CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Gate D was packed. By the time the UNC Basketball bus pulled into the parking lot behind the Smith Center on a blustery Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 3,000 Tar Heel fans waiting to greet them.
Less than 24 hours removed from the heartbreaking conclusion to the 2015-16 season, Roy Williams and the seniors addressed the crowd to thank them for the continued support and offer a reminder about the enjoyable run.
Roy Williams: "The last five weeks have been the most fun I've ever had as a college basketball coach. We appreciate everything you do and the way you followed us and are here today ... I've never had three seniors that I've appreciated as much as I appreciate what these guys have done ... I was at Kansas and they talked about their team that went to the Final Four in '71, the team that went to the Final Four '74. I was here when we went to the Final Four in '81, and we won the national championship in '82. People that were students at that time also remember going to the Final Four in '91, and winning the national championship in '93. Those of you that were around here now, or had older brothers and sisters that were in school when we won the national championship in 2005 and national championship in 2009. I hope you'll look back and think great things about 2016."
Marcus Paige: "Like Coach said, obviously it's disappointing, we had a great run and that's not quite the way we wanted to end it. But one thing you've got to understand about this group is we had a lot of fun. I hope you guys enjoyed it ... It's been a great four years, you guys stuck with us the whole time. Like I said I wish we could have gotten it done for so many reasons, especially for Coach, but at the same time a little bit later we're going to be really proud of all that we did and we hope you guys are proud of us."
Joel James: "Words can't really express my gratitude to you. Coming to Carolina it's been a family atmosphere, and this here is an example of what Carolina Basketball really is. Looking back at it, we put everything into it, and I hope we made you guys proud."
Brice Johnson: "All I can really say is thank you. You guys mean so much to me, you mean so much to this team, you mean so much to this community. Without you guys we wouldn't be able to do half the things that we do. We hope you guys are proud of us, and like my partner said, I wish we could have gotten that last win but God didn't have that in the plan for us. I want to thank Coach, and thank everyone else that's supported us and supported me, especially for the last four years, because it's been the best four years of my life - I can honestly say that."