North Carolina-Radford Quotes, March 18
March 18, 2009
NORTH CAROLINA QUOTES
AMY YAKOLA: We're joined by North Carolina student athletes Tyler Hansbrough and Wayne Ellington. Questions, please.
Q. What do you know about the beast of Belarus, and have you watched film on him? What did you think?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: We didn't know they called him the beast of Belarus, but we do know he's a good inside player. We'll have to be prepared to play him.
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Yeah, we just, we watched clips on him this morning before we came here. He's a pretty good player. He's an inside presence, and our big guys will have to do a job on him.
Q. You guys know that Coach Robinson went to Radford and he's a member of their athletic Hall of Fame? Any jazzing him about the chance to beat his alma mater tomorrow?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Actually, we haven't talked much trash to him yet. But since you said that, we will. We did know that he's an Hall of Famer at Radford. But we haven't really talked too much trash to him.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: That was too long ago for me. I mean, that was I don't know. That was prehistoric for me. So it's been a while, so.
Q. If Danny came to you, which he may have, but if he came to you and asked for advice on how to get out of his shooting slump, what would you give him?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Just to get in the gym and get a lot of shots up. See the ball going a lot of times. You know, in the game just playing the flow. Don't try to rush anything. Try to get some easy ones. Get to the basket a few times. Maybe get to the foul line, just play in the flow and it will come back.
Q. What did you learn last year playing without Ty, and can you incorporate that if he's going to miss some time during the tournament?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Well, we're not really sure if he's going to play or not. But either way we've been practicing all this time without him. We've been prepared for him. We know what it's like without him. So it's not like it's something new or anything like that. Some guys are just going to have to step up and play like Bobby and Larry.
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Yeah, like Tyler said, you know, we've been preparing without him so far. It's tough to lose such a major piece, but at the same time it's a challenge for us. Guys have to elevate their game and step up.
Q. For both you guys, the experience of going through a season with the bullseye on your back all year, what was that like, and what did that put into this team that can be valuable now in this tournament?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: I mean, it's definitely tough. You have to stay on top of your game night in and night out. Everybody's gunning for you. Your away teams, the crowd, they'd love to run on the floor after they beat you. So you've just got to be on top of your game. Bring your A game. You know, it's tough, but that's the way you come into it when you come into the University of North Carolina.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: That's right. We have a target on our back every game. You know, we have to be prepared. We know we're getting everybody's best shot. So any time we let down, you know, someone else is going to come right at us.
Q. At some point this weekend do you anticipate running into the Duke guys here in the arena? And if so, what do you think might be said? Is it a big deal that you guys are here together?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Well, Wayne was high school teammates with some of them. So it would be pretty common for them to talk. But I don't really have a I'm not really friends with any of them. So I may say what's up, but nothing more than that.
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Yeah, I'll probably say what's up to Gerald or something like that. But, you know, I think we'll keep it brief, and, you know, just worry about ourselves right now. Worry about taking care of our own business.
Q. A lot of people outside are taking this as a big deal to Carolina that you and Duke are in the same building for the weekend. Does it matter to you guys?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: I don't really know. I mean I'm not really sure our fans and their fans are really on the same page all the time. So there may be some trash talk there. But we respect them.
Q. You guys expect this to be like a home game this week being so close?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: No. Just because it's not you know, it's at home. I don't know if Wayne's ever played here before. I played here my freshman year. But it's just because it's something new. I mean, at home we'd be in our own locker room and things like that. We understand we have a large part of our crowd here. But still it is new for a lot of guys.
Q. Throughout your career, has it mattered to you whether you play against a big guy who is a load inside or a player who takes his game outside on the floor?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: I mean, you know, I've faced both of those, but it doesn't really matter to me. Understand you have to be prepared for anything, but, you know, I guess I'll be playing tomorrow against a guy who dominates inside. So I'll have to be prepared for that.
Q. Assuming Ty's healthy, are you guys a better half court team this time than you were a year ago because of his increased focus and maturity? And the fact that he's taking on a little bit of a leadership role in the last six weeks?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Yeah, I think so. I think we're definitely a lot better in our half court game this year than we were last year. Ty has done a great job, and being more of a vocal leader and vocal quarterback for us and running our team.
I think to answer your question, yeah, I think we have improved a lot since last year in our half court game.
Q. I'm sure you guys haven't heard this, but if any 16 seed beats a 1 seed this weekend, Arby's is going to give free sandwiches to everybody in the country on Monday. A lot to play for there?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: I won't be eating any of them if that happens. So doesn't really matter to me.
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Yeah, we're not going to be the 1 seed, so, I mean, hey, if Arby's wants to give out free Arby's, I might go get a sandwich or something.
Q. One other thing about this deep thing. Do you think the selection committee was just being mean to Duke by making them play in the same field as you you guys?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: No, I mean, they are a top seed. So it is close. But I don't really know. I mean our games are far apart, but it's understandable. A big rivalry and how our fans are.
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Yeah, I don't think so. I think that's just the way it worked out. They're top seed so they get to stay close to home as well. But hopefully our fans will stick around and give them a little trash talk.
Q. Covering the Binghamton team that for a lot of them this is a brand new experience. I was wondering if you could talk about as freshmen your first time in the tournament and what that challenge is, and the experience is like for you guys?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: It's a big time experience. It's something that as you're growing up you watch and you see. It's an unbelievable feeling. It's tournament, so if you lose, you go home. You've got to go out there every game and leave it all on the court. On so it's a lot of pressure. But at the same time, it's a lot of fun.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: It's something you've watched on TV as a little kid. And it's something that you play in your backyard and pretend you're one of those teams in the tournament or something like that. So it is a special experience. Still at the same time, it's very important.
Q. You guys have been playing the whole season, and in a lot of people's eyes to sort of get to this point. This is what you're going to be remembered for no matter what happened before this point. Does that add a lot of pressure to you or is it a relief that it's here? Second part, Tyler, this is your last run, this is your last tournament. Have you had any sleep problems the last couple of nights knowing this is it? This is what you're going to be remembered by?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: I think, I don't think the pressure will affect us at all. I feel like we're excited to be here to this point. This is what you work all season for. You know, we have goals before we start the season, and one is, obviously, to get to the tournament and be successful and make a deep run. You know, we just want to take it one game at a time, and we're not worried about what is going to happen down the road.
We want to make sure that we don't overlook any teams. I think that's been our main focus.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Yeah, I mean, sometimes pressure is a good thing. It makes people realize the situation they're in. But also, I think it's something we've been talking about for a long time.
It seems that before the season people kept talking about is the season we're gonna win the National Championship. But, no, we're looking at this as one game at a time. But coach has said all along, we're not going to overlook anybody. And I am glad it's tournament time, but it's my last run. I realize that. So, you know, there will be a little extra oomph there. But there's nothing more I'm putting into this tournament than I haven't in the past.
AMY YAKOLA: Thank you both.
AMY YAKOLA: We're joined by head coach from North Carolina, Roy Williams. Opening comments from Coach Williams.
COACH WILLIAMS: Basically, the opening statement would be that there is a huge, huge probability that Ty will not play tomorrow. We're still trying to wait and see. He was not able to do the things that I wanted him to do in practice. So some things would have to change drastically before I would change my mind on that. So that's what y'all wanted to know, we can probably leave now.
Q. Just to sort of follow up on that. He said he could go through a little bit limited yesterday and today. What more do you want to see from him at this point? Is it just running full and going or what?
COACH WILLIAMS: Just being able to do more. I mean, he hasn't done anything live yesterday on or today. I mean, he went through the dummy stuff. Went through the shooting stuff. But he hasn't done anything live where you're playing against anybody.
Q. Does there come a point where it becomes his call? I mean, is he willing to play hurt? Are you willing to let him do it?
COACH WILLIAMS: It hasn't gotten to that point yet. I should never say never. I don't see that happening.
Q. Are you concerned that this is going to linger on for a long period of time and he might not be available for the entire tournament?
COACH WILLIAMS: First of all, is there a doctor in the house?
AMY YAKOLA: Got me all choked up you here.
COACH WILLIAMS: What was your question? I went for the doctor.
Q. Is it going to linger for a while?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't think so. But I've been surprised already. I mean, before the Duke game a week and a half ago he says, coach, I'm a lot better, I can go. So I checked with the doctors and they said, yeah, the swelling is gone, blah, blah, blah. So we went out and our trainer watched him move around before the Duke game. So he played. And he wasn't very bad.
You know, but then the next day the swelling just surprised everybody. And the extent of the swelling surprised everybody. So it took certain number of days to get the swelling down. Then the soreness is still there, the pain is still there. So I think it surprised everybody so far. Even the days are sort of running together now, but there was a time this week I thought he'd be able to play tomorrow, and there's been other times including right now that I've said no.
Q. Yesterday you said you were probably as discouraged as any time since Ty had injured his toe. Are you more encouraged today then that he's made some progress?
COACH WILLIAMS: No.
COACH WILLIAMS: No. I thought after yesterday again, yesterday all he did was shoot the ball and go through some dummy offense things, and that's all he did today. So I was hoping there would be a little more improvement on it.
Q. Question about the game matching up against the big center. What kind of challenges will Art present for you guys?
COACH WILLIAMS: He has tremendous size. He's averaging a double double. He's a very good player. He's able to score the ball. He has range that he can step out of the foul line so you don't leave him alone out there. They do a really good job of getting the basketball inside. It's an emphasis of theirs every single possession.
So to me, I think that that means he's going to be involved in a lot of plays. We've got to be able to cut down on his efficiency and do it without getting our own players in foul trouble. But he does have good touch. He keeps the ball up high. He doesn't make quick, reckless, careless decisions. He gets the ball, and he looks and he reads, and he makes plays.
The other players around him are good. I think Lynch Flohr was first team all league. He's a good player, he does a great job of feeding the post. Their perimeter players have an ability to shoot the ball. They have athleticism. They can put the ball on the floor and get it to the basket. They bring hall and number one, is it McEachin who is really athletic. He catches the ball on the wing, and boom he's at the basket. So they have seven players who play a lot and are very successful. So we do have to understand the big guy is a threat. But they have three or four guys averaging double figures, and seven guys averaging a lot of minutes per game and play successful.
Q. Tyler was saying his class is the only class of players that have actually played in this building. Which I hadn't thought about it, but it seems odd that you'd have a Carolina team that wouldn't have spent more time in the Greensboro Coliseum. You've probably spent plenty of time here, more than you'd like to count probably. But does it seem weird your players haven't played more in this building? Because it seems like such a home game for you guys. You would think it is, but not to be as familiar with the building?
COACH WILLIAMS: Since you said that, I guess I always believe what Tyler says, and I guess he's right. We played Illinois over here my first year back. I can't think of another game, So I guess he is right on this.
It's probably a little strange for me too. But we've played, you know, Charlotte has had an ACC. Charlotte has had an NCAA, Charlotte has had a preseason NIT, first and second rounds. So, you know, for the last during Tyler's time they've had more events in Charlotte.
Q. Danny Green has struggled over the last four games, 10 of 40 I believe he is in the field. Have you talked with him any this week or seen any difference in his game that maybe kind of encourages him for this week?
COACH WILLIAMS: Not to correct you, he's 10 and 45, not that I follow those kind of things. He struggled the first half against Virginia Tech and was really good in the second half. That was four games ago against Virginia. Against Duke, he was 5 for 10. And played good basketball. I was really pleased with what he did.
In Atlanta, in the ACC tournament he did struggle shooting the ball to the basket. He was 3 for 25, and two of those were tip ins. And so they say things balance out. So I'm really looking forward to what's coming next.
But Danny and I have had a nice meeting and discussed some things. He played well in practice yesterday, and well in practice already today.
Q. After looking at game film from last weekend's games without Ty, where was your team there as opposed to the way it was in Blacksburg and in Duke in the final with Ty?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, part of it you can see yourselves. I mean, with Ty we average 91 a game. And down there we averaged 74. We didn't get as many easy baskets on the break with his ability to push the ball. We didn't get as many easy ones with his ability to penetrate and draw people to him and pitch.
So that's the biggest difference. But our challenge is to be more efficient offensively now without him and to do a better job running the ball without him, too. We've had a couple of days practice to try to get better.
You know, even going to Atlanta last week, in my mind I thought we'd have him in Atlanta. So it has been a little more planned this week than it was last week that we have emphasized to the other guys. You know, we've got to do a better job.
Q. There's not a lot you can do about it, but can you talk about the frustration of working all year to prepare a team to get to this point, and then be facing something like this?
COACH WILLIAMS: You're right. There's not a lot we can do. It is frustrating. It's been the most frustrating year I've had as a head coach. In 21 years we've had more injuries by far than I've ever had. If you had held a gun to my head, which I'm glad you wouldn't, but in August I would have told you that Marcus Ginyard would be a starter for us. He had been a two year starter, and we haven't had Marcus all year. I would have told you that I thought Tyler Zeller was going to have a big time year for us, and we had him two games and he missed 12, 13 weeks.
I would have told you that I was pleased with the way Will Graves has gotten his weight down and he was going to be effective for us. He started out playing 11 or 12 minutes a game, and now he's not playing at all either.
Tyler Hansbrough was the most frustrating preseason I've ever had, because we'd have a drill. I said this week in my press conference, we'd have a drill that was designed for 8 minutes. And after 6 minutes I would say well, I haven't hurt his leg these first 6 minutes, maybe I better quit. Because I was so on pins and needles to make sure I was doing the right thing with him. And now here Ty at the end.
But it is what it is. It's being frustrated or woe's me and all that kind of stuff, doesn't do any good. You've got to try to prepare everybody else and go from there. But it is frustrating, but, nothing we can do about it, because you and I both agree.
Q. To follow up something Ty said. If I understood him correctly you you'd rather him not take another pain shot and have to play. Is that kind of going forward maybe his decision or, again, you're not going to let him do it? What do you think on that front?
COACH WILLIAMS: I told him I didn't want him doing that again.
Q. So probably won't then you don't think?
COACH WILLIAMS: (Nodding yes.) I'm not going to do that to a youngster. It's very safe. Let's make sure we understand one thing. I'm not criticizing anybody. But I'm old fashioned. I'm crazy, whatever. But I don't see that happening. I had to take a shot December 7th in 2005 to coach the St. Louis game that night, and it was the same thing.
They gave me a shot in my right cheek at 2:00 o'clock, and my left cheek at 7:00 o'clock, and I coached the game, and it was great (laughing). My butt felt just the same two weeks later. So there was no problem with me.
Q. A lot of people around the state are making a big deal about the fact that you and Duke are both here at the same venue. Is that really a big deal? And is there any possible distraction in the fact that all the hoopla is going around or is that something they'll have to deal with a little more than you because of the make up of the crowd?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't think it's any distraction. I'm going to try to watch the first game tomorrow, because that's if we're fortunate enough to win, that's who we'll play. I won't be here to watch the other games. I wouldn't be here if Duke was not here. I'll be pulling for every ACC team to do a great job.
You know, it's more things for you guys and the fans to talk about. I don't think it makes any difference whatsoever to the staffs.
Q. As a rival from a distance, have you noticed any difference at all in Duke or Mike Krzyzewski in the way they are since he's coached the Olympics?
COACH WILLIAMS: No. They do a wonderful job coaching, wonderful kids. They have played exceptionally well. Had a fantastic season, and if you had asked me last year, it probably would have been the same thing the year before and the year before. I haven't seen any difference whatsoever. And my guess is that if I had to lean any difference, I would say Mike's even more enthused because he wants to make sure nobody can use that as a reason for anything.
But I've seen him more enthused this year than I have, maybe, even the last couple of years.
Q. Here with a Binghamton team, that for a lot of them, this is their first taste of this tournament. Would you mind looking back on your first tournament as the head coach and the memories and challenges you faced that time?
COACH WILLIAMS: As a head coach, is that what you said?
Q. Or as the assistant?
COACH WILLIAMS: As the assistant, I was walking around smiling. I didn't have any pressure, Coach Smith was here. I was just like where are the Dove Bars (smiling). First one, as a head coach, I was trying to remember. First year as Kansas we were not eligible to go. Had not participated in the NCAA Tournament. So we lost in the Big Eight Conference Tournament. And I have no idea where it was, but it had to be one of two places. I was either recruiting or on the golf course.
The next year we came and played in Atlanta, and that is the year that we had been picked to be 8th in the Big 8, and we ended up spending two weeks at number 1, 2, 3 in the country. It was a great year, and very discouraging loss to UCLA. Had the last shot to win the game. Missed it. But it was a great run by our club. UCLA, for example, had five guys that played in the NBA. And we had one. So it was a big time club for us.
Q. Every North Carolina team faces high expectations, but this season it was up even another level. Now that you have a whole seasoned body of work to look back. How did they handle it, and was it even a harder ordeal than you might have guessed it was going to be?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think you said it right. It was at a higher level than I've ever seen. And part of it was because people interpreted something as different than what it truly was. First of all, they interpreted those four guys that came back, that they were going to be the top four picks in the draft. And that was not true. And the other thing a long with that they interpreted those four kids came back to win a National Championship, and that was not true.
Tyler Hansbrough came back because he loved college basketball and loves North Carolina and has fun and is enjoying life, and he was going to be the number one draft choice. The other three guys, Ty, I had conversations how many NBA teams are there? 30, 31? I had conversations with, I think, 24 teams. And everybody would say, yeah, I think Ty will be a number one draft choice, but nobody said they would take him including all the clubs that he worked out for.
And everybody said that Wayne and Danny would not be a number one draft choice. So that's the reason those kids came back is because they had a pretty good option of coming back and playing at North Carolina. But if somebody had told them they were going to take them 11th pick in the draft, every one of those kids, with the exception of Tyler, would have gone. So I think the extra pressure came from people saying God, those four kids are coming back. And they made them out to be the top four picks in the draft which was not true.
The other thing is they got together in some dark room with the light bulb hanging down, and the buttered popcorn and decided they were going to come back and win a National Championship, which was not true. But it did get more attention, more stress, more pressure, more expectations than any team I've ever been around. And I'm really, really, really pleased with how the club has handled it. Not only did you have all that, we had a great deal of adversity.
And this has been a club that I'm extremely proud of. One of the reasons starting out 0 2 in the league, including a home game. To come back and win the league by two games, it's been a heck of a year and a heck of a list of accomplishments by this club.
Q. Back to the Olympics thing. For you, did your coaching in the Olympics change you in any way?
COACH WILLIAMS: No. Well, change, you know is not exactly the way you asked it on Michael. We have two plays that we run right now that, if I hadn't coached the Olympics, I wouldn't run them. So it gave me another time period on basketball that was very good. It confirmed my ideas that I'm a college coach. You know, so those kind of things it did. But my energy level was not any higher or lower. Emphasis was not any higher or lower.
Q. As you've been talking about, there's been so much pressure on you guys the whole season. And, now that it's tournament time, the pressure is obviously still there. But the point guard for round one is not. What do you say to your guys about not getting too anxious about that and playing a team that has nothing to lose in round one?
COACH WILLIAMS: It's basically the same thing that I've said for 21 years as a head coach. We're coming over here to play Radford. And if we play well and get lucky, they may allow us to stay around and play another game. We're not saying we've got to do this or we've got to do that, we've got to do this. You know, the sky's falling kind of thing.
We're playing, and there's an opportunity to end up playing a second game here, but you've got to play well in the first game.
Q. Lot of the guys last year said they used what happened in East Rutherford against Georgetown as motivation. I haven't heard as much San Antonio talk this year. Is there a point where using that as motivation is wasted time or can it be something you can use at some point?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think it's a waste of time in every way, except one, if it motivates you to work harder in the summer. There's not one blessed thing that's going to help us tomorrow because of what happened against Kansas. Just like last year, there's not one blessed thing that helped us to get to the Final Four because of what happened to Georgetown.
The only thing it does is it provides motivation to realize that you've had an opportunity, and it slipped away, and now I'm going to work harder during the off season.
Last year to get to San Antonio, we, I never talked about if we had made a shot against Georgetown. You know, I mean, it's just it provides motivation maybe for Tiger's going to putt better next week because he didn't putt very well this week. But I don't believe he's going to stand ore the putt at Augusta National and say Jesus Christ at Doral I missed this putt, I've got to make it now. I think it's from one season to the next you've got to go play.
AMY YAKOLA: We are joined by the Radford student athletes. We have Kenny Thomas, Artsion Parakkhouski. And Joey Lynch Flohr. Questions for student athletes.
Q. Give me your best Brad green berg story?
JOEY LYNCH FLOHR: Any ideas? I'm trying to think. There's a couple. Help me out here.
ARTSIOM PARAKHOUSKI: I'm going to say that he recruit me like from for Radford university. And I didn't know nothing about him almost at all. And when, actually I came for the visit at Radford, and actually meet him and talk about like I am going to commit to Radford. I started to understand him like he's a patient coach.
He had a lost experience in the NBA. And I knew that he was going to bring some really good difference in Radford university in the second year. And that's why I'm enjoying playing at Radford university right now.
ARTSIOM PARAKHOUSKI: Yeah, you can call me just Art.
Q. Thank you very much. My guess is you probably know more about Tyler Hansbrough than he knows about you. But could you, a, describe your game, and b, tell us what you know about Tyler?
ARTSIOM PARAKHOUSKI: You know, Tyler Hansbrough is the best player in college right now. He won the award last year, in a Smith Award or something. Yeah, he is basically the best power forward right now in college. I know he's playing hard every game. You know, he got a lot of experience. He plays at the best college in the nation. It's going to be a hard game against him, you know. I just have to compete against him.
Q. What do you have? For those of us who haven't seen you play? What is your game like?
KENNY THOMAS: I have to like just more focus on my defense, play against him. Like not so much open looks for him, be tough with him. Make it a physical game.
Just push him around. Try to push him around as much as I can (smiling).
Q. Can you talk about what it was like when you first got here? What surprised you, and what caught you off guard? And I read that it took you three years to learn English. I wonder how long it took you to learn trash talk?
ARTSIOM PARAKHOUSKI: Trash talk? (Laughing) you know, I don't know really yet what means trash talk, you know. Yeah, knew come words, but I'm not pay attention to this, you know. I just try to learn English like it's the English (laughing).
Q. Can you talk about your arrival here and what surprised you about being in the U.S.?
ARTSIOM PARAKHOUSKI: Yeah, it's totally different culture here. It's kind of hard to adjust this culture over here, you know. Especially when I transferred from junior college to Radford, it's basically totally different from junior college now to college level. It was like just hard to adjust.
Q. Talk about playing UNC, were you a fan growing up? And give us some reasons why you think you can beat the Tar Heels?
KENNY THOMAS: You know, like I said before, man, it's every kids dream to go to UNC. We're happy to be playing them, but when we play them all that goes out the window. We're approaching this game just like any other game we play this season. We know it's going to be a battle, but we don't want our season to end just like they don't want theirs to end.
Q. Could you talk about what it's been like since you won the tournament and the anticipation and build up, what it's been like around town and on campus?
KENNY THOMAS: Radford definitely isn't the same Radford as it was last year. I can definitely say that. The atmosphere is wonderful, man. We have great fans. Every class I go to someone is saying play your hearts out against UNC. Give it all you got. Just the encouragement has been great, man.
Just the feeling that I have, it's just exciting. Just this atmosphere alone, just this very moment I'm in right now is just great. So right now the guys, we're cherishing and relishing this moment, man. We're going to seize it also.
Q. You guys play wake forest pretty tough, and even outrebounding them. How were you able to do that and does that give you confidence coming into a game like this?
ARTSIOM PARAKHOUSKI: You know, I was like focused on this game. I knew they had the best lineup, big lineup in the nation. You know, I just didn't pay attention to this so much. I just try to be free, play my game, you know. Just try to compete with them and just play free.
Q. I'd like to hear your impressions of playing with Art, and anything you've done to help him adjust to this game and life here?
JOEY LYNCH FLOHR: Well, Art's made my life a lot easier. I was playing center last year, and I wish we would have had him when we played Georgetown so he could have guarded Hibbard instead of me. But Art's made things a lot easier. It shows just what he's done, player of the year in our conference.
His game also reflects the awards I've gotten just because I've been able to play off him. Teams can't double team. I don't expect North Carolina to think they need to double team us, but he's just made my job a lot easier on on the court.
KENNY THOMAS: I mean, Art's awesome, man. He draws so much attention out there when you're on the floor. I think he makes everybody's game easier.
This year he's averaged a double double, that speaks for itself. I just basically pass it and then spot up. So he has great eyes and he has a great touch on the ball, so he's great.
Q. Same question that I asked Kenny. Talk about playing the Tar Heels, as someone from Virginia, did you follow them? And what kind of opportunity is this guess it leaves something to remember for the rest of your life?
JOEY LYNCH FLOHR: Yeah, I mean, there's more game tape out there on on UNC than anyone else. We watch them two, three times a week, just catching them on TV or Sportscenter. So we were all excited to be playing in Greensboro so we could come here.
We wish we were a 15, but playing UNC there, there's nothing like it. One of the best teams. Lot of people thought they were going to be the number 1 team coming in overall. But we are extremely excited to be playing UNC.
Then again, like Kenny said, as soon as we step on the floor all of our admiration for them goes out the window, and it's just another game, another opponent.
COACH GREENBERG: .
AMY YAKOLA: Happy to welcome to the podium, Bradford head coach, Brad Greenberg. Coach, a quick opening statement.
COACH GREENBERG: All right, first, I'm trying to see if we can market the school. Do you see Radford on here? I'm trying to make sure. I wanted to pick out the right shirt so we'd have a chance to get some pub. I guess I'd be remiss if I just didn't say that I'm humbled to be here.
You know, it's a thrill to be part of this. It's a thrill to be sitting here on the stage looking out at bright lights and a lot of people that care about what we're doing, care about the story of Radford being in the tournament. I'm very appreciative that I've had a chance to coach a fine group of young guys this year that have bought into what we tried to do from the beginning of the year. Now I see them enjoying this experience, which is very special for me, but certainly I think incredibly special for them.
So it's just a nice thing to be able to be a part of it, and see how it affects a group of young men that have been working at it since the second week of September. We're talking six plus months of dedication and commitment to try to be a better basketball team each and every day. Now they're getting a chance to do something pretty neat.
Q. When you look at your resume, you wonder how the heck a guy gets here eventually. Can you look back and see how improbable this is, and as such, what does it mean to you?
COACH GREENBERG: Well, I thought I might have been here about 20 years ago, maybe (laughing). When I first got started in basketball after playing in college and being fortunate enough to be an assistant coach right out of college. You never know what path you end up taking in basketball.
For me, it was from coaching in college to coaching in the NBA. That's a pretty turbulent world, NBA coaching. So all of a sudden I found myself in management, and a whole different path that was going all right. Then somehow, you know, back in college after a whole bunch of years away from it.
So, yeah, it is pretty improbable to be sitting here at 55 looking out at you guys. But it was my first passion, coaching and college basketball. I always thought at some point I'd get back in it, maybe as a division 3 head coach, after making a whole lot of money as a GM and decided to chill out for my last couple of years at basketball.
But I was really lucky. I was really lucky. I had support from a lot of people who encouraged me to get back in coaching. Especially my brother, Seth. And had an opportunity, first in Tampa at South Florida with him. Grew into Virginia Tech, and then I was in the right place at the right time as an assistant coach on a good team. Radford was a good fit. Two years later we're here. So it's a nice story.
Q. What does it mean to you personally to achieve this?
COACH GREENBERG: Yeah, it means a lot. But I've had some ups and some downs. You know, as nice as it is for me, you know, I've had some moments in the sun where it means more to me that these guys are experienced in something very cool. It really does.
You know, I'm appreciating that I just get to do this. That I get to walk in the gym every day and coach some guys, and that they let me coach them and let our staff coach them. They are now in the locker room watching this, probably, on the closed circuit TV. They're getting ready to go step out on the court in Greensboro and look out and think, you know what, we're part of this wonderful March Madness.
I've had some fun in basketball before. This is as good as it gets for me. But I know this is going to impact their lives in a way they'll remember this the rest of their lives, so I get some satisfaction, a lot of satisfaction.
Q. Have you talked to Seth and has he given you any tips?
COACH GREENBERG: We don't ever talk. We don't ever talk.
Q. On how to attack this team?
COACH GREENBERG: Yeah, he told me get back. Get back on defense. You know, a couple of other things. But nothing that we didn't know already, and nothing that you guys don't know already. It wasn't like I needed him to tell me they're pretty good, those guys.
I mean, this is the 13th time they've been the number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. No one else has done that. I always kid around and say Carolina isn't a program, it's like they're the firm from that Tom Cruise movie. Once you're a part of it, you can't get out, you know. Their former players, you know, the loyalty factor of Carolina basketball players is admired throughout the country. It's a special thing.
I got a chance to spend time over the air years with people like Mitch Cupcheck when I was in the NBA, you know, and Larry Brown who refers to Coach Smith. You know, it's different. My guys ten years from now are going to say, you know, well, I don't know what they'll say about me or how to refer to me. But it won't be Coach Greenberg, I can guarantee you that a.
Q. Coach Williams, Roy Williams mentioned yesterday that back when you were with the 76ers you had a conversation with him about perhaps becoming the head coach. I'm wondering what you remember about that conversation, and when it was, and how that conversation went?
COACH GREENBERG: Well, I was really lucky when I was with the Blazers and the Sixers that I got a chance to travel around the country and watch college players in preparation for the draft and get to talk to a lot of people about all kinds of stuff.
I did, after I had left the Sixers, you know, contemplate what I wanted to do and whether coaching was something I would pursue. And spent a lot of time with a lot of people like Roy Williams, and David Odom, and Herb Sendek. I took a little trip one day down this part of the country and brain storming some people.
You know, a lot of people that knew me just said, hey, that was your first love. That's what you used to do. You were a coach. At heart, that's what you always planned on doing, you somehow just segued into management. A lot of great people encouraged me to get back into coaching.
Q. Did you talk to him about coaching the Sixers?
COACH GREENBERG: Oh, that. You know, I talked to a couple of different people. I don't know if I remembered specifically talking to Roy about the Sixers. I don't know. I don't know. I don't remember that. I probably did. I probably talked to a lot of people.
But Roy, he's an unbelievable guy. He's one of those guys when you run into him, he doesn't just say hello. He asks you how you're doing and he means it. That always struck me as him being different. So he's different. He's a genuine, authentic guy who as much success as he has had and has, he's a warm person. I really respect him for that.
Q. Virginia Tech and Carolina have had some memorable games the last two years in the tournament. Did you get to watch those where some wins over Carolina might have gotten your brothers team in? What was that like and how did you face North Carolina in the tournament?
COACH GREENBERG: Two years ago I was actually sitting in had the Dean Dome while they were playing in the ACC tournament against each other. I was watching the North Carolina championships. I was looking over the shoulder of one of those security guys who had one of those hand held TVs.
When Hansbrough made that shot a whole bunch of people started buzzing around. They were happy. Someone looked at me and I went, you know, damn! And they said what's the matter? And I said that's my brother they just beat.
This year I was in my office watching the second half. I actually went to the Carolina game at castle coliseum this year. Got a chance to see Steve Robinson and Coach Holliday afterwards. It was funny, because they were saying hey, you guys are having a good year. Steve is a Radford grad. So we were talking about our team. Little did I know at that point, you know, our paths might cross in this event.
Q. I'm just wondering, I'm looking at your bio, and your last coaching job before the big gap was with the Knicks going home. I'm wondering what your memories are of that? And why you stopped coaching? Was it that crazy there?
COACH GREENBERG: No, but can you help me get Sunday delivery in Blacksburg? They don't do that. I'm trying to get it. I'd like to have my coffee on Sunday morning with the New York Times.
Well, after the Knicks, you know, like a lot of people in the NBA, you just want to get a job if you're out of coaching. I was fortunate. I got a call from the Portland Trailblazers who I had gotten to know some people with the Trailblazers ownership when I was in L.A. with the clippers. And they offered me an opportunity to work as a scout in their organization and stay living in the east.
That was the best option I had after Bob Hill was let go. And Rick Pitino came on to be the coach of the Knicks. So I was lucky. The Trailblazers scouting job turned into a player personnel job, which turned into a vice president job. Which, you know, kind of moved me along the management path. And it was going pretty good, so I stayed with it.
Q. A lot of people don't know who Parakhouski and Mitch are, how comfortable are you with that match up tomorrow against North Carolina's bigs?
COACH GREENBERG: I think Art and Joey will compete, and they'll do okay. They'll do okay. They're hard working kids. They're good players. They have size to match up. You know, I'm glad we got them on our side, that's for sure.
They're playing against someone who is indefeatable in Tyler Hansbrough. He just goes and goes and goes and goes. So they've never played against anybody like that.
But, that's the great thing about, you know this kind of stuff. You know, these two guys who want that kind of challenge, who want to test themselves against the very best are going to get a chance to do it.
I think that they'll be able to play to where they'll gain the respect of the Carolina front court guys. I really believe that. I think that Joey and Art can play on most teams in the country. I think that the Carolina guys will respect them after they go head to head with them.
Q. Can you talk about the mood in the locker room right now? Is it one where they're kind of a little nervous about playing who a lot of people think is a team that's going to win the championship? Or is it kind of like well we're 16 seed, we have nothing to lose, let's go out there and give it our best shot?
COACH GREENBERG: I think all of that. You know, they're well aware that just about every talking head with or without a matching tie and highlighter picks Carolina to win it. But at the same time there is nervousness, but a good nervousness. Excitement, but that's all good. They should be excited. They should be nervous.
But I also think that there's an element of confidence, too, which has to be there. We talk about that. If they don't have a level of confidence, a high level of confidence as they approach the game, then our capacity will be diminished for sure.
You cannot go into a game not thinking you can do it. Respect the heck out of the team you're playing, know that they're terrific, but at the same time be confident that you have it in you to play 40 minutes of the very, very best basketball you've ever played in your life. Individually and as a team. You have to feel that way. That's no disrespect to who they are.
I remember my days with the Sixers as a rookie, Allen Iverson was chastised because he had the audacity to say when he stepped on the court against Michael Jordan, that he thought he was the best player on the court. Why wouldn't you think that if you're going against a great player?
I mean, if you think you're not as good as that guy or can't play with that guy, then your capacity to perform that night isn't going to be what you'd like it to be. So we respect them to the endth degree.
But I want my guys to go out there thinking they're about to do something that's never been done before. What other attitude do you want to have when you go into the game? There shouldn't be any.
Q. Could you just describe the style of play for your team? And also elaborate a little bit more on Art's game. He's obviously a very good player, and just tell us a little about him and what you've learned about him.
COACH GREENBERG: I don't know if we have a style of play. It's not as if we go into games thinking we want to run or we want to control the ball. We want to work hard defensively, and try to keep them from catching the ball in what I would term is their scoring spots.
You know, that every team and every player has spots that they he want to get the ball to and every individual has positions on the court where if they catch it, they're in pretty good comfort zone. So we try to defend as best we can to keep people from being in their comfort zones.
Offensively, we try to get the ball inside. We have two big guys, and we've preached all year that we want to establish that inside presence before we do anything else.
We haven't played against, you know, as much size and athleticism as we'll play against tomorrow, but that's still our goal. I mean, that's our strength, that's what we want to do. You know, every coach says the same things about, you know, we want the team to play hard.
I want our guys to try to be the first to the floor on that first loose ball, and to get after that first, what I call 50 50 ball that's up for grabs. To be so alert and active that they get there. They're driven to get there. That their will is that strong that they get there. And every coach says that. I'm not saying anything that Carolina couches and every coach and team that's still playing in the locker room isn't doing, too.
As far as Art, Art's a developing player. He's played basketball for five years. Tyler Hansbrough, it seems that he's been first team All American for five years. So Art isn't as experienced as a lot of kids, but he's growing each and every week and getting better and better. He's a big guy. He's got good hands. He's got a pretty soft touch. He's a very good defensive rebounder. He's got solid timing for defensive rebounds.
So most rebounds like in his area, he's got a pretty good shot at getting them. That's probably the strongest part of his game. He's a really good defensive rebounder.
Q. Everybody on your staff, even players talk about and praises Carolina and all. But specifically this week and in practice, do you literally say to them we can beat these guys, and if so, if you saw the scenario like that unfolding, what were your half of it have to be? What would up to do for that game?
COACH GREENBERG: We have to do what the teams that have beaten them have done. In the games they've lost. However it's happened, they haven't shot well. They've shot, I think, under 40% in the team in four losses. They've shot under 30% as a team from beyond the arc. You know, you've got to stop them from scoring. They just score so easily. They have the highest scoring starting five in college basketball. You can't stop just one guy. Every guy that touches the ball has the ability to put it in the basket and make a play.
So if you can't stop them from scoring the points a little bit, you can't beat them. So, I mean, that's what you've got to be able to do.
Do we talk about being able to beat them? Yeah. As I said before, it's like the little league baseball coach that tells the kid not to keep the bat on his shoulders for strike three. We want to swing for it. That's the only way to do it. I have a frame of reference.
I was part of a coaching staff at St. Joe's in 1981 that back before there were 64 teams that played an opening round game and squeaked by Creighton and matched up with the No. 1 team in the country, DePaul. You know, we had four kids from Philadelphia, and one kid from outside Philly, and somehow beat Mark Aguirre, and Harry Cummings, and Teddy Grubbs, and Ray Meyer. On a last second shot. So I mean, it can happen.
It's not easy, but it can happen. That's the only way to approach it.
Q. I want to touch on what you just mentioned that St. Joe's game from way back. Do you remember specifically that game? And the days leading up to it, and the things that happened?
COACH GREENBERG: Sure, I remember it very clearly. I remember it in our coaching meetings, we said if we can get to the first TV timeout without having to call our own before that, we might be in good shape. Yeah, I mean, we actually watched that game on the bus on the way here. At least I watched it. Most of the guys were asleep, but I liked watching it.
Then after the game, they showed I think it was Don Cricky, I think, interviewing John Smith. You know, John Smith said exactly what, you know, all our guys know we have to do. We've got to try to have some control over the air game and not beat ourselves. You know, if we can keep the game at a certain rate, certain pace, that gives us a better chance. So that St. Joe's game was different. No shot clock back then. No three point shot. We were playing a 2 3 zone, and we had five guys in the paint and the team still wouldn't shoot it.
So it's different now. If you do that, people are just lining up shooting threes. So it was a different kind of game. But we were able to control the pace of that game and get a couple of lucky breaks at the end to be able to have a shot to win it.
AMY YAKOLA: Thank you, Coach.
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