On the point guard play against Boston College:
“That was a spectacular game offensively for both of them. Larry [Drew] was really good defensively. He missed what, in my opinion, was an easy box-out that gave them a basket and I took him out there for a second to think about boxing out and then put him back in. But he had nine assists and one turnover. Kendall [Marshall] just does a really nice job running the club. He had six assists and two turnovers. If you get that kind of play out of the point guard spot and you can go 15-3 [assist-to-turnover ratio], that leads to 27 assists and nine turnovers , which is our best assist-error ratio of the year.”
Coach, it looks like the team is having more fun on the court now –
“It’s easy to have fun when the dadgum ball is going in the basket. It really is. We had some fun Saturday against N.C. State when we started making a lot of shots, and then had some on Tuesday when we made shots. But I think this team really has good relationships throughout the entire team. Everybody talks about chemistry and nobody knows what that is. I think these guys have a good feeling for each other and for each other will do in the basketball game. We can screw it up and they don’t maliciously point their fingers at each other and start blaming. Human nature is that you do that a little bit, but they accept that responsibility.
“They are sharing the basketball and doing some good things. They’re covering up for each other defensively, which I think is always a big help for us. But when you’re struggling and you’re not playing well and you have to grind it out, there’s not time to be smiling. But when you’re playing like we did against N.C. State and like we did against Boston College, going on some of those runs really does make it a lot of fun. I’ve said this forever – it all starts on the defensive end of the floor. If you get turnovers, that of course leads to run-outs, but if you force bad shots, that all of a sudden leads to running your break as well.”
On UNC’s shot-blocking ability:
“At times, we’ve been really good defensively. Tyler [Zeller] and John [Henson] give you that shot blocking ability inside which is something that… I’ll give you this example. John blocked seven shots against N.C. State, but they missed two or three more just wondering where he was. And then [on Tuesday], Joe Trapani went up between Tyler and John and was sort of looking around and he missed a dead lay-up. So you get those when you block somebody’s shot and that holds your opponent’s field goal percentage down, but when you have that threat of a shot block, it makes them miss some of the other ones.”
On the freshmen’s development:
“I think they are playing better… With each and every game, with each and every week of practice, with every month that goes by, they have all of those experiences to draw from. They tried to do some things that were not successful and they know to try to stay away from that. I think the experience factor gets in there a little bit more, and they have guys like Tyler Zeller and Larry Drew and Justin Watts to help them through some of the tough times, either on the court or off the court. ‘Don’t just get upset about the way Coach says something, listen to what he says.’ The experience that those guys have I think really helps the [freshmen]. We’re still going to have some adversity – that’s what college basketball is. But each and every day, they’re trying to get better. I’m big on this – do not walk off that court unless you’ve done something to make yourself better that day.”
How do you orchestrate practices this time of year to keep players fresh and free of injury?
“You can’t do anything about injuries. You can walk across the street and get hit by something, so you can’t do anything about that. But I think we do try to make [practices] demanding and we do try to make them competitive. Every coach has got something –you’ve got that whistle around your neck – and you can say, ‘Everybody on the end line.’
"Al Wood said at one point when I was doing a conditioning program, ‘You’re the most powerful man I’ve ever seen. I walk in here and you’ve got a stopwatch in one hand and a whistle around your neck and I hate everything about you.’ But our guys are competitive and we do have some split-squad competitions. Everything we do in practice is competitive, so somebody has to run at the end of it. So we have winners and losers in everything we do.”
How are you able to remember every play of every game?
“That’s just what you do. I can’t explain it. This is the epitome or the stupidity of it – I can name the five starters that played for Hendersonville High School against me in 1968. And they don’t even know who the crap Roy Williams is, but I can remember all five of those guys.
“You’re into it. It’s not something that you’re just watching casually. You’re living through every experience. Every dribble, every pass is important. It’s meaningful. The next day it’s easier because we get the tape and go over it 2-3-4-10 times, but after a game, I can most of the time remember every play. The problem that I have, and I do it intentionally, I don’t look at the score. So when somebody says that this happened at such-and-such a score, that never helps me. At the end of the game, when time and score situations are important, I’ll look at the clock and what the score is. But I can remember a lot of plays from when I played 100 years ago because I loved it so much. But now, it’s that you’re into it. Something could be going on around the court and very seldom do I know what’s going on.”
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