Dave Telep: Any time you go into a season thinking it'd be nice to make the NCAAs and you rattle off as many quality wins as they did, I think it'd be hard to say they didn't greatly exceed expectations. It's hard to even put into words how over and beyond their rise was throughout the year. It was a special year – it went from a rebuilding year to a special year about as smoothly as it possibly could.
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DT: The coaching community held what happened at UNC this year in extremely high regard, because it's one thing to have a good players and be a talented team – it's another to finish second in one of the strongest leagues in America and completely change your expectations mid way. Most coaches I've spoke with were quite amazed with North Carolina's rise this year.
3) You watch a lot of in-state basketball, so you saw a lot of David Noel and Reyshawn Terry in high school. How did their play this season compare with what you saw at the high school level?
DT: First of all, Reyshawn Terry played like the guy who was the MVP of the state championship game as a junior. He reverted back to the form of when Matt Doherty began to get real interested in after that title game performance at the Smith Center. Frankly, David Noel has maximized his talents and achieved above and beyond any expectation anyone had for him. He strung together one of the most valuable careers a North Carolina player has had here since I moved to this state a decade ago. If anyone saw him in high school and said they thought he'd be capable of all that he did this season, they aren't being honest.
4) UNC's freshman class wasn't No. 1 in the rankings when they signed on, but did any group of freshmen impress you more in terms of maturity and cohesiveness – and the impact they had?
DT: We knew that UNC's freshman class was one of the best in the country. A team like Memphis is playing with a lot of young guys, too, but I'm not sure another recruiting class in the country gelled like this one did. By January they didn't have the look and feel of freshmen. I don't know if anyone even thought of Tyler Hansbrough as a freshman once the ACC started. And the impact of the freshman class is evident in the team's record – that speaks for itself.
5) It seemed like many viewed this season as just a rebuilding year, but as you mentioned, it turned out to be a special year instead. Where does this season fit in UNC history?
DT: The future was what this season was being founded on. If this season could just get you to next year, everything will be okay. And that's what makes the 20005-06 season a remarkable year. Because it provided an exciting, successful season, while at the same time setting up a bright, bright future. It's kind of like going to see a big-time rock concert with a star opening act.
6) What did UNC lack this season – and how will that change next season?
DT: A couple things were missing – certainly depth inside, where Tyler Hansbrough couldn't turn around and have another player to rely upon for heavy scoring on the interior. He'll have that next year. And I think the biggest difference you'll see from this year's team to next year is the presence of a lightening fast guy who will really get kids open looks. Tywon Lawson will go baseline to baseline, he'll be an asset to Hansbrough because he'll get him shot, and he'll be a tremendous asset to Bobby Frasor, who can become a knockdown three-point shooter. And the speed and tempo of North Carolina's team is going to be turned up another notch – deeper inside, big guys who can run the floor and they'll go extremely fast. And they'll come at you in waves. Next year will be another season where Hansbrough will lead them in scoring, but those responsibilities will be shared. They'll ride that horse as far as they can, but they'll be able to give him more assistance along the way – which is pretty scary for opponents.
7) What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Tar Heels next season?
DT: From a basketball talent standpoint, they'll be about as complete as a basketball team can be. What will be the determining factor is how will this group of freshmen who achieved so much, integrate and accept the next great wave of players coming in? That single factor – the chemistry of the team – will go a long way in determining how great UNC's 2007 squad can be. There are going to have to be what amounts to high level negotiations. Each side will have to give a bit to get the result they want. And if that compromise can be made by the guys on that team, it has the chance to be a really special year in Chapel Hill.
8) Since the UNC staff's focus now quickly turns to recruiting, would you agree that the Tar Heels have a clear top target (Kevin Love) headed into the spring circuit?
DT: Here's what people have to remember – certainly Kevin Love is a primary target, but right around this time two years ago, Roy Williams was sitting in a gym watching Bobby Frasor make his first eight shots in a basketball game and he became a target instantaneously. While there certainly appears to be a very short list of recruiting targets right now, all that could change during the months of April and May – and I think you need to leave open that possibility of other players emerging, catching the attention of the UNC staff and playing their way onto the target list. There's no better example than Bobby Frasor, who was not a target of North Carolina's on April 20, 2004 -- but on April 21 he had a scholarship offer and was a main target. So things happen quickly.
9) What's on the agenda for the UNC staff on the April circuit?
DT: I can pretty much tell you where Roy Williams and his staff will be in April. They'll be at the Real Deal on the Hill in Arkansas (4/14-16), the Kingwood Classic in Houston the next weekend (4/21-23) and then the final weekend of the month (4/28-30) the staff will likely be split between the King James Shooting Stars in Ohio and the Next Level event in Dallas. That's pretty much what the second half of Roy Williams' month will look like. He'll squeeze in trips to high schools during the week and will hit up AAU tournaments during the weekend.
10) I've heard many coaches and observers speak to the remarkable passion that Roy Williams has for recruiting. Would you agree that it's one of his standout qualities as a top college basketball coach?
DT: The overall success Roy Williams has enjoyed as a basketball coach has continued to fuel his passion for recruiting. He understands recruiting at the highest level and its importance -- and he understands the importance of being passionate about it as well as any coach in America. I think some coaches view recruiting as a chore that has to be done, but Roy Williams views it like the fifth quarter of a game. He views it as a part of the process - it's not a chore, it's a legitimate passion. I don't think it's difficult for Roy Williams to fly to the West Coast to see a kid, he just looks at it as a facet of his job that he really enjoys. That speaks also to the competitive side of Roy Williams. He'll often talk about how competitive Michael Jordan was, but Michael Jordan might say the same thing about Roy Williams.