NCAA Thurs.: UNC Press Conference (w/audio)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. --- North Carolina coach Roy Williams and players Brandan Wright and Tyler Hansbrough spoke to the national media at the Continental Airlines Arena on Thursday. Read & listen to what they had to say...



Opening remarks -

We're excited to be still playing, be in the round of 16. Hopefully we have a nice little workout here and we've already practiced earlier today and did get some things accomplished. We need to have great practices and be ready to play a Southern Cal team that's really a big-time team.

Inside Carolina audio is available to IC premium subscribers. To watch the video, you'll need an updated version of Windows Media Player - click here to download the software.

Talk if you would about being here again. It's familiar territory for you, but not necessarily for your team. Just talk about the whole atmosphere what your guys are going through?

I am sure that they are excited, just the general tone of practice, general tone of travelling, coming up here, practice this morning. NCAA, that window is so small that when you come over here you don't really get any practice time done. So the reason we have already practiced today, but we did have an enthusiastic practice. I said all of you guys have some really good friends playing on other teams and their season is over with so it's got to be a lot of fun for you.

I have really got eleven freshmen, sophomores so we have got a lot of youthful exuberance out there and enthusiasm and they are excited.

Any updates on Reyshawn, how he's feeling if his status has changed?

Not really. He didn't do much of anything this morning at practice. I don't think he will do much out here today. We're hoping, but I am not real, real encouraged.

If Reyshawn can't go, what do you do there with that position, do you go to Danny [Green]?

It would either be Danny or Marcus would get the start. I really -- maybe it's that I am trying to put it off until I have to but I aren't thought about it if I had to decide, but it would be one of those two.

You mentioned how much you were attracted to Tyler's style of play even when you recruited him. When he had the broken nose did that confirm any fears you might have had; that that style could lend itself to injury and also with the style that he played last year as a lone postman were you hoping he would avoid that kind of contact with more help inside in the form of Alex, Deon and Brandan?

Let's understand one thing he could have been a lily standing under the basket, standing by the ocean, if somebody hits you like that. It was not his fault. It's not his style of play that caused that. I am not blaming Gerald Henderson. I love Gerald and the whole bit, but Tyler did nothing to cause that, so let's make darn sure we get that straight. It was not his style of play that caused that to happen. Tyler is always going to play aggressive game of basketball because that's the way he plays but it's not -- there's nothing over the edge with him. He's going after the basketball, he's trying to put the ball in the basket. He's trying to get a rebound. But no, I am not one of those guys that worries about guys getting hurt playing basketball. They can get hurt falling down the steps. He and Brandan could have hurt themselves going down the steps knowing that there were hot dogs waiting for them at the bottom. Maybe I misunderstood the question but his style of play did not cause that injury. That was not caused by Tyler. He was the victim there.

You have had such a great history in the tournament and everything. Talk about the mentality, it's so one and done -- obviously you've gotten to the Finals and won all what, talk about the whole mentality.

It is. It is hard for coaches. It is great for fans because I think that's what causes so much of the excitement is that one game and you are done and it could be a 16 seed to beat a one seed or a 15 to beat a two. The year of the underdog that comes along every now and then. So there is a tremendous amount of excitement that's caused because of the kind of tournament that it is. If it's best of five or best of 7 I think that the best team will always win. But we have gone down in history and seen sometimes that maybe the best team didn't win, but they were the best team that game and that excitement and that factor in the excitement really adds a lot to it. As coaches, if you are one of those better these that makes you sweat, I really feel in 1997 we had the best team in the country and if we had played anybody out of three, five or seven I thought we would have won. But we had a very significant injury right at the end and didn't play well in that game and Arizona kicked our tails, and they won the National Championship. But it is what it is. We understand that as coaches and players and what you have to do is make sure your guys understand don't go back into that locker room and have your season be over with and feel like, I wish I had done. Don't give me that garbage, don't give me, "I wish I had." Go ahead and do it while you have that opportunity on the court.

Do you have an idea right now of what you will do tomorrow or are you going to wait as long as you can before deciding on how you utilize Reyshawn?

I doubt if I will wait as much as I did the other night because he said he was getting so much better and he was able to do a couple of things and at least shoot the ball, during the shoot-around, but now you are talking about a guy who hasn't practiced all week. That part bothers me. I can tell you I am not going to wait and walk out there on the court and say, "How you feel," and that's what I did the other night.

Seems like USC has an army of 6'4", 6'5", 6'6" athletic guys that have a lot of versatility. Talk about the difficulties that presents your team in terms of match-ups?

I think you hit it right there; 6'4", 6'5", 6'6" athletes who are also really good basketball players. It will be a difficult match-up for us in some ways and I am hopeful that on the other end might be a little bit difficult for them with our size, but those three guys when you talk about Gabe, Gabe can shoot the dickens out of it. Stewart can shoot the dickens out of it. Nick can put the ball on the floor, take the ball and shoot it. They are averaging 40% for the year as a team. I don't know that we played anybody in the entire season that averaged 40% from the three-point line. So when you have that athleticism and you can shoot it as well, it presents match-up problems for everybody because you can get up close to them and they drive it by you and if you stay back off of them they shoot it in the hole. But I am hopeful we can do some things inside that will cause some problems for them as well. Not that their inside players aren't good, Taj, I saw him play a heck of a lot over the last couple of years. He has had a great year for them. I am hopefully Brandan and Tyler will be able to get things accomplished for us as well.

You had a little hiccup at the end of the season. Are you back where you want to be? Firing on all cylinders?

I don't a coach will ever say they are back where they want to be or as you say, firing on all cylinders. I will say this, most teams going were going to go into Maryland and into Georgia Tech and lose at those times, those were maybe two of the hottest teams in the League and if you are two of the hottest teams in the ACC, you are two of the hottest teams in the country. They were trying to establish that they were going to get in the NCAA tournament. We had a chance in the last minute of both of those games. Hiccup is probably a good way to describe it, we had people thought the world was about to end because we lost to those two, but we played better in the ACC tournament. We played really good in the last regular season, home game against Duke. Played really well a couple of times, a couple of stretches in the first round game. In the last 12 minutes of the Michigan State game I was really pleased. But basketball, it goes and comes, and you ask me tomorrow night after the game and I will tell you how I feel.

Reyshawn, did he have the throat problem, I know you said he had headaches last weekend and a fever. But did he have the throat problem last weekend or has this just developed since then?

I will give you my answer and please understand it might not be the right one medically because I am going to tell you what I know on Saturday I guess it was -- he had tremendous migraines. It might have even started Friday night, I am not sure. But he had a tremendous migraine problem. It was very uncomfortable for him. They gave him some medication. He said his throat was sore at that time, but the throat was not the problem; the migraines were. He started feeling better in the afternoon and played very mediocre basketball until the end. Then was sensational the last five, six minutes of the game. Sunday I did not talk to him. As you know Monday I had a personal family matter that I had to take care of, and the guys came in and did some running and shooting and he was still feeling really bad at that time. His throat had gotten worse. I think that's when they started checking for the strep. My guess is I think it was Monday when they started checking with that. Then figured out that's what he has. Now his throat is more of a problem, the lack of energy, not eating for a couple of days, that's more of a problem than the migraines.

I know you have had a full plate this year, but have you had much chance to keep up with one of your former assistants Kevin and his basketball team at Vanderbilt?

I really have. It's lot of fun to get those scores late night on Sports Center, watching the ticker going across the bottom to see how he's doing. Kevin was with me for five years and just did a great, great job. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, and admiration and generally like him, enjoy playing golf with him, enjoy being with him. I really did watch his club. When you add King Rice and Brad Frederick, two kids that are very special to me being on his staff too. Vanderbilt is one of my favorite teams. When you get up and check those scores if you don't get it that night on ESPN, you have to wait until the next morning, it's a good feeling to see when he wins, and he had some great, great victories. I was able to see part of the Florida game the day that we were in Boston played Boston College that night, I was able to so part of that game.

How difficult is it to prepare for a guy like Tim Floyd whose defense you don't know what kind of defense you are going to face?

I think it is difficult. No question, a guy goes down sits in 2, 3 zone, you can practice all day against that but you don't know what he's going to do. It's a challenge for our team but I don't mind that. I think it's important to get kids to be able to play basketball. So for us, we have tried to prepare for the things that we have seen Tim's teams in the past do; try to prepare them for unusual things, and then see how it happens when we go out there, and I am hopeful that we can do some things that bother other people at least most of the times they tell us we do, so it's not just us reacting to them.



How do you guys deal with the pressure of expectations? Do you address it at all amongst yourselves? How do you not feel it and let it affect your play?

HANSBROUGH: I don't really feel any pressure. I think it basically comes from you guys. I think our team has their own goals. We stay within ourselves. I think a lot of people think that we try to build pressure up on us. It's just one game at a time. I don't really have any added pressure. All I want to do is just win so I don't really feel like I need to put all this pressure on myself as long as I go out there and you know, we play the way that we're capable of playing, I think we'll be fine.

WRIGHT: I feel the same way as Tyler. We don't put any pressure on ourselves. People outside of the team, you know, we have expectations for ourselves; we expect to which every time we step out on the court. We continue to play the way we have been playing I think we'll be fine.

The other day in Chapel Hill coach was talking about how much he hates 10 o'clock starts. You got another one of those tomorrow. Talk about how you feel about it and what do you do to kill time all day until it's time to play?

HANSBROUGH: The last time we played late I think we won, so it's good for me if we win tomorrow, I mean, that would be fine with me ready to play another 10 o'clock game. For me, I just relax and do the things, just kind of relax and have a shoot-around, things like that, stay loose, don't try to sleep all day, but definitely don't do too much. And it is a late start, but, you know, I don't mind it too much.

Watch any other basketball on TV?

HANSBROUGH: No, I don't like to watch it, you get swamped with all this stuff and listen to what everybody says about everything. I just like to watch a movie if I am going to watch something.

Tyler, how is your nose is feeling this week?

HANSBROUGH: My nose is feeling better. Still wearing the mask in practice, won't wear it in the game. It feels fine. It's healing better. Everything is going well.

How concerned are you about Reyshawn, he's apparently a little bit sick anyway?

WRIGHT: He's a starter. He's one of our main leaders, he does a lot for this team, but if he can't go, guys are going to have to step up. Been a couple of times this year where guys couldn't go and guys came in and did the job for the people that were out. I am not concerned at all. We need him out there, but if he can't go, we'll be ready to go.

Tell me about going into the season, did you meet your own expectations, did you exceed your expectations for yourself? Talk about the season you had.

WRIGHT: I came in this year having a lot of hype, whatever, I had high expectations for myself, not any particular goals, I didn't write anything down on paper, anything like that, I just wanted to come in this program and make an impact, being with so many talented teammates, just go in and do the best I can. Have the great season like we have been having so far.

Tyler, what, if anything, can you and the upperclassmen take from last year's meeting with USC? Does it help you with a revenge factor at all or is the personnel so different that it doesn't or it's not applicable?

HANSBROUGH: I don't think it's a revenge factor. We did go up to their place and they beat us pretty good. It stuck with us for a while because we went straight home for Christmas. Christmas wasn't as good. This is a different situation. We're in the tournament. They are not coming to our place; we're not going there. So I feel like it's just a different look on everything. I think we do have a bunch of different players. They do too, so I think it's totally different, but at the same time, it's a tournament, so I think revenge factor doesn't really matter because if you lose this time, you are done for the rest of the year, so it's kind of one of those things where nothing really should motivate you besides the fact that it's just a tournament.

Last year you had almost the same exact numbers as you do this year, but last year you were the only guy down in the post. Before the season started or at any point have you found yourself trying to adjust your low-post game and your style to having not only one but three guys that can play down low with you?

HANSBROUGH: No, I don't think I had to adjust my style. There's a lot of things that Brandan, Deon and Alex do down low which help me out a lot. It is nice to have that other big guy, you know, can make a lot of moves and things like that, so they have to worry about them. If they double off -- on Brandan or those -- Deon or somebody, they can look at me, vice versa too. But I just feel like, you know, it's given me some more opportunities to play out, kind of move around a little bit, you know, it is good, I think we work well together off of high lows and things like that.

You mentioned just Brandan a little bit now. What was the biggest impact that he had on the program coming in this year as a freshman?

HANSBROUGH: I think he brought a lot to the table because we had a lack of big men. With Brandan's talent and athleticism, I think he did a lot for this team. His length and his skill level, you know, he's a versatile big man that can do a lot of different things for us.

Inside Carolina Top Stories