|Inside Carolina audio is available to IC premium subscribers. To listen, you'll need an updated version of Windows Media Player - click here to download the software.|
With what happened to you against Kansas last year, have you changed preparation at all this year or is it same as usual?
"It's basically the same as usual. Last year we had a great run. We won the last three or four regular-season games. We won the conference tournament. We won four games in the NCAA. We didn't change anything before we played Kansas. We just played poorly.
"This year, whatever routine we have, whether it's changed from last year, it probably has changed a little bit. But what routine we've been following in the end of the regular season and through the NCAA tournament, we've continued the same thing here.
"I'm positive that I've said it one time, and it may have even been twice, but no more than twice, that I've reminded our guys that last year we were happy to be here. When we went out against Kansas, we looked around and said, My goodness, we're in the Final Four. They hit us right in the mouth. It took us 15 minutes before we realized we were playing a game. I know I've said that once, perhaps twice, but not any more than that."
Yourself, Coach Izzo, and Coach Calhoun have been here several times, won national championships. Talk about Coach Wright getting here for the first time.
"I think Jay is one of the elite coaches. The job he's done, in a very, very difficult league, has been one that he should be very proud of. Jay has been around. It's not like '91, my third year of coaching, I'm in the Final Four playing on Monday night. I was starry-eyed, bushy-tailed, scared to death. Jay at Hofstra, what he's done at Villanova, he doesn't have to take a backseat. I'm positive he's very confident, and rightfully so, because he really has done a great job with that club and got them in a great position."
Detroit is obviously not viewed as a gambling mecca. I want to find out if the casinos were something that you had addressed to the team before they came, if anything has changed?
"Didn't talk about it before we came. We've had two of our guys go to the casino, Ty Lawson and Marc Campbell. I talked to them before they left. They're both old enough. It is legal. I find it humorous that somebody would want to ask. Not necessarily you or Associated Press, it's strange, if we don't want those kids doing it, don't put the Final Four in a city where the casino is 500 yards from our front door. And they got a great buffet in there. I mean, come on.
"To answer the question, no. I talked to my team. The other thing is, guys, you know when we got here? Wednesday. I mean, I'm not gonna tell my guys they got to stay in the room and watch Bill Cosby reruns for four days, c'mon. Those two kids, talked to them. One of my video coordinators went over there with them, not that he needed to. I would not have any problem. I just told the kids, If you think you're going to do something questionable, talk to me about it first.
"I have zero problems with Ty doing it. I went and gambled myself. The reason I did was not the same reason that Ty did. When I came here this year to play Michigan State, we stayed at MGM. And I went down and shot craps, we lost, and we won the game. I go to Nevada, Reno, to play Nevada Reno, and I stayed in a casino, and I went downstairs and shot craps and we lost, and my team won. So you got to be halfway idiot if you think I'm not going to go gamble and lose money before this game.
"I have gambled and I have lost. I'm doing every dadgum thing I can do to win the game, including give Detroit my money. Please understand, I wasn't aiming any of that personally towards you. I've seen Road House seven times in the last weeks of the NCAA tournament. You know where the coach's headquarters is here? You know where I was supposed to stay if my team hadn't come? Caesar's Palace. The dunk contest last night, three-point shot contest. Who is it sponsored by? A casino. What a great country we live in."
HANSBROUGH & ELLINGTON
When Coach Wright was in here, he said he thinks they have a pretty tough team, physical team. A lot of people might not realize that. From what you've seen, do you think they're basically perimeter oriented or are they physical inside, too?
"Yeah, I think so. Watching them on film, for a big man, what we've been talking about, be strong with the ball in the post, because they're physical and they're strong. I think, you know, that gets under-looked when you look at Villanova and some of their guard play. Some of their toughness down low, it gets kind of overlooked."
Going into last year's Final Four, you were getting pulled in a lot of different directions with awards and things. Is there anything that you take from that experience in terms of mental preparation that you can use tomorrow night?
"I'm not really sure. But, you know, I think one thing what we learned from last year is you have to be ready to play when you come out. I think maybe we were a little tight because we weren't used to being on the big stage like a Final Four. But, I mean, now I guess we'll be more prepared."
Different year, but does the Kansas game give you any kind of advantage, extra motivation, good, bad, or indifferent?
"I think it definitely gives us a lot of motivation. We got to this point last year. We didn't play the way we were capable of. We wants to come out this year and show that we're ready, well-prepared. We're going to leave everything on the court. I don't think it will give us any type of advantage. This is the Final Four. I'm sure everybody will be psyched and motivated to play as well as they can at this level."
How would you describe the personality of how that program plays basketball and what kind of challenge the teams going up against them have to face?
"Well, they're very perimeter oriented. Their guards like to get in the lane, just make plays. Coach Wright, he's usually about his guards making plays. They're a tough team. They're going to play us as hard as they can until the time runs out. I think that's what we're going to expect tomorrow."
On the national media jumping on the story about his gambling:
"Really, I don't see what the big problem is right now. It's not like I'm doing it right before a game, like I'm a fiend for it. It was one time, so…"
Has this team prepared any differently for this Final Four as compared to last season?
"No, we've basically prepared the same way. We watched tape before we left, and all of these practices we've had before were geared toward Villanova and their offense and what they like to do."
How vital have Wayne and Ty been to this run to the Final Four?
"They've done a great job this tournament and this season. All season long, Ty's been big and Wayne has stepped up. I think some of us do some things that go unnoticed, but I think everyone on this team has recognized what they do… Everybody's a big factor to this team's success."
How much better is Ty this year than last?
"I think he's just more mature on the floor. His decision making is better than it was last year. Of course, his shooting percentage is better, especially from behind the arc, so it makes him really tough to guard. He's shooting from the outside pretty well and he has the speed to go by you and he's making better decisions with the ball."
Do you sense any added pressure because this is the final opportunity for a lot of these guys?
"I don't think so. We're all here, we're having fun [and] we're enjoying the Final Four as we should, but we did come here to win two games and hopefully if we play well, that can happen."
How will you reflect on your career?
"It's been a bumpy ride to say the least, but some of my best memories will be from my freshman year when I started every game. And then I had the foot injury in my sophomore year and the knee injury my junior year, [which] wasn't ideal, but I don't regret my decision at all to come to Carolina. It's been the best four years of my life."