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Roy Williams Media Day Q&A
Release: 10/11/2016


Head Coach Roy Williams


On how he’s feeling post-knee surgery:

“Probably really well. The problem is I listened to those people that said, ‘Oh, I played golf in six months after having it.’ And I said, ‘I’m going to do it in five.’ We’ve had six full practices. I haven’t hurt anything like I did last year. The first 42 years of my life as a coach, I never sat down on the basketball court one time. Then last year, I was sitting down about every 15 or 20 minutes for, as Marcus [Paige] said 30 seconds at a time. So far this year, I haven’t sat down except during water breaks. It does feel better. It’s been a long process. It’s close to four and a half months. I started playing golf again on August 11, been able to play. It keeps getting a little bit better and a little bit better. It is better, and it’s enabling me to make my job a lot more fun.”

On moving past the end of last season:

“I go through a grieving process every year. Last year, it was a little different because you get so close, and you have a kid that makes a shot that would’ve gone down as maybe the most famous shot in Carolina history if we’d have gotten into overtime and won. There is some grieving because it’s so close, but no cigar. I go through the same thing every year. It didn’t hurt anymore because you also have the satisfaction that 351 teams start playing, and you were one of the last two that played. I know that we win 10 games in a row down the stretch, win the regular season, win the conference tournament, and make it to the national championship game. I thought we had a great year, but it’s just like somebody pulls your heart out and taunts you by shaking it in front of you. But you’ve got to get over it. I have not watched the game. I may never. I did watch the last play because SportsCenter did some special on it. He came down, and he made it about six out of 10 times. I was pleased at that moment, pleased with how we guarded it. We needed to be a little more involved, all five guys, but sometimes you just have to congratulate the other team and say they made a big shot. Nobody hurt like me and those guys in the locker room. I don’t spend my life awake at night wishing I’d done this or done that, even after wins or losses, either one. It hurt, and it hurt us more than anybody ever. But at the same time, you have to go on with your life, and realize what you did accomplish. We reached every one of our goals except one. That’s a pretty good year.”

On how his players can respond after last season’s loss:

“I told them in the locker room to use this as fuel, to work harder in the offseason. Let’s use this as fuel to motivate. Use this as fuel to put in that extra time, to know that we were that close, but we didn’t get what we wanted. I told them, ‘Brice is the best rebounder in the ACC. Look around. Does anybody see Brice out here?’ So I’ve used some references like that, more to focus and build on what we’re doing. I have more desire and more motivation in my little finger than anybody I’ve ever known in my life.”

On filling Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige’s roles:

“I did talk to them about rebounding the basketball. The scoring that Brice gave was really something, 39 in one game for example. But his rebounding and blocked shots, perhaps, were even more important. How do you say that something is more important than 39 points in a game? You can’t really say that. Isaiah [Hicks], Kennedy [Meeks], they’ve got to really step up and do some better things. Luke [Maye] has got to step up. Tony Bradley has got to give us some of those enthusiastic, young moments of where he can produce against big time teams. And in Marcus, the leadership was really unique. For four years, you could make statements about whether he was our best player or our second best player, all four years. To be able to do it by example, everybody trusted Marcus so much. Everybody had so much respect for him. How do you get that respect? It’s by being able to handle touch situations, be able to go 1 for 22 in that bad stretch and to be able to step back and still have the confidence of everybody on our team. That’s something that has to be earned. I think Nate [Britt], Isaiah, and Kennedy have done a nice job of leading us so far. The good thing about is they have three guys right behind that group that have those leadership qualities too in Theo [Pinson], Justin [Jackson] and Joel [Berry]. Particularly Joel because of the way he performed last year.”

On little things he misses about Johnson and Paige:

“I miss everything about them. Even Brice, and I stayed on his case probably harder than anybody I’ve ever coached. On game nights, he played. The most points scored in any ACC game last year was 39. That was Brice. The most rebounds was 23. That was Brice. The most blocked shots was 8. That was Brice. I’m not laying awake at night worrying about that last game, but I do miss those guys a great deal because when I walked out on the court and saw those two guys out there, I felt better immediately. They had proven that they could play, and as the course of the season went on last year, I felt even better because of the way that Brice was doing it on game nights.”

On having so many returners:

“Brice and Marcus are not just two bodies for us. They were our two best players, the best defender, the best outside scorer, the best inside scorer, the best rebounder, the guy that dominated things inside around the rim on the defensive end. Those other guys have really got to step up. It’s not just two out of eight. It’s your two best, maybe you could say your two best in every part of the game. It’s not just a numbers game. Those six guys were in the games at crunch time, so I think that’s really going to help them. But now, they’ve got to step up there when the defense is aimed at them.”

On the adjustment of the freshmen:

“It remains to be seen. Everybody’s got a great attitude the first week. There are 351 teams. Everybody’s all in the first week. How do you handle adversity? How do you handle mistakes? How do you handle the little aches and pains? Freshmen were all king of the castle, and they’re not now. They’ve really had a good attitude and really done some nice things. I think all of them will have a chance to play for us.”

On who will take over the leadership role:

“The three seniors have done a nice job, but those three juniors are good role models too. Everybody listens to what they say. Nobody is at the level of Marcus yet, but you’re hoping that you see that. I think that we’ll have to see who’s going to do it and who’s going to handle the adversity.”

On Isaiah Hicks’ choice not to go through the draft process:

“I was surprised by it. I said, ‘Hey, this doesn’t mean we’re running you out. I just want you to sign this paper.’ I’d already completed it for him. All he had to do was write his name in, and he didn’t want to do that. He said, ‘Coach, I don’t think you should try to do that unless you’re 100 percent sure that’s what you want to do, and I’m 100 percent sure that I’m staying in school. I want to get my degree, I want to keep playing.’  Some other coaches have used as recruiting that I handcuff (my players) and don’t let them leave. It’s far from the truth. With Isaiah, he’s enjoying what he’s doing. He knows he’s going to be alright later on.”

On what he sees in Theo Pinson:

“I think he has a tremendous attitude, wonderful kid, one I really enjoy coaching. He’s worked really hard, particularly on his shot more so than he has on anything in the past.”

On what he expects from Justin Jackson:

“The ball going in. Every time he shoots it, I think it’s going in. I want him to be more aggressive, get to the free throw line more. This year, probably for Justin and Theo, we’re going to ask them to take more of that missed rebounding load with Brice being gone. Those two guys have got to rebound the basketball more.”

On the offensive balance of the team:

“We were pretty balanced last year, except the focus had to be Brice and Marcus. Joel was in double figures. Kennedy was close to double figures. Isaiah was close to double figures. Theo could score it sometimes. I think Joel and Justin will probably take the load early, or Isaiah because we’ll give him plenty of chances. I hope we have six or seven guys that average around double figures too. “

On how much he believes the freshmen will produce:

“It’s hard to say after just six practices. I think that Tony’s probably got more of the feeling from everybody else, and he’s going to be able to help us more. We’re a little thin. We only have four big guys period. There’s some time there that’s going to be available to someone. We’ll probably go small a little more often this year than we did last year. I think Tony has probably shown more ability. Seventh [Woods] was banged up all summer, wasn’t able to do too much. Brandon Robinson’s been shooting the ball pretty well.”

On his approach to player’s involving themselves in political protests:

“I think we have a very significant problem throughout our entire country, a lot of different things. I told them (the team), ‘I’ll be with you. I may disagree, but I’ll be with you. But don’t surprise me.’ I was very pleased that the first game after that, all of my guys stood together in the end zone and did it together. If somebody came in and said they wanted to do that, I would try to understand what he’s saying and give him my point of you, and then hopefully a decision would be made.”

On the ACC’s decision to move to 20 conference games in 2019-20 season:

“We’ve got a wonderful group of basketball coaches in this league. It’s well respected around the country. You heard about it the same time I did. I did not appreciate that. It’s on the schedule. We’ll play whatever’s on the schedule. I did not appreciate it, never will appreciate the way it was done.” 



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