April 5, 2009



Q. Coach, you talked yesterday about the symbolism of what this game means for many people, not just in this area, but around Michigan. Talk about what you feel a victory would mean for this city, and why this city yearns so much to have such good news.
COACH IZZO: Well, I mean, it's been a city of champions. If you look at what's been accomplished here, it's just not that long ago, there was a World Series here. I went to the Red Wings win before their final win last year. The Pistons, I've been at a couple of theirs. Joe Louis, it's just been a city of some champions.
What it would mean, I'm sure, like I said, there's a lot of cities right now that have problems. But this is ours. This is our big city in the state. So that's why I think it's a little more meaningful for those of us that are from around here. Even Ray and Travis, who have not resided here for three and four years, they're not that far away either and they have a great appreciation.
KALIN LUCAS: It's a storm in the city, so we're trying to bring sunlight to it.

Q. Can you talk about your philosophy, using timeouts, what you try to accomplish coming out of timeouts.
COACH IZZO: Well, I usually do save mine. I know Ben Howland, when we played them, he uses his early. Sometimes I think I save mine too much. But we've been very effective coming out because they've executed very well. So I guess I have saved mine till the end, a little bit more than some coaches do. Everybody has their own theory and philosophy.
But the way North Carolina makes runs, and they're such devastating runs, never two or four points, they're always eight or 10 or 12 points. We might have to use them more. If we do, we'll hopefully come out of a timeout and run something well then.
But it's the players that have executed it, made the shots, not me.

Q. After you guys lost to Carolina earlier this year, did any of you think you would be here today? Hands.
TRAVIS WALTON: Did we think we was going to be here? We believe in ourselves. We knew we had a great team. We got a great coaching staff. We work hard. This was our goal all along. Even though we had some ups and downs, we still believed we was a great team, even though nobody else believed in us.
RAYMAR MORGAN: I think Travis pretty much covered everything. Like he said, we believe in ourselves since day one. We knew what we could do. We had a goal and everybody just wanted to reach that goal and we worked hard to get here.

Q. How different of a team are you from then to now?
RAYMAR MORGAN: A lot different. Back then G, he wasn't even in the building. Delvon was still facing some injuries. We just had a lot of ups and downs. A lot of guys weren't playing as much and different things like that. I think we're just a more experienced team. We faced a lot of different teams now, different styles of play. I think we're just better.

Q. After your game, during the second game, I saw some of the players walking up through the crowd, talk to people, signing autographs, shaking hands. Was that something you encouraged them to do, embrace all the people around here, see them? For the players, how much do you enjoy seeing everyone?
COACH IZZO: Well, I wanted to watch some of the game, too. But I think part of the opportunity and the falderal around a Final Four, sometimes players don't get to take advantage of. I told them after our game, Go up and spend some time with your family, try to watch some of the game till halftime. It's another thing where you can say it's a distraction if you don't trust your team or you can say it's not just to get a feel good pat on the pack, they get enough of those. It was really to spend some time with the people that matter, and that's their families. That's the reason I think they went up there.
We do have seats up there somewhere. I don't know exactly where they are. I think this team has gained my trust. I think they know how to stay focused now. It's not easy in this setting, but I think they've done a great job of it.

Q. Almost every Carolina player and Roy have all said they're not really using the first game as any sort of judgment of Michigan State because, as you said, it was a bad night. Outside of motivation, are you using that first game at all for tomorrow night?
COACH IZZO: I'm not. I don't know if these guys are. I'm not, only from the standpoint of I'm not sure we ever watch that film. It's just one of those games.
But I did make the statement after the game that, you know, we had some guys that were laid up. Even Kalin is back. We had some guys that were laid up. If we had everybody perfect, the way they played that night, instead of winning by 35, they could have beat us by 20.
If we play good and they play good, we're losing. That's the way I look at it. I mean, I don't look at that in the negative. They are the best team in the country, and have been that, have earned that rank probably over a year and a half. But we found a way to have some teams not play as good against us.
So all we've got to do, it doesn't have to be this and this, we've just got to play good and have them play a little less than good. That's how we hope to beat 'em.
But I'm sure we talked about it once and everybody wants revenge. That's normal. But I think these guys have enough respect for 'em, but yet don't fear them because of what happened then.

Q. You dunked against Robinson last night. After you put it down, did you feel something come out of UConn, feel them deflate a little bit?
DURRELL SUMMERS: You know, I just kind of tried to probe into it a little bit. I seen Raymar on the wing. I seen him kind of back pedal a little bit. He's an athletic guy, just like I am. I kind of like my chances with a guy back pedalling and me going straight up.
He got a little piece of the ball. I just kind of instinctively tried to overpower it a little bit.

Q. Did you feel something come out of that?
DURRELL SUMMERS: You know, they kind of dropped their heads a little bit. But we tried not to let up. They're a great basketball club, just like we are. They're trying to fight to the end. So, you know, we kind of celebrated a little bit. But coach was yelling, Get back. We had to finish the game.

Q. You've been very clear over the years you want your guys to get out and run when that opportunity presents itself. Is this maybe the rare case where you have to be careful with that?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think that's gonna be in the hands -- we'll have a meeting with my point guards, with Travis and K and Korie Lucious. We still want to run. We have to make the best decisions. I don't want to make them on this end, I want to make them on our end. In other words, let's push it all the way.
When we get down there, there's going to be pressure on these two guys to figure out if we have numbers, are we going to get a good shot or not.
But I don't like when we make that decision on the outlet. I like when we make that decision at the end, on the finish. But that puts more pressure on my guards. But I think they're ready to handle that now. They've grown a lot during this year, too.

Q. You were talking about the moment on the floor before the game with Jim Nantz last night, how you soaked it in. Your buddies were saying last night how they've noticed you have enjoyed this ride maybe more than even the others. Have you done that intentionally because this is your fifth one? Are you enjoying it more? Travis, what have you done to make sure the coach enjoys it a little more than maybe in the past?
COACH IZZO: Well, you know, I've enjoyed every one. But I think when a team maybe takes some ownership in the team - That sounds crazy, but that's what's happened. Adversity always makes you go one way or the other - you either grow from it or you fail from it. And this team has grown from it.
You know, maybe it was the loss. Maybe it was some tough home losses. Everybody talks about that "one" game. I mean, I remember when Louisville got beat by Notre Dame bad. Sometimes we don't think we're perfect, I think some other people do, and we're not. But it's not really if you're perfect; it's if you learn from the mistakes you made.
I think I have confidence that this team is starting to take over the team instead of it being a coach-coached team. When that happens, it's a more enjoyable ride. It really is in their hands. I mean, once the game starts, it's in their hands. I can call every play in America, once in a while I get excited when one works because more often than not they don't. They're the ones that finish the plays and make the shots and make the decisions.
Yeah, it has been an enjoyable ride. Where we've played, the teams we've played, it just seems like it's been a great run in that respect.
TRAVIS WALTON: Yeah, I think as a coach, for coach, when players do what you ask, players execute, players focus in, do the things that you want done, I think you enjoy it more. So I think for the most part, you know, every player on this team has focused in to believe everything coach said, got tougher, you know, played Michigan State basketball, blue-collar, kind of been role models for the kids, been great to the community.
So I think that's what coach asked for out of us. You know, for this year, we did all to deliver it for him. Even through our ups and downs, we've been good in school and everything. We took care of our business. I'm pretty sure for coach that's what you want out of your kids. You want them to do everything you ask, even if you think things not going right, you want them to at least attempt and have a mindset of doing something right and executing and focusing on the game plan, what you got to do. I think we did that this year.

Q. Goran, a couple minutes ago somebody asked for you to raise your hands if you thought, after that North Carolina defeat, you would be here at this time. Only Travis and Raymar raised their hands. What was up with you?
COACH IZZO: He wasn't in the building (laughter). He didn't see the game.
GORAN SUTON: I watched the game at home. I must have missed that part of the question or something. I definitely would have had my hand up (smiling).
It was hard watching these guys play and not being there that time. But we have got a chance. I think it's going to be a totally different game.

Q. Travis and Goran, what have you taken from the '79 team and what in particular during the tournament have they said to you or given you any kind of advice? Goran, when was the first time you became aware of what the '79 team did?
GORAN SUTON: Well, I think, you know, Magic came back a couple times, talked to us. They had the 30-year reunion in the Breslin Center. They came and spoke to us, told us to keep together, keep believing in each other. We have a great coaching staff, so we can get great things accomplished.
For myself, I learned about that game, I'm pretty sure, a couple years coming to America, you know, watching Final Fours, the NCAA tournaments. Earvin went to my high school. I obviously heard about the national championship that he won at Michigan State in '79. So I watched that game probably, you know, somewhere in 2003.
TRAVIS WALTON: When you think about that team, they went 4-4 starting off in the Big-10. They had they ups and they downs. Was probably on the verge of not making it to the tournament. They was facing a lot. I think when you look at that team, you look at us, we faced a lot of adversity with our ups and downs. People probably didn't believe they was going get there. Had high hopes probably before the season, like we did.
When they came back, we celebrated for them, when the '79 team came back, and we played in front of them. I think that game we kind of played for them. There was a lot of emotion in that game. It was pretty much enjoy the moment, cherish it. You could see all the smiles on they faces all them years later. They remembered each other. They were hugging each other, doing all those little things.
I think it was cherish the moment, but at the same time, "Get the same thing we got." That was what a lot of them was saying, "Go get what we got." That's basically what they were saying.

Q. Kalin, after that game in December, I think you specifically said, We'll get them back in the rematch. Were you really that confident there would be another rematch?
KALIN LUCAS: No. As far as our team, we just want to take one game at a time. We had goals and dreams that we did want to accomplish. You know, we just took one game at a time and now we're here and it feels good to be here.

Q. Tom, after the game yesterday, after you addressed the team, the team huddled up and chanted 'family.' Why is there a particular emphasis on family and why is it working?
COACH IZZO: Probably Earvin and Gregory, the Steve Smiths, Snows, Cleaves, Petersons, that's kind of been what they've tried to sell here. Travis and K and Ray and G, all these guys here, Durrell, they have the choice of what they want to say. That's not coach driven. That's player driven.
Throughout the season there's been a couple different times when focus and finish has been one of our battle cries, when some games we didn't feel we finished strong enough at the end, that we didn't finish well enough.
But I think they probably picked that for this because of the 30, 40, 50 thousand people, or whatever people that were here. You kind of feel like everybody in this city is part of our family.
So probably better off asking Travis because he kind of comes up with it each time.
TRAVIS WALTON: Well, we family. We see each other more than we see our own moms and dads and grandparents. So with that something said, you come in college to meet friends that you gonna have for a lifetime, to expand from your high school days. With us coming here, coming to Michigan State, being embraced by the Mateen Cleaves, Magic Johnsons of the world and everything like that, it's family. You can't go other places, I don't think, that you can say you got NBA legends that look at you as they little brother or arguably one of the best leaders in college basketball, Mateen Cleaves, looking at us like we his little brothers. That's family, period.

Q. Coach, the fourth time in the last five years you guys and Carolina have been in the same building in the tournament. Fifth time this decade. Going back to '57, these two programs met in the semifinals. Is it time these two programs finally meet in a national title game?
COACH IZZO: Yeah, they've kind of given us our lunch, haven't they? But that's because they're a great program. I've said a million times, there's some programs we're aspiring to beat. But you hit the nail on the head. They've done it consistently since those '50s probably. We've been a little up and down probably. We're getting more consistent.
So there's a lot of things that are time. The problem is, where I have to respect them probably as much as any team recently is, I had a team that had a bunch of guys that could have left early, at least a couple of guys, and they wanted to win a championship. In this day and age, winning sometimes doesn't come before personal goals or other things.
There's no secrets that Carolina had three or four guys that could have left, two or three for sure. They came back to win a championship. They're knocking on the door, too.
We know what daunting task we have. But I think the story is better that we're both in the same building and we've both moved on and we both played in some big games. If we're getting our name in with theirs right now, I think that's a plus for our program, because they have done it over time.
We're aspiring to do it over time. That's the respect I have for Roy, for his program, and for what the players in the past have done there.
I get a chance to work Michael Jordan's Fantasy Camp every year, and I'm sure him and Magic will be having, not a bet, but I think they'll be having a gentlemen's agreement on this (smiling).

Q. What effect has Delvon's progress, the ride he's been on, knowing there were no guarantees with his health, no guarantees in a lot of ways with a whole lot regarding his situation, had on this team, knowing now he's squaring off once again with a program, an elite level program that he turned down to play with you guys?
COACH IZZO: What I'm most impressed with Delvon is we've had a lot of NBA people that have come in. When you talk to NBA people about an injury that has really been the end of a lot of guy's careers -- microfracture surgery is a serious injury, taken big strides in the last five years. But what he's done, he's almost the poster child or medical miracle for that injury. He's had very, very little problems with it - knock on wood, if there's some around here - and yet the swelling and all the things that normally take place with that, he hasn't had.
I give credit to him, our trainers, our doctors, his doctor back in Cleveland, they did a marvelous job. We stuck to it. When he could only practice every other day, whatever he could do, play 12 minutes a game, there were times I wanted to play him more, but pretty much stuck to the program that I was told.
But I think he gives credit. I think these guys deserve credit, because Delvon is potentially a very good player, but he's not always been great, because the guy missed 10, 11 months. He didn't touch a basketball for probably nine months. That's hard to do.
So when the NBA guys come in and say, Wow, that's pretty impressive that a guy is still playing and doing this, it gives me a better perspective. That was my first with that kind of surgery. He's got a big heart. He works hard. He's got a long ways to go yet. I think his best basketball's ahead of him. Spring, summer, and fall, he'll get to finally work out, which he hasn't really been able to do on the game of basketball, his skills.

Q. Kalin, can you talk about the first game with North Carolina, the way you played and the way Lawson played.
KALIN LUCAS: He played great. One thing he did was he ran his team good. He got his guys shots. He made sure he created for his-self and plus his team. I mean, everybody know they beat us, they beat us bad.
As far as our team, we just gonna go out on Monday. We gonna play 'em aggressive. It should be a great game.

Q. A lot is made of kind of the grit and will of this team. Not a lot of credit is given to the talent of the team. Can you speak to that. Most of these guys are highly recruited players.
COACH IZZO: That's a great point. I mean, I don't disagree with you at all. I accept and I admire some of the talented people in this tournament. You get this far, though, you don't get this far on grit. You get into the tournament, maybe you get through the first round on grit. But there are some talented guys here in their own right. I think they're trying to build their own legends, their own ways. In some ways our team is still young, and some of them are just growing. In some ways our team has accepted their roles, and sometimes that doesn't get enough credit.
We have some talented guys, and I think that's been oversighted a little bit because I get to see them every day and I'm prejudiced.

Q. Coach, how has your preparation on the turnaround, second game of a weekend in the NCAA tournament, how has that evolved during your career at Michigan State and how do you think that helps you tomorrow? And, Travis, why do you think you guys are so successful in that second game of a tournament under Izzo?
COACH IZZO: Well, on our part I think, you know, we devised a plan that we used when we played Princeton because it was such a hard second-day turnaround. We devised a plan where we have these little 20-minute meetings, film session. Even if we get back at 1:30 in the morning from our game, which has happened a few times, we always have a film session so they can go to bed on it, just a short one.
Kind of learned if you keep them short, we have meetings, walk-throughs, in hotels, a lot of things I learned from my football buddies, I listened to Magic talk about when they were in the playoffs how they used hotels, courts laid down in them. We tried to do those things a lot of teams do.
I think the reason we've had such good success is the players' focus. I told them something the first weekend, and I think they believe it. I said, You get me through the first game and I feel good that I can help get you through the second. And they've kind of had that mentality.
And now they've gotten to the point where they watch a lot of film. Some of them tell me what I should be doing the next morning, like this morning. And the funny part is, I'm starting to get enough confidence where I'm listening to every word they say.
TRAVIS WALTON: Yeah, I think pretty much the coaching staff, of course, do -- not even the coaching staff, because they focus on our games, so our managers that's in the program, they get a lot of film, do a lot of stuff for coaches. Once the game over, we can prepare for the next team, have anything on the table for 'em, the players focusing in, knowing what we got to do out there. You got most of the players trying to watch a little extra film. We do a 20-minute film session, as coach say. Maybe a couple other players, they may do a 10-minute extra film session to get more acquainted with that team.
Like he said, the players -- as players, we all do a great job of focusing in, listening to what the coach is saying. You got to give credit to our managers and the people behind of scene that y'all never see or y'all never talk to.

Q. Last night after the game, Coach Calhoun said he had watched a lot of tape of you guys. I assume any scouting report says you guys play hard, you defend, rebound. He said you were a different-looking team against Louisville, you were different last night. How has this team gotten different?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think last night's game, a big, big difference, K has had some big games, Travis, those guys have been very steady. G, he didn't have a bad game, he just didn't get as many shots. He doesn't get enough credit for his defense. He's a real intelligent player.
Raymar is a difference maker. Raymar Morgan, I think every guy on this podium here would agree, if he wasn't our best player, he was right there with our best player in January. Sometimes you doubt things. It's hard and difficult to see when a guy gets injured, I mean, if it's more than a sprained ankle or something, if it's an injury that lasts a long time, it's harder to come back than you think in a lot of ways, especially when you're under fire.
Raymar played like the guy that played the first 14 games. He was dominating on the boards. He's a very good defensive player. He's got versatility. If you look at all our great players here, I think the one thing over the years has been versatile players. Even for a point guard, I mean, Kalin can shoot it. He can do different things. He's not just one-dimensional.
So I'd say that we're a different team because we are healthy. We have practiced together the last month. But as steady as most of these guys have been, Ray is a difference maker for us.

Q. Roy Williams is fond of saying he's never been beaten by a building. In this building Monday night they're going to be a lot of green, people cheering for you. How much of an advantage does that really give you or does it matter?
TRAVIS WALTON: Well, this the national championship game. Coach Williams say the building not going to beat you, I think you go off the intangibles. It's always a plus to have a lot of fans, but at the same time, you know, we all going for one goal, and that's to win the championship.
So, you know, it's like an away game maybe for them, and they have a great road record. So I'm pretty sure that they not scared of our crowd, or not even worried about our crowd. They just gonna come out and play, you know, thinking that they can quiet our crowd.

Q. Win or lose, this season ends tomorrow night. Have you scheduled that appointment with a barber and are these guys going to hold you to it as far as shaving the head?
COACH IZZO: No, I haven't had time to schedule anything. I'm probably dumb enough to do it. I don't exactly know when. I guess I will say this, that is probably dead last on my things to worry about for tomorrow night. But we'll see.
THE MODERATOR: The student-athletes are dismissed. We'll continue with questions for Coach Izzo.

Q. Last night Jim Calhoun said that you have a cause with all of the economic things going on here, that that's a great thing. Could you talk about when that struck you, how that evolved? Can you ride that emotional wave tomorrow night after what you did last night?
COACH IZZO: You know, Jim has been involved in probably more charities and causes than 90% of the coaches in the country. I think what he means is, I mean, I agree with Roy, no building beats you. But I was a part of a win at the Palace a few years ago that I don't think we win without the building.
You know, I'm not sure we do last night. Yet in ACC country, North Carolina, Duke has experienced that many a times with all the games out there. They're a good road team. We're a good road team. We've been a good road team. We've been almost a better road team than home team. Maybe it's to our disadvantage.
But I think the cause, you know, every year there's things that happen in the NCAA tournament. Every year there's things that happen in the Super Bowl. There's always a story line. This happens to be ours. Every coach is going to use every single motivational tool you can use.
I keep saying one-on-one, we're not as good as North Carolina. I don't feel bad about saying that. I don't feel like I'm demeaning my team. I'm realistic. I'm semi-intelligent. I've watched enough film. G missed that game. I'm happy he missed that game. We sent him home, you know. He had to get his knee operated on the next day. I hope TV was out in Lansing.
But I did see the game. I know how good they are. You're right, we're gonna pull out everything we can pull out. And, yet, this is one cause that isn't manufactured. It's real. People live it every day. But they live it in all our cities right now.
I don't even look at this as just Michigan or Detroit; this is a lot of people. It just seems like because we're in Detroit, you know, there's been an embracing both ways.

Q. You've talked a lot about trust. You've said you've come to trust this team. You said you like a player-coached team better than a coach-coached team. At what point in this season did they start to win you over?
COACH IZZO: Wow, that's a good question. It's always a process. The process wasn't very smooth. I picked some bad words during the year. 'Dysfunctional' was probably one of them that probably a lot of people questioned what I was thinking of my own team. But we were not very smooth. There was not something you could feel good about, because every time we did and we started building, it was Delvon, and then it was G. Then we got all of them back. We practiced the day after Christmas. We had everybody back. We're all excited about that. Delvon got the okay. We go play Oakland. The last two minutes, he sprains his ankle bad. Plays a couple minutes at Minnesota and Northwestern. Then he gets back a week later, then Ray goes down.
I'm not sure I didn't trust them because of any other reason than just the cards we were dealt. I'm not sure they trusted me. I think we live in a society that if you're the coach or you're the teacher, the principal, the parent, we're supposed to respect you because of your age or your title. Age and title gain no respect. They have to see what you do and you have to see what they do.
And usually there's controversial things that happen. Maybe it was the losses to Northwestern, a very good Penn State team -- who just won the NIT. I'm really happy for Eddie. Maybe it was going through those tough times.
I know Ray, we've had so many heart-to-hearts in the last two weeks. But one took place last night in the shower room before my final talk to my team. You're just always trying to get through to him. You're always trying to let them know you understand. And sometimes you're jumping on 'em. That's okay, too. And sometimes they're barking back. For me, that's okay, too.
But trust is earned, not given. And I think sometimes we just expect that a kid should trust you because of the position you hold. And really, to an 18-year-old, 20-year-old, I'm not really sure that matters. You have to earn it each day, just like we tell them they have to earn it each day.

Q. Could we get a little more detail about your turnaround scheme. What film did you watch last night? How long was it? How much more film will you watch?
COACH IZZO: What we started doing is we started having these 15- to 20-minute sessions. We watched a little of their break and offense. That's the key to the game, lethal weapon for them. Their halfcourt offense is good, but they don't get in it very often because they score so fluently in their first 10 or 15 seconds. Definitely one of the best fast-breaking teams consistently from tip to the end that I've ever seen in college basketball.
So we watched a little bit of that. We just talked about a couple of things we thought affected us the first game, 22 turnovers, where they get 27 points off our turnovers. We wore down the second half. We talked as a coaching staff, Why did we let them wear down?
Then this morning, we got up. What we do is 15 or 20 minutes before breakfast, film session, have breakfast, 15 minutes after walk-through in the ballroom. Now we'll practice tonight before supper, so it doesn't become an inconvenience or a drag. 15 minutes, individuals, we'll look at their individual personnel. We'll eat. Then we'll either walk through or look at a little more film, some things we thought we're not doing as good a job of, or they're doing a great job of, try to figure out how we do that.
We'll do the same thing in the morning, have another walk-through. It's only 15 or 20 minutes, but it could be as many as five, six times a day. I think more soaks in. Everybody has their own system. But more soaks in a small period of time than maybe an hour film session than I'm sleeping or they're sleeping.

Q. Doug Herner, Jordan Ott, what do they do? What does Doug specifically do to help you?
COACH IZZO: Those guys are the video guys that pull a lot of film, try to figure out what games. You got to try to find film. Doesn't do me any good to go watch film of somebody zoning North Carolina because we're not going to do much of that, or some team, like a Missouri, who presses the whole game, because we're not going to do much of that. You try to find teams that are somewhat comparable, who's giving them trouble.
God, I felt so good. When I look at the sheet, I said, Aha, Virginia Tech and Florida State. Then I looked through and saw Lawson didn't play. Bag that film, go somewhere else (laughter).
That's what you try to do. They do a great job of preparing. I'm kind of glad Travis said it. We have 10 managers. We filmed over 1800 games so the night of the NCAA tournament we'd have something on everybody. It's been kind of a fun thing at our office. My former assistants that maybe don't have the video equipment, the things we have at Michigan State, they'll send a manager, fly one in if they're in the NIT or NCAA, find out who, leave with eight or 10 tapes. It kind of keeps our staffs together a little bit. It's been kind of fun.
But our managers, guys that make nothing, they're filming games till 2, 3 in the morning. The night of the NCAA tournament, they'd come to me with a list, you got eight films on this, nine films on this, if you get through this round, you got this, and they had it all laid out.
There's so many guys that do so much work, I get credit from it. It's been a fun ride. That's why we have three or four video guys in the NBA now. It's just all part of the program. I guess that's what I'm proudest about. It's not just our players, our fans; it's our program is growing.
And yet we're playing one of the ultimate programs, to be honest with you. It's one that has done it for a long, long time. I remember when Larry Brown was here. He just talked about coach. He still pays homage to the people that coached him. That's pretty cool.

Q. We know Suton didn't play in the first game. What other specific ways do you think you guys are better and different? For a guys who loves motivational things, isn't that something you really can use, losing a game like that?
COACH IZZO: If I thought it was a total fluke, I could use it. I don't think it was. That's the problem. I got to come up with different ones than that. Thinking of getting Magic's two years of eligibility back, something that's a little bit better.
We were a little beat up. That's the truth. We came off that three games in four days. Even Roy said to me after the game, we're hanging in there with five, six minutes to go. We're five down. Lawson hit two deep threes. I think we went down 12 or 13 at halftime. In the second half, the wheels came off the cart. We looked poor, we ran poor, we shot poor. He said, Your legs came out on you, watch how you schedule, meaning the timing of things. I laughed and said that that was good advice.
I think he saw it. He knows we're a better team than that. I think the part that's a problem, and listening to some of the people last night, they shot 40% last night. I mean, they didn't play that well for North Carolina standards, and beat a very, very good team - not handily, but fairly handily. I think that tells you a little bit on how good North Carolina is.
I'm hoping the one thing that has helped us in this tournament has been our depth. They haven't been playing as many players, although they've got some guys sitting there that haven't played as much that are pretty good, because I saw them early in the year.
But maybe that's one thing we can use. If you got any motivational ideas, it's 1-800-Izzo, just call me.

Q. After that game, you said that was a team you'd like to play again with a full deck. What were you thinking when you said that?
COACH IZZO: Saying that to Charlie Bell, as we were marching through the tournament, we were going to have to play Iowa State. Everybody thought they were a 1 seed until the last week, so they made a big deal about it, Boy, you guys have to play another No. 1 seed, potential No. 1 seed. Charlie said, To be the best, you got to beat the best. A cliché a lot of people have used. I was thinking of Charlie then. I was thinking if I'm still playing and I get another shot at North Carolina, I knew it would be somewhat late, somewhat late. I didn't know it would be in the national championship game, but it would be somewhat late.
I was a little bit hoping to play Carolina again, just maybe that much. But I was hoping to be still around when I'd have a chance to, because I thought it would be later in the tournament.

Q. How important is it to have a kid like Korie Lucious who never seems to lose confidence in his shot? As a coach, why have you found it so important to embrace the '79 team and make them a part of your program?
COACH IZZO: Well, first one on Korie Lucious, that's one thing great about freshmen, especially ones that are a little cocky, they don't even realize the falderal around them. You can look at it two ways. Be enamored by it or be oblivious to it. I think sometimes freshmen can go either way. I think he's oblivious, smiling and laughing. A couple times I want to strangle him, Quit smiling, it looked like you were showing off.
That's not who he is. He feels good about himself. He's played up and down. He is good enough to play. He had problems with turning the ball over early. He's done a great job of that lately. He's definitely getting better, as is Draymond Green and Delvon Roe.
Our freshmen are a lot better than the last time we played them. Whether that's enough, I know Davis is a lot better than the last time we played them, too.
As far as the '79 team, a couple things happened. When I came down as a graduate assistant, it was a couple years after Magic came out of school. He lived still in Lansing in the off-season. One of my jobs was to open up the gym for him to come workout in August. So I just kind of sat around there wide-eyed UP'er, thinking, This is pretty cool. Then Gregory Kelser has been very close to the program and comes up all the time. Hopefully because of us, but partially because of his family, Earvin is back a lot.
I think it was a 10- or 20-year reunion at my house, part of it was at my house. I got to know Donnellys, Brkoviches, Bobo Charles, spent some time with Bobo, recruited in Atlanta. And the main reason is Jud, you know, my mentor. That's another Carolina thing. They've kept people in the family there.
My mentor, the reason I'm here, the reason I got the job, coached those guys. I used to hear all the good stories. As I say, it was my first year out of college. I got to go to their Final Four. It was my first Final Four ever in Salt Lake City. So I guess there's a lot of intangible reasons why I embrace them.
I think the best one is I think you could argue who's the greatest player. Our two schools definitely have two of the top five, maybe that ever played, or top 10. But I could argue that I think we might have the best leader that ever played the game in Magic Johnson. I learn from him every day still. I listen every time he talks to our team. I jot things down and write them. He's not afraid to call and tell me some things.
If you would see him when he comes back to visit our team our talk to them the night before the game, or like yesterday after the game, the passion that guy has. Travis is right, it's unbelievable. He loves the game. He loves Michigan State. He knows everything. He knows who I'm recruiting. He knows what we do. He's an incredible guy, one I'm glad's on our side. I only wish he was playing.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about this as a team with a cause. Does the group from Flint compare in any way a few years ago to what's going on right now? Are there any psychological dangers of carrying an issue on your shoulders in a circumstance like this?
COACH IZZO: We're not carrying them on our shoulders like we're trying to save the world. We're carrying them on our shoulders because we care and it's our state. The "Flintstones," they were their own breed. One of them is flying back tonight from California. They were a special group because they were kind of the first group of this era, of my era. We had a lot of them. There were four or five of them. They embraced everything that I believed in.
These guys are getting that way, Kalin. I think this has been good for Kalin and Durrell. I think anytime you can take the focus off yourself and you can really embrace other people, I think it's good for all of us.
I don't know if you want to call this a cause. In fact, I would like to address that. I mean, the state, this city is very important to me. But the cause right now is for the Michigan State players to win a championship, and hopefully the repercussions from that will help a lot of people. It's a feel good for a lot of people.
So I can't say we're out there playing -- we're playing for us, we're playing for our university, we're playing for our city and state. But these players deserve to have the focus on them, too. They've earned it. I mean, they have not shied away from anything. Some of these guys have been here four and five years, have played in every arena in the country, against the top teams in the country. We've dodged nobody. And that is the great thing about going through something. I can look 'em in the eye and say that and believe what I'm saying because that's the way I schedule.
Sometimes I apologize. The North Carolina game. We played Thursday, Friday, Saturday off, we played Sunday. We come back late at night and we played a couple days later. That was stupidity on my part. That was bad scheduling.
A couple things happened. They moved a game. You know, I thought that other one was Thursday, Friday, Saturday when we scheduled it. That was bad scheduling. I put those players in a bad position.
This one, the one-day prep, is the same for both teams. So we're in a better position.

Q. Over the years, your name has come up with some high-profile college jobs - recently even, like that school should pursue you. Your name has been connected to NBA jobs. Ultimately what keeps you at Michigan State? How much of it is a financial deal at Michigan State and how much your personal happiness?
COACH IZZO: There are a lot of coaches' names that are brought up on a lot of jobs. Everybody thinks when your name is brought up, that means you're the leading candidate for that job. That's not always true.
I think in the NBA, in all honesty, I've had a couple of opportunities that I think I definitely might have had. Then you become where you got to have a college guy, you got to have an assistant coach, a veteran coach. Whatever that team's list is. I'm one of a couple guys that have been on the college guy list.
I wouldn't believe that I'm as wanted on some of those things as sometimes it seems. I just think that I'm the guy's name out there, maybe it was my buddy, Mariucci, was in the NFL, that kind of funny story.
But what keeps me at Michigan State? They gave me my chance. I do like it there. I feel like I have so much more to build. I love the Dukes, Carolinas, Kentuckys, Kansas. I'm not going to see that in my lifetime because they've done it for so many years, but I love aspiring to be those.
I don't think we're there yet. You know, the five Final Fours people can argue, but that's five Final Fours in 11 years. Some of these guys have been doing things for 50 years.
We're not there yet. So the dream of winning a third national championship for our school and being in that small, small group. I told a lot of people, John Wooden said to me once when we won our first one, Welcome to the fraternity of 40, at the time. I didn't even know what the hell he meant. He meant there were 40 guys that have won a national championship, thanks to Bill Walton deciphering what he said.
Although, Bill, I had trouble figuring that out, too, after he told me.
But, you know, when I thought back on that, I said, Wow, you know. But then when you get into winning a second one, that group really shrinks. Even a third as a university. To be in the same with a Magic Johnson, being in the same part of those things, that's thrilling to me, that's exciting to me, especially when we're probably building a little bit more, and some of those other program versus to maintain it, which sometimes is harder, so I take my hat off to them.
But that's why I stay.

Q. At times you've been either in tears or near tears. Can you count want number of times? Obviously this is emotional for you. How many times have you lost it privately?
COACH IZZO: You know, not as many as you'd think. I just appreciate the opportunity I have. I mean, everybody has a dream in the world. From what I came from, I'll never forget my first game at Michigan State. We were standing in the tunnel, first Big-10 game, ourselves and Iowa were the favorites to win it. Scott Skiles, Sam Vincent, we had some very, very good players on that team, I looked out at that arena, there were 10,000, you know, my town is 8,000, I said, Wow, this is unbelievable.
So it's been an unbelievable ride for me. I guess I get criticized sometimes for wearing my emotions on my sleeve when I'm angry, but I wear the same emotions when I'm emotional. I appreciate the hard work guys do for me. I appreciate where people have helped take me. And I understand that I get credit for things that they do.
And so I think about those guys. When you had a guy like Mateen Cleaves, Morris, those guys, realize they took a chance on our program when everything was the Fab Five in Michigan, and deservingly so. They took a chance. They could have gone anywhere. I think of those guys often. I call them often. They call me.
Maybe that's why in those great moments when you're standing there, very seldom am I thinking of what happened in the present. I'm thinking of the things that happened in the buildup to where we are.

Q. All the film studying you're going to be doing in the next 24 hours, will you make it a point to look at the game in December or will you make it a point not to look at the game? Normally when you have a bad night, do you try to learn from those things or try to forget the film?
COACH IZZO: I have destroyed a film or two in my day, but not many. I didn't destroy this one. I told my guys last night, my video guys, I don't really want to watch the film. Why get more depressed. I just saw them against Villanova. I don't need to be more depressed or sleepless.
But I told them to pull, like, the ball screens or pull some key things on how we covered them, what I think we have to do actively, what hurt us. So I've just got some things we pulled out. But I'm looking more at the last five or six games. And maybe the teams in their league, because teams in their league usually know how to play you the best, because you're so familiar with each other.
There's some guys in that league that are great coaches, too. So the guys that I respect, that I think play somewhat like us, you know, Virginia Tech would be a good example. You always have to look at Duke because Mike is such a good coach. That's what I try to do, is look at who did it and could we adapt to that if they had success. If they didn't have success, make sure we don't do the same thing.

Q. With Goran absent during the first game against North Carolina, Tyler Hansbrough went off for a big game. What kind of defensive impact do you think he can make the second time around?
COACH IZZO: I've seen Tyler Hansbrough go off on a lot of great defenders whether Goran is there or not.
I will say this. In the last four or five games, we've faced some pretty good centers, pretty good post people. G has done an incredible job of figuring out how to guard 'em. He's the one guy I don't tell him how to guard 'em much. I tell him what their favorite moves are. If he has the strength, he does have an incredible understanding of the game.
Unlike a Travis or even Raymar, he's not a film watcher, per se. I think it's the European part of him that, you know, skill-wise and understanding of the game, he really does a good job. So if I tell him to high-ball side him or this or that, I really don't get in depth very often, I just let him play like I think he thinks he can play, within our framework.

Q. Over time, programs develop an institutional memory. In a sense each team, it becomes a reflection of the coach during that time he runs the program. What do you see of yourself in this team, in the program as you've run it? Could you do the same for Roy Williams?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think for myself, kind of a fighter, a dreamer, not afraid to dream, not afraid of challenges, not afraid to fail. That's why we schedule like we do.
Some of it's selfish. I want to schedule like I do, because of all places, I want to go to North Carolina. I'll never forget I promised Mateen Cleaves if he came here, I'd schedule the world, because he wanted to be on TV. His senior year, we scheduled North Carolina. We got a schedule with them. He breaks his foot and misses two months. We were going into that arena down there. If you look up at all the banners, the retired jerseys, Morris Peterson came up to me, Cleaves was on crutches, he said, You better go over and talk to Mateen. I went over there. Tears were streaming down his face. He had dreamed of playing in that place. That's of great respect to them. But it also tells you a little bit that that's the kind of guys I want to have, too, that want to play against the best, want to go to those places.
I selfishly want to go there just to see him, Duke, Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky. Why wouldn't you? UCLA, Texas, Syracuse, Connecticut. We've been to some of the greatest arenas and the greatest places in basketball. I've enjoyed it. I think they've enjoyed it. I think at this time of year at least, you can look a guy in the eye and say, You faced this before, here's what you did right, here's what you did wrong. Here are some things that would give you a chance.
And Carolina, so many different weapons. It's more difficult to do that.
I've known Roy for quite a while now, since he was an assistant for Dean at Carolina. When he got the Kansas job, I kind of watched his career, saw him. I was dreaming of, Could I ever get a big job? He was going to Kansas. I was thinking of going to Northern Michigan. It was a little different because he had that pedigree behind him and everything.
But I've watched his teams. They've always run. They've always been so aggressive offensively. He's always had very good skill people, which means they must do an incredible job with their player development, all that, individual development. I think everybody's personality's a little different, but his team takes on his in that they're very sharp.
I copy from him on how I want my team to tuck in their shirts and look, all those things. I think he stands for what's right about college basketball, and that's what we're aspiring to do.

Q. A lot of people widely view Tyler Hansbrough as the consummate college basketball player. How do you view him?
COACH IZZO: I love to hate him, is what I do. I hate him because he knocks you on your tail. He's tough as nails. He loves contact.
There's two kinds of players I always talk about: seekers and avoiders. He is a seeker. I mean, if you're there, he's gonna go hit you. That's what I love about him. But when I have to play against him, that's what I hate about him, because he is the ultimate competitor. He's going to find a way to beat you, whether it's with a rebound. Said he couldn't shoot the ball. Now he's shooting 17-footers. They said he couldn't go over his right shoulder. Now he's going over his right shoulder.
I'm going to tell him you can do everything well. He's like Scott Skiles, I don't want to tick him off. I think when you do, he raises his game a level. He's such a good free-throw shooter, when he gets to the line, which he does an enormous amount, it makes it harder to defend.
For a college coach, if we didn't have to play them, I'd love him a lot more. To see him come back, go after something that was very important to him, it reminds me of what Mateen did for me. You have to have great respect for people that will put team and university and coaches and all that ahead of your own individual things. I think he's proven his mettle by doing that.

Q. I remember Goran being recruited was pretty close to going to Arizona State. Do you remember that scenario? Did you feel that was a possibility?
COACH IZZO: Yeah. It was an interesting time. I lately have gotten a lot of accolades for what we've accomplished. But he was down to Arizona State and us. We were down to Al Horford and him. Case closed. Al Horford is a hell of a player, not that we maybe for sure could have had him.
But it was interesting. And yet we liked Goran, we really did. Arizona State had done a good job of recruiting him. He wasn't as highly recruited. Neither was Al. Billy did a great job of recruiting Al. Neither one of them was on everybody's who's who list.
G needed to learn to love the game. I think his best basketball is still ahead of him, I really do.

Q. Could you clear up the situation with Goran and that first game. Was he here on game day and sent home?

Q. How did he get home then?
COACH IZZO: I think we gave him a cab ride.
No, what happened was he had had an injury and he missed the whole pre-season. It was his knee. He came back, played in a couple games. Medically, there didn't seem to be anything wrong with him from what you do, wiggle his knee, do this and that. Everything seemed to be okay medically. So then you start questioning his heart, and is he playing hard enough. It was the day before, it looked like he could play. Couldn't play down in Florida. Looked like he could play. Then we were going through the layup line that day in our prepractice. I mean, he just couldn't go at all. It was frustrating for me, frustrating for him.
I told our trainers, This is it, we're sending him home, he's getting an MRI, doing this, doing that. This is depressing for everybody. We did. We found out later that day, and the next day he got operated on.
It was minor surgery, but it kept him out another three, four weeks. So that's how the story went.

Q. Did a trainer take him home?
COACH IZZO: I think I was so mad at him then, I think he walked. It's only 80 miles (smiling).
No, I think we had one of our managers take him home, to be honest with you. I don't really remember. That whole day was kind of a blur. You know what I mean? It went from bad to a lot worse real quick.
I've tried to forget that whole week, that week. In fact, if you ask me, 2008 never happened. I'm trying to move ahead to 2009.
Thanks a lot. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

End of FastScripts


THE MODERATOR: The student-athletes are on their way up here, but we'll get started with Coach Williams.
COACH WILLIAMS: First of all, we're having a slight disagreement up here, because if I'm doing this now, don't expect me to stay around for 30 minutes after they leave. I have more important things to do than stand around here and make fun. Give you 30 minutes, I love doing it, but there's some other things I could be doing. They'll fire him, they won't fire me. Unless they lose and they don't like it, they'll fire me.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about Michigan State being a team of destiny. They're a very good basketball team in and of itself. How do you fight against both of those?
COACH WILLIAMS: We don't fight one that you can't control, and that's what people say and think. But we're going to try to fight and compete against Michigan State's team out on the court. I said yesterday, I love what they're doing, the positive feelings they're putting across this state. I love the people of North Carolina and the positive feelings we can put across that state, too.

Q. I know you have a great respect for Tom Izzo. He just said in the game in December, if they have Suton, play perfect, they still lose by 20. Buying it?
COACH WILLIAMS: No. But Tommy can sell. Doesn't mean I have to buy.
We did, we caught them at an absolute perfect time. Again, three games down in Florida, come back here, one day, play us the next day. Didn't have Suton. Delvon wasn't full speed by that time. But the bottom line is, I personally don't think that that game will have much, if anything, to do with the game that we play Monday night.

Q. Fairly or unfairly, how much do you think Tyler's career will be judged to some degree on tomorrow night?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think it would be unfair if that's the only thing that people judged it on. You got to judge it on the body of work and what the young man has done. There have been some great coaches who haven't been able to get to a Final Four. There have been some great players. Did Ernie Banks ever win a World Series? There's been some big-time things out there. That's probably older than most of you guys are. I could probably come up with a more recent example.
But I don't think you can do that. I don't think it would be fair. I would have trouble agreeing or even carrying on a good conversation with anyone that would look at it that way.

Q. A lot of people are talking about that December 3rd game, that Michigan State is a lot different. How is your team different now than it was back in December?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think we're better. I think we're better defensively. We also are healthier. I think we're playing our best basketball of the year. Ty is the only one I stay concerned about health-wise.
But, you know, at this point there's only two teams left playing. All that other stuff is a bunch of hogwash. Every time I say that, Ty Lawson says, What is hogwash (smiling)? I do believe that's all it is.
Whoever plays the best on Monday night, that will determine the outcome of the game, not what happened in December. I didn't know Ty was in here, but he probably grinned when I said that.

Q. Programs have institutional memories. I'm curious how you see your role as caretaker of the Carolina program. In what ways do you see your own personality and your own beliefs reflected in this particular team?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, to be the caretaker of North Carolina's program, I'll probably sit back and reflect on that a lot more when I stop. Right now, I just feel very fortunate to be part of it, even if it's a very small part.
It's been my life for 10 years as an assistant, now six years as a head coach, and five years as a student. That was to get my Masters degree. I didn't take me five years to graduate. Let's get that straight (smiling).
But, you know, looking at the team, I think every team does have some personality of their coach. I think I'm fairly competitive, demanding. I think our players understand that part of it. And I'm hopeful they'll be that way the rest of their lives, that they can get something from me other than just basketball. I hope it's something more important than a term like 'hogwash.'

Q. Tyler, when you played them obviously last time Suton wasn't there. He's talked a lot about your game earlier today. When you look at Michigan State, you add him to the mix from when you played them last time, how does that make things a little bit different for you?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Well, Suton I think is a guy that, you know, is capable of shooting a 15-foot jumper and is a pretty good shooter outside. So it adds a little bit different aspect than some guys down low banging all the time. I understand he goes to the boards, is a good rebounder, but you also have to contest him outside.

Q. Coach, can you reflect a little bit on your journey with Danny, his personal story, from your vantage point, to have his dad at this Final Four?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think it is a personal thing that was dealt with probably way too much when it happened, for sure for his family. Young Danny is a youngster that I love dearly, who I have probably stayed on as hard as anybody I've ever coached. I may have pushed as hard, I may have demanded as much. And yet I'm hopeful that as time goes on, he'll say that that was a pretty good distraction that kept him from thinking of other things. At the same time he'll look at it as me trying to help him be the best player that he can possibly be.
But I cannot imagine any young man handling a situation any better than Danny Green handled what was happening with his family. At the same time, I cannot imagine any father having any more love for his son, being concerned in wanting to be here.
Big Danny is going to be the happiest person in the crowd. He was on Saturday and he will be on Monday. The only way he can be any happier is if his son played his tail off and we won.
It's a marvelous family. Shoot, I've been hard on Danny at times. I can't imagine any youngster handling it any better than he did.

Q. There's a perception of Michigan State that they've gotten here with more grit and will than talent. The talent they have on that team, is that something people overlook? Delvon Roe is somebody you recruited. Tyler, when you look at this team, can you talk about their talent from a physical standpoint.
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, they are talented, there's no question. But playing hard is a talent, as well. People that describe Michigan State's team like that, that's the way people describe Tyler. They say, Well, he just works hard. Well, duh. That's okay to do that, too.
I think Tyler Hansbrough is extremely talented. I think this Michigan State is extremely talented. They bring their lunch pails when they come. They work at it.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: They're definitely talented. They have the Big-10 Player of the Year, defensive Player of the Year. They have very good guys, and they also, when you combine that with people who work hard, I think it's a good combination. It's what makes them tough.

Q. Coach, you have a lot of experience with teams that were expected to win. Can you talk about the difficulties of that championship or "bust" in some people's mind? A lot of you returned for this moment. Address those two things.
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, there has been a target on our back. People I think got a little carried away when they're talking about undefeated teams, these kind of things that I don't think will happen in college basketball any more.
The kids every day have come to practice and tried to improve, have kept a great attitude, or we wouldn't be here. I have had -- in '97 I guess we were ranked No. 1 pre-season. 2005, maybe Sports Illustrated picked us No. 1.
But I'd much rather have a target on my back than be the team that nobody thinks is going to be any good, because sometimes you guys are right. To me, I like having really good teams.
The best thing about this team is, we have kids with great character. We have some characters, too (smiling). But this is a team with great character. They've handled all the people's other ideas okay because they've ignored it and tried to please their teammates and their coaches.
TY LAWSON: It feels good to get back to this position or get to the championship because this is what we worked all year for and also the off-season, our motivation from last year. I mean, it feels real good to get back here. Hopefully we can go out and I take care of things on Monday.

Q. Coach, the longer you stay in this profession, do you find the various demands that are placed on you in coaching, are you less tolerant of them? Are you finding them more exhaustive? Is more being required of you as college athletics goes bigger time?
COACH WILLIAMS: There's no question, your demands for your time are more, there's more of them, more exhaustive, as you use that terminology. The time of the day that I spend on coaching gets less and less and less. The time you spend with the alumni, with fund-raising, with the media, with recruiting, with whatever, gets bigger and bigger.
That part of it, I think, ran Coach Smith out of it. I think if it hadn't been for that, he would have stayed in the game a few years longer. He tried to tell me to not let it run me out. There are so many more demands now than there were, definitely than there were 21 years ago when I became a head coach.

Q. Ty and Wayne, you've played in some pretty hostile environments before. Tomorrow night, there are going to be 70,000 people, most of them wearing green. Are you prepared for that? Is it going to make a difference? How many times has coached reminded you to just put December's game out of your memory or has he had to do that?
TY LAWSON: We played in a lot of hostile environments throughout the season and the regular season. We went to Nevada. We played Duke. I don't think it's going to be a big issue playing in front of probably most of Michigan State's crowd on Monday.
So I think we're ready for it. We prepared throughout the season and things like that.
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Yeah, we've played in a lot of different environments, tough atmosphere. It's something that we're well prepared for. We played well on the road all year long. It won't be anything new to us.

Q. Has he had to tell you about putting the December game out of your mind?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: He hasn't really even had to talk much about that because we already know that they're a different-looking team. We caught 'em at a time where they weren't fresh at all, they had some injuries. So they're a totally different team than when we played them in December.

Q. Coach, Jim Calhoun said last night he thinks Michigan State is playing perhaps better because they're playing with a cause, the City of Detroit, the economic thing. Do you have to make sure you talk to your players that this is a North Carolina basketball team playing against Michigan State, you're not playing to keep Detroit down? Tyler, can you answer that from your perspective, that it's a basketball game and you're not playing up against the City of Detroit?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know if we're playing against the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan, they out number us. We don't have as good a chance at that one.
But the other thing is you guys have to understand, we left here last night at 12:45. We went back, we had a nice little snack and some ice cream and the kids went to bed. I saw them this morning at 11:00 for 30 minutes. We haven't exactly exhausted the state of the nation's economy in the last 18 hours.
So for us, we're playing Michigan State. I do realize they have a cause. Well, we also have a cause. We want to win a national championship, period, the end. And if you would tell me that if Michigan State wins, it's gonna satisfy the nation's economy, then I'd say, Hell, let's stay poor for a little while longer.
I don't think that's gonna happen. So if all the workers of America come down and start guarding my butt on the bench, then I'll start being concerned about it.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Kind of like coach said (smiling), you know, I'm not looking at it as anything else but us playing Michigan State. All that other stuff is nothing that I'm paying attention to.

Q. Coach, Tyler, Danny, when you recruited these guys four years ago, you didn't know where the journey was going to take you. When you started this year you didn't know. Now you know you have one more practice, one more game. Talk about that.
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, I tell the kids all the time, Snap your fingers and that's how quickly your four years will pass. When they're freshmen, these guys, Danny and Tyler particularly, they look at me and say, Yeah. Right now they would understand it. Right now they agree with it.
You know, I'm corny, there's no question about it. I'm emotional. This senior class has been really, really important to me. These guys came in after the championship year. We didn't have a lot coming back. They competed from the first day. You know, you can't say which child you love the best because you don't ever think in those terms. That's the way it is with players.
The classes that I've recruited in 21 years, this is one of those that is special. Tyler to keep coming back, his work ethic, focus. Bobby, through the stress fracture, the foot, the ACL. Marcus, the trouble he's had this year. Cope, who every day has tried to help us, been such a comic relief off the court, a generally good person. For Danny Green to go through the things that he's done and be a sub, giving us great help, being a starter, doing the things.
I do realize that today is gonna be the final practice. You know, in some ways that's hard. But I'm gonna remember the great times. I mean, these guys, I think, think they tied Quentin for the most wins for a four-year class in North Carolina history of 122 games, 123. I'm going to look back on all those good times. It's going to be sad for me, but I'm corny.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Yeah, it's definitely gone by quick. You know, I'm glad we're ending it the right way instead of, you know, my last practice being last week or something like that. I'm just glad we're going out on the right note.
You know, it does go by quicker than you would think. I'm glad we're all pretty close, not just the seniors. So, you know, when I leave, I'll still feel a connection with the program. So it's a good way to, you know, kind of see myself going out.
DANNY GREEN: Yeah, I'm definitely happy to be in this position. I don't think it's hit me yet that it's my last practice or my last game. That's because of how focused that we have been, and coach has had us. We're focused coming in to breakfast, shot fake, stay down, just remember the principles defensively.
I mean, for me to be in this position, the biggest game of my college career, the biggest game of the NCAA season, it just means a lot. Hopefully we can end it the right way.

Q. Ty, how much treatment are you still having to get? It looks like you're a lot closer to where you were before the injury, at least the last few games.
TY LAWSON: Yeah, we're still doing the same thing as of treatment. Still icing it. I'm still getting in the pool, wrapping my toe, getting taped and things like that. I mean, I'm just still doing the same thing we've been doing since I hurt it.
Yeah, I feel a lot better. I feel I'm almost a hundred percent. Yesterday, I actually felt like I was running to the most of my speed yesterday. So I feel like I'm almost a hundred percent.

Q. Wayne and Tyler, you guys ran onto the court, Tom Izzo is giving his postgame speech, the crowd is going crazy. What is the building like to you? It's the stadium seating from last time. Floor raised a little bit. How do you like the stadium?
WAYNE ELLINGTON: Yeah, I mean, I like it. To us as basketball players, it's a basketball court. You know, you don't really pay much attention to other things. You're so focused on the game that you don't really see what's going on around you.
We know that it seats a lot of people and it's a huge crowd. At the same time we're so focused on the game, we're losing ourselves in the game that we don't pay much attention to that.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Yeah, the floor being raised is a little awkward. We don't really sit in the stands, so we don't really know about the seating out there. So we don't really look at that. We just play on the court.
I think from that you just treat it like any other game. It's still the same. Court's just a little raised.

Q. Danny, how difficult is it going to be to get the thought out of your mind, the memory, that you have beaten this team by 35 points in this building? It's one thing to say it, but how difficult will it be?
DANNY GREEN: Not that difficult, to me anyway. I don't think it's difficult for these guys either. That game happened so long ago. This is a totally different team that we're playing against. It's the last game of the year. So I don't see us being too overconfident or looking past anybody or anything, 'cause there's nothing to look forward to after this. This is it.
We know this is a new team, a better team. They're a lot tougher. They've been through a lot more. We played them so long ago, we kind of just put that in the past. That was an old game.
So we're going to treat this as a new game and try and come just as focused and leave everything out on the floor.

Q. I know it's only been 13, 14 hours since you beat Villanova, but from the time you woke up this morning, have you had any chance to let yourself envision what it's like to win the national title tomorrow night?
DANNY GREEN: No, I haven't really envisioned it yet because we haven't done it yet.
Of course, when you're a kid, you envision you're playing on the biggest stages, winning the biggest games. But right now I'm just so focused on playing the game and doing good to help my team that I haven't really envisioned the celebration, 'cause we haven't won anything yet. We haven't won it yet. No need to think about the celebration yet.
But I'm sure when it does happen, it will be really nice.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Yeah, like Danny said, you know, it's hard not to envision it. But I've thought about what it would mean to win a national championship. That's part of the reason why I came to Carolina. Also I think, you know, just like Danny said, I'm not trying to think too hard about it because I still want to stay focused on this game and try to do my part on this team to help us win.

Q. Ty and Deon, when you walk on the court, do you take a second to look around, kind of let the atmosphere soak in and grasp the whole scene?
TY LAWSON: Yeah, probably when we go out to warm up, things like that, just look around, you see everybody out there. That's why I'm probably going to take my time to just envision and see how it's gonna be, just look around in the crowd.
I probably have dreamt about winning a national championship since I was little, even playing like on my Fisher Price court, counting down from five, me hitting the game-winner. I've been waiting for this (smiling). I've been thinking about it a lot. So I'm ready for it.
DEON THOMPSON: Definitely when you walk out there, it's hard not to notice, see all the people, the crowd. You definitely do take note and sit back and be like, Wow, look at what you accomplished. Me coming from Torrance, California, one of the biggest stages, college basketball is big. You definitely have to enjoy it. Once the ball is tipped, you still got to play your heart out.

Q. Talk about how confident this team is right now. Do you feel the team is playing its best basketball of the season right now? Are you peaking at the right time?
TY LAWSON: Yeah, I think we're peaking at the right time. Early in the year, we was playing together, but I think we was lacking a little bit in defense. Right now we're playing real well in defense, rotating, helping each other out. We're talking. I feel like right now we are peaking at the right moment. No better time than the NCAA tournament and the championship.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Yeah, I think we're playing well right now. But, you know, also we're not playing perfect. So, yeah, I think our confidence is high, but still we want to continue to play good.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
COACH WILLIAMS: I was going to ask Deon what he thought when his head coach signaled zone for the first time since the Maryland game at Maryland.
THE MODERATOR: Student-athletes are heading to their breakout rooms. We'll continue with Coach Williams.

Q. Delvon Roe was saying that he was extremely close to coming to North Carolina, but for whatever reason didn't. Can you talk about maybe how close you thought you were to getting him and maybe how disappointed it might have been that you didn't.
COACH WILLIAMS: There's no question I thought we were gonna get him. I was very disappointed. But I've been doing this for 21 years. I've been disappointed a lot of times.
But Delvon was a youngster I really enjoyed as a youngster. Went to Cleveland. Saw him play a lot. Had a lot of conversations with him. It was extremely disappointing.
He's my kind of guy. I think he's really, really, really gifted young man, but a better person than he is basketball player.

Q. Could you expand upon what the players said about the court. I know they say they put the fans aside, 70,000 people aren't there. Is it that easy or is the stadium a little bit overwhelming?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, to me it's not nuclear science. We're coaching basketball, we're playing basketball. I go out on the court last night, we've been here in December, did the same thing. In December it wasn't full. Last night, I looked up, trying to figure out where is the guy with the worst seat in the house? Wonder what he's thinking right now. I said Okay, then looked around, that was it.
I mean, you're focused on your task. It is enormous. 72, 456 last night was great. It is unusual. I do not like the raised floor as a coach. I do not like it at all. If I ever turn into an architect, I would not build a gym like that. If I'm a head coach or athletic director, I will never have a building built like that. It's just not comfortable as a coach.
Is it better for fans? I don't know. But I'm not a fan, I'm a coach. That is extremely uncomfortable to me personally. Everything else I love about the whole thing.

Q. Is it the players? Are you worried for their safety with the raised court or the fact you don't like standing three feet above the bench?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't like the safety. When we played Michigan State here before, we had a guy go off the court, one of Michigan State's players, I don't know if it was Raymar or who, but that scared me. That kind of thing. I almost fell off the stupid court. That scared me. Some of those kind of things.
But as a coach, it is not comfortable 'cause when you're sitting down, and I like to sit on the bench more than I like a kneel in front or stand. I like to have my assistant coaches give me input. I like to talk to the players.
But you cannot see down below that court. It's better now, I think, than it was when we were here. I think they've raised the benches a little bit. But it is really difficult to see the far corner over there and see what's going on sitting in that seat.

Q. A lot of people thought it was going to be easy, you getting here for the national championship. Clearly that was not the case. What would you say was the hardest part?
COACH WILLIAMS: Getting people to understand if you thought it was easy, you don't know what you're talk about. It's college basketball. There hasn't been an undefeated team since '76, and there have been some really, really good teams. I think this year there were eight or 10 teams or 12, I haven't studied it, that could be playing Monday night.
I'm extremely proud of my team for being here and for handling all the things they did. It's been a very difficult year for me as a coach. There's no question about that. The injury situation, worrying about hurting Tyler, worrying about hurting Ty, Marcus coming back, not coming back, Will's suspension, Tyler Zeller's broken wrist. It's been a hard year for me as a coach.
But I was serious. We played zone last night for the first game we played since Maryland, so you just throw some things out and hope it sticks. This team has really done a good job of making the things I throw out stick.

Q. A couple times you've taken over other people's players and make them your own. How different would this be to win a championship with a roster full of your own players?
COACH WILLIAMS: No different whatsoever. Absolutely none. When Sean May stands up here four years ago and says his dream would be to be the first person to hug Coach Williams if we won a national championship, doesn't get any better than that, and that was my team.
So it would be zero difference to me.

Q. Michigan State runs a ton of offensive sets. How many of those do you talk about with the players? How do you prepare defensively against a team like that?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, you said 'tons.' My assistant this morning in the scouting report said 90. A lot either way you look at it.
What you try to do is talk to your team in terms of principles and the philosophy they have. You can't get them to know 90 plays. We give our team a two-page scouting report. I have some good friends in coaching that give teams 15 or 20, but we give them a two-page scouting report, and then try to rely on our principles, our defensive principles being able to help us with those.

Q. Your team has been through a Final Four, ACC tournaments. Experience has been something they've always had on their side. This is one of the first times I can remember they're going to have something completely different in the sense they've never played for a national championship before. Is that something that experience in the past is experience enough, not that big a deal once you've played in a Final Four?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, the good thing is neither team has played for a national championship, so I think it's the same for both. But I think when you get to this stage, you will grab onto anything that you think might be a positive and try to promote that. Anything that you think is a negative, like playing against the state of Michigan, you ignore that as much as you can, and go from there.
Again, now, maybe Tommy does it differently. I did not watch as a coach; I watched as a fan, because I'm a fan of Tom Izzo. I did not watch a Michigan State tape until last night. I focused all of my energy on Villanova. Now, one of my assistant coaches had Villanova, one had Connecticut, one had Michigan State. So they spent some time.
But, I mean, we're talking about, again, it's 12:45 when we get back last night. It's a cram course, as much as you can do. But what it is, is we've got to play against them on Monday and hopefully we'll play better.

Q. Do you remember the moment when you decided to become a coach? What were the two or three influences that led to that?
COACH WILLIAMS: Mine was very easy. It was after my ninth grade year in high school. Some of my buddies were juniors. They were taking U.S. history under our basketball coach Buddy Baldwin. After the season was over, they came to me and told me he had talked about the next year's team, that I was only going to be a sophomore, but he thought I was going to be a really good player. It was the first time I could ever really remember having that feeling.
So I started working extremely hard to be the best player I could be. To this day, he's still a tremendous influence on me. He's the reason I got into coaching.
That summer after my ninth grade year, I knew I was going to be a coach, and I've never thought about doing anything else. And it is because of Buddy Baldwin. This is the seventh Final Four that I've been to as a coach, and I've got him with me all seven.
He's got some bad qualities, too. He's the first person to ever get me on a golf course, first person to get me to enjoy shooting craps. He's got some bad qualities, too, but he's been extremely important to me.

Q. Michigan State has made their living on the backboards. Given what Villanova did last night, especially on the offensive glass, is that probably the biggest key in the game tomorrow night?
COACH WILLIAMS: It is to me. I don't know if it's gonna be the key because you have to wait till the game's played. But it is my biggest concern, there's no question. They just killed UConn on the backboards last night. I watched about 12 minutes of the game looking up, looking at my scouting report, because there was a TV in the coach's room back here. I'd watch a couple plays, then go back to reading the scouting report. Every time I looked up, they're getting an offensive rebound. The announcer started saying, that's 14, 15, 16.
So it is a huge concern, but it's a concern any time you play Tommy's teams. I think if you pick 21 years as head coach, I would say we're the leading scoring team in the country in those 21 years. Well, I think in Tommy's year as a head coach, the best rebounding team in college basketball during those years. It's something we've had to face against them in the past.

Q. Carolina is the only team in the last 50 years with a winning record on the road. You're going to face the ultimate road game tomorrow night. Can you talk about the tradition that your familiar with of Carolina winning on the road and why you think they've been such a good road team?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, what I think about that is I like playing on the road. I really honestly do. I like going to some other place and having my team so focused that we can shut the crowd up.
Now, this will be the maximum test, because you're talking about 70,000 people, or a little less than that. But at Kansas, for 15 years, we were the only team that had a winning record on the road in 15 years, and ours was really, really good. We've had a pretty doggone good record in the six years I've been back at Carolina. Part of that is because of that philosophy. The biggest part is because we're pretty talented.
That's what we're gonna have Monday night. We're still gonna have very talented players, we're still gonna have a coach that believes that we can win.

Q. Tom Izzo teams do really well in the second game of an NCAA tournament weekend. Is there something about Michigan State with Izzo that makes them tough to prepare for in a short situation?
COACH WILLIAMS: Gosh, I hadn't thought of that, hadn't looked at that. Please take this the right way. I don't think Tommy's teams are that difficult to prepare for. You got to play your butt off. You got to defend your butt off. You've got to be able to handle a physical style of people going to the backboard. You've got to be able to handle stopping their break. If they don't run the break, they're gonna make you guard 'em for 20 to 25 seconds till they get the shot that they want.
He doesn't run any triple reverse, hike the ball over somebody's head, the score keepers massage it and throw it back in. It's not any trickery. It's not an unusual defense. It's not John Beilein at Michigan where you have to get ready for the 1-3-1. It's not like John Chaney at Temple, when you get ready for the matchup zone.
The biggest compliment I could say is I wish my teams would defend and rebound like Tom Izzo's teams. I mean that sincerely. That's not coach speak, trying to flatter anybody. But I do honestly believe it's not trickery. With Tommy, it's bring-your-lunch-pail-work kind of game.

Q. A lot has been made of Coach Izzo over these two games against very talented teams, underplaying the talent of his players. He said you can't win on grit alone. Talk about the talent of their players in combination with the way he likes to play.
COACH WILLIAMS: Again, I'll say they're talented. And I think the work ethic, the focus, the determination, I think that's a good talent, too. He's not Lou Holtz by any means. He's not saying "woe is me" kind of thing, because Tommy does realize he has gifted guys. We would have loved a couple of those kids. I'd love to have them on our team.
So to me, all this stuff about talent, no talent, work ethic, no work ethic, you're just a hard-working group, whatever, it's probably overplayed. The fact of the matter is, it makes no difference. If I have 27 McDonald's All-Americans, somebody else has zero, makes no difference. You got to play.
Last year we played Duke at our place and we had three McDonald's All-Americans, and they had eight. Everybody acted like they were the underdog. I mean, so it depends on how you play on game day.

Q. The label for this team has been offense for two years, all offense. This tournament has been all defense. How did you get them to use your method? How did you get them to use the Coca-Cola and drink it?
COACH WILLIAMS: Each and every day we've emphasized it in practice. We have kids that understand it better now than they did when they started, understand it better now than they did at the start of last year, how important it can be. Now, I think -- I'm not a very good teacher. Sometimes it takes longer for certain teams to buy into it. But I think this team has bought into it so much more down the stretch this year.
Even early when I was disappointed with us defensively, we had some big-time defensive stops that made a difference in winning or losing games for us. But just trying to get them to focus on it all the time has been something I've had to push a great deal. But they've done a nice job of it.

Q. I heard you put the 'period' after saying the cause you're playing for is winning a national championship. What about Tyler coming back, your seniors? I recall you being really disappointed for some seniors that didn't win it in a previous line of employment.
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't know when you came in, I can't remember if it was this session or one of the other ones, but to me, my cause - again I'm corny - is I want this team to win for the character of this senior class and what they've meant to Roy Williams. I almost made a dumb, dumb mistake, I guess it was, '99, 2000. I even went home one night and told my wife, Maybe I've got to try that pro stuff.
I've been very fortunate. I've been offered several opportunities with the NBA. I was so discouraged with recruiting that I just said, I just can't do this anymore. Then along came Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, Drew Gooden, three great kids, great players, great families, that showed us you could do it the right way. It was so much fun, it gave me hope. It lasted and it's still lasting.
The second deal is this year's senior class. After Sean and Raymond and Rashad and Marvin all left, and this year's senior class was the nucleus, even though they were freshmen, they were fantastic every day in practice, I mean every day. I've loved them for that. I've loved them for Bobby, the stress fracture condition on the foot, the ACL on the knee, how he's worked so hard and his shot's gone south. Yet you see him last night chase down five offensive rebounds. He missed a layup because he doesn't jump over -- more than a couple sheets of paper. That character is extremely important to me.
Tyler coming back and passing up what people would say would be the money because he loves college basketball. People say that's not the reason. That is the reason. The kid told me last year when he made the decision to stay, I've been miserable for the last two weeks. I'm the happiest now I've ever been in my life. Wouldn't even walk out of the weight room to go up to the office to write out a statement. He said, Coach, you just write something down and tell them I said it. He didn't want to leave the weight room to go do that. So just the most focused kid.
And Danny with the personal stuff that he's put up with. Marcus not being able to play now. There's no question that the biggest sadness I will have is if this team loses, and it will be for those five kids. The biggest exhilaration feeling I've ever had will be if we win it for those five kids.

Q. After last night's game, Coach Calhoun said watching Michigan State on tape, they were different against Louisville, a No. 1 seed, they were different against his team, a No. 1 seed. They're facing a third No. 1 seed. I believe only one other team has beaten three No. 1's.
COACH WILLIAMS: Arizona '97. I was one of the 1's (laughter).

Q. What do you see? Why are they so different looking now?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, for us, they're different from when we played them because they're healthy, okay? But you go back and look, where were they ranked in the pre-season? Does anybody know?

Q. 6.
COACH WILLIAMS: Top 10. I mean, they're not exactly Charlie's doughnut team. They're pretty damn good. So to me, they've gotten healthy, they're playing their best basketball at the end of the year. You don't find many national championship-caliber teams playing in this game Monday night that's not playing their best basketball.
But, you know, this is not a cut towards Tommy by any means, but he hasn't taken five of you guys and got you in the game Monday night. He's taken a team that was pretty doggone good to start with and got them here.

Q. If you were granted one do-over from your coaching career, what would you do differently?
COACH WILLIAMS: The list is a lot more than one, I can tell you that (smiling).
Oh, gosh. You know, the big games you always go back and look at, I should have done this, I could have done that. Last year, for example, when I left the locker room before the Kansas game, I thought we were going to play great. I was 180 degrees away from that.
In 1990, in the NCAA tournament, second game against UCLA, I would have called a timeout instead of rushing the ball down the floor because I knew that they were probably gonna double-team Kevin Pritchard, and not let him get the ball inbounds, and they did. We threw it to Richie Calloway and we didn't get the kind of shot I wanted. I can remember a thousand of those.
I've been pretty lucky. I've made some decisions that have worked out okay. The biggest thing to me is having good kids. I know that sounds corny, it doesn't excite anybody, but having kids that I enjoy. There's been only one or two instances in my life that I took a player as a part of our team that I wasn't sure of, and that would be the only thing that I would change over. And I feel very fortunate 'cause there's only been a couple of those.

Q. You talked about you gave your team a two-page scouting report, not 10 or 15 like other coaches. How about video? Do you show your kids Michigan State personnel or focus on yourself? I believe you wanted Delvon Roe. Who was the other player that is on Michigan State's team?
COACH WILLIAMS: I'm not trying to belittle any other coach that does a lot, I'm just not comfortable. Coach Smith, we always prepared ourselves and weren't very concerned about other teams. We give our guys a two-page scouting report. We go over personnel for eight minutes. We have an eight-minute clip session. We have an April-minute session out on the court, the first eight minutes of practice today, and that is it.
Tonight when we get together for our late-night snack, we'll show the eight-minute clips again. When we meet for pregame tomorrow, we'll show the eight-minute clips again. That's basically it.
I think, again, we teach by principles. That's what I've been comfortable with. That's what I enjoy doing.
I loved Raymar. I love Lucas. Delvon is the only one we recruited really hard. The other ones either made their decision early or they said something that made me mad, and that was that they weren't interested in us (laughter).
We called on Green. I didn't know anything about Suton. But with Lucas and Raymar and Delvon, I would have loved to have recruited Walton because I just think he's sensational. But he had either already decided or I didn't know anything about him.

Q. When you get to the finals, you hear a lot about the coaching matchups. How would you describe the similarities and differences?
COACH WILLIAMS: He doesn't play as much golf as I play. That's probably the biggest difference. I really enjoy Tommy. We've had some great conversations in the past. A couple years ago at the Final Four, we tried to even get together and have dinner. We weren't able to get it done. But I've been with him on many trips. We've sat and visited on many trips, sat together in a lot of gymnasiums around the country, watched a lot of kids play. He has been someone I've really genuinely joyed.
I like a lot of coaches. There's some guys that don't like me and I probably don't like some of them. Tom Izzo is one of that group (sic). At the start of the season, I send a lot of guys Good luck this year, and Tom is one I send something to every year.
We both believe in man-to-man defense. Again, we went zone last night for about five minutes just to try to stay out of foul trouble. We had not played one possession of zone since the Maryland game at Maryland. We both believe truly in the man-to-man defense. We believe in a balanced offense, not one guy getting 35. We love hard-nosed leaders, like point guards that I've had in the past, point guards that he's had in the past.
When they won the championship, you can't have a tougher personality than Mateen was. So I think we believe in a lot of the same things.

Q. This is a really broad question, but you've had the opportunity to see a lot of programs around the country. There's a lot of teams this year in this tournament that are back every year. There's others that we'll see every five, six years. I'm looking at Arizona State. How do those programs get over the hump, the ones you've seen that leap to coming back every year?
COACH WILLIAMS: You know, my goal for my team every year is for our team to be in the mix that people can talk about that has a chance to win the whole thing. Every year there's 20 teams, 15, you pick a number, that really has a chance to win a national championship. And my dream is for my team to be one of those every year.
To get over that hump, to get to that level, is extremely hard. I've been fortunate because Kansas, when I got there, yeah, we had some problems, but it has a pretty good tradition and history. North Carolina, when I came back, yeah, we'd had some problems, but tradition and history is pretty doggone good.
One thing that sticks out, other programs jumping to that level, is a program like Jim Calhoun at Connecticut, who it wasn't a great program before he got there. He worked so hard, is so good. Other programs get lucky and have somebody growing up in their state that's a big-time, big-time player that takes them to a level, and he attracts other people, they attract other people, they attract other people.
I do believe it is very difficult.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

End of FastScripts