“Well, it does now. I didn't know it beforehand. Wow. You know, the other night after a game in the ACC Tournament, they told me that we had passed or tied Coach Allen, Dr. Allen, and I didn't realize that, and I didn't realize this about Coach Smith. I really do appreciate those kind of long-standing records. But please remember what I said, that we were able to pass Doc Allen, and if we win, we have a chance to tie Coach Smith, because that's the way I look at it. If you find anybody that says, Roy Williams says, oh, I've won such and such, that's a lie, because I've never said that. But I do really love the tradition and the history of college basketball, so that's a pretty neat deal. I don't think I'm going to put any extra pressure on my team, though, because they look at it like it's my record, and that's not what it is.”
We've talked a lot about fouling too much, not shooting enough foul shots, and why that's happened. Does that stat kind of speak to the kind of core of your philosophies of just pounding it inside, why it's an important stat? Does it remind you of anything else you've seen?
“Well, it's been the most, if not the most important offensive stat in my entire 27 years as a head coach. You go back to the really, really, really good years in 2005, Sean May fouled out half of Illinois team. You go back to 2009, Tyler Hansbrough fouled out half the United States, and we were pretty doggone good. It's always been something I truly, truly believed in. The difference is this year is we're just making so many little silly fouls, and that just drives me crazy. You reach in and touch a guy on his little pinky as he lays it up, so it's a three-point play. We had, who was it, I guess it was Duke, we gave them three old-time three-point plays just by barely reaching in.
“That probably drives me more crazy than anything. But we need to be more aggressive attacking the basket with our post players and our drives to the basket both. But I really have -- you can go back and listen to any press conference from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, I've always thought that you want to get to the free-throw line more than your opponent. It's always a reason I believed in getting the ball inside. In 2005 at the end of the game, Illinois's center was sitting out. He was not in the game; he had already had five fouls. So my philosophy is the more you get fouled, the greater chance you have of their better players not being in the game at the end.”
You guys had a lot of turnovers last night, Arkansas likes to turn people over. How concerning is that stat, and just what's your take on Arkansas and their style and pressure?
“Well, there's no question, if we turn it over at the same rate we did last night, we won't have anybody left at the end of the game, including the head coach, because we're going to fight somebody, and that usually means our players. If we turned it over 17 times last night in, gosh, I think I saw a 60-something possession game, it's going to be more than 60 possessions tomorrow, so we understand that. That's -- 50 percent of our practice discussion out there on the court was not turning the basketball over. I don't mind some turnovers. Coach Wooden used to say he didn't mind turnovers at all, which I do. I'm not going that far because Coach Wooden thought that meant you were trying to accomplish something.
“But some of ours are like our fouls. They're just silly turnovers. We've got to stay away from the silly turnovers. We've got to make sure if they're pressing that we've want to attack. Because if they're going to get a turnover, we've got to get some lay-ups at the other end, also. I've been -- one of my greatest friends in coaching for a long time was Nolan Richardson. I've known Michael forever. I used to go up to Arkansas and play in their college coaches' golf tournament. I love the way they play. We've got to turn our motor up higher than it's been all year long. We've got to turn up our intensity higher than it's been all year long. We've got to turn up our toughness because you're going to be double-teamed, you're going to be triple-teamed, you can't start crying for mama, come help you. You've got to be ready to play.”
Some of your players were talking about how you brought up the '82 52-50 game against James Madison last night, and they were talking about some of the anecdotes that you constantly pull out. Is that a personality trait in terms of story telling? Is that something you picked up as a coaching tactic years ago?
“I'm sure it's a personality trait because I talk too much, but also I want guys to understand things are okay. I didn't like the look on our guys' faces last night when they sat down in front of me at that time-out like they were about to panic, like oh, my gosh. I explained to them that this is NCAA Tournament play. In 1982 we had a guy name Worthy and a guy named Perkins and a guy named Jordan, and we absolutely blew out James Madison 52-50, to get them to realize that what was happening is I didn't expect Harvard to quit, I expected us to play better. I didn't expect us to give up a four-point play. I didn't expect us to miss two 1-and-1s and all that kind of stuff. So I think it is a personality trait.
“But last night specifically, and a lot of times I do it, is just to tell them things are okay. You can go back and watch it, not that you should, but in 2005 I called a time-out right -- three minutes left in the game. And they came over and I said, I don't have anything to say to you, I just wanted you to rest for a second, and God, isn't this fun, we're getting ready to win a National Championship. It depends on what's going on, but yeah, I talk too much, too.”
There was a story by North Carolina alumnus, S.L. Price in this week's Sports Illustrated questioning whether Carolina had lost its way trying to balance athletics and academics with regard to the scandal and what's been going on. As a coach, what is your message to either recruits or Carolina supporters or just casual observers who see stuff like this and may infer that Carolina has lost its way in that regard?
“Well, we've been going through this, I call it stuff. I used to say junk and people didn't necessarily like that, so I'll stick with the stuff. We've been going through this for three years, seems like a lifetime. Carolina has not lost its way. There are things in college athletics that people may think don't fit together. I happen to think they do fit together. I think that you can have a great academic institution and have a great athletic program. That doesn't mean that it's impossible to make mistakes. I said our University, we had some mistakes. I'm very proud of my degree. My son and daughter went there. I'm very proud of the degree they have. I have a five-year-old and a three-year-old grandson, and I hope like crazy they go to school there and I'll be extremely proud of their degree. Some people's attitudes or ideas are out in Never-Never Land and think everything in the world is perfect. I don't happen to think everything in the world is perfect, but you can make really, really positive things if you really want to.
“I walked by a building over here, and there was a building, I wondered, did they run out of money or something? What happened? They had a mistake, concrete didn't work, part of it fell in, so now it's all up in trials and everything. That doesn't mean that building things have gone to crap. You just have things that are mistakes that you can't do over. It's not like golf. I love to play golf. I don't take Mulligans, okay, but you can't do that. But no, I disagree. I don't think Carolina has lost its way. Carolina had some mistakes. We've made so many changes, it's unbelievable, on our campus. Right now, if I decided I wanted to go to the Chart House tonight for dinner, I've got to get the approval of 12 committees and the disciples of the Lord before I can go. And that's okay. But, no, I disagree, I don't think Carolina has lost its way. I think our degree, our educational institution is one of the most fantastic places in the world.”
Have you noticed any kind of effect?
”Oh, not just that article. For three years, we've been putting up with some of the negative recruiting by other schools. We've been putting up with some things that aren't very pleasant. But we're still playing.”
Coach, you said you wanted your bigs to get away from those turnaround jumpers and fadeaways, but isn't a lot of that part of Brice's game, that little soft jumper?
“Well, think about -- go back and think who I've said that the most about, Kennedy. Have you seen many of Kennedy's turnaround fall-away jumpers go in? I haven't, either, so that's one thing I'm really bad -- I don't like those things. Brice is a turnaround jump shooter. I want him to get closer position to get in tighter to make more of them. But Kennedy last night, he takes one of those, why would you do that? It just doesn't make sense. He's guarded by a guy that looks like me, and he's shooting fall-away turnaround jump shots. Thank goodness for Tommy's club there was nobody on Harvard's roster that looked like me. That's the whole thing is we want Brice to get lower because I'll tell you what, Brice makes more dunks than he does turnarounds, so the closer he gets the better he is. Kennedy is the one that shoots -- to be honest with you, get Joel on the right block, he turns to his left shoulder and shoots that shot, I don't say much to him because a lot of times that sucker goes in.”
I'm sure that you like to believe or hope that you have everybody's attention at a high level at all times, but it's human nature. Do you think with last night's game, did you sense that you really had their attention today in practice, that maybe there's -- their eyes are open just a little wider and their ears are open a little wider?
“I don't know that I've ever gotten my club's full attention. You've got to know them. They're a bunch of goofballs. But the attention to detail in practice today was pretty doggone good. In regards to what you say and how much you try to praise Harvard's club, they think it's Harvard, and that's bad. You should respect everyone, fear no one. That's what I tell them all the time. But they also saw how aggressive those clips were on TV about Arkansas and know that a little bit. We did have their attention today pretty doggone good.”
So as badly as you felt last night, do you feel really good now about going into tomorrow night?
“No, because I've seen Arkansas play. They're scary. They really are. And some of the clubs this year, we played Louisville at Louisville in the last ten minutes of regulation. And in the overtime, their frenetic pace and the aggressiveness really hurt us, so we've got to make sure that doesn't happen. But to your question, we had a pretty doggone good attention span this morning in practice.”
Roy, with the exception of Jackson Simmons and Stilman White, nobody in that room has been to the second week of this tournament. How important is it for those kids for Marcus and Brice and that group to experience that, and from a program standpoint, there was once a time where UNC and the Sweet 16 were mutually exclusive, and now to get them back, what would that mean?
“ Well, two or three answers to that. I said, Marcus, have you ever been to the third round, J.P., have you ever been to the third round, Brice, Joel, and the answer was no, and I knew that because I told them about it. But it's not just our exclusive right. I was just going through the stuff that we get. I think this may have been from the ACC, there was a five-year period where Coach Smith's team got out of the first round once in five years. It was '76, '77, '78, '79, '80, something like that, so it's not our exclusive right. I didn't tell that to the kids, but you ought to feel pretty doggone good to get in the tournament, to win a game in the tournament. You win another game, you feel a little better, you win another game, you feel -- but that's not a rallying cry. It's not like Bobby Frasor walking in in Detroit in the semifinals in 2009 saying, okay, we know how we felt last year after we laid an egg. There hasn't been any of that kind of thing.”
The last time Arkansas was in this tournament, they got eliminated rather decisively by North Carolina in '08, National Championship year for you guys. Razorback fans remember that. What do you remember about it?
“ I can even go back farther than that because one of my greatest feelings I ever had was '91, the first time we went to a Final Four. We had to beat Arkansas to go there, and again, that was when Nolan [Richardson] was the coach who was a great, great friend. But my guys weren't even born in '91, so I don't talk a lot about -- they don't know what Mark Randall and Terry Brown and Alonzo Jameson or Adonis Jordan, that was starting lineup. They don't even know who those guys were. Last night I brought up Jordan, most guys still know who he is.
“But in '08 we played really, really well. That was the weirdest thing. I go out in the Final Four in San Antonio, I've been trying to forget that Final Four in 2008. And as I'm walking out on the court, I said, well, we prepared exactly like we did last week, I feel just as confident as I did last week, and last week we were great, and I think we beat Arkansas and Louisville to get to the Final Four that year. Wasn't a few minutes later we were down either 28 or 38, so I've got rid of those nostalgic feelings because I'm serious I walked out on the court and I was trying to question myself, and I said, we are prepared just as well as we did last weekend. We are just as ready, we are going to be great, and Kansas had us -- it was either 28 or 38 or 88, something like that in the first half, so I've forgotten about all those years.”
You prepared for a lot of great players this year. What are your impressions of Bobby Portis?
“I've seen Bobby a lot. I saw Bobby a lot in high school, whether it was in the Pete's Jam or some of the national AAU type competition. Arkansas has one of the best AAU team that really is an AAU team. Everybody uses that to describe all of summer basketball, but the Arkansas Wings is one of the best organizations you have in the AAU. I've watched Arkansas players ever since I recruited a guy named Richard Scott from there 100 years ago. So I've seen Bobby play a lot. He's a big time player, and he's very versatile, big guy. He doesn't mind catching the ball out 15 feet from the basket and driving to the bucket. He doesn't mind catching it out there and making a pass to a guy cutting inside. He can get it in close to the rim.
“As John and I were talking about, the can really score against you inside. He can defend his position. He's one of the better players we'll play all year long. If I'm not mistaken, I think I heard last night on the broadcast that he was SEC Player of the Year and I guess only the second one. He and Corliss. I've had a chance to coach Corliss with some international basketball, but Bobby is a big time player.”
You mentioned on Mike Anderson, what have you thought about the job Mike has done, and this is really his third big rebuilding job.
“Mike's best characteristic is his wife. She's really helped him out a heck of a lot. We have some fun together on some trips. I tried to teach her how to shoot craps one night and she won money, so she thinks I'm a pretty good guy. Again, Michael was with Nolan forever. I think he coaches like Nolan with the foundation and the beliefs, but he coaches like Mike Anderson coaches. I coach like Coach Smith with the foundation and belief that I think I'm different, and I think Michael is different. I think he's done a great job at every step he's been. I hope I get a chance to come back and play in their golf tournament they do for charity in the spring. And he's just one of the good guys in the coaching profession that I've really enjoyed and he's gone to some places and really done a good job rebuilding them. But you can tell him I said the best thing about him was his wife.”