Sanders, Noel Q&A + Audio

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina scholarship seniors David Noel and Byron Sanders spoke to reporters on Tuesday from the Smith Center in advance of upcoming Senior Game versus Virginia. Read & listen to what they had to say…

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David Noel – AUDIO (9:39)

Has it hit you yet that you're playing your last game in Chapel Hill?
"Things are pretty calm right now. It will probably hit me tomorrow. The time has just flown by. It's been an up and down ride, but it's been fine. I've been very happy with my decision (to come to Carolina)."

What was your most memorable moment?
"Winning a national championship – definitely, just from the beginning to end, the up and down emotional season that we had; we knew we had a chance. To fulfill that destiny was one of the biggest things that could ever happen to me or anybody else on this team. That's what you strive for, to win a national championship and be a part of something special.

"Being on the floor when the clock hit 0:00 was the most memorable moment. That was one of the biggest things – that Coach [Roy Williams] had so much faith in me to be actually on the floor when it was pressure time. That was one of the biggest moments for me."

What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with during your career?
"Probably just all the uncertainty dealing with me after my freshman year. Then, also the (thumb0 injury my sophomore year was big and set me back a little bit. But I think I've caught up now to where I think want to be and where I should be."

Can you talk about what you went through when Matt Doherty left?
"When the whole process took place, I didn't really want to take part in it. They said they were going to meet with all of the players, and it was going to be up to the players whether he stayed or not. A bunch of things were really concrete. Once it came down to it, I didn't take my meeting, because I didn't know exactly what was going to happen with me. And with Coach Williams came in, one of the first questions that Raymond [Felton] asked was would I get my scholarship? And he said yes to that, so a lot of weight was lifted off of my shoulders. It was a kind of family-oriented thing with Coach Doherty and myself. He knew what kind of player I was. I was just hard to start all over again. It was tough to deal with, but I think I handled it all right."

Was there a time you thought that you wouldn't play here anymore or that you might play football?
"There was a point when I thought I would play football. Once the whole thing went down with Coach Doherty, I was like, ‘Oh man. Will I get shafted? Will I not get shafted and lose my scholarship?' I talked with Jackie [Manuel] about it. But I just prayed to about it and let God take its course, and this is where He led me"

Have you ever missed football?
"Yes, every Saturday when we go out to the game. Especially when guys drop balls; I always say, ‘I would have caught that.' That's the biggest part I've missed."

Have you ever thought about playing football next year if the NBA doesn't work out?
"Not next year. Everybody has asked me that, so I'm going to put an end to that now. I'm not playing football next year. I'm going to look in the camera and say that so everyone will know, I'm not playing football next year. But, yeah, if the NBA didn't work out the way I wanted it to, I would consider coming back here and play football or tryout for an NFL team if time permits. It's all up to me, and right now I feel like my basketball career is just getting started. Hopefully I can take it to the next level. But if not, then hopefully football will be there for me."

Is it as simple as you like basketball better than football?
"That's exactly what it is. It's as simple as that."

How did Coach John Bunting take your decision to play basketball?
"I actually stayed in contact with Coach [Kenny] Browning more so than Coach Bunting. But I talked to both of them when I actually made my decision. They wished me the best and said you're coming to a great university and we'll see you around. They were very happy for me and my decision. For the most part, they didn't try to pressure me or anything like that."

Byron Sanders – AUDIO (6:10)

"…(joined in progress) I've had to work my way up to more playing time. But I don't mind, because I'm a national champion. It's OK with me."

How do you handle the role of practice player last year?
"You just have to go to practice and say you have to get Sean [May] better, Marvin [Williams] better; so we can reach our goals. That's what everybody on the Blue Team did."

How did you approach your role coming in this year?
"I just got mentally prepared for this year during the summer and working out with everybody on the team."

What area are you most proud of developing this year?
"Basically everything. Just being comfortable out there on the floor, defending and rebounding – I'm proud of that."

Can you compare the going up against May and Tyler Hansbrough?
"Both are very talented. Both have a variety of skills. Tyler is more intense than Sean May, as far as battling him for rebounds and trying to stop him from scoring. He's pretty intense."

What will you remember most about your career here?
"Of course winning a national championship and meeting so many of those guys up in the rafters; meeting Michael Jordan, that was a big deal. I met him after my freshman year. I just remember his hands. When I shook them, they were just so big. I remembered calling everybody and saying, I met Michael Jordan. I did the same after meeting Vince Carter. You just meet so many famous and great players here."

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