“Well, we're very fortunate, the first half we didn't play very well at all. It's one of the worst halves we played all year long. First ten minutes of the second half we were really, really good. It was like a 26-6, or 25-7 something like that run. It was really important to us, to say the least. Late in the game we started sort of meandering around instead of getting a lot accomplished. After that Brice blocked so many shots around the basket. Needless to say that was huge for us. For us we still feel very good to be here.”
Coach, of all of the things that happened in the first half, what was it that maybe had you the most frustrated or angry with how your team played?
“It was 50 things. You know, we talked about trying to do a better job on stopping their dribble penetration. But we'd have one guy help and the other three guys would be standing out 15, 20 feet just watching. So they'd penetrate and we'd come over and help, and they'd drop down to the other guy because we never had a third guy involved. The old saying, every time the ball moves five guys on defense should move, and every time the ball moved in the first half we had two guys moving and the other three guys standing there waiting and watching. That was probably the most frustrating. But also to be outrebounded by seven at halftime, when we tried to say that's a key point of the game that didn't make me feel pretty good either.”
Coach Williams, what has Kenny Williams been giving you so late in the season for him to get early playing time at this point in the season?
“He's really gotten better and better defensively. He started out pretty good but I've really got a great deal of confidence for what he does on the defensive end of the floor. I didn't want Joel Berry to get his second foul, so we took him out the last couple of minutes. Kennedy was struggling a little bit, so we went small, probably earlier than I had been recently. Theo had two fouls. Justin Jackson had two fouls, so I tried to get them out. We ran out of perimeter players, but I am very confident in Kenny defensively.”
Is that based on what you see in practice or what you see in games?
“If you don't do it in practice, you don't get in games. It's what we see practice every day.”
Roy, how important was it to get a basket to start the second half?
“A lot of people say, 'first four minutes, last four minutes' (around halftime). I never felt that way; I feel you have to play the whole game. We were on a streak here recently where we've played really well to end the first half. We were terrible today but started out playing well in the second half. We ran a set play because I knew it was probably going to end up with Marcus or Brice to get shot. I wanted one of those two guys to get the shot.”
Coach Williams, I certainly don't want to take anything away from your win. What impressed you about Coach Dooley, his team how young they are? And what did you see for 40 minutes that impressed you?
“I saw in their game against Fairleigh-Dickinson. We got so caught up 1-16 or 2-15 and all that, I thought they were a very good basketball team. For a 16 seed, they had more size, more athleticism more inside scoring than you usually see from a 16 seed. Norelia, he was awesome in the Fairleigh-Dickinson game. He was a problem for us. At halftime had nine rebounds; my whole team had 14. I was impressed with them athletically. The way they penetrate to the basket. They are very unselfish, and a very good basketball team.”
The way you guys played in Washington, seemed like you've gotten what you did in the first half out of your system or passed the point where it was an issue or something you're worried about. How surprised were you to see that crop up again. Was there anything you saw pointing to that coming into game?
“No. I think different teams react differently. No. 1 versus 16 gets so much attention. Perhaps there was a little stress, everybody thinking it was going to be easy. You go back and look at the first half, we missed lay-ups and two-footers. Isaiah missed one from six inches. Brice missed one right there. I think we were stressing a little bit.
“We also didn't do a good job playing the screen on the ball, so we changed it at halftime and took a 180-degree turn the way we played defense on the screen on the ball the second half. Marcus making the shot and coming down on the break and scoring the first five points, then all of a sudden we were better defensively.
“I told them I've been around longer than everybody in here except two old guys sitting way over there. Three, counting Art in the middle. I've been here longer than anybody else. In 1982 North Carolina had a guy named Jordan, a guy named Worthy and a game named Perkins in the first round of NCAA Tournament game in Charlotte, we blew out James Madison 52-50. There was an offensive foul called right at the end of the game. The vibe that you get at that point, I didn't know if it was positive at that point. No. 1 versus 16, there's always a lot of stress on.
“I think for us, second half, I think we got into it defensively a lot better and still didn't play nearly as we want to. Somebody asked about Isaiah, that's probably Isaiah's worst game since the rock's cooled, but other than Kennedy, he didn't play very well today. But you got to get by some bad times.”
Yesterday we talked about Brice on the defensive end; today he's made history. On your personal scale, zero and Tyler Hansbrough, talk about Brice's defense today.
“Defensively in the first half Brice made a couple good plays coming down and getting involved. But in the second half his shot-blocking around the rim was really important. One of them could have been goaltending but the other six were blocks. He was really extremely important to us today, and kept them from making a run at us when we did get the big margin.”
Coach, what do you take away from this game that you want to address going into the next round?
“Well, we're still here. That's the first thing we take away. We're happy about that. Today's game won't have anything to do with the second game. We've got to hopefully get out and watch a little bit of this game and see it and go home and watch the tape, and see if we can come up with a plan to help us beat whoever plays in this game.
“I think you do build your momentum once you get in a tournament. Coach Smith always believed that. I understood what he was talking about and still believe it to this day. Hopefully we'll have better momentum than we had today.”
Coach, speaking of Coach Smith, can you talk about the milestone in passing him in Tournament wins?
“You know, it's a neat deal, guys, but I loved/worshipped him. I'm nowhere near the coach that he is. Times have been a little more difficult the last three years than anytime in my lifetime as a basketball coach. So I've been enjoying this team and enjoying this milestone that they bring up. But it just means that I've had a lot of good players and been around quite a while. I didn't become a head coach until 38. I don't see how anybody could still be doing this. If I started at 25, I'd be in the grave. I'm glad I started late.”
Why is it Kennedy doesn't jump?
“I have no idea, because if I knew, I had already changed it. Early in the season, he did get over that a little bit. He was more effective offensively. I think right now, it's a big frustration, even though one of the times he shouldn't have shot it anyway. I told Tyler Hansbrough, 'You can shoot against a double-team.' I never told anybody, 'You can shoot against a triple-team.' He pump-faked several times, he spins, there's three guys guarding him and he shoots it and they play Patty Cake with it. That one he shouldn't have shot.
“You have to explode up. It's a game around the rim. You can't play two feet below the rim and be effective inside. I got a feeling Kennedy will be a really, really good for us in 48 hours.”
My understanding is you encountered Tony Bennett in the hallway after their game and said something to him about his dizzy spell?
“Don't believe everything you hear. The bus was pulling up, and we were on the bus. I saw Tony walking to his bus. It was way outside. I told Steve Robinson, "Go ahead and get (the players) in there. I'll check on Tony." I almost got run over by one of the buses leaving. I said, 'if the bus hit me, please win one from Leroy.' I went to check on Tony. He said he was fine and he said he was taking one of my chapters. I said, 'Let's both stay away from that.'