Roy Williams Talks Virginia, Explains Where Offense is Struggling

Brant Wilkerson-New

North Carolina coach Roy Williams met with media on Friday morning to preview the Tar Heels' trip to Virginia and provide an update on the sprained ankle that Armando Bacot suffered in Wednesday's loss to Ohio State.

Here's what the coach had to say:

Update on Armando Bacot

99.9999 (percent) that he will not play. He is walking. He is not on crutches. But, it ballooned up. It was big. So I don't see any way in the world that he can play.

Was saying you "have no answers" a frustration thing or something else?

A little bit of both. I was frustrated. We didn't play well. We didn't compete well. We didn't execute well. I've got my butt beat before, I am still alive. But, that was in the top three most frustrating of all time, because we didn't do anything that I liked. And I am serious, I told them at halftime, I felt like I was lucky we were down two. We had been out-rebounded by nine and we shot 27 percent or whatever it was in the first half. I didn't think we would get worse, and we got worse. It was a little bit of both. At that time, when a coach says something immediately after the game, you should always take it with a grain of salt because he really hasn't had the opportunity to see it over again. But it was frustrating and it still is frustrating.

The good news is that we didn't practice yesterday. They had the day off to help get them ready for exams. Exams were this morning. And my teams every now and then during the course of our career one of these games around exams we kind of screw it up a little bit. But I don't ever remember doing it as badly as this. So I went recruiting yesterday and that was really good for me and a million times better for them.

Is this team just not as good shooting team or is there more to it that you have noticed?

Yes. Both. We are not pushing the pace enough to get easy ones. We don't have runners. We don't have the initial post option that a Tyler Hansbrough, a Sean May, some of those guys, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks would give us even down there. We don't have that. And then guys aren't running enough. And the bottom line is that the ball is not going in the basket enough. And we used to get more easy ones than we got. And I am not giving up because I think this can be a good running team. We just go to run better.

Is there one primary focus right now? Or is it everything needing to come together?

For them, right now, it’s being alive at the end of practice. That would be their biggest focus.

Also for me, the same thing. There could be a hitman that they bring in or could die of a heart attack, that kind of thing. But that should be everybody’s focus. I’m not looking long-term; I’m really not. We’ve got to get better today. We did not get better against Ohio State. And don’t take away from Chris’s club. They did some nice things and did some things that we thought they would do and were successful at. Washington, for example, in the scouting report very hot from three now. You’ve got to get out to cover him. He only made four in the first half, so those kinds of things are perplexing to me, but no, I’m not looking at what may happen in January or something. We’ve got to get better today and try to take those things that we focus on. It’s hard. It’s hard right now. Ideally, we’re going to practice for 90 minutes and have a 90-minute film session. And that’s hard for me to even try to do because they’ve got exams. We changed our practice tomorrow. We were going to practice at noon and we moved it back. We have like seven guys that have exams tomorrow, but on Sunday afternoon nobody is going to give a darn about that. So that’s ideally what I would like to do, but I don’t even know if I can do that.

Is the lack of running a conditioning issue with the team?

No, we can run. Physically, they do some things. It’s just attention to the detail and doing it consistently, doing it intelligently. Right now, it’s a failure of everybody. Everybody on our team, including the head coach, because I’ve never had a team that I couldn’t get to run. I’m getting darn sick and tired of talking about it with this group.

Justin Pierce was asked the other day what the problem with the scoring was and he gave a long list of reasons, but he really focused in on the halfcourt. Is it that simple?

No. That’s the reason he’s not coaching. That is a huge problem in the halfcourt in our freelance, but we ran a set play the other night and a guy went the wrong frickin’ way. This is practice 42, 43, or 44 today. I mean, come on. One of the biggest issues in our freelance is not setting and using screens properly, but your first part of his statement that I didn’t hear was probably right because we’re not running, we’re not doing this, we’re not doing this, we’re not doing this… It’s just so many things.

Can you explain it to us and break it down –

You can’t understand it. I’m serious.

When the team isn’t running as fast as you want them to, how does that take away from what you want to do as a coach?

Well, go back and look. Our goal every game is to have one or two that we score with 24-25 seconds left on the shot clock. We haven’t done that one time this year. And our teams in the past have been able to do it. So either I’ve gotten awfully dumb really quick -- or dumber maybe – or they’re not running. It’s pretty damn simple. That’s all it is.

I’m wondering, based on how your offense runs, when they’re not running, how does that break things down?

I understand, but you guys don’t freaking understand enough.

Think of this, if we’re running, we’re getting easy baskets. If we’re running, what else are we doing? They’re not getting offensive rebounds because they’re sending guys back, worried about our break.

Heck, if I was playing against us right now, I’d get on my scooter and do figure eights running back, because hell, there ain’t no sense running back against us. You think about it, and I’m not trying to put you down, but you don’t understand; nobody in here understands. Nobody. You wouldn’t understand if you write articles for the next 500 years. You coach 500 games, and you’ll understand.

When we run the break, we score. Now then, they’re so afraid of the break, that they don’t go to the offensive rebound themselves; they send two or three guys back to stop our break. So, they’re back there wondering what was coming at them. OK, so they’re not getting picked up properly because the first two or three guys getting back — what does our first big guy do that I said a minute ago? He’s got to run to the front of the rim — so who’s back for them? The point guard. So, the point guard’s got to pick up the big guy. All right, so if our fourth guys comes down is our point guard, who’s picking up our point guard? It’s somebody else.

So, there’s no one answer. I mean, there’s a thousand things that go into it and we’ve done it every day for my entire life, my entire coaching career. Every playground I ever played on, I outrun the other sucker every freaking play.

If there’s one answer, what was that famous line? ‘If I knew to fix the blankety-blank, I would have already done it.’ There’s no one answer; you guys sure as hell can’t if I haven’t. That’s not any cut to you. I don’t know where to put a comma or colon, either, but I do know what the crap they are.

On having a true leader

Not really. It’s been harder because it’s harder for a big guy and Garrison’s the only experienced big guy we have, but it’s harder.

Tyler Hansbrough is the only really, I think I’ll say this correctly, the only big guy who’s ever really set the tone every day and that’s because he was so wacko they were all so afraid of him, so that’s a pretty good deal there.

Usually, it’s a perimeter player. B-Rob missing the first four games made it difficult for him to do that. Everybody else is new. The freshmen coming out of high school, the grad transfers coming from a different coaching staff, a different coaching style, trying to do it.

That’s been probably the most difficult part, is it’s been new for everybody and I’ll give you an example. We lead the nation in rebounding. Well, that’s amazing we’re doing it this year. We should always do it because we shoot faster than everybody, so there’s more rebounds to get. We play at a faster pace, we’re usually way up there in assists because we play at such a faster pace.

This is the least, or at least one of the three least-experienced, teams I’ve ever coached and they have two guys who have played in high school, played in college in another system so you’re trying to get them involved … it’s been more difficult for them.'

B-Rob talked a lot about accountability the other night. Where do you see that lacking right now?

In every guy wearing the uniform. Managers, they’ve been pretty dadgum good. Trainers have been pretty good, the SID has been pretty good. Assistant AD sort of crappy, but other than that, we’ve been pretty good.

I make fun of it, because what can I say? ‘Well, if B-Rob would do this?’ It’s everybody. You guys, you would laugh and you would cry in that 90-minute film session because I can be brutal. You would cry because you’d get tired of a 69-year old guy getting on you, but you’d laugh because you’d say, ‘How can I be that stupid?’ Because that’s what a lot of it is. 32 years as a head coach. Every year, it’s easy to be successful. I tell them that every year, ‘it’s easy to be successful, just do what I tell you to do.’ Hasn’t worked so far, we haven’t been successful so far, either.

This is another press conference that’s deteriorating quickly. Why do y’all even come? These things are terrible.

Without Armando, where do you look to?

We don’t have any option. It’s Justin, but we don’t have any options.

Then spot minutes for Brandon and Walker?

Got to play better than he did the other night. It’s Justin and then after that, we don’t have any options.

We went small for three or four minutes with Leaky at the four … Garrison as the five, Leaky at the four. Justin wasn’t in there.

Tony lost some big pieces to their team last year. How are they different?

Who’d you say?

Tony Bennett, Virginia

Oh, I thought you meant with our team. Damn, I haven’t had a guy named Tony in the past three years.

Tony can play for me right now, he can make a freaking shot. That’d be bad. If Tony dresses out for them and I dress out for us, we’re going to get our butt kicked.

What the hell was your question?

How are they different?

The same thing as us. He goes out there and doesn’t see yle Guy, Ty Jerome and DeAndre, doesn’t see Salt.

I have not watched them play with the exception of the Purdue game and I don’t know whatever disease that he felt, but it was the same disease I felt during the game.

Please don’t take it that I’m talking for Tony’s team, because he’s got to talk for them, but the numbers that you look at it, they’re not pleasant for either one of us. If he plays, he’d add a lot more to them.

On getting Justin Pierce and Christian Keeling more involved in the offense

They’re not any different than the other guys; it’s all the same. You’ve got to do what I ask you to do and you get a shot, you’ve got to make shots. It’s pretty simple. I’m being very sincere. I’m not trying to look down my nose at you or anything. You don’t have to be a nuclear scientist to figure out, you look at those numbers and you think, ‘God almighty.’

I mean, really, I’ve never had a team score as little, I’ve never had a team shoot as badly. Maybe it’s me; maybe I’ve gotten a lot dumber a lot quicker than I thought I was going to.

Do you think this proves your point that experience beats talent?

If it’s close. What I mean by that, is if the experience is at such a level and the talent is at the highest level, talent is still going to win, but if it’s close, I’ll take that experience. Everybody want’s experienced talent; that’s what you want.

If you’re experienced in something and their talent is not dramatically different, I’ll take the experience, yeah. Everybody wants to coach talent, but if it’s close, the experience can make up for that. I truly believe that.

What is the best way to attack Virginia?

We haven’t had a lot of success. I think the last time we beat them was the ACC Tournament a couple of years ago. Maybe two out of three, maybe.

So I don’t have a very good answer. We had some different players and they did too. You’ve got to make shots. It’s going to be a low possession game. You’ve got to make some shots. You’ve got to make sure they don’t get second shot opportunities, and you’ve got to try to get second shot opportunities. But it’s the same way for everybody, except that it is going to be a lower possession game, so that makes each possession a little more valuable. If you play 100 possessions and have 15 turnovers, so what. If you play 45 possessions and have 15 turnovers or 15 bad shots. The larger possessions tends to allow you to overcome some mistakes much more so than when you’re playing Tony’s team. But you’ve got to guard them too.

You can’t just keep giving up buckets. You’ve got to guard them and try to limit them to one shot. Then you’ve got to try to get the best shot you can and hopefully sometimes when you get a second shot.

Are you concerned about offensive rebounds or lack of rebounding?

I’m concerned about the lack of rebounding, because if you take away the Wilmington game and take the Ohio State out, he may be averaging...So you lose that. So that’s making rebounding. Plus it’s who you put in. And that part is difficult too.

Do the players come in knowing the fundamentals of the offense, or do you have to teach that?

It’s pretty dadgum simple if you know what you’re doing. It really is, but, how many of you guys have played 500 games in your life? I mean seriously, I’m not putting you down or anything. Bobby Frasor played for me. One of the most intelligent guys I’ve ever had. And one summer he played 56 games. So if you have 56 games, you know what else you had? At least 56 practices. So these kids now, they play, in some ways people say, and I probably agree with them, they play too many games.

Just think about it. How many games they play and the level of players we get that play an unbelievable amount of games. And what they have been exposed to is usually pretty good doggone coaching. So they’ve had that. I had Joel James, who I loved. I’ve corrected him. If a player sits... ‘I said shut up. And practice stops because I don’t do those kind of things usually. I said Joel, when did you start playing basketball? Sophomore in high school. And I had 3 guys on my team who started playing when they were 6 years old. So they are going to be exposed to more things than Joel was. But now, kids play so much. 56 games in the summer. And that’s after I think they won the state championship. Or no they didn’t win it. They made it to the very end. But they played like 30 with their high school. Which means they had 75 practices. They played 56 in the summer, which means they had 56 practices at least.

And that’s with you guys. And I’m not putting you down. There’s a lot of things you guys can do better than me. The number of basketball games those kids have played, and the way they’re exposed to it and the games they’ve watched. They watch hundreds of games, and hundreds of that...guys that are on the buses. Some kind of tour. They watch all of that.

They’ve seen thousands. That’s all they do. They play those games so they make up their own stuff. But the guys know what the crap they’re talking about.

I know exactly except for Bryson DeChambeau. He’s a little weird, but he’s really, really good. He’s got a different system of swinging the golf club of everybody else on the tour. There’s nothing that a PGA tour player says that I don’t understand. Seriously, nothing. And I bet you can’t say that. But there’s a thousand things that you guys talk about and know about that you understand that I don’t. And when I’m saying that, there’s no way in Hades you guys can figure out what the crap everything that goes into our basketball game. I don’t care how many games you see. But you see it from your perspective and that’s what you have to write about. But for me to say no, if Garrison’s first step would be 12 inches as opposed to 11 ½ we’d be successful. It’s not that. It's just like I guarantee you, you never even thought about...no, I shouldn’t say that.

But you guys have not even thought about, people don’t even go to the offensive...Check the number of offensive rebounds teams have gotten against us over the years. Over the years, because they don’t get as many. Because they’re worried about our break.

Tim Floyd who is a great basketball coach, Iowa State is the first team, he sent everybody back except the shooter. So they’re not going to get a lot of offensive rebounds.

And that’s part of the game, things like that, that you guys probably don’t notice nearly as much. But if you were to go statistically to look at the number of offensive rebounds that teams get against us in the past, is probably lower than anybody’s in the country. And part of it, is, I appreciate what you do, because ya’ll talk about our pace. So they read, see that too, and they watch the tape, and oh God, we better get three managers, the trainer and four players back to stop their fastbreak, which means you get no offensive rebounds. But there’s so many different things that go into it. Just like I was a great football coach. Odd numbers go to the right and even numbers go to the left. And that’s it. That’s all I know. 

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