UNC-UL: Roy Williams Postgame

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- UNC head coach Roy Williams addressed the media following his team's loss at Louisville on Monday.

Opening Statement:

“Well, it was a tough night for the guys in blue. It was a very hard-fought game, I think, by both teams. Both teams, I felt like, had a sense of urgency, but their sense of urgency was a little better than ours. The second half, they shoot for 53 percent, we never could get the ball to go in the basket for us, but the biggest part of the game, for me, was every little possession was extremely important, and they played really tough. Loose ball/50-50 balls, they seemed to get more of them than we did. And then 17 points on offensive rebounds compared to our seven. Needless to say, we didn’t shoot the ball very well, particularly in the first half. I thought we had some better looks than the results were, but I liked the way we kept playing, and we got it to a one-possession game if Joel Berry’s three goes in; I think it was a four-point game at that time. It didn’t go in, and we got about two or three tips around the basket, but we didn’t put the ball in the basket.

“Their zone, they went man-to-man a few times, too, but their zone made it difficult for us to get the ball inside to our big guys, who didn’t move nearly as well as we need to move inside. I think that was something that was really important, as well. We’re a pretty good passing team and had two assists in the first half. That’s not the way that we play. When I look down there and see fast break points and see six, and I don’t think we had any at halftime. If you’d have told me at halftime we’d shoot 29 percent and be outrebounded and have no fast break baskets and only be down one, I would have taken that, but we didn’t play as well as we needed to play in the second half, either, but I thought for those guys, I thought Lee was really huge. 4-out-of-7 from the 3-point line. I felt like they’d probably shoot it a little better today than they did Saturday, but Virginia guarded them better than we did. That usually has a lot to do with how well you shoot the basketball.”

How much of the lack of assists in the first half was from misses, and how much was from something Louisville was doing?

“Well, they’re good defensively. They had a little more fire in their belly. I would imagine that their practices have been very focused the last couple of days, or maybe it was just one day of practice, I guess, but we got, even the last play of the game, and I’ve never loved a player more than I do Marcus (Paige), but we tip it out and he goes after the ball with one hand, their guy comes around with two and gets the rebound. Kennedy (Meeks) goes up to get a rebound and Trey Lewis, I think it was, one of their guards, came over his back and got the ball, knocked it out. I thought it was our ball, thought it should have been a foul, but the ref saw it differently. But, Kennedy’s got to get that rebound, so in every game, everything is a little bit your team and a little bit the other team. I thought Marcus, for example, had some good looks in the first half, and they didn’t go in, but they do a good job of flying at you with their athleticism, too.”

When Marcus Paige isn’t shooting well, do you have enough perimeter shooters to make up for it?

“We have at times this year. It wasn’t tonight. We weren’t making them, and if you look at, I mean Joel Berry’s been shooting it pretty doggone well, and he’s 1-for-10 tonight, 1-for-5 from 3. We need a little bit better than that. If you get more balance by getting more scoring out of your big guys, but Kennedy has four shots and Brice (Johnson) has six, their defense, their big guys, they challenge the ball around the rim. They didn’t allow us to get the ball as easily inside as we allowed them to get the ball inside. And then down the stretch, too, I think they made, you guys know, probably, six free throws in a row or four, something like that, but that always helps you too to hold off on somebody.”

Was their anything you saw with Louisville’s tape against Virginia that you thought you might exploit?

“Well, if they’d shot the ball, that would have helped us if they’d scored 14 in the first half. But again, it wasn’t just Louisville that played Saturday. Virginia had something to do with that as well. I think Virginia is probably the best half-court defensive team in our league, and they really made it difficult for them, and the ball wasn’t going in, and some of those 50-50 balls I thought Virginia got more of those than Louisville did on Saturday.”

Do you attribute any of what happened tonight to rust?

“No, I attribute it to we didn’t play well, and I coached poorly, and they beat us.”

What makes Damion Lee so effective?

“Damion’s got a quick release. He’s a scorer. We talked about picking him up in transition, he made two 3’s in transition. We talked about he’ll look down at your shoelaces, freeze you, and pull up and shoot it, and he did that. But you’ve got to go guard him, too.”

What’s your level of concern with Marcus?

“Guys, I mean I’m not getting on you, but damn. He hasn’t shot it worth a frickin’ frank for four or five games. Am I supposed to put him out and send him to Siberia? He’s one of the greatest kids I’ve ever coached, I’m going to stick with him, I’m going to coach him, he’s going try to take shots. I don’t have any potion I can rub on people.”

What about your level of concern with the team overall?

“It’s part of the game. Give credit to the other team. Fourth time in five games, but we won the other four, so you’ve got to find something else that’s got to be important in the game. But we haven’t shot the ball well. I told some of you guys, some of you guys played golf, if you get the yips, you go to the long putter. Hell, there’s no long putter in basketball. You’ve got to knock the ball in the damn baskets. It’s a pretty easy thing. You’ve got to take good shots and make good shots. It’s not for the coach to go out there and think there’s some secret potion or anything, you’ve got to keep shooting and knock one in.”

In transition, was it more of Louisville doing anything or you guys just not getting there?

“They did a great job of getting back in transition, there’s no question about that. But we didn’t force the issue very much either. For us to have no points on fast break it could be one of the few times, maybe the only time I’ve ever coached a team that had no points in transition. Their defense is good, and their defensive transition is good, but we turned it over 16 times. Some of those were trying to force the issue, but we’ve got to continue to be aggressive.”

In terms of level of competition, how big of a step up was tonight?

“There’s no question we’ve got the top half of the schedule the second half of the season, and Louisville is 18-3 or 18-4, something like that, so their record was a heck of a lot better. Boston College struggled this weekend, but in this league, you know you’ve got to play everybody, it’s just unfortunate for us that they’re all at the end. I think the intensity level was up there. I don’t think it was a pretty game for either team. They shoot 43 percent, 41 rebounds to our 39. 15 turnovers to our 16. So I don’t think Rick (Pitino) would be ecstatic about the way his team played, but let him answer that. I do think that his team fought very hard, took us out of some things we’d like to do. We’d like to have things easy. Everybody would. But in this league, there’s not that many things easy.”

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