Feb 9, 2009
Chapel Hill, N.C. — North Carolina head coach Roy Williams spoke with reporters Monday for his weekly ACC teleconference.
“Needless to say, this game is getting a great deal of attention. It’s a rivalry that we’re proud to be involved in. Our club, in parts of the game this weekend against Virginia, did some nice things. We felt much better about our play on the defensive end. It was just the opposite of the Maryland game. We made every shot against Maryland. We made everything we looked at, but didn’t play any defense, and this one we did pretty well on the defensive end, but didn’t make some shots. So that tells you what we have to do on Wednesday. We have to play well on both ends of the floor or we have no chance of winning.”
How confident is this team after seven straight ACC wins?
“I think we are confident. When we were 0-2, everybody acted like they wanted me to go jump off the top of the building, and I told them, ‘Hey, it’s a long season.’ I think the consistency in which we treated that negative period [and] the consistency of the coaching staff about our confidence in our team – I think that was important. The fact that we’ve won seven in a row doesn’t mean that we’re going to be declared national champions and they can cancel the season. We’re not there, either.
“I think the approach that we’ve taken with our team and what they have accepted was good for us when we were 0-2 and I think that they understand now what we’ve done in the past and we’ve got some things right in front of us that are more important, which is that next game, regardless of who that is, it just happens that this time it’s Duke. I think the consistent approach is something that has been good and the sky’s not falling, but yet we haven’t won the lottery, either way.”
Bobby Frasor is bringing a lot of attributes to the table, but how vital is it for him to knock down some shots down the stretch?
“Well, we’ll have to wait and see [laughing]. I don’t think that anyone wants them to go in more than Bobby, except maybe his Mom or Dad, that kind of thing. I still have a great deal of confidence in him. I’m still going to put him out there because of what he does in other areas. If a couple of his shots go in, then it’s an added bonus. He’s struggled to put the ball in the basket all year.
“The guy has missed half of the season the last two years – well, two-thirds of the season last year, and a half of a season the year before – so it’s been difficult for him to get back to where he was. But yet, I think he adds so much to us. As to whether I’d use the word vital or not, I don’t know that I would go that strong. But I know one thing – it would make me smile a heck of a lot more and him smile a heck of a lot more, and his Mom and his Dad, too.”
Will you focus on post play against Duke, which is the area where they are perceived to be most vulnerable?
“Well, I don’t know who perceives that; it may not be what our staff perceives. I think that we’re always going to try to get the ball inside first, but we’ve got a pretty good shooting team, too. We’re not just going to say, ‘OK, you guys cannot shoot.’ We’re going to try to play basketball and have balance. In my opinion, that’s the best way to beat Duke, is to have balance and shoot the ball in the hole and play defense. And if you do all of those kinds of things, you’ll have a better chance, but it still doesn’t mean you’re going to win.”
On where you would like to see this team improve:
“I’d like to have more consistency. Against Maryland, as I said earlier, we shot the dickens out of it, but didn’t sprint back and pick people up. And then on Saturday, I thought we guarded much better, but we couldn’t make a shot. So I would like for us to get more consistent on both ends of the court. Which you should, as you get later into the season. You have more practices, and the more you practice, the better you should be.”
While this is no doubt a big game, how do you keep the players from thinking that it’s an “end of the world” type of game?
“That’s a good question. Sometimes if you’re not careful, you could get caught up in that. We’ve been able to do that pretty well since we came back. It’s not the end of the world if you lose [and] they don’t give you a trophy if you win. The best example is in ’05, it was an extremely heart-breaking loss over there, and yet the next game was at Connecticut. It was a huge game for us and we came back and played very well at Connecticut. Last year, we lose here, and then we’ve got a couple of big road games, and we played very well in those.
“So we’re going to try to treat as though it’s an extremely important game because it’s the next game. On Wednesday, I’ll say, ‘This is the biggest game because it’s today’s game.’ But in saying that, we do tell our team that they’re not going to give us a trophy or cancel the season, regardless of the outcome of this game. I think if you let your players know that, I think you’re better off, because you don’t have to promote the game. Everybody else is going to do that for you. And I think the rivalry being what it is, our kids are going to be extremely enthused and so will Duke’s kids.”