In the Atlantic Coast Conference weekly teleconference, UNC head coach Roy Williams talked about the latest statuses of two of his injured players, along with providing a brief preview of Wednesday night's opponent---Florida State.
"Well, we had a nice win to say the least over Clemson last week and played very well and in the second half really did some nice things. We then had the weekend off---which was unusual to say the least---and so we have seven days between games. We gave the kids a couple of days off and came back and practiced yesterday (Sunday) and today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday), so we'll have three full days of practice before we go to Tallahassee and play there, and we know we've got to play well. They (Florida State) had a really nice road win this weekend, so they're in good spirits, and in this league, you better be ready to play every night---it shows each and every week."
Do you think it comes down to confidence with Wayne Ellington's recent elevated level of play, or a mechanical change in his game?
"I think it's been more confidence than anything else. I think that even as early as right after Christmas we brought him in for an extra session and taped his shot and looked at it, and there was nothing wrong with it. In fact, during that session, he made every shot he took just about. But some guys go through time periods when the ball doesn't go in, just like golfers go through time periods where the ball isn't going in the hole. Yet as fans and coaches and media---put all of us in there together---we can't understand why. Yet we look at Steve Stricker, who is a professional golfer, and shoots 61-62-77. And so now we're dealing with 18, 19 or 20-year-olds and wonder why they can't make every shot, but it's human nature is what it is."
What is the latest on Marcus Ginyard, and what are the chances of Tyler Zeller returning this season?
"Marcus and I talked yesterday (Sunday). He still did not practice yesterday. We're going to look at him and talk to the doctors a little more this week, so there hasn't been any decision made on him."
"Of course, there's a chance (Zeller could come back), but I think it's awfully stupid. You know, he's not been released to play yet. If he comes back and plays one game, then he loses a whole year. There's always a chance, but again, I'll say it's not the smartest thing in the world to have happen, but he hasn't been released yet (by the Doctors) and he will not be released for at least---don't hold me to this---but it's three or four more weeks because he doesn't go back to the Doctors until then."
What were your thoughts about Jeff Teague's performance in the UNC-Wake Forest game, and what did you admire most about him?
"Well, I thought he totally dominated the game. A lot of people will say guards can't dominate the game because they've got the ball in their hands all the time, but he passed it when he needed to pass. He shot it when he needed to shoot it from the outside. He drove to the basket when he needed to do that. We'd make a run and he'd answer. I really felt like he dominated the game and orchestrated it exactly like he wanted it to happen."
"We're not that bad. We're a decent team, anyway. We went from being the greatest team that's ever lived to the worst team that's ever lived in a short period of time. He (Teague) just dominated the whole game. I'd like to be able to give you a better statement than saying the same thing three times in a row, but that's what he did."
What do you think about college programs recruiting seventh graders, and would you ever feel comfortable recruiting a player so young?
"(Laughing). I've said this 100 times since last year---I offered two scholarships to sophomores last year, and I was as nervous as I could possibly be, and I'm talking about sophomores. There's no way in Hades I'm going to offer a scholarship to a seventh grader. They've got enough problems without coaches causing them more problems, but I just don't do that. And, the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) has asked coaches not to offer scholarships until after a young man's sophomore year, so I haven't done it since that time period.
Is this a pretty good time frame for the team to take a week-long break?
"I don't think you ever know until you see how you play the next time, because this is not an exact science. What might be good for one team may be bad for another team. We really haven't taken any time off. We gave them Thursday off, and then Friday and Saturday we brought them in and did run and shooting, and then Sunday we did a clinic for Special Olympics and then had a short practice right after that, so we've taken a time period off from the games and that routine there. I think it's good because we didn't beat on each other for a couple of days and hopefully that will help Danny (Green's) aches and pains and Tyler (Hansbrough's) aches and pains and all of them. Hopefully it will help all of them there. But whether or not it gets us prepared to play Wednesday night or not, we'll have to wait and see."
Was there any one particular thing that you tried to work on during this break, that you felt needed some improvement?
"Thursday was off, Friday and Saturday was just run-and-shoot, and that's just all individual work. It's not really complicated. It's just like it sounds---we run a lot and shoot a lot. Then we came back yesterday (Sunday) for a very short practice, just worked on our half-court offense, just because I wanted to get them back into practice mode. Today (Monday) I just finished the practice plan this morning with the staff, and we're going to work on just about every phase of the game today and tomorrow."
What were the problems that faced the team in the two ACC losses, and what do you think you're doing better now?
"Well, the other teams (Boston College and Wake Forest) played very well. Wake Forest has shown how good they are. Boston College right after our game didn't play very well, but they've come back alive and gotten some more conference wins. I think their play was a huge part of it, and our inability to shoot the ball effectively in the second half. I think we shoot 26 percent in one half (against BC) and 28 percent in the other second half (against Wake) of both of those two games. We didn't defend well, we didn't rebound well, but the one thing that sticks out is how poorly we shot the ball, and I think you've got to give credit to the other teams' defense for that."
Duke is the third ACC team to reach No. 1 this season. What does that say about the strength of the league this winter?
"I think Duke was sensational (against Maryland). That was unbelievable. And I said before the season started that I thought this was going to be the best Duke team since I've returned (to North Carolina), and they're playing really great. Let's just say that it says a lot about our league to have three teams in the league end up in the No. 1 position. It's something that we should all be very proud of. It's an extremely difficult league. I've hear the people on TV always talking about, 'Is this league better or is that league better?' Everybody has their own opinion. I just think our league is so strong from top to bottom. I don't think there's any place in our league that you can go, or play anybody at your place, that you think, 'Okay, we're going to beat the dickens out of these guys.' It's just not going to happen. You can't be that confident against the other teams in this league. There are some great leagues around, but I don't know that anybody's league can be that strong all the way down to whoever's in last place at that moment."
"I just think that they (Duke) have all the ingredients. They've got quickness in the backcourt, athleticism in their lineup. They have size. They can shoot it from the outside. They can take it to the basket on the drive. They can score inside. I think (Kyle) Singler and (Gerald) Henderson may be as well-rounded as any two players on any one team in college basketball. Right now they are defending like crazy. You know, when I said all that stuff in the fall (about them being the best Duke team since Williams returned to UNC) you never know how a team is going to defend until the season starts, but everything is in place, and the guy coaching them is pretty doggone good, too. I think that they have all the ingredients and the kids and the coaching staff and everybody is on the same page, and they're just playing great basketball on both ends of the floor, sharing the ball and playing exceptionally hard, and they're very, very talented. So add all those together, it's a big-time team.
What are some of the challenges that Florida State's large front line presents?
"First of all, I think it still starts with Tony, because I just think Tony does such a good job providing leadership mentally, plus what he does physically for that team. That front line is difficult to score against. It's hard to get easy baskets inside against them. It's a front line that's similar to Wake Forest in that they're so big and they can run more than one or two guys out there. They make it difficult for you to get easy buckets, and if you can take away another team's easy baskets, it's a huge advantage for you, and I think that's something that Florida State can do."
How can you prepare for that?
"Well, you can't, because you can't simulate that in practice. You can't make your walk-ons---like Patrick Moody, who's 6-4---you can't make him 7-1. So, you just talk about it, try to get better ball movement and quicker moves inside, and see what can happen."