"We're happy that we're still playing. I enjoy San Antonio. I haven't enjoyed the way we've played here a few times, so hopefully it will be better this time... But it's an exciting time of year for everybody."
The fact that we get to cover you guys and North Carolina Central here, I know there is a unique relationship that you have with LeVelle [Moton[. Could you talk about that and how it's kind of grown over the years? Even when you played in 2009, LeVelle said that you fed them a pregame meal and then beat them by 50.
"Beating them by 50 was a lot more fun to me than feeding them. I can tell you that. But I think I'm right on this, I think that was LeVelle's first year, too, his first game. Just a wonderful human being. A guy that I really enjoy.
"When I first came back, I'd see him around a lot. He'd work out with some of our guys, David Noel, those guys loved him to death. I knew who he was because I checked as soon as I saw him the first time and tried to find out. But I really did understand him a little bit at that time. I didn't think he had any personal thing he was trying to gain from it. I think he just loved basketball and loved helping guys.
"Over the years it has developed into a very good friendship, and I have a great deal of respect for what he's done. I really, during the course of the season I'll text him two or three times. He'll text me back two or three times. This was a funny one. I even called him the other day, I guess, on Monday and said I don't know how many people you're planning on taking.
"I don't know how many people we're planning on taking, but we could probably help our budgets if we went on the same plane and could get the NCAA to give us the difference, money for your budget and my budget kind of thing. I told him we'd flip to see who got the exit row seat. But he's really a good guy, and one that I think is really, really good for basketball, and really good for young people. Just don't tell him I bragged on him so much. Yeah, don't tell him."
Roy, I think that you said the other day in the press conference that you haven't watched PC a lot. I'm sure you've watched a little more in the last couple of days. What's stood out?
"You know, it's crazy because I almost tried to ask myself that same question, which means you and I are on the same wave length, so I feel sorry for you to begin with. Then it hit me that the clear thing was their whole game. I saw them play one of the tapes and they played man-to-man almost the entire game game. Another tape I watched they played zone the entire game. They rebound the ball well. They defend, they shoot, they can run, they can slow it down. So it was. It was the whole package was the thing that really impressed me the most.
"You have to look at Cotton because he's been so successful, but I like everybody. He plays six guys, basically. Of the five starters there are not one of those guys that I wouldn't love to have on my team, and I think they'd be really important to our team. Ed [Cooley] is another one of those guys that I really enjoy. He's done a fantastic job at Providence, and he's a very small image of himself from what he used to be.
"But the totality of his game you heard it about Tiger Woods at the start that he had the whole package. When I look at Providence, there is really not any weakness. They really have the whole package. They had some games throughout the course of the year that they didn't play as well, just like we did. But man alive, did they play great down the stretch. They beat Creighton two out of three, and Creighton's really, really good."
Just one more quick question about LeVelle. You've been through this 24 times as a head coach?
"Yeah, I think so."
So aside from the coaching and the basketball part of it, what advice would you give him in terms of going through this experience and kind of being able to appreciate it? Because it is so overwhelming, I imagine, the first time you go through it.
"Yeah, the first time I went through it, I can remember all of it. I mean, we were playing in Atlanta first, second round, and I can remember all of it. I don't think I took the time to enjoy it, and that would be my advice to LeVelle or anybody doing it the first time or the second time is enjoy the heck out of it.
"I've been very lucky, 24 out of 26 years. The first year we weren't eligible, and one year we didn't play well enough to be eligible, but I would. I would advise all those guys to enjoy it. Don't get caught up in any pressure kind of thing, coach your rear end off and try to get your kids to play as hard as they can. But enjoy the moment, enjoy the journey. I'm a little confident or cocky, depends on whether you like me or not which one you would use, I guess.
"But I said this yesterday in an interview that my favorite day in coaching is when you're at the Final Four and you're coaching your team in front of the public because there are only four of you still working and everybody else is sitting in the stands. If I was starting out again right now, I would try to realize that a lot of my good friends in coaching may not have made this tournament, and LeVelle has hundreds of friends and there are a lot of those guys that are good guys that aren't going to be able to enjoy it as much. So I would push him to enjoy it."
We were in the locker room talking to the guys. We were talking about the last four games, two ugly wins and two losses. What has to be fixed and corrected? First thing they said is rediscover the passion and energy we need to play with. Is that what you've tried to rediscover in practices?
"I've preached all year a greater sense of urgency. We had it for Michigan State, Louisville, Kentucky, the big kind of games. We didn't have it in several games. We got to a point where guys, if we don't get it for every game we're going to be sitting around at the end of the year. I think they realized that and bought into it for 12 straight wins. I'm not trying to say anything negative about Virginia Tech or Notre Dame. We didn't play as well in those games, but we still won. But Duke and Pittsburgh, if you don't play well, you're not going to win those games.
"I think that in the game of basketball, if it you don't have a sense of urgency, there is a great chance that you still may not win, but you have no chance if you don't. I do think the kids understand that even more now after the last two games, after the last two weeks. Technically we've got to rebound. We've got to run. We've got to defend. We've got to do all those things. But I think it's just the passion. You have to have more passion now, and I think they understand that."
Roy, is that maybe what you just said a reflection that this has been a frustrating group to coach at times?
"A frustrating group to coach? Oh, my gosh, no. All the bull---- around it has been frustrating, and you don't have to use that same terminology if you don't want to. That's okay too. Most of the time I say B.S. I've got such a young group they don't even know what B.S. is.
"No, it's been a marvelous group. If it hadn't been for my team, I would have jumped off the top of the building. My team is the one that was the savior throughout the whole season, and since the off-season. It's been a tough time around Chapel Hill. But my group of kids? Oh, my gosh, I wouldn't trade them for winning the lottery. So I apologize to my team if that was what you took from it, because that's not what I intend it to be. I even like the referees better than the stuff that went off -- that stuff going on off the court."
With Marcus, and off the top of my head, I can't think of many point guards in the ACC that score the way that Cotton does. Marcus carries such a heavy offensive load for you guys, does he have to balance his abilities in this one?
"Yeah, but I tell you what, people don't give him credit defensively. He is really good. I go out on a limb and say this because I haven't checked it. I would not be surprised, is maybe the best way to say it, if Marcus has not won our defensive player of the game than any point guard I've ever had. I would not be shocked at all, because he is really good defensively.
"So he does have a load offensively. He does have a load handling the basketball. He does have a load defense, he does have a load in the leadership thing. But he's really, really good defensively."