March 19, 2009

Tar Heel Postgame Q and A

GREENSBORO --- North Carolina was first at the postgame media podium after eliminating Radford 101-58 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament's South Region. After making an opening statement, the UNC players and head coach were made available for questions.

Head Coach Roy Williams: "Needless to say, we're still happy we're playing. I thought we played the first half really, really well. Except for a couple of three or four probably bad shots. One charging foul and about three bad shots. Other than that I thought we played really well in the first half."

"I think the pace of the game, and the number of big guys that we could run in there, perhaps, tired them out a little bit. I don't think their big guy (Artsiom Parakhouski) was nearly as effective as I've seen him on tape. That's what we try to do all the time is try to make the pace and stamina a question mark."

"But we didn't shoot the ball nearly as well as we wanted to. We missed a bunch of easy ones, but I was pleased with about everything we did. You take away some of the bad decisions on the shots in the first half, and we feel very fortunate to continue playing, and we're glad to be here playing in the game on Saturday."

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Now that you've broken the scoring record in this conference that's had so many great players, what does this mean to you, and how do you feel?

Tyler Hansbrough: "Well, it means a lot. You know, I look back and think of all the players that I've watched when I was young and in the ACC. All of those, and for me to top all of the scorers in that league, it's special. It's an honor. But still, at the same time, you know, I came here to win the game today, and I didn't want to focus on individual goals."

Q. Can you tell me, you had a timeout there before you had the free throws to make it. Can you tell me what's going through your mind there and whether you noticed the standing ovation you got when you made the one to break it?

Hansbrough: "Well, (during) the time outs, I was like, Just shoot your free throws like you always shoot them.' So I tried to block everything out. But once I got the standing ovation, I thought about waving, but no disrespect to anybody, but I just wanted, again, to stay focused on the game."

Q. You look about like you did as a freshman as far as mobility and everything. Probably as good as you have in a couple of years with all the injuries that you've been battling. Did you feel like that? Did you feel 100 percent, or as close to it as you can be?

Bobby Frasor: "I felt pretty he good out there. My body doesn't feel any different than it has the past couple of months. But I guess it's more of a confidence and mental factor that you're ready to play. I was just at ease out there today, and it felt really good."

Q. Would you guys just talk about being from the very tip, you got it, and raised him for a bucket and y'all were able to create your pace and run all day the way I know you want to. Can y'all talk about being able to do that and force them into your game?

Wayne Ellington: "Well, from the opening tip I got to give Coach credit for that one (laughing). He sent me right there, and set me up for the lay-up. But we just wanted to pressure them. We wanted to get up on their guards and create some turnovers. Not only did we do a pretty good job, but our big guys got out and did well, too, which opened up a lot of things from a transition standpoint for us."

Frasor: "And I think mid first half you could see the big guys were really tired. So I was able to pitch ahead to Ed (Davis) for an easy basket, and then Tyler got behind their defense, so that really forced the pressure on them for their bigs to sprint back."

Q. Could you talk about, you guys have seen Tyler day-in and day-out for the last three or four years, just talk about what it's like to play with him, watch him? Is there anything about his game now that it's evolved that surprises you?

Ellington: "Well, I just want to say it's been an honor to be able to play with a player that has the type of skills and caliber that Tyler has. And just watching him, how hard he works and how consistent he is, you know, it's tough to be as consistent as he is, you know, night in and night out. You basically know that he's going to give you 20 or maybe 10 every game, so just the consistency. How hard it is to do that and how consistent he is."

Frasor: "I'm just glad he broke the record on a free throw. I think that's pretty fitting. But it is pretty impressive the way he's just able to perform day-in and day-out like Wayne said. And his game has evolved since freshman year, and this year he hasn't gotten the recognition for breaking all these records and doing everything that he does. Everyone's kind of overlooking him saying this is his last year, his time in the spotlight is done. But he's still going to work every day and producing for us, and we get the same old Tyler Hansbrough every day."

Q. Can you talk about how you try to do things when you're on the court at point guard versus you how things run when Ty's out there?

Frasor: "Well, when Ty's out there, he can get the ball. He's at the basket, he's blowing by nine other guys on the court and getting his lay-up. I was, unfortunately, not born with that breakaway speed (laughing). So I try to use my head, I guess, as best I can. Pitching the ball ahead, getting the ball to the guys in position to score. Just forcing the tempo that way."

Q. You hit your first couple of shots, did you know it was going to be one of those days today after those first few shots?

Ellington: "Well, I was just feeling good. I wanted to come out and take the open ones. Not really force anything, not look for my shot. Just take the open shots. They dropped for me, you know. I got out there and got in the groove. Kind of got some rhythm going, so I knew I was playing really well."

Coach Williams: "Especially after he realized we were wearing one shirt and the other team was wearing another color. Three turnovers in the first 5 minutes throwing it to the other team. So during one of the timeouts we reminded him we were the team wearing the white jersey."

Q. Talk about Ty (Lawson) and your thoughts about Saturday potentially? And how different things are for you to game plan and minutes and all of that?

Williams: "Well, it is difficult, because you don't know what's going on. I was very disturbed with Larry (Drew) in the first half for getting a third foul on really a silly, silly play. Because we've got Larry and Bobby, and that's it. And you've got to have people not make plays like that. I have no idea about Ty. That's just the best answer I can give you guys. If we practice tomorrow if he's able to practice and do some things in practice, I'll probably play him. But if he's like he was yesterday, then I'm not going to play him."

Q. The question I asked Bobby, can you expand on that. The way he played today, the production and confidence. Have you seen him like that the last couple of years? Go all the way back to his freshman year?

Williams: "Last year I thought early in the season Bobby was doing some nice things for us. He wasn't getting the minutes that he's gotten recently to say the least because Ty was doing so many good things as well."

"But I think with each and every game he's gotten a little more confidence. Gotten in the flow a little bit. He's really so good defensively that he's always going to help you on that end of the floor. When he makes the jump shot it's the icing on the cake. I do believe he's gotten a better feel in the last three games. I think he played better today than he had in the first two games."

Q. Obviously everybody has a lot of high expectations, but I'm not sure any of them compare to the president of the United States. I was just wondering, you know, what you thought about him picking you guys to win it. As a coach, do you feel a little more pressure to make him look kind of smart?

Williams: "You know, I love the president. I really, really like President Obama. I've been fortunate enough to meet him, and I really, really like him. I think it's great that he's a sports fan and goes through the bracket and the whole bit like that. But frankly, he's got some more important things to worry about than the NCAA Tournament. But I still love the fact that he's willing to be involved."

"I know the truth of the matter. He really didn't know who to pick. But when he played pick-up with our guys, nobody blocked his shot and everybody passed him the ball, and everybody set screens for him. Wanted to let him score. So it's payback for us being so nice to him. And he drove to the basket one time, and Tyler didn't take his head off. So that was good."

Q. You said earlier in the week that Danny and Wayne had to get out in the lanes and help make the break more effective this week. Did you see pretty much what you wanted to see on the break in this game?

Williams: "Yeah, but I think we really missed some easy shots. Tyler Hansbrough, and then (Mike) 'Cope(land), Deon (Thompson). 'Z' (Tyler Zeller) missed the dunk. So I think we missed shots. But I do believe we got out and ran better. There is no question to get Wayne and Danny out. But the other important part of that is we've got to get Tyler, Deon, Z, and Eddie running to the front of the ramp. Because that way the defense has to get back and stop the lay-up, and then that opens it up more on the lanes, too. So it's got to be everybody. I do think that Wayne and Danny did a better job. And in the second half the big guys did a better job than they did in the first half."

Q. Could you talk about Tyler being a career scoring leader in the Atlantic Coast Conference now? I mean, you know the quality of athlete that's played in this league all these years. That's a pretty good accomplishment there.

Williams: "Well, it is big time. The people here were nice and gave us the basketball. I gave it to Tyler. We'll get it printed up for him, and probably NCAA will call me and tell me it's a violation, but I can handle that one."

"When you think of the players in this league, the caliber of the players and understand that he scored more points than anybody that's played here, that's as big as it can be. But as he said, he was trying to focus on winning a game. Tyler Hansbrough, from the first day he stepped on our campus, has tried to be the best player he can possibly be."

"If you think back of some huge celebrations that he's had. The one when he made the basket against Virginia Tech last year in the tournament, yes. But the one when Wayne Ellington made the three at the end of the Clemson game was huge. Those celebrations for other teammates' success really speaks volumes about the kid. He's got individual honors, but he wants his team to do well.
As Wayne said, sometimes you just think how lucky you are to play with a youngster, and how lucky I've been to coach him."

Q. What does it mean to you to see Bobby Frasor and all he's been through to start and play well in an NCAA game?

Williams: "It does mean a great deal. I talked to him before he left the locker room for the Virginia Tech game. You've got a chance to play great. And those things are important. I've never had a player that's handled as much adversity with injuries as Bobby Frasor has as well as he has. I've never had anybody that's handled that many injuries. But he's handled it with such grace and care about his teammates to do everything he can to get back and help them."

Q. Could you share what you told Brad as you were look through the lines there? Obviously, the big in here. And maybe a few thoughts on what he's done with his team this year?

Williams: "Some of those things probably should be kept privately. I have a great deal of respect for him (Radford coach Brad Greenberg). This probably says it best. I forget when it was. It was after we got beaten, I know that. But watching the TV, and it comes across that Radford is representing their league and they made the NCAAs. And my first reaction was that's great."

"The reason I had that reaction is because of Brad Greenberg. Wasn't because I love Radford, the University or the colors or anything. It's just because I really like the guy. He's a liver. He's a coach's coach. He's very genuine. I congratulated him on what they'd accomplished, and told him I don't mind saying this. I said Brad, we played really well. And I said that in the way I intended it to be taken was that we really played well, that's the only way we were able to do this. We didn't beat you with our C-game. We played very well."

"For me, he is one of the really, really good guys. It had to be a fun time around Radford the last week. Hopefully when they get back home tonight or tomorrow there will be some people there that tell them how much they appreciated it as well."

Q. You took Tyler out about 16-minute mark after that hard foul on him. Were you concerned he might have shaken himself up a little bit then? And were you thinking of maybe keeping him out the rest of the game? Because you waited about 6 minutes before you put him back in.....

Williams: "Yeah, I was going to do that. We got a little sloppy out there. And I wanted to talk to those guys that have been in. I told him I put him back in because I wanted him to get a rebound. I didn't know if he got a rebound the whole game. I also told him in the locker room congratulations."

"He scored more points than everybody in the history of the ACC and went 4 for 50 tonight. It was, I almost kept him out and didn't put him back in, period. When I got him back in, I didn't feel comfortable with it, that's the reason I took him out pretty quick."

Q. How physical do you think this game was with Tyler in this game? And do you expect more of that as the tournament evolves?

Williams: "All college basketball is physical. I think there were a couple of really hard fouls. You know, Tyler's -- it's been a physical game played against him every year. None more so than this year. I think he's been playing at a more physical state than any player I've ever coached. And that part, I think, he's just the way he's handled it has been amazing. But, you know, these games mean something. Kids are going to play as hard as they can play."

"One of the fouls was a little hard, but I never saw anything dirty on out there. Didn't have any concern about that. It's just he plays at such a high level himself."

Q. I wouldn't expect you to have seen too much of LSU this season, but what is your early thoughts about that match-up?

Williams: "Well, you said it yourself. I was a few minutes at the hotel when we came over in the first half. I thought it would go down to the wire. Both teams are good when they get in the tournament. They were 8 seed and 9 seed. One year we were one of the two either 8 or 9, and we played DePaul and it went into overtime. So you expect that to be a big time game. Tasmin Mitchell I saw him play a lot when he was in high school and in the summer circuit."

"(LSU leading scorer Marcus) Thornton is just a big time, big time player. I thought he was sensational at times today. I did not see any of the second half. They had the TV on in the room, I was doing my preparation. I'd look up and see, but I wasn't really paying attention to it."

"I know (LSU coach) Trent Johnson. I consider him one of the class acts in college basketball. I'm not so sure that anybody did a better job in college basketball than Trent did this year. If I knew he'd buy me dinner I'd tell him the truth, and that's the fact that I voted for him national "Coach of the Year". But I don't think I can swing that anyway. But I do think he did a great, great job. The team is an extension of him. They're going to be fundamentally sound, aggressive and enthusiastic and play with passion."



 

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