Q. What is more eye-popping to you: that a team wins by 44 or that it shoots 71 percent?
KENNEDY MEEKS: I mean, of course it's good to see a team win by 44. I mean, it shows their capability. But we're capable of doing those type of things.
Yesterday we was fighting for the most part of the game and finally put it away. That kind of shows our grit and toughness.
JUSTIN JACKSON: I think anytime somebody beats a team by 44 points, that's kind of eye-opening.
71%, is that what they shot yesterday?
JUSTIN JACKSON: That's hard to do even if you're shooting by yourself. I mean, that's eye-opening, both of them. We got to be ready to play against a very good team.
MARCUS PAIGE: Yeah, I agree. It's pretty surprising. You don't see that very often in a Final Four game. Probably never seen it in a Final Four game.
They've been playing that well basically the entire tournament. Their margin of wins in all their games have been pretty big, except for Kansas game. They're a team that can really shoot the ball. It's something they always have the capability of doing.
We're going to hopefully guard them a little bit better. 71% wouldn't be good in our game on Monday night. We just want to try to make it tough on them, but we know they're a great offensive team.
JOEL BERRY II: That was pretty impressive, them winning by 44 points.
I just think that even though they shot 71%, I mean, looking at the score, they had a great defensive game. That's what you have to look at. Like I said, they shot 71%, but the defensive end, they were able to stop them, especially one of the best players in the country.
As you could see, they take pride in that.
BRICE JOHNSON: Just like Joel said, it's definitely impressive to see a team win by 44 in the Final Four, especially since they held one of the best players in the country to nine points. That's a season low for him. He was averaging 25 points a game.
That's really impressive just because they're a very good defensive team and they play well together.
We just got to go out there and play the way we know how to play. We know it's going to be a dogfight.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Coach Williams, so we'll continue with questions.
Q. Roy, the last couple days, throughout this tournament, you've kind of tried to dictate what questions are asked of you. You don't want to be asked about retirement or the NCAA scandal. I'm curious why you as a coach feel like you have the right to dictate what's asked of you?
COACH WILLIAMS: Good question (smiling). I don't have a great answer.
I guess just being a human being. That's all right. I've been asked five times since the ACC tournament, at least, if I was going to retire. So in today's time of social media, why in the dickens can't people get that information without feeling like they have to ask it themselves.
For two and a half years I've been asked about the other stuff. I've answered it the same way every year. In today's times, why do I have to repeat the same thing?
I don't think I at all have tried to dictate. Jimmy Boeheim dictated. He said, Stop asking me that question, ask Roy. So I answered the question before anybody asked it. I disagree with you. I don't think I dictated that.
Then the question came up the first day with the NCAA stuff. I answered the question then. So I did not dictate.
Then I did say I would hope that we're at the Final Four, it's about four teams of young men that should have this moment for themselves.
We would have enough fire to burn this whole building down if we burnt all the paper that has been written about that stuff in the last two and a half years. It's not that I have a Napoleon complex. I am 5'10". I always stand right in front of Joel at every team picture, so he has to stand on his tiptoes to be seen.
I guess I would disagree with your question.
The other thing, so what if I have the right? You have the right to ask me again. But this is America, I have the right to say no, ask somebody else. That's what Jimmy Boeheim did.
First of all, I would say to your question, I don't have a great answer, but I disagree with your question because I haven't stopped talking anytime somebody's asked me.
How did I do?
COACH WILLIAMS: That's good. I like mediocre with you guys (laughter).
Q. You said at the ACC tournament final it had been a while since you'd won anything, when you won that title. How important would it mean to win a championship based on the expectations on this program?
COACH WILLIAMS: There are some big expectations. Somebody asked how does it go to make this the longest stretch forever between Final Fours.
I said, Well, I know North Carolina's history better, okay, because I happened to make the Final Four in '91 in Kansas. There's a guy named Dean Smith at North Carolina. He said, This has been a long time, it's been nine years.
We haven't quite been nine years yet.
Winning the ACC tournament guaranteed that my guys got a ring. That was important to me. There's a guy to my left down there, Marcus Paige, said, We've been here and never even won a ring. That statement was made in the pre-season. That became a motivation for me.
All of a sudden we get in the NCAA tournaments, you have a chance to get to the Final Four. Getting to the Sweet 16 is nice. Getting to the Elite 8 is nice. Really an accomplishment for every school. But if you can take one more step, it's another huge accomplishment.
I felt even better about that part of it.
But I didn't have a thought process of how I was going to act after getting to the Final Four. I really don't have a thought process of how I would act if we were to be the fortunate one to win on Monday night.
But I think my guys up here are really focused on that. They enjoy having a lot of fun. They're a bunch of whackos. I'm following their lead as we get to this stage. This is not even with Theo. It's even worse when you add Theo to these guys.
For me it would be a dream, a goal that we set at the start of the season, that we had a chance to be the best team. Now we're one of only two teams that still has a chance. So that's really important.
Q. Roy, I know you hate to look ahead. Have you thought at all about what a third championship would mean to you as a coach, that you join the likes of Wooden, Krzyzewski, Rupp, Knight and Calhoun. Pretty high territory.
COACH WILLIAMS: I've never had that thought. I really haven't. I'm still the guy that says truthfully I wanted to be like my high school coach. One of the greatest thrills of my life is I've had teams now that have taken me to eight Final Fours. I've taken my high school coach with me to eight Final Fours. I have thought a lot about that.
You know, that's company that is off the charts. But what I'd really, really love is for these guys up here sitting on this dias with me to get their first one. That would mean a heck of a lot more to me than any of that other stuff.
Q. Roy, could you look back to maybe '91, your first Final Four, and give me one thing that you think you're better at coaching now than you were when you were 'a young coach'.
COACH WILLIAMS: Handling at least two of these guys up here without putting a contract out on 'em (laughter). And they know exactly which two I'm talking about, too. Far extremes. Say hello to Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson.
I've been through more games, more experienced, all that kind of thing. Every one of my former players say I'm more mellow. I think I've gotten more intelligent 'cause I haven't tried to win every single battle. I've tried to win the big battle, the war, whatever you want to say. A terrible analogy the way our world is right now, but it's something that's been used in the past. I did. I used to want to win every little thing.
Now I see some things and they do some things that I can live with.
I hate to say it like this, but I think I used to coach by fear because I'd say, Okay, if we're not going to do such and such, we'd get on the end line. I would try to bury them, try to make sure we'd have three or four guys throw up. I feel like the next day I didn't have to threaten that anymore. That lasted for a long time.
With these guys, you can ask them, I'll say, Do you think we need to shoot five more minutes, ten more minutes?
I did get them really good, though, on Friday. I had 'em shaking a little bit because I said, Guys, I've told you that I'm worried about our conditioning because we just haven't had a chance to practice enough. I said, Everybody on the end line. We're going to run five 33s, you have to run four of them, you can take your plus points and get out.
Joel Berry is under his breath, Why are we doing this today?
Then I yelled over at Maggie, I said, Maggie, what day is this.
She said, This is April Fools' day.
I said, I gotcha.
Roy Williams would never have done that in '91. I really would have gotten them in '91.
Q. Roy, could you take me through your philosophy in how you constructed the front court in terms of skills. A lot of the teams you have played have had a four that's been more of a perimeter guy.
COACH WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, I've always loved to have two post players because maybe it's old school, it's definitely not necessarily the way Golden State plays, nobody loves to watch them more than I do. But I always felt like at the end of the game you hope to have the other team in foul trouble. If they were, then you wouldn't play against their best five players.
Some of you guys, a few of you were in here, when we used to have the great eight. Michael or Pat, you guys will remember that. We played Cincinnati. We could not handle Fortson. A lot of people couldn't either. All of a sudden, he's got four fouls and we're killing him. Then he gets back in the game, he gets his fifth foul.
So I've always been one of those that felt like if we could get some of the other teams' best players out of the game, we had a better chance to win. Yet I didn't want to recruit just big, ugly, old, big guys, smelly armpits, all that stuff. I wanted to find some pretty guys who could shoot the ball, too, because I liked the balance of it there.
We feel like we have basketball players, but we do want inside players and perimeter players.
Kennedy and Brice, I think they've got a great record this year. They've taken zero threes, is that right? Just good balance.
I think with Brice and Kennedy, they haven't shot any threes. But the other guys do, and they try to do it inside.
Q. You said a few words the other day about the challenge of respecting the history and traditions of your program without making it too much of a burden. Have you ever looked at what you have from the perspective of your potential opponents? You obviously can't sneak up on nobody when you show up wearing those shirts. On the other hand, you may have a little bit of an intimidation factor sometimes. Over the course of time, being North Carolina, is that a competitive advantage or disadvantage or no effect in a given year or given game?
COACH WILLIAMS: It would be interesting to see how everybody else in this room would answer that. I think coaching and playing at North Carolina is a tremendous advantage, I really do. The history, traditions, it's a nice school, pretty color, all those kinds of things.
The only thing I think is that you always get everybody's best shot. You don't ever catch somebody on a bad night.
But I'd take all those advantages over that disadvantage. I like that part. I like the fact that I'm pushing our guys to know every day we go out there, that we're going to catch that other team's best.
As you say, it doesn't make any difference at this stage because when you get here, the other teams are just as good and you're going to get their best regardless.
Q. Roy, I couldn't help but notice on Sunday you talked about how important it was to get these guys to Houston. You even mentioned some regret about the '97 team, how it haunted you. Are you able to put into words why that is so important, this experience?
COACH WILLIAMS: Not easily. But I had the greatest thrill off the court that you can ever have, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But I had that greatest void because I felt like I had not gotten -- a lot of guys should have been able to Paul Pierce, Raer La Frentz, Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard, Jerod Haase to the Final Four. I didn't do that.
I think that gives -- sometimes coaches get too much credit, too much blame. Everybody knows that. I felt that way and still feel that way. I still feel that way deeply.
But, you know, so these guys took care of that, so I don't have to have those thoughts of myself about this team. It hasn't erased about the way I feel about the '97 team. We had eight seniors, eight guys graduated. We lost two games. I mean, two academic All-Americans on the first team. Couldn't be any better.
We lost one game when the ball was deflected off one guy's leg, the other guy picks it up and shoots it in. That was a wonderful, wonderful team. I felt like I let 'em down.
Q. You were talking about inside, outside balance moments ago. This isn't to say you can't shoot the three-pointers, but seems like you don't need to. Do you think you could win a game without making a three?
COACH WILLIAMS: I hope the heck we don't ever try.
I like balance, I really do. I mean, we've had some games and some teams, and you guys have the stats easier than I can because you can do all the technology stuff. But in '09, we were one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country. We had the big rascal inside, Tyler Hansbrough. We had Danny Green, who set I think an NBA three-point record for a playoff series. We had Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson. Even Tyler Hansbrough could shoot the three.
It's not that I don't like them. That gives the balance that I see.
Jimmy Gray asked me going out the second half, You're winning the game with twos, are you going to shoot any threes?
I said, Yes, we're probably going to make one.
I think it was probably the biggest play of the game. They cut it to seven and Marcus makes a three.
I'd like for all five of these guys up here to score 20 points Monday night. Then three or four guys off the bench to score 15 apiece, then I think our chances would be really good.
Q. A lot of questions have been asked this week about Nate's relationship with Kris Jenkins, Brice. What do you remember when you played together on the same youth team in South Carolina?
BRICE JOHNSON: That was a long time ago. Me and Kris were probably two of the bigger kids at that age. I think we were about eight or nine. Probably the only two kids dunking on the lower rims, not the regular rims. Me and Kris were good buddies back then.
I can't really say much about it because it was so long ago. I do remember a little bit.
Q. Have you continued to have a relationship with him?
BRICE JOHNSON: Definitely. I mean, I talk to him all the time. Came down and stayed with Nate. I knew Kris, hung out, acted like nothing changed. Just we were younger. Still like my brother, even though he was a little bit bigger than I was. He's still like my older brother.
THE MODERATOR: We thank the student-athletes for joining us. We'll continue with questions for Coach Williams.
Q. So many of the players on this stage and your team have developed over the course of your time there and have gone through stretches when they didn't play as well. What is your philosophy to guide players when they don't play as well?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, coaching is trying things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Kennedy went through a tough stretch. I kept trying to give him confidence because I wanted him to be a better player. Knock on wood, so far it's worked. Every coach does that.
I'm a guy that likes to play nine or 10 guys so maybe I have a little more than somebody else. Just trying to give them confidence and know that I'm going to keep giving them chances.
Q. When you won in 2009 for your second to match Dean, you said something along the lines of, Roy Williams and Dean Smith don't belong in the same sentence. Tomorrow if you win three, do you still believe so, and if so why?
COACH WILLIAMS: I know he was a heck of a lot better. I really believe that. Sometimes I try to be humble, all this stuff that people think is nice. I don't think I'm in the same league with Coach Smith, and I never will.
Q. Having been in this game four times, none of your kids have. Is there something that gives you an advantage? If so, what is that?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, I answered that one a little earlier today. If the other team had never been in any big games, and this was the biggest, and they had never -- I think it could possibly be a little advantage. But that's not the case.
The other thing is, this team is so much different than, for example, the 2009 team. 2009, we walked in the locker room, Bobby Frasor said, I don't want anybody messing around. We know what it felt like last year. This was business. No dancing around in the locker room.
But this is a completely different team.
For me the way I guess I'd answer that question is we're playing a very good Villanova team, a coach that has been in the Final Four before. I think that I know a little bit more about what's going on. But I don't know that I can transfer that to the court, and they're the guys that make the difference. I really believe that. I don't believe that I can give them something that Jay can't give them.
Q. You said you've mellowed as a coach. You'd seemed a little bit feisty this season, even the post-season. Is that a product of being old enough that you don't care as much about the reaction or what?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, I think two answers. One is I think I was just as feisty in the old days, you guys just didn't know about it. You talk to Milt Newton, manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I was at Kansas. He said, You guys are talking about how nice Coach Williams is. Coach has a mean streak, too.
I think now it's reported more is part of it. But the other part could be what you're saying.
When I first got into coaching, I wouldn't necessarily -- I don't think I'd ever run away from a fight. I had a guy sometime, Are we going to watch you cry tonight?
I said, Why don't you step up to my face and say that. I cried because it was me.
I still think I would do that. But now I've decided that you can be that way and still be honest and sincere and decent to people.
The gentleman that was sitting in front of you that asked that question about why do I have the right. I think I answered that one because I think I was right, that kind of thing.
But it also could be that as you get older, you guys are going to write what you want to write regardless if old Roy is up here being nice or not. What you think is the most important, that's what you're going to write. You have your own opinions. You are able to express them.
For me to just stand up here and say, Yeah, you're right, you're right, I don't feel like I have to do that more so.
Possibly the simple way is maybe I've gotten older and don't feel like I need to try to please everybody.
But the issues, and this is the last one, the issues that I think I've taken a stand on now, have a great deal to do with Roy Williams personally, too. When somebody questions my integrity and things like that, that really bothers me.
Q. Roy, when you keep getting back to this level, do you feel that you learned something about coaching at the Final Four each time? Can you go back to '81 and '82, when you were on Coach Smith's staff, what did you take from him at that point about the Final Four experience?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, you got to be able to change. '81 we stayed out on the other side of Villanova. We didn't even know the Final Four was going on. We lost. Then we go back in '82.
I may have said this the other day. There's been a few press conferences. I apologize if I'm being redundant.
In '82, Coach Smith said, Where do you want to stay? Georgetown is staying in Biloxi. You want to stay in Australia or where do you want to stay, kind of thing?
I said, Coach, why don't we stay downtown New Orleans.
I said, Last year we stayed outside, and I don't even know if the guys even knew if the thing was going on.
Guys, I'm telling you, the highest your heart rate has ever been is what my heart rate was at that time because I was suggesting something to Coach Smith that I don't know if that was a smart thing to do.
He said, You know, let's do try that.
So in the last 30 seconds I've told you one of the only three things I gave Coach Smith in 10 years.
But I think that each and every year, you do see the surroundings. I mean, one of our guys, the big rascal sitting right here, What are they going to ask me tomorrow that they haven't already asked? Why do we have to do that?
I said, Do you want me to call another player from the ACC to come in and take your place?
I did mention one specific player. If I told you, I'd have to kill you, so...
Q. When you made your observations last night about the state of the journalism industry and the relative lack of attendance at practice to understand the process, do you have any thoughts on how things have gotten to that point as opposed to what the relationship might have been years ago?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, I'm not sure, so please stop me, I don't mind being stopped if I'm not understanding your statement.
I think what I said, one of the questions was, one of the things that bothers me nowadays is that so many people are media that can put things out that had no journalism background.
Malcolm, Pat, Ken, Mike, I mean, most of you guys, you went to school in journalism. There were principles. Now people put things out that could be perceived as media that really is not that doesn't understand any of that. It's the more outlandish thing. I think that's been harmful.
Is that what you're talking about?
COACH WILLIAMS: Okay.
You know, I think it's harmful for you guys. I mean, I can't tell you how many people that have said, Malcolm, I know who you used to write for. I have no idea who the crap you're writing for. Pat, Louisville. Ken.
Nowadays there's people that say, So-and-so, so-and-so.com, hyperspace, Google data, Yahoo. I don't know what the hell you're talking about.
To me that is a big change. I think if I were you, I would feel really proud of what you're doing, worry about what else is being done.
Guys, I think I've been fairly easy to deal with today. I think I've been fairly easy to deal with. The first guy said, I dictated questions. Boeheim dictated to you guys.
So it is a different atmosphere. It's something that in some ways makes me, number one, much more cautious. In the other way, like Pat said, very much willing to take a stand, too.
Q. I know you've mentioned your former coach several times, how you brought him with you to the Final Fours. He's a mentor of yours. How have you leaned on him personally during the tournament runs, and most recently this one?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, there was no father in my family. There was no male figure. So he was the guy. He's the one that got me to go to college. I never even thought about going to college. I was the first of my generation to ever go to college. He thought I should do that.
He wanted me to go to North Carolina. He wanted me to try to be on the freshman team so I'd get more exposure to Coach Smith.
I talked to him more than any other human in the world other than my wife. He's here. He was coming over to practice today. He had his wife and daughter with him. They were going to NASA. I said, Go to NASA, go see the space museum.
I leaned on that man when coach Dean Smith asked me to come back for $2700, and Wanda didn't have a job, I went to his house. He said, How much would you and Wanda make this year?
I said, If we stay, we'll make $30,000.
He said, I think you ought to do it. I did it because I trusted him. Now the easy part is that I also had Dean Smith that I could trust, too.
That man, I would be the luckiest guy in the world if I could have any kids that felt like me like I do my coach.
Q. Roy, early in the press conference you talked about all the stuff that's been written the last two and a half years. What impact do you think that stuff has had on this year's team? Do you think it's affected them? What kind of impact has it had on you? Has it motivated you on the court?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't think it's really had an effect on them because, you know, they were so far removed from it. But you guys, Pat said it, the other guy said it, I apologize for not knowing the gentleman's name that asked me that question, everybody says I'm more cantankerous or whatever. But I'm tired of it. That's the thing with me.
Again, I think the Final Four should be about those guys. There's a time and place for the other stuff. It's been a long time. I'll say that. But for me the biggest thing is it's helped me appreciate what I'm doing. It's helped me find a haven. It's helped me find a place where they believed and trusted what I said and didn't question everything that was ever written.
It's been a nice, nice time for me, it really has. Again, I'm one of the fortunate ones. I'm doing exactly what I want to do. A lot of people don't get to do that.