On the win over East Tennessee State this past Saturday:
“It was a victory that we expected to get and our kids had been studying for finals and we were pretty pleased with how they played the first half for sure. It’s pretty hard to play when you’re ahead 42-12 and in the second half we kind of coasted, but the first half we were flying around pretty good and sharing the ball. I think we had, I could be wrong, 30 assists on 31 field goals so that means almost every field goal came off of somebody helping them out.”
How does this team lead the country in assists per game considering there is no dominant assist man like there has been in the past?
“I think our players need a little more help. We had some guys who could just go get a basket by themselves. A lot of guys like that and I wish we had some of them back, but I think they’ve bought in what coach [Williams] is talking to them about. Relying off of each other as a team and so forth so I think we’re doing a much better job of sharing the basketball, not as much dribbling, setting screens, helping each other our get baskets.”
Is it tough to figure out if you've got better as a team when you win by such a large margin?
“I think that when we’re in finals, we just want to beat somebody and we hope we have an opponent that we can beat. I think that a lot of you people in here have been through finals and you understand the drain it is on your kids and yourself and they’ve got finals this week also so I think you just want to get that game over with. Probably in the back of their mind they know that we play East Carolina next Saturday, but we didn’t practice [on Monday]. We had a kid’s clinic. We had 600 youngsters sign up. I would guess 500 showed up today so we ran and shot for a while and did some things and then we signed autographs for the kids. Basically our kids were running out of there going to see tutors and going to study tonight, because as you know if you don’t make the grades you’re not going to be playing next semester anyway.”
How can J.P. Tokoto most effectively continue to use his athleticism in a positive way?
“He probably has the quickest feet of anybody on our team. He’s got the quickest hands so defensively he’ll make plays. The ball going out of bounds that no one else can make throwing it back in. He made a pass to the student body, if you were at the game the other night, that was impossible. He was facing [one] way and he threw it [another] way and it wasn’t just a wraparound. It was like some move that I’ve never seen. A Milwaukee move. He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s probably our best jumper. He probably jumps 40 inches I would say and, again, he got some playing time the other night.
“He’s got a jammed thumb right now and I think that limits him a lot shooting the basketball, but he’s going to get more and more minutes. I think all our freshmen are doing a good job and they’re progressing, but he is quite an athlete. He’s fun to watch in practice too.”
Joel James was in a boot after the game on Saturday. He said he simply rolled his ankle. Are there any long term issues expected?
“No. Not at all. He’s fine. We practiced the next day. With exams going on we practiced Sunday evening at seven o’clock actually.”
How do you think Brice Johnson is developing? He’s been a popular player with fans.
“You want him to start? [Jones] told me before we started everybody wanted Brice to start so I thought I’d put it on. Brice has been about a point per minute when he gets in there. He gets in there and scores real quick. He’s got great touch. He’s got great instincts around the goal. He doesn’t go as hard as we’d like for him to go all the time and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does start the next couple of games. We’ve started Desmond [Hubert]. We’ve started Joel [James] so he could start easily. He can score some points and we’re going to need points this year. Where are they going to come from when you lose 50 or 60 points from last year's team and he’s got a great knack for the basketball. The basketball seems to come his way and he always catches it where he’s in a position to score and that’s not easy to do.”
If teams play off Dexter Strickland, how can he still effectively get to the rim?
“Dexter is an athlete. He’s probably not as quick as he was before his surgery but he’s getting stronger every week. I think we’ve noticed his quickness improve even since the season started, but he doesn’t stop very often once he starts to the goal and there better be about five of them back there or he’s going to challenge them.
“If they play off of him, he’s getting more intelligent. He’s a senior. If they play off him Coach might say, ‘Why do you think they’re playing off of you Dexter?’ ‘I don’t know,’ but he probably does. ‘Well, they probably want you to shoot it, Dexter, because your strength is going to the goal so be a little more patient. Don’t just fire it up because they’re playing off of you.’
“There again, if we get into that movement and the defense is having to chase people around and we’re moving then it will open it up more. It’s hard to drive thought when they play off of you. I can say that from experience.”
What do you look for in practice to see if a player is improving?
“Well, you can tell being at practice everyday how the team is coming probably more than individuals. We do individual work the first part of practice, but there is a definite chemistry. There is a definite flow to a practice. Coach Williams is very business-like at practice. He picks his spots when he’s really going to get after them, but you can just see we stay after the same things day after day after day and when we get it down and we add a little bit to the same thing and make it a little more detailed. He’s not about whistles and bells and making it really fun for everybody like a bunch of fifth graders out there. We’re trying to do it right so he is very by the book. Here’s practice and if you look at our practice you’ll say ‘Man, you were doing that two months ago.’ Well we were two months ago but we weren’t very good at it and now we’re better at it.
“Our guys individually and new guys like four freshman, they have to learn how to work and really work because they’ve been able to get by, a lot of them. There is not too many Tyler Hansbrough’s out there that just come in here breathing fire so as they learn how to work then the practices get better. The competition gets better and all those things.”
James Michael McAdoo leads the team in turnovers (30). Why do you think that is and how can he cut down on those?
“Too big of a hurry once he catches the basketball. He’s got to slow down a little bit. He shoots it quick and he’s just in too big a hurry to score so when he slows down a little bit and the game, even though it’s fast, slows down to him, because he knows he needs to score for us. We’ve got to have scoring from him and so I think that will take care of itself.”
"Roy Williams Live" airs Monday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.