NORTH CAROLINA COACH ROY WILLIAMS
October 17, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
JEFF FISCHEL: We have North Carolina basketball Coach Roy Williams.
Roy, how has the off?season been for you?
COACH WILLIAMS: It was a wild summer, there's no question about that. I didn't enjoy most of it. But also there were times with my family, with my grandsons that I did love. Times I was with my team I did love. The other stuff has gotten all the attention, though.
JEFF FISCHEL: We'll take questions.
Q. Last year you played an extremely young team. You went through some growing pains. What did that group learn that is going to help you this year?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think they understand now much better how to handle adversity. You start losing guys, I think we lost 12 guys early to the NBA draft in the last eight or nine years, but I think those kids understand that part of it. They kept practicing and working every day. Things got better at the end. Hopefully they'll have it stick?to?itiveness. Hopefully they'll have that, if that's that word.
Q. Your thoughts about adding Jim Boeheim to the mix. Is he the most or least popular guy here?
COACH WILLIAMS: I like having Jimmy here. He's one of the few guys in college basketball coaching older than me.
Jimmy and I played a lot of golf together, been on a lot of committees together. A really good friend. Unfortunately for me, I was one of his biggest moments in 2003 when they beat our Kansas team to win his national championship.
I love having him in the league. I think North Carolina playing Syracuse the first day is going to be a big game, a big rivalry. We're not going to have to wait 10 or 15 years to build anything up.
I think Jimmy is well?liked right now. 20 years ago it was a whole different thing. He's mellowed so much, he's doing a lot better right now. I've been with him on the golf course and really enjoy him.
Q. What is status of P.J. Hairston? Do you expect him to miss games?
COACH WILLIAMS: I'm not a huge NFL fan, but I love Bill Belichick's comment. He's inactive. He's inactive. He's inactive. One of the coolest press conferences I've ever seen.
P.J. is going to miss some games. I'm not going to go into the locker room and say, P.J. you're not playing tonight. We'll let people know about it before.
There's several things he's going through at this time, has completed some and has not completed some of the others. He's done enough to come back to practice. He's been sensational in practice. He was sensational in the running program, the most difficult conditioning thing I've ever done with any player. Hopefully he'll continue that as we play.
JEFF FISCHEL: What is the timeframe for making a decision?
COACH WILLIAMS: Like I said, he's still doing things. When he gets through taking care of his business.
Q. Reggie did so many things so well for you last year. How do you replace what you lost with him?
COACH WILLIAMS: It is really hard. Not only was he a shooter, he had a tremendous assist?to?error ratio. He was a great rebounder from his position. He was a very good defensive player. You don't just replace that guy with that many good qualities with somebody who has never played at the collegiate level.
Leslie has to be a better defender. J.P. has to not turn the ball over. We're going to get guys to play to their strengths, stay away from their weaknesses.
Losing Reggie Bullock was a tremendous loss for us. Last year at this time I would not have thought he was going to leave. At the end of the season I didn't think he was going to leave. He was on the borderline between being a number one pick or second?round pick.
But it worked out great for him. He worked his tail off in the workouts. He was the 26th selection for the Clippers. Happy for him, but big shoes left for us to fill.
Q. With the addition of Syracuse and Pitt and Notre Dame, Louisville next year, some of the previous coaches here today have said this has the potential to be the best conference from a basketball perspective ever created. Your thoughts on what this conference can be.
COACH WILLIAMS: I agree. I think not only can be, I think it will be the greatest basketball conference ever. Look at the depth of the league. We can't call it Tobacco Road anymore unless we include South Bend, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The road got longer and tougher.
Every game night, oh man, oh man, you better strap it on.
Q. You mentioned how many players you lost early. Would you like there to be a rule change similar to baseball where players had to stay two, three years, whatever?
COACH WILLIAMS: I honestly believe this. There is no rule that's perfect for everybody. I think LeBron, Kobe, Kevin Garnett, they made great decisions. Some made decisions that was not great for them. I don't think there's any one rule that's perfect for everybody.
I would like to figure out myself what that rule would be, then try to get everybody to go along with it.
We have lost guys early. I don't think the baseball rule is perfect. You can ask the baseball coaches, they would tell you, Oh, my gosh, you don't want that.
The one?and?done is what we have now. If they change it to two years, I'd probably like that a little bit better. We'll have to work with that. I don't think there's any rule that's perfect for everybody.
Q. Could you see Marcus Paige and Nate Britt on the court together?
COACH WILLIAMS: Yes. We've done that in practice already. Luke Davis would be in that mix. I don't think you would see Luke, Marc and Nate, all three at the same time. It would be like a team of jockeys out there running around on the court we'd be so small. I do believe we'll see two of them at a time.
JEFF FISCHEL: We had Brice Johnson in here earlier talking about how he's eating.
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't care how much he eats, I just want him to be stronger. It's difficult for Brice to gain weight. Difficult for Marcus Paige. Difficult for Kennedy to lose the weight. You have to put them all together.
Both those guys that I mentioned there, it's really helped Kennedy. Kennedy has dropped quite a few pounds, from 317 to 285 since he came to see us this summer. Brice has gotten up a little bit. That's helped him on the post area, rebounding. Marcus played last year at 154. This year he's gotten up to 170. No doubt the strength has helped him, too.
Q. Kennedy Meeks, you talked about how he's lost the weight. What kind of player do you think you see him becoming? Is there a player that was there before that he resembles?
COACH WILLIAMS: I hope it is. I hope it's Sean May, he was pretty good.
Kennedy was too heavy, has worked really hard, has done a nice job, has great feet, maybe as good a passing big man as I ever coached. Just got to get him to build his stamina up, explosiveness. It's going to be a marathon.
With Joel James, Kennedy, I gave them the same saying, Rome wasn't built in a day. They tell me back, But it was worked on every day.
Really nice man from right here in Charlotte.
Q. Having Coach Boeheim, what can you say about having him in the conference?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, I did say it. One of the lines I like, I'll give it to you, too, it's one guy in the league older than I am.
Jimmy and I have played a lot of golf together, been on committees together, coached against each other. We worked with USA Basketball on select teams. He's a guy I really enjoy. Hall of Fame coach. Tremendous, tremendous job on the bench. Very long, long career. Won over 900 games. I think we're fortunate to have him in the league.
I made a $5 bet with somebody two years ago that he would never coach a game in the ACC. It's been so long ago I can't remember who the bet was with. I owe somebody $5. I know it wasn't one of you rascals.
Q. Who are you counting on to step up and be leaders?
COACH WILLIAMS: This summer I made decisions, I told them who the leaders were. It's easy to be a great leader if you don't make mistakes. That's James Michael and Marcus Paige don't make the kind of mistakes that were made. If they make a mistake, it's a mistake, it won't happen very often with either one of those kids. I declared them as the leaders of our team.
But on the court, the players do it themselves. The respect they have for each other trumps everything that a coach can say.
Marcus and James are going to decide whether we eat at Wendy's or Burger Chef. On the court, your play does it. Marcus Paige is a point guard, that's a leadership role because of the position. James Michael has been important to us for three years.
The other guys have to understand that.
Q. Commissioner Swofford said that the ACC tournament should end up in New York at some point. Would you be in favor of that? Would it improve the status of the ACC?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think we've done a pretty doggone good job of moving it around. North Carolina has been the foundation of the ACC for a long time, the state, whether it's Charlotte or Greensboro for the tournament. Those people have done a marvelous job.
In Greensboro, for example, it's the biggest thing going. The whole town knows about it. I love that.
Also we've been in Washington, D.C., Tampa, Greensboro, Charlotte, Atlanta. We've moved it around a little bit. I hope we keep doing that. I think New York will be a fantastic place for it, but I also hope people don't forget about the foundation we have here.
JEFF FISCHEL: Good luck to the Tar Heels this season.
COACH WILLIAMS: Thank you.