ACC Operation Basketball: Roy Williams enjoying Tar Heel football;  likes his transfers, but would rather avoid them in the future

Brant Wilkerson-New

CHARLOTTE — ACC Operation Basketball offers a rare opportunity for coaches and players to talk with reporters in a more informal setting, leading to some of the most thoughtful — and hilarious — conversations of the season.

Here's a sampling of what North Carolina coach Roy Williams had to say on Tuesday afternoon, from his thoughts on Tar Heel football to watching Armando Bacot transform his body.

On following Mack Brown and Carolina football

After five games, we could have very easily been 5-0 and could have very easily been 0-5, but he’s added a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to our program. Fans are excited, I think recruiting will take an uptick and we’ve just got to stay away from injuries because that’s what really killed Larry Fedora.

He had so many injuries, nobody’s ever had a year like what he had, the last two years. We don’t have that much depth right now, so I’m hoping Mack can stay away from that bug.

I texted him after the Clemson game, I said, ‘Great game, great decision. I was so pleased that he went for two.’

On what he admires about Mack Brown as a coach

I think the first thing is the enthusiasm he has for coaching, the enthusiasm he has for young people and teaching them. I really like that part.

On taking transfers

We will always address it as need, but not initially, because I don’t want that. I had four transfers at Kansas and two of them were fantastic. I do it out of need and I’d much rather have a freshman kid because it’s more fun.

We actually got five guys in the spring my first 30 years and this year, we got five. I did not like that at all and I will never go through that again.

It’s part of the game now and that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’m really proud of a lot of things. Until Seventh Woods transferred, we were the only team in the country that had not had a transfer in eight years. Everybody in the country had a transfer in three years except for us, and we hadn’t had any in eight years, so I was very proud of that fact. If you’re proud of it that one way, you shouldn’t be interested in trying to go the other direction.

On why he allowed freshmen to speak at media day for the first time

Cole has represented the United States, won a gold medal in Canada, in a foreign country. He’s been around the world, he’s done so many things. Freshmen nowadays, they’re so much different.

I used to talk when I first got to Kansas, say, ‘Once every four years, we’ll go to Hawaii.’ Crap, there’s 30 high school teams that go to Hawaii now, so things change.

Cole is very worldly and knows what’s going on, so it was easy — And, Armando too.

On the biggest adjustment for his freshman point guards

He’s got to push the ball. Even the fast guys, they don’t realize what the crap they’re going to do. The other thing is they have to be aware that they’re calling which offensive play and they’re calling which defensive play. It’s not just run up and down and shoot or drive and dish off and run back down so your girlfriend can see you; you’re all the time and you’ve got to be thinking just like I do.

On whether Cole Anthony is pushing the ball well

Yeah. He’s got to get better, he’s got to get better but it’s hard because we only have, the most we’ve had that can go up and down a practice for an entire practice is 11 out of 18.

We brought a guy (Robbie O’Han) up from the JV team. The day before practice started, I didn’t even know the guy’s name and we’ve got to have practice and Robbie’s done a really nice job.

On graduate transfers Justin Pierce and Christian Keeling

They can score, not as efficiently as I want them to be. They’ve never met a bad shot; if it feels like leather, they shoot it and so we’ve got to get the quality of the shot idea in their mind the way it is in the coaching staff’s.

I’ve enjoyed the heck out of both of them.

Basketball is not that difficult of a game to figure out so the change of style is not all that difficult for them. Every time they step on the court now, (there’s) an athlete that’s as good, as athletic and maybe better. They’ve never faced that in their previous times, so that’s got to be a challenge, to make them understand that.

On Armando Bacot

Armando, the past year and a half, changed his body dramatically. He really has. He’s much more conditioned athlete. He’s going to give us somebody that can score around the rim a little better, defend around the rim a little better. He can really run and just got to get him healthy and a little more confident about scoring the ball in the low post.

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