UNC-IU: Roy Williams Postgame

The UNC head coach spoke to reporters following his team's 76-67 loss to Indiana on Wednesday.

Opening comments:
“Well it was a great college basketball atmosphere and one team really played right from the get go and the other one did not and that was us. We were not ready for the intensity, the enthusiasm, anything you want to talk about in the first half. It was a wonderful crowd. Gosh, I’d like to play with a wonderful crowd like that in the Smith Center every now and then other than the Duke game. That was just a congratulations to them, their fans, their students, that was just a great crowd.

“I’ve got to coach better, players have to play better. In the first half it was about as ugly as it can be. Take a few things, make a few free throws, don’t allow a guy to get behind Isaiah (Hicks) when they throw it down there for a dunk and he’s trying to pick people up. So many silly mistakes and yet, lets congratulate them because they were far more aggressive than we were, they were quicker, more aggressive driving the ball to the basket. Every phase of the game they were more aggressive and competitive than we were. Second half I didn’t think our guys would quit and they didn’t.

“We got it to five one time and Kenny had a pretty good shot and missed it and then James made a three on the other end. That’s what big players had to do. I think if you go back and look at it he was covered very well, almost like he threw both legs out split-wise to get the shot off but he made the basket. That’s what big time players do. It was very hard for us to get anything going because we were on our heels and that’s no pun intended. They were more aggressive than we were.”

What specifically went wrong?
“Everything. I told you we weren’t ready to play. I can’t say we didn’t line up correctly, we didn’t shoot free throws, we didn’t rebound the basketball, we didn’t get the loose ball. At the half they had more second chance points – they had five or six fast break points, we had none. Everything.”

The big guys combined for six field goal attempts in the first half. What was the difficulty in getting the ball down low?
“You’ve got to be more aggressive. Isaiah Hicks is a great, great player and I think at the half he had zero shots and three turnovers. They were more aggressive. And I’m not talking about the fouls or anything, they were more aggressive than we were. Even in the second half he kept turning to his left shoulder and that’s where they were playing. I told him one time you turn around and you can lay it up underhanded and the next time he goes baseline side and dunks it. So I am frustrated. There’s not one thing we did in the first half that we can be proud of, not one thing.”

You said once you faced some adversity you’d find out what type of leadership this team had. Did leadership emerge at any point today?
“No, and I think that’s hard to do during the specifics of one game. You do give credit to the other team. When Joel Berry says ‘come on guys lets get together’ Indiana isn’t going to start folding. You have to give them credit. But we’ll see how we respond. You’re not just going to see how we respond with the next opponent, you’ll see how we respond in the next three, seven, ten. I told the guys we have 19 more games against teams like that. Teams that will play just as aggressively as that team will.”

What kind of game did you expect coming into tonight?
“I thought it would be that type of game. Coming in there four years ago and it was a tied game with 4:14 left to play and I took Marcus (Paige) out because he had two fouls, and they outscored us the last 4:14 of the first half and in the second half just kicked us. Cody was fantastic that night; Victor Oladipo and he were playing the game and were great. That was a team I thought got much better at the end of the year, so I expected the same kind of thing. We came up here in ‘04 and we had a really good team in the ‘04-05 season, and we won a game. I don’t think our kids understood what we were talking about when we said how emotional it’s going to be, how much they’re going to be in the game. They lost two games ago. They didn’t correct everything from Mississippi Valley State. My guess is Tom (Crean) wished they didn’t even had Mississippi Valley State and had us the next game. I feel like I’m saying the same thing over and over. They were more aggressive in every phase of the game. We backed up, they challenged us and we backed up.”

Given the amount of experience you have on this team was that a little surprising?
“Yeah, it was. I really thought that we’d have a great chance to win the game. In one stretch we had the possibility of getting 10 points from the foul line and we got one point. It’s just something silly like that. Last game we were 12-12. I coached the same way free throws the last game as I did before this game. So that was not good. I’m serious. We’re trying pick up number three and he’s standing under the basket and we’re looking and they throw it over our head and he dunks it. I mean, come on. I didn’t expect that. I thought that we would respond and we didn’t. We shot it too quickly. I think if you go back and look early in the game we took a lot of threes really quickly. Then Kennedy and Isaiah couldn’t convert early. Their defense was stronger than our offense and their offense was stronger than our defense.”

What’s the most important thing that you hope that you learned?
“That it’s a different level to compete and that life’s not always easy. It wasn’t easy tonight. The things that we’ve done before have been a lot easier than today’s was. There was no single thing in the first half. It was 27 thousand things. The biggest thing we have to learn is that everybody is not going to roll over and play dead just because North Carolina walks in. Some people even get more fired up. I would say this is the best crowd they’ve had for a non-conference game this year. It’s North Carolina. So let’s match that enthusiasm. If I go into your house, I know it’s going to be tougher to beat you in your house, but I’ve got to play harder to beat you in your house. So they’ve got to learn that.”

Roy, you’ve gotten a lot of ‘best team in the country’ talk recently. You think any of that seeps into your guys?
“I don’t know. I know I don’t think that way. Our players are very intelligent and shouldn’t listen to those types of things. We beat some good team those last two games, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin, but it was not in their building. It was on a neutral floor. Most schools get a great lift from playing in their own building, so this was a different game. I might even ask them if they’ve been reading their clippings.”

When you talk about making yourself available and getting guys open, how much did that affect the rest of what you guys did?
“Well I think at one point a guy got beat and a teammate helps, and the guy that was supposed to be guarding him opens up Robert Johnson for three. Your brain’s got to get involved at some point. It’s not nuclear science. I’ve got to play as hard or harder than the guy I’m playing against. I know where I want to go and I’ve got to be able to get there. At the same time I’ve got to know where he wants to go and do everything I can to stop him from getting there. They would casually dribble around and weave and then drive hard and we’re thinking ‘gosh, that’s illegal.’”

Who impressed you from Indiana tonight the most?
“Oh, their whole team. James Blackmon is a big time shooter, I don’t know what he finished up with – 3-6 from three-point line. I thought Robert Johnson hurt us in the first half, I don’t remember him doing that many things in the second half. Thomas Bryant was a load. Here’s a guy who takes our big guy to the corner and drives to the basket and lays it up and takes our big guy to the corner and pulls up for a three and makes it. That was part of it. Josh (Newkirk) did a nice job handling the ball. I see OG (Anunoby) was 6-8 from the floor, you like to have that. It wasn’t a good night for us. I hope that OG was not hurt, I asked him if it was his ankle. I hope he’s not hurt because he’s a big time talent.”

You got 21 points out of Justin (Jackson). Did you like the way he responded to the challenge?
“Yeah, except on shot in the first half and one shot in the second half. I liked all of his other shots. The first half he was about the third in a row that took a quick shot from the three-point line and then in the second half, when I told the guys to take five extra seconds to get a great shot, and he took one of those. But other than that I like every other shot that he took.”


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