UNC Postgame Press Conference

HOUSTON -- Read and watch UNC's entire postgame press conference after falling in the championship game to Villanova.

COACH WILLIAMS: This is a difficult time period as a coach, and the players, 'cause you fought so hard and you did so much throughout the course of the season to have a chance to win a national championship.

I've had some really, really good teams, and some really, really good players. I've never been as proud of a group as I am of this group right now.

So much of this year and last year, especially even more so this year, they were criticized for not being tough enough. I don't know that I've ever had anybody make a tougher shot than Marcus Paige made.

I was dumb enough when we were down 10, I promised 'em, if they do what I said, we'd come back and we'd have a chance to win the game at the end.

I said that because I trusted them and believed in them. We let Villanova have the ball last.

The shot that Marcus made was just an unbelievable shot. Joel and Marcus, Joel in the first half, Marcus in the second half, carried us.

We couldn't get the ball to go in the basket the second half. We shoot 34%, they shoot 58%.

That coach out there on that court, cutting down those nets, is really proud of his team.

But I wouldn't trade my team for anybody. I just wish I could have helped them a little bit more.

Marcus, what was that last shot like for you? Can you walk me through watching Kris hit his shot the last few seconds?
MARCUS PAIGE: We ran a screen for me to hit the ball. I had a feeling Villanova would switch it, they did. Took it away. Daniel fell down, slipped on the court. I knew I was going to have to shoot it.

My instinct kicked in right away to throw the ball to Brice right under the basket. That's why I hesitated with the ball when I jumped. Obviously we needed three.

You know, I just wanted to have the ball in my hands in that situation.

I told my team when I made the shot, we go to overtime, we got 4.7 seconds to play defense and this game is ours. No matter what, we were going to win the overtime 'cause that's just the how the game was going to go. We had clawed back from down 10.

What coach told you is absolutely right. At that point we believed we were going to win. We just needed 4.7 seconds of defense. It didn't work out. Kris is their best three-point shooter. He got a pretty clean look for whatever reason.

You know, there's 75 possessions in the game. They just happened to get the last one and make the shot.

Joel, could you talk a little bit about what it was like watching Marcus in the second half kind of will the team back into this one.
JOEL BERRY II: Yeah, it was special. Marcus is a great player. I enjoy playing with him. But that's what Marcus is capable of doing. He's been doing that his whole career here. He's just that tough of a guy. You might look at him and think he doesn't look as tough, but he's a tough player, he's a great player.

He stepped up. That's what we needed. Especially, you know, with him being a senior, that was his last game, you know, he did a great job, man. It helped us, so...

Marcus, you've talked about legacy. How does that feel now? Talk about when you got down by 10, what was going through your mind? Were you just saying, This is my time?
MARCUS PAIGE: No, I kept telling the team there's a lot of game left. We've been down before, made runs. I just felt a little bit of dejection from our team. I just kept telling the guys every time.

Coach tells us every free throw, sprint down the other end, huddle up and get together. We just kept telling each other, We've come too far to not fight back. No reason to not leave everything you have on the floor because tomorrow all we do is get on a plane and go home either way.

We knew we could fight back and we did.

In terms of legacy, it's hard to think about that, you know. The fireworks go off. You want that to be your moment. As bad as you want anything in your life, you don't know how much our team wanted this game. We just came up a little bit short.

Marcus, can you talk about the tough shooting y'all had in the second half, what was going on there.
MARCUS PAIGE: Yeah, I mean, they're a terrific defensive team. So starting there. They challenge every shot. They don't make very many mistakes. We also missed a bunch of shots at the rim. I can think of a couple times where I got all the way in the paint and the ball rimmed out, or we got the ball exactly where we wanted to, we missed a tip-in. You can't have those back. Those change the entire complexion of the game when you look at that last possession.

Sometimes that is the way the ball bounces. You have to give them credit for shooting over 50% in the second half. We only shot in the 30s. That's the way the ball goes sometimes.

Marcus, this season has been incredible for you. Over the last four years, what does this last game mean to you?
MARCUS PAIGE: Well, the whole four years means the world to me. I wouldn't trade any of the losses, any of the games. It's hard to say, but even including this one, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

This has been the happiest and most fun four years of my life, talking this year especially. Hasn't been my best year as a player, but this has been the most fun I've had in my entire life with this team, all the way up until that last horn went off.

It's hard because at some point tonight I have to take this jersey off and I never get to put it back on. I just have to rely on all the memories I have with my teammates.

I'm telling you, this is the most fun year in my entire life. I don't know what else to say.

Joel, can you talk a little bit about the swing of emotions and everything that went on in the last few seconds.
JOEL BERRY II: I mean, something that you can't describe. I mean, just to see that ball go in. I was hoping that, you know, it was out of his hand when the -- I mean, it was still in his hand when the light came on. I looked up at the screen and I saw it and it was good.

You know, just that feeling of walking off the court, feeling the confetti fall, but it's not for you. It's a horrible feeling.

Like Marcus say, this has been a fun year. This has been a great year. I wouldn't trade anything for it. We had our ups and downs. For us to get to this spot, I know we wanted to win it. But for us to even get here, it took a lot of hard work, it took a lot of growing. That's what we did, so...

Marcus made a couple of shots like that during the year. Is that just pure athletic ability to be able to double clutch like that? What was it like when you got into the locker room with them?
COACH WILLIAMS: It is athleticism. It's ability. But it's toughness. It's toughness, too.

He made a layup earlier. We thought he got fouled. He didn't. So we go down, we have to foul them. They have to help us. And they didn't. They made the most free throws.

So we called a set play. He turned a broken play into a great play.

He's made some tough ones. He made a couple of baskets against North Carolina State in his career at the buzzer. Made a drive-in layup against Louisville at the buzzer.

I've coached a lot of guys, but I've never coached anybody any tougher than that kid. I've never coached anybody that tried to will things to happen even when he wasn't playing as well as he could play.

You know, in the second half, he's 6-12 or something like that. Big shots. The ball was out-of-bounds. I said, Are you all right?

He said, Yes.

So I called quick, which is a play he made the jump shot right in front of our bench.

We ran iso for him the last one. We did have another option, but he was the best option. I wanted the ball in his hands. It's the kind of thing, I just sit back and understand the kind of youngster, not just basketball player, but kind of youngster that I've been able to coach for four years.

We had some opportunities. We had it around the rim. We missed two free throws. We had some opportunities.

But you got to congratulate Villanova. Kris made a heck of a play. Brice was guarding him. Kris was taking it out. Brice was all deep. Make sure they didn't throw anything long.

We got what we wanted. They threw it right in front of them. They had to go the length of the court. We made Arch give it up, but we didn't get Kris picked up and he made a heck of a shot.

When you go back in the locker room, I know the relationship between you and Marcus and Brice, what do you say to these kids as they take this jersey off for the last time?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, I'm not very good 'cause I can't take away the hurt. I'm not very good because I can't change that. I told them I loved them. I told them I wished I could have helped them more. That I appreciated them from the bottom of my heart.

I was able to coach a magnificent group of kids that for the whole season tried and tried and tried. In the last five weeks, they tried and were really, really good. Tonight the other team made a shot at the buzzer.

It's so crazy. A couple times we rolled the ball in to save one or two seconds. That was a smart thing to do. Maybe if it hadn't gone in, we'd have gotten into overtime.

The difference between winning and losing in college basketball is so small. The difference in your feelings is so large. But that's the NCAA tournament. That's college basketball. That's wonderful kids that I love.

When the shot goes up, is it kind of a helpless feeling, hoping it doesn't go in?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, I wanted him to be more covered. I hoped we'd get up to him closer. I really felt like we'd gotten him to do what we wanted to do. They weren't able to throw it any length of the court, save any time. They had to take it about 75 feet before they get to the basket.

But when the shot went up, I saw Kris shoot it, his follow-through looked great. I pretty much knew it was going in.

It was helpless. It was not a good feeling.

That coach, I said in the locker room, Jay I love, Jay does a great job. His kids played so hard, played so well. Shot so well and defended like crazy. But I would take my kids, because they've been great for Roy Williams.

Marcus said he thought the guys got a little dejected in the second half. How were you able to get them back on track?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, the coach tries everything. I promised 'em. When we were down 10 in the huddle, I promised 'em if they did what I told them to do, that we'd have a chance to win the game at the end of the game. I just didn't go guard Kris.

But they believed in me. I like that. I just wish I could have done a little bit more.


Inside Carolina Top Stories