The biggest thing that’s been helpful, and we’re not where we want to be, is just trying to get healed up a little bit. As you remember, Justin Watts got hurt in the game and has not practiced since. I really don’t think that we’ll have him for Miami and that’s a shame because they go small a lot, so their 4-man, John Henson is going to be running around the 3-point line trying to chase him around. It would have been a better option for us to just have some opportunity to go small against them.
"Leslie [McDonald] did not play in the game and did not practice until [Monday], but he did practice [on Monday]. They’re going to take more X-rays [on Tuesday], and if everything looks good, he will be able to play. And Reggie Bullock had not practiced until [Monday] because after the game, his knee got a great deal of swelling in it. But he did go [on Monday] and unless it blooms up again after practice, he will be able to go.”
Is Reggie’s issue the same knee that he had problems with in high school?
“Yes… I think he’s already missed one game for that knee, if I’m not mistaken. This time I hated it because he had 16 points in the first half, ended with 18 for the game and was crucial for us in the win over Clemson. So you hate for the youngster to have that kind of success and then have an injury right on top of it. It is what it is, but he was able to practice [on Monday].”
On the team improving its rebounding:
“We didn’t rebound very well against Clemson. Clemson had seven more possessions than we did, and in basketball, you get it, then I get it, then you get it and I get it, so the only way to get more possessions is to rebound the basketball. We had seven fewer than Clemson did, but in the Virginia Tech game, we had seven more than they did, so you like that stat a lot better. But we work on it, we talk about it, we have a little punishment every day if you don’t box out. We run to halfcourt and back – nothing strenuous, but just to remind them of what we’re doing. We work on it a heck of a lot and hopefully we’ll get better at it because late in the Clemson game, we had a guard miss a box-out and Demontez Stitt got it and put it back in. We should have gotten the ball with a three-point lead, but instead we got it with a one-point lead.”
What is one thing that this team needs to improve on the most, and are there any players that have impressed you with their play this season?
“I’ve been impressed by a lot of kids during certain time periods. I’m not going to say anyone is playing better than I ever thought they would play. If I had to pick one thing, it would be really hard. We’ve got to stop turning the ball over needlessly, but you’ve got to shoot the ball in the basket. If you make shots, and I jokingly say it but it’s so true, everything looks a heck of a lot better. We played Texas and we have a one-point lead. We threw it into Tyler [Zeller] and he was double-teamed and threw it back out and we shot a three and it didn’t go in. If it’s some of the guys that we’ve had in the past few years, if it’s Danny Green or Ty Lawson or Raymond Felton or somebody like that, they make that shot and now we have a four-point lead with 44 seconds to go. Now that’s a pretty good deal.
“But it would be a little bit of those two things. We need to stop turning the ball over – I’d like to see us do a better job of that. And I’d like to see us shoot the ball better. In practice, we shoot it so well sometimes, it’s ridiculous.”
You thought at the beginning of the season that this would be a good shooting team—
“And I still think it will. The other night Reggie made some threes. Leslie’s made some threes in games and Harrison’s made some threes. Harrison has played awful in a couple of games, but down the stretch, the kid is not afraid to take and not afraid to make a tough shot, and that’s a pretty good quality to have.”
On Tyler Zeller’s struggles in recent weeks:
“It’s a little bit of an image for us that we want to get the ball inside and we want to get it inside all of the time. That’s the plan. He’s got to move the ball a little bit quicker when he’s doubled in the post, and yet when you really look at it and throw out the low in whatever game that was and the high of 27 against Kentucky, there’s not that big of variance… We would like for him to score more. We would like for him to be an immediate presence in the low post to give us an option immediately – him and John Henson and Justin Knox, all three of them.
“Because our great teams have always had that, whether it be Sean May or Tyler Hansbrough or whoever giving us someone to throw the ball into the post immediately, and it drags the whole defense in and everything is more open from the outside. But I do believe we have been working on it most every day in practice up until this past week of Tyler being doubled in the post, and John and Justin being doubled in the post, and when the ball comes in, to either make a quick move or throw it out.
“And the other thing is that the reason we throw you the ball when there is one guy on you is that we want you to score. So be more aggressive in trying to score. We would like for him to score more, there’s no question, and we would for him and John and Justin to get the ball in there quicker to help us start.”
Hey Coach. I just wanted to clarify something. I was one of the callers last week that you lambasted on your postgame show for criticizing your team. I wasn’t criticizing your team; I was more criticizing you and giving you my opinion on who I thought should be in the starting rotation. But I thought it was very uncharacteristic for you to act that way in the postgame press conference.
“Alright, I have no problem with that, Larry… I’m naive. You’ve got to understand this. I’m naïve as all get out. I’m corny as all get out. I think North Carolina fans ought to cheer for North Carolina people and not criticize. I was just crushed when T.J. Yates’s picture went up in the Smith Center and they booed that kid. I didn’t like that. And the thing is, I thought last week I sat here and took it very well. No one knows our team like our coaching staff. No one. If Dean Smith were to come in and watch practice every day, he wouldn’t know my team as well as I know the team.
“Whether it was uncharacteristic or not for me to do that, everybody has got to realize that I’m human. That if you say something that upsets me and that I don’t think is fair, then I’ll try to swallow it for 24 hours and then somebody said something at the press conference.. Do I wish that I would have just let it go and not said a word? You’re darn right I do. I wish I had not said one word. I wish that I would have just kept swallowing it. I hate that I said that. What I hate even more is that I categorized people when I said fans, because our fans don’t upset me. My gosh, the fans in the Smith Center this year have been unbelievable. They’ve helped us in games. North Carolina fans have just been phenomenal.
“But it is, and people have just got to accept it, I’m not perfect. Never will be and never have been. But if somebody says something that is not fair… Somebody told me Mack Brown used to say, ‘Well, how many times have you been to practice?’ But was I wrong, Larry? You’re darn right I was wrong. I shouldn’t have said it because it came out that I was criticizing fans.”
"Roy Williams Live" airs Monday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.