“You have different emotions going into the tournament each and every year. Right now, the biggest emotion we have is just trying to get healthy. And I think that what we have to do each and every day is try to determine how we can make some changes to be able to play the best in that one game, because it’s one game and you’re done.”
What can you share about Ty Lawson’s status?
“Not a lot. Yesterday, we just had a meeting at the house. Wanda cooked dessert for everybody. We watched the pairings for the selection show together, and we let them go. Today, we brought them in and just did some shooting drills. Ty participated in a couple of those – I think we had three different things to do, and he did two of the shooting drills. [He] didn’t look very good doing it. Bottom line is I don’t know. And I’ve told him and the team that if he can go through half of practice [on Tuesday] and basically the whole practice on Wednesday, I will play him on Thursday. And if he can’t do that, I won’t play him on Thursday.”
How are you able to get your teams to regroup coming off conference tournament losses?
“I think coaching sometimes gets too much credit. I know it gets too much credit and too much blame both. But our staff has been to the Final Four six times – five of those times we lost in the conference tournament. My first year at Kansas and my first year at North Carolina were the only times we lost the first game in the conference tournament. We’ve always won at least one game.
“But each team is different, and I’ll never forget it – in ’90-’91, we finished tied for the regular season conference championship [and] we lose to Nebraska in the semifinals of Big Eight conference tournament. I was challenging the team to get together – ‘We’ve got another big fish that we’ve got a chance to eat on the way out.’ Mark Randall, who was our best player, stood up and challenged everybody. He said, ‘If you blankety-blanks will get in gear and do what this guy says… I’m going to do everything he says and if you do everything he says, we’ve got a chance to win the blessed thing.’
“And three weeks later we played Duke for the national championship and came out of nowhere… You build your momentum once you get in the tournament.”
When the players decided to pull their names of the NBA Draft last year, people thought they were doing it to come back and win it all. Do you still see that same fire in their eyes?
“Well, a lot of people say that, and that’s completely off-base. The kids did not come back to win a national championship. They chose to come back because one, Tyler [Hansbrough] just enjoys college basketball, enjoys being at the University of North Carolina, enjoys being a Tar Heel. That’s the reason he came back. He has a dream to win a national championship, there is no question.
“Ty Lawson came back because everybody said he would be drafted in the first round, but nobody stepped forward and said, ‘We’re going to take you.’ If they had, I think he would have gone. If the Indiana Pacers had said they were going to draft him with the 11th draft pick, I think he would have gone. Wayne Ellington and Danny Green came back because no one said that they would take them in the first round.
“And what it’s done is that it’s probably put more pressure on the kids, because everyone is like, ‘Oh, they came back to win a national championship.’ Hey, if somebody’s going to give them $11 million dollars, they were going to take the $11 million dollars. Just like you would and everybody in this room would. So it’s not true and I’ll say this – they came back and now their dream is to win the national championship.”
On rebuilding Danny Green’s confidence after the ACC Tournament:
“Danny is one of our more confident players, and yet, he was pretty shook this weekend, there’s no question about that. But it’s also how crazy college basketball is. We have a kid from Florida State who was shooting 27 percent from the 3-point line for the year and he makes three out of six against us. And we have Danny Green, who’s shooting 44 percent from the 3-point line for the year, go 1-for-12 from the 3-point line in the two games.
“That’s the reason you’ve heard me say before that a friend of mine one time told me that I was stupid for putting my life on how 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds reacted under pressure, so when I went to college, he just said, ‘Congratulations – you’ve only moved it to 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds.’
“But it is what it is. It’s college basketball. Danny and I met individually for 45 minutes yesterday and had a great conversation. I don’t know if it will work, but I’m trying to do some things and we’ll see how it is. But he’s a wonderful kid who has gone through a lot adversity and if his first shot goes in Thursday, there will be a lot of Tar Heel people that will feel awfully good.”
"Roy Williams Live" airs Monday evenings on Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates.