Part II (14:59)
Part III (15:38)
Part IV (15:22)
(All responses are by Williams unless otherwise noted.)
Coach, two quick questions. One, can you talk about how young this team is and whether that plays a role at all in postseason play in the years that you've been coaching. Two, can you talk about Tyler's matchup against Roy Hibbert?
I think it plays a small role, but not like it did 15 or 20 years ago. These guys are so much more experienced than freshmen or sophomores were at that time. During the summertimes before their junior year, before senior high school, they travelled around the entire country. I always use the term I think they're more worldly, more experienced.
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But the other thing, by this time we've played 37 games. With most teams I think it would not be a big factor, but my team is full of such whackos, there's no telling what they're gonna do. No telling with this bunch.
Secondly, Tyler against Hibbert, I think it's still North Carolina against Georgetown. We've got to do a good job of getting good shots and hopefully making sure that their's aren't as high quality as they want but hopefully it will be a good game.
For all the players, as great as it is to make it to a regional final, a chance to get to the Final Four, Ty, if you want to start, is there something better about this, that it's North Carolina-Georgetown, that it's two programs like this in a regional final?
LAWSON: I'm passing to you. (Laughter). GINYARD: I think that just the biggest thing is, you know, with two big-time programs with that, it's just gonna be the intensity of the game, just the game being that much better. But in the end, you know, a win still sends the team to the Final Four. That's the big goal in mind right now. In some records it does make a little bit of a difference, but ultimately it really doesn't.
HANSBROUGH: I don't think it's too much of Georgetown versus North Carolina, I think it's more we just want to win and go to the Final Four. I know it's two typed-up, big programs going head-to-head. But at the same time, we just want to win. I could really care less who we play. I just want to get to the Final Four. The fact that it is Georgetown kind of adds to it.
ELLINGTON: Like they said, it's gonna be a real big-time matchup, real competitive. Ultimately, we just want to make it to the Final Four regardless of whoever we play.
WRIGHT: They said it the best (smiling). Two big-time programs. But when it comes down to it, when we step on the court, who plays the best, not the Georgetown-UNC matchup, just the way the guys play on their given day.
For Marcus and Wayne, is Ty one of the quickest players you've both ever played with? How difficult is it keeping up with him on the fast break?
GINYARD: He's definitely the fastest player I've ever played with. It's extremely difficult to keep up with him on the fast break. You really just got to be giving it your all when you're running down the court if you want to get the ball from Ty on a fast break.
ELLINGTON: Yeah, he's definitely the fastest player I've ever played with. You know, it's tough trying to beat him on the floor and get on the break. But it's something we have to work at. You know, we're pretty much used to it now.
Coach Williams, you were an assistant on the 1982 team that played in the national championship against Georgetown. Can you just recall, share your recollections of that game, and maybe speak about the irony of, again, having a Thompson and a Ewing and so many other connections involved in this game tomorrow?
Other than my wife and my mother, I don't know that anybody knew I was on the bench, you know, at that point. I had dark black hair and it was pretty neat.
Tell you, Marcus heard this a minute ago. I was a little superstitious, I kept a candy bar in my pocket before every game down the stretch and I would always buy it at the arena. Believe it or not, the SuperDome in New Orleans in 1982 didn't sell candy, and so I went to one of the gates and I walked out, went across the street in New Orleans to buy a candy bar. I came back to the door and the person, the guard that was there changed and they weren't going to let me come back in. My biggest memory is how doggone scared I am, I'm helping coach a team in the national championship game and I'm not even going to get into the freaking arena.
Other than that, great plays by Michael, great layup was more impressive to me than the jump shot. How dominant James was, how intimidating Patrick was. Just the focus of the game and it was just a wonderful, wonderful basketball game that if you just loved basketball and didn't care which team won, I think that that would have to be a game that you would remember for a long time.
For Ty, along those same lines and any other player who wants to answer, how many times have you seen the film clip of Michael making the jumper with 17 seconds to go? What do you know about the history of this matchup? Coach, do you still keep the candy bar in your pocket?
LAWSON: Probably saw the clip of Michael Jordan hitting the shot over 100 times. We see it every game, they play a little clip of that. All the ESPN classics and stuff like that. I've seen the clip a lot of times throughout the year.
How much are you aware of the history behind that, the matchup?
LAWSON: Not too aware. I remember we beat them in the championship in 1982, but that's the only thing I can remember.
Last night I don't think you guys took a three-pointer from when you fell down by 16 until you had taken the lead again. How did you get your players to not try and rush and try and get it all back at once and stick with the game plan? One player in particular, Dan, said he had to fight the temptation to want to take three-pointers during the stretch.
Well, they're very coachable kids. We talked about that we weren't going to make a comeback in the first two minutes. Told them in 2005 in the semifinals, we were down to Michigan State seven or something like that in the half, we came back and played great. Nine points wasn't that big a deal but we had to play better. In the locker room I told them it wasn't gonna happen in the first two minutes. Sure enough, it didn't. They came out and went even bigger ahead.
16-minute time-out, I said, we're all right but we got to keep playing. We spotted them enough. Got them right where they want them, kind of ideal. We have to play and play every possession but it's not going to happen quickly. At the same time we're so focused on trying to get the basket inside by dribble or pass and not just be content to shoot the outside shot. Southern Cal does a great job of trying to get people to shoot the ball that they want to shoot the ball as opposed to the one that you want to.
We were 2-12 for half from the three-point line and for me, I think that was too many for us. We put three things up on the board prior to the game, and I thought those were the three biggest keys for us, and we didn't pay enough attention to them in the first half. So in the second half, I was either too dumb or too stubborn to stop. I felt like if we focused on those things we would be there at the end and one of the biggest was rebounding. They face guard some people, double team some people, and that breaks down their box house. So if we would get good shots and get people like Marcus, Brandan, Tyler, those guys to the offensive boards, it would be huge for us. Fortunately, it did.
But I don't mind telling you, I was getting close to being in the end of my limits over there thinking about maybe we should try something else, but I strongly believed that that would be the biggest factor in the game once we picked up the intensity on the defensive end of the floor.
The kids believed in it, they executed it. I guess it worked out. Wasn't quite as dumb as I thought I was.
Coach, how difficult is it to play Georgetown's style? Playing against a team that uses so much shot clock and so many back cuts?
Well, we've played against a lot of teams this year that wanted to control clock. It really has been. Half the teams in our league wanted to slow down the tempo of the game because they didn't want to put it at our pace. We've played against a lot of teams that tried to do that maybe with not as unique a blend of Georgetown with their cerebral approach and back door cuts and the same time the power game with Green and Hibbert up front. If teams had the mix Georgetown has, they'd still be playing in the tournament, too.
It's a challenge for us but I tell our kids all the time we can win in the 50s and 60s, we'd just enjoy it more if it's in the 80s and 90s.
For the players, as you've gotten deeper into the postseason, do you notice any differences in the way that Coach coaches you in the preparation, practices, what he talks to you about in the locker room or in the huddles during game?
WRIGHT: Well, I haven't seen any like, you know, significant differences. But, I mean, every game is more important. The farther you make it, the better you have to play. So, I mean, the farther we go, you know, he has to turn it up just a little bit more.
ELLINGTON: I haven't seen any difference either, you know. Coach still takes the same approach to every game. Just the deeper you get, the more important it is. You know, we all realize that and we all realize that we have to step up.
HANSBROUGH: Pretty much the same thing. I mean, he's been consistent, you know. He's pretty much doing the same things in practice, you know, defensive and things like that. Just giving us advice on what we should really expect and how we should play.
GINYARD: Yeah, just comes down to trusting the process, you know. The things that this team, you know, needs to do and execute, you know, every game. You know, he just continues to harp on every day. There's no difference, you know. Our emphasis stays the same, you know. Our principles don't change. It's just the same thing. Like they said, the farther you get, just the tougher you got to play.
LAWSON: Yeah, basically like everybody else said, Coach goes through the same routine every time. Scouting reports are the same. He goes through the same thing. All those are done the same way. I mean, there's no changes.
How important is it going to be to have Reyshawn back healthy tomorrow to limit Jeff Green on defense?
Well, I think it's huge for us because Reyshawn is one of our better players, more experienced. I think it will help us a great deal. We don't know that we're gonna have that. We're hopeful. If he doesn't, as I said the other day, we asked Marcus and Danny to step up and play the way they're capable of playing. If you have Reyshawn, that does give you another offensive threat because he can shoot the ball from three-point line, he can take the ball to the basket and at times this year he's been one of our better defensive players. So it helps us.
But I don't think it will be a drastic change because, again, we played Saturday and Reyshawn didn't go through any practices until shoot-around yesterday because he's been so sick. So there just wasn't a lot of gas in his tank. How much better he's going to be by tomorrow, I personally don't think it's going to be a real appreciable difference.
Whole lot of legitimate 7-footers in the NCAA, how much does Hibbert change the game, how big a factor is he particularly on defense?
I think it's not just his size; he's gifted. He's talented. He's gotten better and better, worked extremely hard. Young John has done a good job with him. It's a factor, no question about that.
I thought yesterday in the Vanderbilt game I was able to watch part of the second half and then I watched it on tape last night after I got back in. I thought early in the second half he was the most dominant factor in the game at that point. But there's not many of those guys running around 7', 7'2, and very few with the skill that he has. But we've still got to play.
Freshmen come in now, they're more experienced as far as playing. Is there anything that's changed about the game the last 10 or 15 years that makes it easier for a freshman to succeed. Was the candy bar a Snickers?
Yes, it was. Ty is an extremely gifted young man that has gotten better and better and better as the season has gone along. I'm an old gray-haired guy right now and he's contributed some of those particularly early in the season.
Those of you that haven't followed us as much, I equate him to Dennis the menace and I'm Mr. Wilson. He's an exceptional young man who's gotten better and better and at the end of the season has really accepted some challenges that I've thrown at him and the other teams have thrown at him on both ends of the court.
He is a very experienced youngster who has done all the travel and played against big-time teams. He played at Oak Hill which played a great schedule. But I think Ty Lawson, before he's finished, has a chance to be the best point guard I've ever coached and I've coached some really, really good point guards. I feel very fortunate to have him 95% of the time.
This is for Tyler and Brandan. Can you talk about how each of you have impacted each other's games.
HANSBROUGH: Well, I mean, you know, last year we didn't have many big men, so this year you have me and Brandan, so last year I was more of, you know, just the guy in the middle of the paint. This year we have two players. More than that, actually, come off the bench with some good ones, too.
I mean, I think it's just more of a -- allows us to do more, I'm out, you know, I can step out, go high-low with Brandan and things like that, with his length and things like that, catch a high-low pass pretty good. You know, his finesse game's pretty well. I think it's helped this team tremendous, you know.
For me, if they double me, I look for Brandan. Still the same thing for him. I'm sure if they double him, he'll look over and things like that.
WRIGHT: I just feel like we complement each other well. He's being double teamed, I can cut to the basket, get some wide open shots. I think the most impact we had on each other is I think we take a lot of pressure off each other. It allows us to do things that we're capable of doing. Our teammates on the outside are definitely doing a lot for us, too.
Roy, you've had a number of players go on to the NBA, leave early to go to the NBA. How hard is it as a coach to keep a guy who has a pro future focused on the task at hand during the course of the season? Has that become easier or harder over the years?
I think it depends on the individual, but I've been very, very fortunate to have such great kids with great character that they would never want to cheat themselves, their teammates, their coaches, by being focused on anything other than how North Carolina is doing or Kansas, if it was at that time.
But we do have some characters, there's no question, on this team. But the greatest characteristic of this team is the great character of the kids that we have. I know that sounds corny and you guys don't necessarily like to write those kind of things, but I've said this before. You're looking at five guys up here that you would say, "How about watching my grandchildren for the next three or four hours," and you would feel very comfortable. All I got to do is get my son and daughter to cooperate and give me grandchildren, I'd show you. But we have wonderful kids. I do not think one second of any day of my entire life worried about those kind of things, that these kids are really focused on each other.
Can each of you kind of give your wow moment from Brandan, when you stood back and watched a little bit.
LAWSON: Probably my first wow moment was probably when we played against Maryland and the ball came off the rim and Brandan, I don't know how he caught it, but I think he caught it with his left or right hand. Dunked it on one or two people. Something like that. That was my first wow moment.
GINYARD: Couple games ago, the game where, I don't know, Brandan I think was driving baseline, maybe caught a rebound on the baseline. I just felt like he was all the way underneath the basket and somehow got around to the front of the basket and ended up dunking it with his head behind the backboard.
HANSBROUGH: I think it was our second game of the year against Winthrop. He had a block that was really nice (laughter). The guy tried to dunk on him, and he blocked it. It was pretty nice.
ELLINGTON: I think it was when -- a couple games ago when Brandan, he went up for a layup and he missed and he put it back himself and he dunked it. I think there were two people in the lane. That was pretty impressive to me. I'm waiting for my wow moment from Brandan.
Two years ago, Roy, you won a championship. They're all watching on TV. Now they're here. Is it possible that both us and even you take this for granted, the fact that they were in high school two years ago and getting you here now.
I don't think there's any question about that, that we seem to think it's North Carolina and that's what they're supposed to do. Yet I've been in this a long time and this is really hard to get to this level. It's really hard to be this successful at this level, and I sit back all the time and say how lucky I am, how fortunate I am, but also how good these guys are. For a freshman and sophomore, five guys up here that are all freshmen and sophomores, to be able to accomplish this would have been unheard of several years ago. So I can assure you, I don't take it for granted. I sit back and before I go to bed every night, I say, thank you, thank you, thank you, and I tell my players all the time I've been very fortunate, they've made me look good and I really appreciate it. And, I would just as soon they continue doing it.
To have youngsters like this come up on this stage and play as well as they have played basically throughout the course of the season, I mean, if most of those people that do those things, the ratings service, our schedule is probably ranked in the top 5 schedules in the country. Because we're North Carolina, we're also going to get everybody's best shot. But these guys have been able to step up and take some of those best shots and sometimes stumble around. But, boy, at the end, they've always had an opportunity to come back and they've done a great job with it.
I do think that we sometimes take that for granted, and I try to make darn sure I don't.
Roy, you mentioned that Reyshawn didn't have much gas in the tank last night. How was he after the game, and how is he today? Tyler, if you can just explain after Coach, how different is it for you guys out there when Reyshawn isn't playing with you for almost the whole game after you've spent the whole season with him in the starting lineup?
We haven't had practice yet, so I haven't seen Reyshawn perform but I did hear him laugh this morning for the first time in seven days. He's got a big mouth and laughs and jokes and everything all the time, but I haven't heard that in seven days so that makes me feel better. But he had almost no gas left last night. It affected his brain, too, because one time he's complaining at the official about getting fouled when he missed the jump shot from the far corner in front of our bench while his guy was scoring at the other end. His tank was out and I emptied it when he did that because I brought his tail over to sit with me the rest of the night.
HANSBROUGH: I mean, I think we do, there's a little bit of that senior leadership when he's not, you know, there. But at the same time, you know, this team is pretty deep, and we have guys that can step up, you know, when guys get hurt or sick. I think you saw in the Arizona game and you saw it last night when Marcus came through big for us. So, I mean, you know, we do lose, you know, some, but it's still at the same time we have guys that can step up for us.
Coach, you've mentioned, get good shots and limit their good shots; are there a couple other things on your to-do list you need to do to give your team a better chance to win?
You guys aren't going to like this at all but I think the game's pretty simple. If the quality of our shot is much better than the quality of their shot, that really helps us. And if we get a few more of those shots, meaning don't turn it over and/or get more rebounds, then that even helps us even more. First day of practice this year I talked to them about let's simplify the game. That's what you've got to do.
So it is, when I go in at half time, I look at our field goal percentage, the other team's field goal percentage, so that tells us about the quality of shots. Then I look at the rebounding war. To me, that's what we'll focus on a great deal for Georgetown just like we have been all year long. I think it's, again, a pretty simple game if you just handle that part of it.
Since we're going down memory lane, there's a famous picture of Michael shooting the shot with you on the bench. You look a lot more anxious than Coach Smith at the time. Can you remember what you were thinking when the shot went up?
I tell you a funny story, I've told you many, many times. It's not funny, it's amazing. I think it was 32 seconds to play. We called a time-out. The guys coming over to our bench, the look on their face shocked me no end. There was never one time that season that I didn't we were the best team ever. There was never one team that season I didn't think we were going to win the whole ball of wax. There was not one time during the Final Four that I had he ever thought about that we could possibly lose. When those guys came over to the bench, the look on their face just shocked me because I saw a negative look. We kneeled down in front of the bench like coaches do, and Coach Smith said, ‘we're in great shape.' He said, ‘I'd much rather be in our shoes than theirs.' We are exactly where we want to be.
I don't mind telling you, I believed everything the man says, but this is gospel now. I sort of turned my head a little bit and pretended I was coughing because I wanted to sneak a peek at the clock because I thought we were 1 down. The way Coach Smith is talking, he's talking like we're in great shape. I didn't necessarily feel that way. So I was pretending I was coughing, and looked, it said ‘Georgetown 62, North Carolina 61.' Coach just continued on. He said, this is exactly where we want to be. We want to determine the outcome of this game. We're in great shape. We're gonna run lineup, I don't think they'll be pressing. We'll get it in. Run two game, look for the lob, they'll probably cover that. So if we don't have that, just penetrate and we'll go on the back side. If we get the shot, we'll go ahead and take the shot. Sam, you continue, when you go for the lob, you continue and you get weak side board coverage. James, you'll have the middle board coverage. Even if we miss the shot, we'll get the rebound. And we'll put it back in there. And even if something weird happens and they happen to get the rebound, we'll foul them and there's no way they're gonna make a free throw in this situation.
Jesus Christ, I felt a lot better, you know. In the face, every one of our players, the look on their face was so much different. The guys were leaving the huddle. Coach patted Michael on the back, said if you get the shot, knock it in. So right there is when it happened, we ran 2, we looked for the lob, they covered it, Sam kept going, he got weak side. We penetrated the ball through to Michael. Sam was on the weak side board coverage, James had the middle board coverage. Michael knocked it in. The lord told Freddy to throw it to James, so that was it. That's all I can say.
Brandan, saw you with ice bags. Anything specific?
WRIGHT: It is something I'm just trying to take care of myself, get myself ready for tomorrow. Nothing serious. Little bumps and bruises.
Do you mind sharing any memories of the immediate aftermath of the win in ‘82, on the court, celebration in the locker room?
You guys are really playing this rematch up really big. I thought it was this year's teams, North Carolina against Georgetown.
My feeling was of relief because I thought Coach Smith had been unfairly labeled as a coach who couldn't win the big one. I had tears rolling down my face. It was not joy, it was just relief that we'd shut those people up that were saying those kind of things. I made the vow at that time if I ever won another one I was going to walk up with my arms up in the air. We won it in 2005, my son said, I didn't see you raise your arms up. I said, I was just dumbfounded, I didn't know. I can't plan how I'm going to act.
In 2005, I was just hugging the players, the things that they were able to say to me, the things I was able to say to them.
Have you heard from Phil Ford or Dave Hatters in the time you've been up here and what kind of relationship do you have with those guys?
Very good relationship, they've called, seeing if they can bum some tickets. I think they'll be at the game tomorrow.
Marcus, were you nervous at all last night about starting, and how does it change your perspective on the game being in the starting five rather than coming off the bench?
GINYARD: I talked all year about this team and the way everybody's got to be ready for that opportunity, you know, because everybody's always talked about playing time and things like that. I've always talked about how that never bothered this team. This team always had the mindset that when your number's called you're going to be ready to go in, give your team a positive lift.
So in regards to last night's start, it didn't change my mindset at all. Come into the game, like I said, you got to give your team a positive lift. If that's at the very beginning of the game, then that's when it is. Really doesn't matter, you know, to anybody on this team, you know, when their number gets called. It's just the fact that you got to get in there and do something positive for your team.
Brandan, what does Marcus bring to you guys?
WRIGHT: Well, he brings a lot of energy to us. Guy that can really do a lot of things on defense. He's our best talker by far. He keeps us organized and situated on defense. He goes hard. He crashes the boards hard. It's just a plus when he comes in the game.
Are there any benefits to having so much youth on a team like this? What have been the most unique challenges about a team with so many freshmen and sophomores?
I think the benefit is probably their youthful exuberance. They don't understand as much things about pressure, don't understand as much about the stresses that other people put on them. They're just out playing basketball. They get more accustomed to those other things a little bit later when they find out more about them.
It's just been a unique group. I mean, from the first day, October 13th, whatever, media day that was, everybody asked me was I worried about the number of players. And after the first exhibition game and the first game and the tenth game and the twentieth game, everybody asked about if you're worried about having too many players, balancing out, don't you think you can shorten your rotation. Marcus said it best, everybody on our team tries to be focused and ready when they're called upon so they will do well. Finally, after 37 games, people are saying, ‘Well, I guess it is okay.'
So it's something that I've felt very comfortable with all year long and the players have shown that it's something that they felt very comfortable with, as well.
You mention Georgetown's style. Two questions about that. How close is it to what NC State used to do under Herb? Obviously, you had a lot of success against that system. Is that a philosophical threes versus twos and high percentage shots versus low percentage shots type of situation?
I don't think it's really that similar to what Herb did. And young John has got a unique blend because he does have the Princeton style but he has big kids that they never had at Princeton so they have the inside threat, the power game.
But Princeton, a lot of back door cuts, three-point shots or back door layups. Now Georgetown added the power game inside. I don't think it's that similar really at all.
Herb, you know, everybody called his the Princeton style and it really wasn't. It was a style that I thought was unique to Herb, and, you know, it's one of those shames because Herb Sendek was a heck of a coach. Five straight NCAA tournaments and people were happy to see him leave. It just didn't make sense. But I think his was unique in the way they did it, too.
Along the same lines, have you ever seen a team with that many big guys, quality power big guys, run this type of system?
Guys think about, you know, some of the things - and maybe I'm not the brightest guy in the world - but I've seen a half of one of their games. I didn't want to watch ten Georgetown tapes now, Coach Robinson has watched ten Georgetown tapes. When we got here, I guess CB had Southern Cal, Steve has Georgetown and Joe had Vanderbilt. So those guys watch all that they can, and they condense it and give it to me so I don't know nearly as much about them as I hope I'll know by tomorrow. Basically tonight I'll take a break, get dinner and the rest of the time I am be watching tape.
I've seen them play just because of my interests and the way I like young John, but it is a unique style. With Hibbert and Green, Green is Player-of-the-Year in the BIG EAST. They play pretty good basketball. Hibbert is going to be an NBA player for a long time. They are very gifted.
At the end of that ‘82 game, Dean Smith immediately went down to console John Thomson. Do you remember seeing him do that? What does that say about the essence of who he was as a coach?
I did see it at that time. I've heard big John say something about it, his recollection of it, about as soon as the game was over with - I tried to learn something from it. In 2005, you know, one of the Illinois players took a shot, Shaun got the rebound, I looked up at the clock and saw it go from two to one. I said, look, Deshaun had the ball, looked back up, it goes to zero. I hugged C.B. McGrath. Shaun came, he said the day before he wanted to be the first player to hug me. It was one of those great moments people say I'm so corny about, but it was one of those great moments. The players were all around.
All of a sudden it dawned on me that the Illinois coach, I hadn't grabbed him. Bruce was walking off the court. He had stood there. They told me later, he had stood there a little bill while Sean May was hugging me. It wasn't a disrespectful thing because he was a good friend. I sprinted off the court and caught Bruce as he was stepping off the court in St. Louis and said, I am really sorry. He just said, Roy, you just won a national championship. I said, no, it was important for me to grab you. I think part of that came from Coach Smith and what he did for John Thomson. At that time, I think it was a great lesson for all of us that we can be excited and enthusiastic about what just happened for us but let's have some composure and compassion for the other coach, too.
You had a good laugh before about Tyler's very extensive answer about that block that Brandan had. When he's in front of us, it looks like he'd rather be having a root canal than answering questions. What's the difference between the person he doesn't show us and the guy you see both on and off the court?
Well, he hasn't had too many root canals, I'm sure. You got it pretty well close, he'd rather be doing some other things.
For us, we know him a lot more. There's a sense that he's got a wonderful sense of humor. He's a little bit of a prankster. All the time getting on people in his own way. But he's very guarded what his responses to people that he doesn't know. There's been a couple times that he's said some things that were completely taken out of context.
But if you look, and I'm not trying to promote anybody else's publication, but if you look at the inside of the latest Sporting News, it has four pictures of Tyler, it's got him in the trainer's room -- no, leaving the court with blood all over him at the Duke game. Then he's back out on the court with two pieces of cotton stuck up his nose while we're having the senior day talks. Then there's a picture of him with his mask on that he's playing with. Then there's the picture of him with the Groucho Marks mask on and the mustache and nose that he walked out with when we left to go to the NCAA tournament. He's a fierce competitor. But he can laugh at himself, laugh at a lot of things. He's a really unique kid, but a great, great kid. The line underneath it was something like, ‘The best center who ever got clobbered, broke a nose, wore a mask and made fun of himself even in tough times.' That's him. He handled the whole situation about the Duke game as well as anybody could ever handle it. You know, I laughed at some of the people and the comments they were making about how bad it was for Duke or Gerald or anything. That kid down there, he's the kid that had the broken nose, had to wear the mask for four games that affected his performance. Everybody forgot, he was the victim in this. All the other stuff was a bunch of garbage.
Different kind of memory lane for you. Carolina has had a lot of success in this building, but obviously, the most bitter defeat here was in ‘87, the regional final. What do you recall about that game, and kind of why it turned out to be a Syracuse victory?
Jeff Lebo was sick, woke up that morning with a temperature of 103. Tried to decide whether to play him or not. Played him, he didn't have a good game. Joe Wolfe going up to shoot a jump shot from the foul-line, ball slipping out of his hands and going straight backwards over his head. The way I felt at the end of the game, I remembered that. Those things were so long ago. None of my kids were even born, you know, when the ‘82 game was played. But I do remember that game. Somebody said yesterday about the great record of North Carolina up here. I told them, "heck, wasn't that good for me." I was 0-1 in this building as a head coach until last night.
If you can take yourself out of being the coach for a second and just think about what this means for two programs, Georgetown and North Carolina, to be in this position, does it add something to the game?
You know, I listen to our kids' answers to the questions similar to that. You know, I suppose it adds something, but I feel like that we would be just as excited and that Coach Thompson and his teams would be just as excited regardless of who the other opponent was. I think from the media version perhaps saying some things about that is warranted and you guys have to make a decision about what you say. It is great for college basketball that North Carolina and Georgetown, two fantastic programs with great history, are playing each other at, you know, this stage of the game. I think it's great for Young John and where he's brought the program to the last couple years. But I think really the players said it best, and I don't think they were trying to put down everybody, they were just saying that we've got to play and want to play well regardless of who it is.
I would be remiss in saying that Georgetown is not a fantastic program. I'm not saying that. But kids think in terms of, Hey, it's whoever you put us out there with, is something.
I think maybe for the historians or old guys like us, you know, perhaps it might mean more. But, you know, last year we played George Mason, and it's not the history in that program, and if Georgetown beats us tomorrow, I'm not gonna feel one doggone bit better than I did last year after George Mason did last year. Whoever we're playing, if they beat us, I feel the same. Don't anybody try to make it up that I'm putting down Georgetown because that's not what it is. You guys get paid by the word so you got to write things down, but for us, I think it's probably not as much as it is for you guys.
How hard is it -- I mean, here we sit all these years later after that game. Carolina for the most part has sustained it all these years. Georgetown didn't. They basically disappeared from the national scene. How hard is it to get back to where it is and how hard is it to stay at the top in this sport?
I've said many times I think it's extremely hard to get to this level and I think it's hardest to get to this level and stay there. That's the reason that what Coach Smith did for all those years is just unbelievable, what Mike has done at Duke is unbelievable. What happened at a few places but not many in the country. Big John had it going, ‘82, ‘83 or ‘84, I guess, back to the Final Four again, and they won it in ‘84. They took a little dip.
But I still think Georgetown was a very respected program, and one that caught everybody's attention. Georgetown, even when they struggled, they always got everybody's best shot because they were still Georgetown, and what big John and Patrick and Alonso and those guys had done with it, I do think a two or three-year period there it was more of a struggle. It's hard to get to this level. I'm ecstatic. I really am. I'm as happy as I can be. Nobody in this room loves to play golf as much as I do, and shoot, I'm just as happy I'm not out there working on my doggone golf game.
One of the themes of this tournament has been the rise of some traditional football powers, football schools, playing well in this tournament. Florida, Ohio State being two examples. Is North Carolina one of the schools that could be at that level? What kind of commitment does it take to be that way?
I think we can be. You know, when I was at Carolina as an assistant, Coach Crumb was our football coach, we won five straight bowl games, not just went to. We won five straight bowl games. Southern Cal is one of those teams that have great football. I think they can have great basketball. Florida, Ohio State, I think there's so many more basketball players now than there were 15 or 20 years ago. The parity word that nobody likes to use is a fact. There's so many good players, it's so balanced, it's so level a playing field with so many teams I think you can have it much easier now than it was. I definitely think that we can do that. I think our football program has a chance to really do some big-time things. I love John Bunting and always will and wish it had worked out better and I'm hopeful that Butch and his staff will get some things going so that we can be. I love going to football games and have somebody talk about how well the football team is doing instead of, ‘Well, wait ‘till basketball.'
You were down 23 points at Virginia Tech. Down 16 early in the half last night. We know you like to preserve time-outs, but is there anything, what if anything would have to happen for you to use a full timeout before, say, the last five minutes of a game; is there anything?
I've done it two or three times probably in my career, you know. I'll admit last night I was really close, but I was trying to think, I think it did go to 16 and I looked up and saw that score and I think we scored the next possession. I almost called a time-out after we scored to just tell them again to reiterate what I'd already said, is, "Hey, play-by-play. Don't look at the clock. Don't look at the score. Just play each possession the best you can." But I really, I have a lot of confidence that -- that's the reason we practice. I mean, we practice all those things. I put them, you're down six with three minutes to play, what are you gonna do? Great shot offense. And must-stop defense. I've just seen so many times where I felt like at the end of games that coaches needed time-outs at the end of games. If I have confidence that my team can, you know, go through those tough times and come back themselves, then I've got done what I've got, because then I've got the time-outs at the end of the game to preserve time that will enable us to have a chance to win perhaps.
You know, you probably remember last year, I mean, we were down to North Carolina State 10-0 and I guarantee you, that could have been 100-40 and I would not have called a time-out that night. Last night, if we hadn't scored that possession, I would have called a time-out probably next time. And even did score and I thought about calling a time-out right there before Southern Cal got out. I was close last night.
Even though those players weren't born before ‘82, UNC is still benefitting from that game. That game does have some link to the current situation, doesn't it?
Well, it has link to college basketball just like Magic and Larry in ‘79 playing in the national championship game that was tape-delayed. I don't know what you guys did for a living at that point. I mean, my God, the day of the games you all must have laid around, stayed by the pool, I noticed how they didn't have any press conferences then.
But I think ‘79 game, Magic and Larry, that one has been significant to college basketball. I think our game against Georgetown with Michael and Patrick and Coach Smith and Coach Thompson had a tremendous significance in college basketball and is remembered as one of the best tournaments ever, best tournament finals ever.
You know, there's been a few more of those games, but when you're talking about most memorable national championship games, you don't go very far before you get to that one, so I agree that it has a meaning. But these kids, they don't, you know -- most of my guys think Michael invented the game. They don't know anything about Smith. They think he's related to Coach Smith. I believe that notoriety, that significance of it, how famous it was and the characters that kept going and what they did in basketball has perhaps even made it a bigger game, just like I think the ‘79 game, Magic and Larry, what they did later made that game even bigger than maybe it was even at that night, even though I think it was -- maybe it wasn't tape-delayed. Maybe it was the NBA Finals Magic's rookie year, the NBA Finals was tape-delayed. That's what it was.
I think you don't have to go down the list of great, great finals very long before you get to the ‘82 North Carolina-Georgetown game.
What's the most important thing Marcus does for you? Last night he talked about how you didn't come out with the intensity and passion you needed. Have you come up with a reason for that? Is there something you might do differently tomorrow?
If I did, I would do it, I can guarantee you. It's college basketball. We came out with so much energy in eastern Kentucky and we were ahead 27 points, we're ahead 39 to 12. And then a little later, it's 48-44. I don't get up in how you come out, how you start the second half, I look at the whole game, how did we play. Last night, we didn't play very well but we won so we must have done okay.
Against Eastern Kentucky, we were great early in the game. It was so easy, then the guys lost focus and quit playing. Then we made a huge run at the end. Maybe some other coach is better, I don't really believe that, maybe some other coach is and can figure out how to get his team operating at an optimum level every game from start to finish. I just don't believe that happens. I know with my group of whackos it doesn't happen very often. We're gonna try to go out and be more focused. And we were against Michigan State. I mean, we had tremendous focus, tremendous intensity against Michigan State for the whole game.
Marcus is sensational, offensive rebounding. I did not think that Southern Cal would play him when he was outside, that they would take his man and double. That's what they were doing. Hackett doubling, Tyler doubles some other guys in the post. I thought one way Marcus could help us, he's perhaps our most effective offensive rebounder on the team and is definitely the best offensive rebounder from a perimeter spot. When you ignore a guy, it does give him a free run to the boards. We talked about in pregame, half time, all the other times, getting to the board. A wonderful kid who's best qualities are the defensive play and the offensive boards.
Coach, you've been here before to this position, trying to get a team there. I'm wondering how that experience helps you. When you're preparing your team, when you're doing your own mental preparation for coaching the game, what changes, what's different now how you do that than maybe a few years ago?
Not a lot different because we've been, you know, fairly successful and liking what we do. I generally, if I do something and I like it, I stick with it. I ate at one restaurant Thursday night, I'm going back there tonight and it's not because I'm superstitious, I just like the food. I've been married to the same woman for 34 years, I've got the same putter I started using 37 years ago.
The way we prepare and the way we get into tournament, I sort of like what we're doing. We'll add a few things because times have changed. You know, when I first started, we didn't jump around like a mosh pit in the locker room like we started probably in about 2002 in Kansas. You know, I still believe in doing some things to get them focused on one game at a time. That saying if you look down the road of who you're playing next, that's where I think you're going, down the road back home.
I really haven't changed very much, but I do think you need to change the times a little bit. You know, last night we jumped around in the locker room. I got mad at Dewey Burke because he got me with a left hook in the jaw. I told him he had a punch like a little whimp because it didn't hurt. Probably I wouldn't have done that a few years ago.
How has your confidence in Marcus evolved over the course of the season in terms of having him in late in the games, what he can bring to you in crunch time?
I have a tremendous amount of confidence he's going to make a positive play. I really believe that. You probably remember, most of the time when I think about him, it's an offensive rebound, it's a defensive stop, defensive steal, so, like it was against Michigan State. My club, you never know.
Against Duke, it's a three-point game, I think. Marcus' three-point shot is not the strongest part of his game. We throw the ball top of the key, it's early in the shot clock and he goes up to shoot the thing. I swear to goodness, my two assistants could hear, I said, what is he doing, it went in the hole. I said, ‘Great shot, Marcus.' I just always feel that he's going to make a positive play.
In what ways did being involved in that ‘82 game shape the coach that you became, and do you recall many big games with as precise clarity as you were able to describe the end of that one? Do you remember that one specifically maybe a little more?
I remember the ‘81 game when we lost to Indiana. I saw Booker Turner, who was one of the officials in the game, probably about four years ago at Michael Jordan's fantasy clock. I said, ‘Don't talk to me, I'm still ticked at you.' He's the one that made two ridiculous calls against James. I remember a lot of those games with a great deal of clarity. He said you still remember that? I said, yeah, and I hold a grudge, too, so don't forget that part of me. That was a significant game, how it molded me. Two things more than anything, the confidence that Coach Smith displayed at the end of the game and the confidence he gave our team. When they left our huddle, they had a completely different look on their face than they did when they sat down.
Then I think the other thing is that during the entire time I was with Coach Smith, I think each and every day he taught me so many things, but in 2005, you know, I had gone -- I was very flattered - I'm being honest - I was not hurt when people would say Roy is the best coach who never won a national championship. I was flattered to be the best coach in any category. At the end of that game, I knew that if we won, that I was gonna say the same thing that Coach Smith did, that I didn't think I was that much better coach than I was three hours earlier.
There was a point last night where Patrick Ewing Junior took a foul shot and the arena went wild because a picture of his father appeared overhead. In your mind, how difficult is it for a son or daughter of a legend to come back and follow in the same sport?
Well, I haven't done it, and my son's doing a lot better as a bond trader than I would ever do so I don't have that personal experience, but I think it is difficult. Yet we see it happen. Ken Griffey, Jr. Has just been a marvelous baseball player, his dad. A lot of those guys that were able to do those things on the tour, you know, you've seen some guys, Raymond Floyd's son, Dana Quigley's son. You go down the line, there's been some pretty doggone good players there.
But I think perhaps every one of those guys would say that they like it because it has also given them some benefit, it's given them some information that perhaps other people did not have. I think Patrick Ewing Junior is very proud of his dad, and I think that he saw some of the things that his dad was able to accomplish and it made him proud. At the same time, it is a high standard. There was a special on TV recently where Jeffrey Jordan, Michael's oldest son, walked people through the house and the gym and the whole bit like that. I think he was extremely proud of it. It is difficult in that other people's expectations get out of whack, but generally somebody that's like that is also pretty well-grounded because they know how difficult it was for their fathers to do it.
When Ty got there, he said he thought he was playing fast. You told him he was not going fast enough. Is there too fast? Can he play faster than what he's doing now?
He can play faster. I want him to play faster. From top of the key to top of the key, I don't think there is too fast. Then you got to make good decisions. Then you've got to always, we say, attack, attack, attack, under control. Top of the key, top of the key as fast as you can, then get it under control.
You've got three members of this team who are NCAA champions, holdovers from the 2005 team. How much of a benefit is that for the team that the younger guys can look at these guys and say, "Hey, Reyshawn is a champion?"
I think it's a little benefit because I say all the time these guys know what it feels like, you don't. Ask them what it feels like. It's the greatest time in their athletic career. I've said that a couple of times. We don't belabor the point. But in tournament play, I say, Hey, ask those guys, each round it gets to be a lot more fun.
Can you address a little bit recruiting to character as far as getting guys when you're going to have a rotation that goes ten-plus deep accepting that role that they're not going to be playing 40 minutes a game?
I've always said we have to look for ability first. I can't go in and say give me your valedictorian or good citizenship winner, if I do there will be another coach up here. The second thing I look at is character. There is no question about that. I want somebody I enjoy being with. I had an elementary school teacher in Wichita, Kansas. She said, Coach, "I wish you would say ‘academic' second." I said, no ma'am, because he can be a great player and a 4.0 student but if he's a pain in the rear end, I want it to be somebody else's.
I'll give you a story, Marvin Williams, watching him play in a tournament in the summer, he's playing against Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, who was 7, Randolph Morris who was signed from Kent, that's the other team's front line. Marvin was great. He had 36 and was phenomenal. He fouls out, 2 or 3,000 people in the game it was in Vegas. They gave him a standing ovation. Marvin Williams walked down to the end of the bench. This is a quite prima donna, high school recruit, the whole bit, he went down to the end of the bench, got five cups of water, brought it back, gave each one to those five guys that were still in the game. I said that's the kind of kid I want to be around. I know, again, I'm pretty corny, but those character issues are extremely important to me.
Is Brandan lower key than Sam Perkins?
Bob, that is really good, because Brandan is a little more worldly. You may remember Sam said I don't even know what conference George is in and they ended up beating us. I said, ask me, don't make that kind of statement. Brandan has a little more information than Sam does, or Sam did. If Brandan Wright can be as good as Sam Perkins, that's pretty doggone good. He's very low-key. He's very quiet. He's another one that's got a sneaky sense of humor, got a wonderful smile. Always trying to get me a little bit. But there is some of those qualities in there not just because he's left-handed and tall and skinny and those kind of things, but Sam was not as much a basketball fan, I think, as Brandan is. I think that saves me from having to answer those kind of questions about what conference Georgia is in. I'm assuming you remember that statement?
I do, too.
Can you bring us any sort of information from the team about the cheerleader that was hurt? Did you have a chance to call or anything?
Yeah, Dick Baddour and Steve Kirschner have stayed on top of it. I think the youngster's parents are here now, I think his brother is here now from Colorado. It's a very, very difficult situation. I talked to the doctors late last night. It's very, very difficult, what's happening. I did know the youngster, but not on a personal basis. He came up to me one day and said, "Hey, I'm the guy that wears the suit." So we had a conversation. Most every game, I would come by the bench and I would shake hands with him. It's just a tragic, tragic thing. Last night, as I was coming here after the game and they gave me that information, it really hit me. It's just I cannot imagine what a parent is going through when something like that happens. I'm not trying to get too personal. I lost my sister last week, and that was really hard. But the thought of something like that happening to your son or daughter is just something I can't even imagine how difficult that is.
But I think we have our doctors. In fact, I think Dick Baddour is going back over to the hospital this afternoon.