UNC-BC: Roy Williams/Steve Robinson Postgame

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. --- UNC head coach Roy Williams and assistant coach Steve Robinson both addressed the media following UNC's win over Boston College on Tuesday.

Roy Williams Statement:

“Basically what I want to do is just tell you I’m alive and kicking. I’m not well, mentally. I’ve had some vertigo attacks over the last 17 or 18 years. This was the first time I’ve really had one during the game. It’s called benign positional vertigo. I’ve been diagnosed at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Kansas, The Mayo Clinic in Rochester and Chapel Hill hospital, all three. I don’t know that the doctors really care that much about me, I just think they don’t want me to die on their watch.

“The referee, when Isaiah (Hicks) was driving down, I thought Isaiah had gotten fouled, and I said something to the referee and I didn’t respond correctly to his response, because I sort of swirled around and when I whirled around, that’s when it hit. When I say benign positional vertigo, that’s exactly what it is. Every attack that I’ve had is when I jerk my head quickly, and the little, I call them rocks because my head’s full of rocks, the rocks in my middle ear, one of the pebbles gets out of the train, out of the alignment and bounces around on your inner-ear and that’s what caused this imbalance.

“Our trainer had two of the pills that I take when something like that happens, and I did. I was able to throw up a little bit, I thought I’d throw really a lot, because that’s usually what happens, but I just can’t tell you how happy I am for my team and for Coach Robinson. I promised them this was not ‘Hoosiers,’ I didn’t really get thrown out to see if he was tough enough.

“But he did a great job with C.B. (McGrath) and Hubert (Davis) and Brad (Frederick). It was a tough time sitting back there and getting replays and getting text messages. I’d made the decision that if we’d lost, I was going to get back out there, because I was going to sit there with my team.

“But if we won, I was going to stay out of the way. So I was off the court the last 45 seconds, just 40 or 50 feet, and I couldn’t be happier for my team, I couldn’t be happier for Steve. Twenty-eight years ago we had a two-hour meeting, I decided I was going hire him. He’s been like a brother for me for 21 years, and if I thought it would have worked, I might have done the Hoosiers idea, but I didn’t think of it. But he’s like a brother to me and he coached his buns off tonight, and my kids played their rear end off and I was very concerned, because I didn’t want to be a distraction.

“I’ll be fine, I’m not dead yet. I’ll let the guy talk to you that did the work, not me. Thank you. Oh and one thing—I really thought it was important that I could come back out so I could shake Jim (Christian)’s hand because I felt sorry for being a distraction. And I definitely would have been out there to shake his hand if we had won, because he’s a great young man, a big-time coach fighting to a tough situation. I wanted to at least say hello and congratulate him and tell him I was sorry for being a distraction.”

Steve Robinson Opening Statement:

“You have to give Boston College credit. They played a tremendous game. They played hard, they made shots, they competed, they were excited into the game, and our players, we picked it up in the second half, and we competed a lot better than we did in the first half and did a great job.

“Our coaching staff, we work for a great guy, and he has us prepared, and I’ve always said I’m going into each and every game that I should always be prepared that if he gets sick or he gets tossed in a game, that I can just step right in and manage the team. But I thought our staff did a great job of managing the team, managing the game down the stretch. You just have to give the players confidence that everything’s gonna be okay, and we’ve just got to play. Like I tell them, I said it’s not my first rodeo. Things just kind of worked out for us at the end.

“We battled. We battled. We had guys step up and make plays and Theo (Pinson) hit some free throws. Justin Jackson, we decided not to start him today, and he responded the way you’d like a guy to respond. He competed, he played hard, he was involved, he got his shot to go. Marcus (Paige) hits a big 3 for our team. We had a lot of guys make a lot of big plays. Kennedy (Meeks) had a big steal on the defensive end of the floor. So a lot of guys contributed, and that’s what it’s about. I think that was a big part.

“We certainly rallied around the fact that Coach was down, and you’ve got to have somebody to just kind of pick us up, and I think that’s what our team did. It wasn’t one individual, but our team all contributed and all tried to pick things up with Coach out. I just tried to give them confidence that fellas, we can do this. Just get stops, play hard, and I think we’ll be okay.”

What was that moment like for you when Williams collapsed?

“I didn’t know anything else other than after they got him up and they took him off the floor, it wasn’t the first time that he’s had a vertigo attack because of a sudden movement or jerk and had to go down. That’s why I said I’ve always told myself that if something like that happens, you’ve got to step right in and it’s your job. Go in and manage the team, give those kids confidence, and we’re gonna be okay. Just do what I say. We’re prepared.

All we’re going do, and C.B. and Hubert, they did a great job of just helping me manage things. It’s a little different when you’re sitting over there giving all of these suggestions, and all of a sudden, in the middle of the storm, you’ve got to have the answer, so to speak. I was excited about it, but I know I just had to keep our guys playing, and keep their confidence up, and just hopefully we could weather the storm and get closer and closer. We kept talking about just get stops. Just get stops and then we’ll work on the offensive end as we go, but first of all we had to get stops in order to get back into the game.”

Did you have to alleviate the players’ concerns after Williams left the court?

“Never addressed it one time with them. I just said ‘He’s gonna be okay, let’s go.’ They know. They saw him stand up and walk off the floor, so they were aware. They just—The heat of the battle and the game and everything that’s going on at that time, you don’t have time, especially the guys that were playing that were on the court, I don’t think they were over there looking over their shoulder. In the back of their mind, maybe, but action is happening, and they’ve got to be focused on what we’re doing on the court at that time and trying to get stops. Trying to get a rebound, chasing (Eli) Carter around all those screens. Just trying to make plays on the offensive end.”

Did you sense an uptick in the intensity right after the fall happened?

“I think it was growing. I think we were starting to understand we had to play with more urgency on the defensive end of the floor. We kept getting it close, and then all of a sudden they hit a 3, or they’d make another play, and then when Coach went down, it just, you know, human nature. You’ve got to rally. You’ve got two options: You can either just be totally immersed and concerned about his well-being, which I know all of them were. But we also had a game to play. Coach wouldn’t want it any other way. He would want our guys to focus on the game and do the job that they’re supposed to do. Then at the end of the game, we evaluate everything that’s going on with his self, and we have confidence in our medical staff that they’re going to take care of him, and we were able to just play the game.”

What were you trying to accomplish with the starting lineup change?

“Shake things up. We’ve got to shake things up. Just because you lose two games in a row, and everything’s not hunky dorey. You wanna shake things up and say ‘Okay fellas, we have to play better.’ And I think that was a big thing for us, just trying to shake it up a little bit and just try to get us going. We didn’t quite work in the first half, but it did motivate some other guys in a different way to play a little harder, give a little bit more, and I think some guys responded that way." 

When was the decision made to shake things up?

“We talked about it probably on our flight back from Notre Dame. We’ve had discussion over the last couple of days in practice, what to do, how to do it. Coach made a final decision right before game time.”

What was Williams like after the game?

“Big smile. Big smile on our face. He talked to the team after the game was over with, so I was just happy that we won the basketball game, and I think I just happen to be the oldest assistant coach, so that’s probably why I’m up here. But the suggestions that C.B. McGrath and Hubert Davis gave throughout the course of the game, I think all of us, we kind of came together a lot more as a staff. It’s different. It’s different for everybody involved. In the middle of the game, all of a sudden, the role is changed a great deal in terms of as the game’s going on. We just kind of adjusted and just tried to keep the ship moving, and give the kids confidence that they could do it. We have good players and we have good senior leadership, and those guys stepped forward and responded in a critical situation like that.”

What was the difference on Eli Carter between the first half and the second half?

“We weren’t guarding him great in the first half. I mean, he was on fire. He’s a scorer. I mean, going into the game, explosive scorer. He gets going, and you know, it’s like with some kids, if they make one shot, two shots, then that basket really starts to look big, and that’s the way he played all game. He was a load for us. Our guys played hard, and they tried to keep him from getting the basketball, but he’s coming off screens, coming off with hand-offs, and he’s got his rhythm, he starts bouncing it and dancing with it a little bit, and he rises up and shoots it, and all you can do is just try to chase him around screens and try to get a hand up on the shots and just try to make it tough on him. I think 21 shots, he had to put up a lot of shots, and he had a lot of them to go in, but we did make him work, and that was one of our things. We wanted to make him work hard to get his shots off.”


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