North Carolina coach Roy Williams spoke with reporters following the Tar Heels' 82-72 win against Richmond.
Williams is confident that his team will correct the mental mistakes that occurred during this game.
“Well, it was a big-time performance by Marcus (Paige) and Brice (Johnson) offensively. I like the toughness of our team at the end of the first half because things weren’t going that well, but we made a pretty nice run the last five-or-six minutes of the first half. Marcus and Brice certainly gave us something we needed offensively. We’ve been struggling, scoring-wise, and also I think that we still made some mistakes that gave me even more gray hairs down the stretch. We fouled on a 3-point shot, turned it over on a sloppy pass, but I think this team is learning some things, and, hopefully, we’ll learn from those plays and not make them anymore.”
On Brice Johnson:
“Well, if he has 24 points and 12 rebounds, and he makes 1,000 mistakes, think how good he could be if he didn’t make 1,000 mistakes. We have to live with some things. He’s growing — not physically, necessarily — but he’s growing as a basketball player. We’re asking him to do a lot of things. But, he just makes a casual pass when the other team is pressing, and that turns into a layup for them. He has to learn from that. We need his scoring, there’s no question about that. If he will, and I think he will, learn form this game both ways — a very positive feeling for what he did and learn from those mistakes and not make them again — then I think this is going to be a great day for him. He has some gifts putting the ball in the basket, but he’s got to play with more intensity and play with more intelligence down the stretch. Brice and Isaiah (Hicks) both had some big blocks for us. They have talent inside, but we’ve just got to get it going in the right direction the whole time.”
On playing zone defense:
“We were so bad defensively against Belmont that we had to try some things. We have been working on the zone more this year than any team I’ve ever had. We gave up some straight drives to the basket, and a zone is supposed to stop that kind of stuff, so we have to get a lot better at it. But, we’ll play it some more, there’s no question.”
On Marcus Paige scoring a career-high 26 points:
“Marcus was a scorer in high school as a point guard. He can be a scorer for us as a point guard. If he’s a two-man, I don’t know if it’s any easier to score from there. As a matter of fact, I always thought it was easier to score as a point than as a wingman because somebody has to throw you the ball as a two. As a point, it’s already in your hands. He was a scorer in high school, I think he is a scorer, and I don’t think it’s that big of a difference. Last year, he was a freshman, and he came in and thought he was going to be backing up Kendall Marshall, and all of a sudden he was thrust into that role. We played him in a weird lineup, and we made drastic changes, so he never got settled down, but if you go back and look at his stats the second half of the year, you remember him shooting the ball better the second half of the year. I think he is a scorer, and we’ve got to do a better job of screening for him and getting him the ball."
Sophomore forward Brice Johnson was the top performer for UNC in the 82-72 win.
On Richmond’s Cedrick Lindsay:
“He’s very good. He’s very good with the basketball — we couldn’t keep him in front of us. He was 12-15 from the free throw line, so you don’t like anybody to shoot 15 free throws. He really is a good, good player. He made a big 3-pointer after he got fouled on the 3-pointer, so we have to do a better job of that.”
On if he was surprised by UNC’s high fan turnout:
“No. The Carolina people love Carolina basketball, and we don’t get a chance to come here very often. We had some people stop me in the hotel and say they’ve been looking forward to this game since they announced we were going to play in it last year. We have a tremendous number of alums who love to watch us play, and we needed their support out there today. We could use it all the time.”
On James Michael McAdoo being limited offensively:
“They’re good defensively. They played a matchup zone with sagging man-to-man, sometimes it looks like one, sometimes it looks like another. They’re really alert, they’re really active defensively. Their big guys are good defensive players inside. A few times James Michael took it to the basket, and I thought he was going to go to the free throw line one time at the end, but it was called a charge on him. To be honest with you, I was pretty pleased with the way James Michael played. I’d like him to score more. There’s no question I’d like him to get more than six shots, and he didn’t go to the free throw line the whole second half.”
On if he’ll coach P.J. Hairston again:
“I think I will. There’s no doubt in my mind that I think I will. But, you don’t know. That’s the way it is. It’s a very unfortunate thing for him. It’s a very unfortunate thing for our team and his teammates and our program. You’re looking at a guy who was our leading scorer last year, and he played five minutes a game less than James Michael and seven minutes a game less than Reggie (Bullock). But, North Carolina is going to play tomorrow regardless of who is out there, and that’s what we have to focus on. We can’t be concerned and spend all our time worrying about somebody who isn’t here. We just have to sit and wait, and at some point we’ll find out what happens, and we’ll go from there.”
On if this is the least conventional team he’s coached:
“I think probably so. By this time, pretty much every other year, we’re fairly close to a set lineup. We made a change last year that helped us, and it was a drastic change down the stretch. In 2006 or 2007, when I put Wes Miller in the starting lineup after two ACC games, that helped us. It gave us some more outside shooting. But, for most of the time with me, it’s been a scenario that I find five guys in the preseason. Right now, we’re limited on the offensive end, so we have to try a few different things to give us a scoring punch. Wade (Moody) can shoot the basketball. I wanted to give him some time today. You never can tell, but we may need him later on.”
“Well, they’re really, really good. They present challenges for you in every area. They play extremely hard, they defend like crazy, they can score, they come at you. It’s a big-time team. Rick Pitino is one of our great coaches in our game. He’s got some very good players who did what he asks them to do. That’s the recipe for success, and he’s had it for a long time. They’re really, really a good basketball team. They’re fun to watch. I don’t like to watch them when I play against them, but they’re really a fun team to watch. They went on a really good run last year to win a national championship.”
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