ROY WILLIAMS & DEON THOMPSON
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Listen to Audio (10:50)
"It's a tough feeling right now, there's no question about that. It's been an unusual year for North Carolina basketball and been an unusual year for Deon Thompson, Roy Williams. I've lived a charmed life in the past, and this has been a little tougher.
"I'm so proud of our guys for coming to play in this National Invitation Tournament and playing so well up until today and getting us to this point.
We just didn't finish the job. Have to congratulate Dayton. I thought Brian's club was so active and so -- the intensity level was so high that you just have to congratulate them. We made a nice run early in the second half and just could never get over the hump. We got it to two and missed a pretty good shot and they would make a three on the other ends and I don't think we ever got it to within five. We would get a stop, I think three out of four possessions we got them to miss the first shot and chased down a long rebounder, battled for the loose ball and got the loose ball. It's hard to give a team as good as Dayton second opportunities.
"Told the kids in the locker room, it's the worst feeling as a coach because you are so inadequate to what you can say and take away, the pain and the sorrow that you have. But I've lived a charmed life because I'm doing what I want to do.
"Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard, senior walk-ons, but especially Deon and Marcus because of the relationship that I have with them, it's made Roy Williams a better person. It also makes it harder, there's no question about that. It makes it harder right now to know that you are not going to be able to coach these youngsters anymore.
"I've been very lucky in my life to coach people like Deon and Marcus and hopefully, Lord willing, I'll be able to continue doing it. He's probably got more important things to think about than what Roy is doing, but congratulate Dayton. Love their intensity and enthusiasm and how hard they have played. We have had teams like that in the past that have played really, really hard and very talented. Also I think we started playing hard once we got in this NIT. But I'm a lucky, lucky guy because I've coached Deon and Marcus."
Can you talk about what you said at halftime, you came out with the 12-1 run and got back in the game early in the second half?
"I told them I was disappointed in how tough we were in the first half. I told them they were much more intense than they were but there was still 20 minutes left to play. But I thought if we came out and played with the intensity and sense of urgency that we needed to that we would get right back in the game.
"And we did. We got right back in the game, and we just never got over the hump. We had one straight stretch there, I think we had three turnovers out of four possessions, and those kind of things always kill you.
"But you know, it was a nice run and I've always felt like with my teams, we always come back and I believed that since we started and I'll believe that in my last breath. But Dayton made some plays, and like I say, we got it to two and missed a good shot and they made a three and they really showed a lot of intensity and effort chasing down the long rebounds and loose balls. We couldn't get them -- we couldn't get stops by just giving them one shot. They would make two or three shots and we would eventually make one."
What do you think just getting to this game, will that ultimately change your outlook on the season when you look back?
"Probably. That's a hard question this soon after the game. No disrespect intended for the NIT. I mean, I love the people involved, the old coaches -- they don't want to be called former coaches but they are all old, let's be honest. I'm with them; I'm just not retired yet.
"My dreams and goals are not to play in the NIT, and that's not any disrespect intended and I hope people don't take it that way. It's not what my dreams and goals are.
"I'll have to wait and see. This was the hardest year I've ever had coaching, there's no question about that. I didn't do a very good job with this team and that is hard for a coach to say, but I can say it because I believe it. Time will tell.
"I know this run was extremely important to me because it gave Marcus and Deon a better feel; it showed our kids the sense of urgency necessary to be successful. I love this run because it showed the effort and resolve and positive things that happen, and I think that was extremely important to me. So, from that viewpoint, I'm going to appreciate what we learned from it."
Now that you've played these last five games, what did it mean to you to be able to play these extra five games in the NIT when you didn't know three weeks ago if you would be able to?
"It starts with the coach, just the fact that he would allow us -- even though a lot of things didn't go our way this season and every day he continued to show up with the attitude that we are going to work. He gave us no other options but to continue to work, and so it started right there. And it just continued to trickle down and guys continued to work and we just went on a little run here and didn't end the way we wanted it to."
Being that that's your last game as a senior, what's your plan going into next season, is it the draft or continuing in basketball?
"Definitely it's been a dream for me to play basketball on a college level. Being a kid from Torrance, California, when I was 15, I never really thought that I would be here in this place where I'm at now, being able to see the things that I've seen and played and the places I've been able to play. I'm definitely just going to continue to chase the dream."
Listen to Audio (4:15)
Does making the NIT championship game change anything?
"Nope. I'm still disappointed. Still didn't make it as far as we wanted to."
Does it lessen the severity of that disappointment any?
"It was nice that we pulled together and we played a lot better for a couple of games, but at the end of the day, looking at the big picture, it's still not where we wanted to be."
What was going through your head at the end of the game?
"Nothing. It's still pretty blank right now."
So has it not hit you that this is your final game?
“Not really, not yet. Some little part of me thinks that we’re going to go back and take a couple of weeks off and then we’ll get back together again. Another part of me knows that’s not true, but I’m going to try to stick with the first one for now.”
Listen to Audio (5:33)
How does this NIT run change your perception of how this season has gone?
"I think this NIT run definitely is a way for us to just look on the bright side, just because we had an opportunity to play again after such a disappointing regular season. I think guys really benefited from this run."
Does it make the season any less disappointing getting to the NIT championship game?
"Not in my eyes, because I knew if we got to the NIT, the only way I would feel some sort of satisfaction is if we won it. The whole run was great, don't get me wrong, we got a lot of exposure and a lot of guys got some extra minutes and I was glad to be playing again, but when you're in a tournament, you really want to win. Not just going to a tournament, but trying to win. I'm disappointed and I can only try to get better from here."