On WSU guard Derrick Low:
"You know, I have followed him, and it's strange because in high school I saw him as a point guard, and he still has those capabilities. But he is a big-time shooter, and he is more on the receiving end of those passes and stepping into his shot more than I ever picked him in high school. I have followed his play. I like the Bennett family. Tony has done a great job with the team. I used to love watching his father coach, and I think they got off to a start like 14-0 this year, they're really good."
Is Ty Lawson's work ethic better now than last year?
"It is better. I don't know if I'm good enough to put a number on it, but it is better, let's put it that way. He had never really been challenged, because he is so gifted. That quickness is hard to simulate, so he had always been able to get by people so much easier because of that quickness, and all of the sudden you're playing in the ACC and it's not quite as easy. But I do believe his work habits are better."
Did you talk to David Padgett about transferring to UNC when he left Kansas?
"David and I did speak when he left Kansas. We did talk to him about coming to North Carolina. Wonderful kid, who has had a lot of adversity and has bounced back from it in a great, great way. I loved him when I was recruiting him because he was a big guy who could run, who could catch, who could pass, who had savvy and I think he's showing all of those things now. Rick [Pitino] has done a great, great job with him."
How do you compare this team defensively to some of your teams in the past?
"We're getting better, but we're not where we want to be. I think we are getting better at seeing the big picture and understanding how important it is. We need to do a better job of guarding the dribble and stopping the dribble, stopping penetration. We need to do a better job of closing out on the shooters and it may be more technical than you wanted.
"I think we're getting better but we're not where we want to be. Yet I've used this example of 2005, once we got into the NCAA tournament, we really started having the stats to back up that we were getting better. In the semi-finals, Michigan State shot under 30 percent in the second half, and in the Finals Illinois shot under 30 percent in the first half, and part of it was they missed shots, but part of it was our defense, too.
"So I believe we're getting better. And how they compare to past North Carolina teams, I'm sure we're not as good as some of those teams. We're not as good defensively right now as the 2005 team, for example, but we're light years better than the 2004 team was."
On Quentin Thomas:
"He's been a saver and it's a feel-good story for me as a coach. He had gotten opportunities and didn't grab it and run with it, and then he got hurt, so he had the adversity of injuries of not playing well when he got an opportunity, and then all of the sudden we needed him to do it. Not just we want him to do it, we needed him to do it and he really did. He grasped it and ran with it. It's been great for him."
On Washington State's defense:
"They play great help team defense. I think as long as we do what we're supposed to do, and play North Carolina basketball we'll be just fine."
On playing in Charlotte:
"I think it's definitely been huge for our fans to be here and be able to support us and just staying close, but at the same time, you know, the fans can't play for you, and this is the NCAA tournament, and no matter where you are, you know the team you're playing is going to be competitive and you're going to get everyone's best shot. So the fans are very important for us and they help us, but at the same time they can't play for us."
How's your ankle?
"I'm about 95%. It's feeling good. I think I'm doing real well and it's doing real good."
On the perceived easy road through Raleigh and Charlotte:
"I don't think we had an easy road. Everybody said we had the toughest match-up in the 8-9. And I think we're playing well, playing on emotion. We all want to win the National Championship, so we're all playing together."