find the shooters, makes it a little easier to stop the dribble penetration because we’ve got our center in the middle of the floor there. But I was just trying to find something that worked."

Coach, not to jinx you, but your team is shooting above 40 percent from three over the last seven games.
“Look over your shoulder the rest of the friggin’ night, okay. Let’s understand that.”

Is that a matter of getting better looks? Is that a matter of the shot just going?
“It’s more selective shooting. I mean, look, guys, we talked about it in the locker room before the game. The coaches we’re I think third in the league in three point shooting percentage, but we’ve taken the 15th most attempts. There are how many teams in our league? 15. All right, so we’re taking better shots is what it is. So if we shoot a poor percentage tomorrow your butt better not come in here.”

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