Quotes - UNC

CHARLOTTE, NC - Roy Williams, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, and Dexter Strickland all took questions from the media Saturday in preparation for their Sunday morning third-round game with Washington in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena.

North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams:
Can you talk about how disruptive John Henson is on defense, how he does it and how important that is to your defense?:
"He has incredible length. He has an ability to time a lot of shots. He has one ability that's really hard. He can block the shot of the guy he's guarding. Lot of great shot blockers usually block the shots of somebody else who have gotten beat. John is one of those few guys that can block that shot but can also block the shot of the guy that he was initially guarding. He tries to block shots. He knows how important that is to us. I would love it if he could develop even a little more toughness and be standing in there and make a decision whether to block the shot or draw a charge. I've always said Len Elmore was the best I've ever seen. Lenny could block a lot of shots. He had wonderful judgment. I wish I could get John to add that to it because then it's almost impossible to score anything inside."

What is the physical ability that allows him to block shots?:
"He has the long arms and the timing both and he's not the most physical guy playing, so he's off of you a little bit so he can still jump as high. When you're banging with somebody, it's hard to get up as high as -- to your maximum, so that's the way John plays as well."

You've had some teams try and slow it down against you this year. I'm assuming you're not guessing tomorrow is going to be one of those 52/50 games?:
"We even had a 48-46 games. That was the shocker of all shocks. We were trying to score. That's what was really bad. I think that they'll play the way they've played. We're going to play the way that we've always played. We're going to try to run the ball. Lorenzo and his club will try to run the ball because that's one of their strengths. They average 83 a game. We average not as much as I would like but low 80. I think we'll see the basketball go up and down. The thing that we always worry about. We go up and down quite a lot. We need to make a few more shots. It would help if some of those shots go in the basket, too."

Before I ask my real question, I got to ask you who told you not to have fun? Somebody in Carolina blue or the NCAA fun police?:
"I've been told so many bad things. If I gave you an answer to that, I'm afraid they would just run me out of town."

I think you just answered the question.:
"They wouldn't let me one time bring a barbeque sandwich in the arena. God almighty."

Yesterday after the game you talked about building -- Coach Smith liked to build his momentum as you go along the tournament. Is there an art to how that is done or does it depend on the different teams that you have?:
"I don't know that I said that coach did it. He believed that a team built a momentum once you got in the tournament. I think it's more a team thing than it is anything that a coach can do. You just start feeling like you belong, you start getting comfortable with the media, everything that goes on, and you know how important -- this is the most important, you know how important each game is.

"Because of that, your concentration level is higher, your intensity level is higher, you don't take many plays off, and I think that the one thing and more important than anything, your confidence of knowing that you can get it done and I think -- I still remember -- not in this building but in this town in 1982, you know, we won the National Championship and in the first game we blew out James Madison 52-50.

"There was a block, offensive foul called in the end of the game. We were pretty doggone good after that. I've seen that happen a lot. Kids really do it so much more than the coaches."

What are your impressions of Washington's inside game?:
"I think that they really have a total package. I think Matt gives them that scoring guy inside. He's a load. He can score, he can defend, he can do so many things. He can get to the offensive boards. They have Suggs, Wilcox, Ross who can stretch your defense a little bit. They have Isaiah who can penetrate and get the shots to the big guys. Their four man, I'm drawing a blank on his name right now, started only the last, six, seven games. Gant, he can shoot the ball from the outside. They really do have a great mix of being able to score inside, being able to score from 3, being able to score on the break. They'll pull up and shoot 3s on the break. The best thing about it from Lorenzo's standpoint, those are the guys who can really shoot it. I think that's a key for them."

Can you talk a little more about Isaiah Thomas and where you put him as far as the best guards in the country and just what makes him so difficult to defend?:
"He's one of the best guards in the country, no question in my mind. I would have to think about -- best point guards. I would have to think a little bit about it and write it down. I know I love guards who can dictate the pace of the game and can change it even during the course of the game. He can play a half court game and bother you, but he can also play a full court game and really bother you. He can score, and he makes everybody else better. I think in the PAC-10 Conference Tournament, maybe all three games I think he had over 10 assists. I know he did in the quarter finals and semifinals and I haven't finished watching the Arizona game. I've got four minutes left that game. He can hurt you in so many different ways. He's a tough little nut, too. He goes and rebounds the basketball. So he really does so many things for them.

"The way I would answer that question is, I would have a hard time finding very many people that can have a more significant impact on the game than he does as a point guard, because he really does have a tremendous impact and most of the time very positive impact for his team."

Roy, what does your team most need to do tomorrow against such a dangerous opponent to win this game?:
"I'd say two things that we really didn't do a very good job of yesterday would come to mind quickly: Rebound the basketball and get back and get -- three things, rebound the basketball, get back, and get picked up. We didn't do a good job with our transition defense. And then the biggest thing, stop the silly turnovers. You just can't turn the ball over the manner, the types of turnovers that we had were just silly. We can't do that. With Washington it's got to be all three of those things."

With a team that can score many different ways that Washington can, how important is discipline especially with the big guys, when to help out and all?:
"It's probably two things. It's more important when it's a fast tempo. Sometimes it's less important because you know you're going to have so many more possessions, too. But for us, with each step in the tournament, your defense has to get stronger and stronger and stronger because of the quality of the opposition gets stronger and stronger. It's something we have to do a good job of there.

"The big guys especially, with their three-point shooters, with their penetrating guard, we have to be aware of that you can't necessarily go flying up the lane because then he just dumps it behind you and it's a dunk on top of you. It's really the discipline on everybody's part, not just your big guys."

Coach, can you talk a little bit about Lorenzo Romar, any kind relationship with him. I think you coached against him one time when were you at Kansas. What do you remember about that?:
"I don't really like him, and be sure and tell him I said that, okay? Last time we were together, I had to buy the daggum ice cream. He didn't bring any money with him. Has Lorenzo already had his press conference? No? Good. Ask him where one of his daughters went to school. She went to North Carolina. There's one really smart person in his family. He's a wonderful guy, guy that I love being with. He's a big-time, quality coach. It's like he's the kind of person that the NCAA should be really proud of, doing things the right way, caring about the kids. I'm serious, his daughter did go to school -- one of his daughters. I think he's got a daughter that's on the dance squad or cheer squad now, but she went to school at North Carolina. And he got really mad at me about that because we're both recruiting Marvin Williams, and I said, "Marvin, ask Lorenzo where his daughter went to school." That sort of ended that recruiting stuff real quickly there.

"He's a great, great guy and a big time coach. I do enjoy being with him and around him, and he's one of the really good guys. But don't tell him that good stuff until you tell him the other."

Coach, just wanted to see if you have any advantage, you think, of their body clocks being at 9:15 a.m., an early start for them coming from the West Coast.:
"We would have had a advantage the first night they got here. I don't think we have an advantage now. Young kids, you know, they sleep in the middle of the day and play in the middle of the night. It doesn't make any difference to them.

"Lorenzo is not as old as I am. It doesn't affect him as much. I think the more you go in the tournament, you get rid of that body clock thing. One of the best golf rounds I ever played, I was on the plane for five hours and got off and went straight to the course."

If this question has been asked, I apologize. How much of an advantage do you think a team like yourself, Duke, truly do you have playing in this building just a couple hours away from home?:
"You know, I have answered that question several times. Not today, so I'm not trying to say anything negative to you. I still never been beaten by a building. A building has never won a game for me. I use this example in -- even before you probably started working, '95, everybody saying, "Boy, if we get past the first two rounds," I was coaching at Kansas and say the regionals in Kansas City, we'll be great. We made it past the first two rounds, we got to Kansas, got our butt beat really quickly because it is the other team.

"We will have more fans here, I would think, but we've gone in some tough places and won. This year we did not lose any home games, but it's only the second time in eight years back at Carolina that we've been undefeated at home. There's some big time wins already by teams with a, quote, worse seed against a better seeded team regardless of where the tournament is being held. I think the game will be decided by the players, not the fans. If it was, I'd buy all the tickets I could buy and make sure all my buddies got in, if that was going to make a determining factor.

Just talk a little bit about the impact that Harrison and Kendall have had on the season, and are you surprised that two freshmen have had the impact that they've had?:
"I'm not really surprised anymore. Fifteen, 20 years ago was really hard for a freshman, but they weren't nearly as -- if you'll let me use this terminology -- they weren't nearly as worldly as they are now. They've traveled so much, they played so much, they played against different competition, not just their high school team.

"So I'm not as surprised by it. They've been a huge factor for us. Harrison is, in my opinion, born to score, and when I recruited him said, "We need you to score." Kendall is the kind of guy that gets the ball to people where they can score. We needed both qualities and they found a niche and have come in and really done well.

"Harrison son got off to a slower start than people expected, but their expectations may have been out of line because it's still not easy for a freshman to come in.

"We were playing Minnesota and Vanderbilt and Illinois, those are three -- in Texas, those were four of our losses early, and all those teams are good teams. It takes awhile for a lot of freshmen or majority of freshmen, I should say, but both those guys have been huge to our basketball team."

Coach, just to kind of follow up on the venue, it is kind a hot topic in Seattle, the Huskies are coming out here to play, is it something you figure it's kind a reward for the season you guys had or just kind of in a way dumb luck there was going to be a regional here? If the shoe was on the other foot, would it be hard for you to swallow?:
"I'll answer the second one. No. The guys that are local around here, I talk about it all the time, I enjoy going to play on the road.

"But would I use it? I don't really think so. Never have done that in the past and we've had some great wins. Our teams, not Roy Williams because I couldn't beat anybody, our teams have one at UCLA, at UCONN, some tough, tough places, but it's what it is. The NCAA tries to get great places to play where they can have great interest.

"And it's got to be close to somebody, and then we all have to understand there's an expense issue involved in trying to not have any discretion whatever and send everybody to opposite ends of the world. That's even more expense than you have sending some of them.

"Also trying to balance things out, make it good for TV. No one likes to watch a game -- I shouldn't put it that way. Watching a game when there's no crowd there is not as good for the NCAA. It's not as good for the NCAA Tournament. Regardless of what you do, you're going to have some people playing closer to home than others. And again I don't think you can say, "Well, North Carolina is the site, let's send no North Carolina teams there." It's what it is. We've gone to some tough locations before and won. We've gone to some great locations and conveniently and lost.

Coach, I know it's team against team, but certainly Kendall is going to have to do his deal. How will he handle that matchup with Isaiah?:
"It will be a tough matchup. Dexter will be guarding him also just like Isaiah may guard Dexter, sometimes Kendall. The first part of your question, I would lean towards that it is North Carolina, but during the course of every basketball game, there is a one-on-one issue. He has an ability to penetrate the ball to the basket, that you have to stop that. If you don't stop that, it just breaks down your whole defense.

"The guy that's guarding him has got to be able get down in the stance and slide his feet and hopefully be able to attack him on the offensive end so at the end of the game, because he's got a pretty good motor. At the end of the game, it's still going pretty quickly. You've got the see if you can do something to maybe slow him down a little bit. And Overton when he comes in, he's really good, also. His assist to error ratio is really good. They're a good basketball team, they really are."

John Henson:
On what they worked on in practice Saturday:
"Don't turn it over, and play defense. That's what we did today. That's all we did. We'll be fine."

On what they need to do to contain UW:
"If you don't contain Isaiah Thomas, they'll score at will. We've got to contain him, because he kind of runs the show. We'll see what happens."

On improving his FT shooting:
"I've taken a lot of lot of time, a lot of hard work, a lot of concentration - and now it's all finally starting to come together. It's a good feeling.

On his FT routine:
"Three dribbles, look at the goal, and shoot. That's what I've been doing, and that's what's been working."

On playing alongside Barnes and Zeller:
"It's a great feeling. They are great players. When we're coming down and we're in transition and kind of looking for you, it's a great feeling having those guys there, and it''s easy for me. It's a great thing to have those guys."

On if he sees a hesitation from opponents to go inside against them:
"I don't know if it's hesitation, or if maybe they try too hard. I think sometimes guys come in trying too hard, and that kind of hurts them at the ends of the day. It all depends…dipsy-do's, trying too hard to go right at me and losing the ball, something like that…it's just a great feeling having those guys by my side."

On being a good shot-blocker:
"It's just one of those natural things…God-given ability, a little timing…it's all working out. A lot of instincts, as well."

On him, Zeller and Barnes combining for so many points against LIU, and why they don't do that every game:
"We could. It's all up to us. It was the right type of situation for us, the right type of game. We thrived, as you could see."

On maybe trying to play the same style against UW:
"We play against this style every day, even against our own guys…the walk-ons. It's nothing we haven't seen, we just have to play transition defense and we'll be fine."

On what Roy Williams was most upset about during the LIU game:
"Probably just mental lapses. It's something we've got to fix. I think once we do that, we'll be fine."

On having mental lapses due to a lack of NCAA experience:
"Yeah, get the jitters out, get the stuff out like that. So next round we can't have that. We have to try and be better than we were."

On Kendall Marshall improving UNC:
"He's helped a lot. He has weapons at his disposal, and he uses them to his advantage. That's what I like about him, and he's helped us out a lot."

On what he sees in an opponent when he knows he's getting to them defensively:
"I can't really tell you that. I don't know, really. I just try to play within myself, and just try to be as disruptive as I can, and hopefully it works out."

On how he does that:
"Just instincts, jumping ability, quickness…all comes into the fold and it helps me play well."

On how much better he is now than at the beginning of the season:
"I think I'm a lot better. I've been getting better every day. That's the beautiful thing about basketball; you're going to get better if you keep playing, and that's what I've been doing."

On what he knows about Washington:
"They are good team. They run just like us. They've got a nice point guard and they are a solid team all around…all five guys."

On if it's an advantage not knowing that much about an opponent:
"I think it's better the more you know…the way you can play against them and how you beat them. And that's what we want to do."

On if he knows any of the UW players:
"I haven't played against any of those guys, except for some tournaments way back when we were in high school. That's about it."

On if he's watching the NCAA Tournament games:
"I'm watching this one (Florida-UCLA). I try and watch as many as I can."

On who will win? Florida or UCLA?:
"I like UCLA."

Tyler Zeller:
On playing UW like LIU:
"We haven't seen a lot of teams that try and push it back at us. We push it back at them, so…it'll be very interesting to see what we can do."

On Isaiah Thomas:
"He's a great player. He creates a lot for his bigs, as well as their guards. He can score for himself. It'll be very interesting to see if we can contain him and try to solve that a little bit."

On how important NCAA Tournament experience is:
"I guess we'll see in a little bit. We don't have any. We got a little bit last night. The biggest thing you've got to understand is that everyone is playing to keep their season going. You can never relax because they are going to keep coming at you…just keep going."

On his NCAA experience:
"I don't really have any experience. I know people say I do. I played 30 minutes total, and 17 were in our first-round game. Personally, I don't really have a whole lot."

On being there, watching the NCAA games:
"You see what happens, the runs that happen. You've got to be able to minimize their runs and maximize your runs…any time you get a 10-point lead, you've got to maintain it. It's something that's difficult, but you also have to be aware that they are going to come after you."

On what he can take from the LIU game:
"You always have to draw from a game, a win or a loss. You've got to be able to learn from your mistakes and hone your strengths. I think we've done a great job of doing that all year."

On being a high seed and seeing the upsets:
"You just have to just try and play and keep going. Every night is just another game. It doesn't matter what seed you are, because any team in this tournament is capable of beating any other team. You've got to go out aware to play as hard as possible and hopefully you come out with a win."

On relaxing because UNC always makes the tournament every year:
"No. Because as we said before, this team has no experience in the tournament. A few years ago you might have been able to say that because they've been there and have experienced it. We haven't experienced it. Justin Watts and I are the only ones to experience it, no one else has. We just have to keep going and keep playing."

On what UNC has to do to win tomorrow:
"The simple answer would be to score more points than them. But you just have to go. I think our transition defense has to get a lot better, and we have to score more."

On their biggest concern about UW:
"Probably Isaiah Thomas' ability to create for everybody. He's a great player, and he gives everybody an opportunity to score."

On if he's ever played against the guys at UW or know them at all:

Harrison Barnes:
Harrison, did you watch Washington, and if so, what did you think? If not, what do you think about them and what problems do you think they can present for you guys?:
"I saw them play in the PAC-10 Conference Championship, and they're an extremely good team. Isaiah Thomas is a very, very good player, and we'll have the try to stop his penetration and the things that he can create off that."

After the game some of Washington players were saying that they would be looking to get out and run tomorrow. Is that a game that y'all want to play, a track meet something you would look forward to or trying to dictate a different pace?:
"We enjoyed that, and if they want to run, we'll match that intensity."

Is that something you expect tomorrow, seeing Washington what you know out of Washington, I know you haven't seen much of them, do you expect them to get out and run? Is that sort of their game plan?:
"They have really good shooters. I think three of them shoot over 40 percent. Off Isaiah Thomas's penetration he's going to find them looks. We have to definitely work on our transition defense, get back and get the shooters and contest."

Do you know anybody that plays for Washington, have you played against any of those guys? If so, when, where? And also playing here in Charlotte, is this like a home game for you guys?:
"I played with Isaiah Thomas at the Chris Paul Camp. He was an extremely gifted basketball player. He's got unbelievable basketball IQ. Being able to play in Charlotte will help us a little bit because we have a nice fan base. They have fans here, too, so it will be kind of like a neutral site."

A lot has been made coming into last night, how neither one of you or really no one except Tyler played in the NCAA Tournament. What has Coach Williams' message before and what was his message last night and today about how to handle this environment and handle a one and done potentially with the season each game on the line?:
"Coach tells us to go out there and play North Carolina basketball. If we do that, we'll have a chance to go back to go back and practice everyday. We try to play our style of basketball every night and compete."

Coach K was in here a few minutes ago and said John Henson is the most disruptive defensive player in the country. Can you talk about what you see playing with him every day and what makes him so disruptive?:
"John is a beast. He's definitely our anchor defensively, gets a lot of blocks. Gets most of our rebounds. He disrupts a lot of shots. We definitely rely on him a lot to anchor us defensively and because of him, that fuels our offense."

Is that any advantage playing a West Coast team who's body clock may be a little bit earlier than yours?:
"I think they've been down here for a few days. They might have adjusted by now. If not, hopefully it will work for our advantage and we'll be able to capitalize on that."

Harrison, just talk a little bit about the stretch you went through in the middle of the season and what you did to kind of right yourself.:
"The biggest thing was make sure I always got back in the gym. Throughout the beginning of the season and ACC season, I struggled with my shot and playing both ends of the floor, defensively and offensive, just knowing which spots to be in there. By constantly watching tape, getting back into the gym and listening to what my coaches were saying, that allowed me to get adjusted to this college level and I've been able to build off that."

What were you able to pinpoint that was causing those struggles? Was it simply an adjustment or was there something else?:
"Probably just team chemistry. I feel likes once I got more comfortable with my teammates, especially when Kendall, I was able to start. We knew where we could find each other. They knew how to get me in scoring position and I knew how to play off my teammates. I knew where John and Z like the ball. I knew how to cut to get the ball from Leslie and Dexter. Having experience with my teammates really helped me with that transition in the college game."

Dexter Strickland:
Dexter, just talk a little bit about how important you think Harrison and Kendall were or have been this season with you guys having the season that you had?:
"I think they're very important, especially them being freshmen, the type of play that they've been playing is key to us winning, and, you know, they've been stepping up big game. Harrison hitting big shots at the end of the game. Kendall stepping up, breaking records with 16 assists in the ACC. Little plays like that is going to be keys to us winning. They're doing a great job at it."

Dexter, after the week that you guys especially you had in Greensboro at the ACC Tournament, how important was it yesterday to not only get off to a good start, but you had two aggressive drives to the basket to score early twice. How important was that for you to put that behind you and get some momentum and move on?:
"It was very important. I think the last couple of games we haven't been bringing that intensity as we did in the first half yesterday. I think that's some of the things that we had to work on. We did a great job of it yesterday. We got to keep it up."

Did you do that deliberately to try to be aggressive and do that or just something that the game presented itself, you were able to do it?:
"Really both. You try to punch them in the mouth before they do the same to you. I think it was the key -- the key to yesterday was to get at them first before they get on us."

Do you know anybody that plays for Washington, have you played against any of those guys? If so, when, where? And also playing here in Charlotte, is this like a home game for you guys?:
"I'm familiar playing with Isaiah Thomas in AAU games and stuff like that. I pretty much know his game and know what he's capable of doing."

A lot has been made coming into last night, how neither one of you or really no one except Tyler played in the NCAA Tournament. What has Coach Williams' message before and what was his message last night and today about how to handle this environment and handle a one and done potentially with the season each game on the line?:
"Basically going out there and having that main focus. Just executing what coach wants very well. We have a little experience with being here, but I think we're doing a great job so far. So we got to keep it up."

Speaking of advantages, playing in Charlotte, is that something you guys kind of feed off the energy, or do you think there's an advantage to playing this close to your campus?:
"I think it is. We're two hours away and we know we have a lot of fans here supporting us. So the intensity of the crowd will help us get more intensity and play with a better sense of urgency."

Dexter, last night it seemed that the general feeling was and certainly with coach that he wasn't fully pleased with your effort but he was pleased as this team is still playing. How much better do you think this team has to play tomorrow to get rid of the mistakes that coach saw last night?:
"We have to play much better. I think Washington is a much better team and we got to get ready to play. Like I said earlier, we have to execute what coach wants better than we did yesterday and just play the Carolina way. I think we'll be all right."

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