April 5, 2009


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by North Carolina. We'll start with an opening statement from Coach Williams, and then take questions for the student-athletes. COACH WILLIAMS: Well, needless to say, we're ecstatic, yet we have some compassion for Jay and his club because they had a great, great year, and I've been there. I was there a year ago. It feels like somebody just reaches in, jerks your heart out and shakes it right in front of you. There's nothing worse than the feeling of your season being over with and knowing how close you came. But I'm hopeful that Jay and his players will think about what a great, great year it was. For us, you know, as I said, we're ecstatic. It was an ugly game in the second half. Nobody could make a shot. I think both teams took the excitement of the Final Four and were so spent, I don't know that we could make any shots. I think Jay's club, their legs were gone, ours were gone. We shot free throws. Been sensational from the free-throw line. We struggled there today. We struggled getting an offensive rebound. -- excuse me, stopping them getting an offensive rebound. But we made plays. We're still playing. That's what we wanted to do. Jimmy Valvano's line about survive and advance is what we wanted to do. THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Wayne, how important was it to hit those early shots, get some momentum going after what happened to you last year early on? WAYNE ELLINGTON: I think it was big for us to come out and share the basketball and get easy ones. That's what we did. We took open shots. They were going in for us. We built some confidence, and we went from there.

Q. Ty, we all know the point guard is the quarterback of a basketball game. I want to know specifically what goes through your mind during a game, particularly when you're playing quality opposition, and what your role is? TY LAWSON: My role is -- basically, the coach always tells me manage the game. Basically get everybody in the right spots and get our scorers wide open looks, wide open shots, where they want the ball, real comfortable. Just be a leader out there. Just tell everybody where to go, what defense we're in, make sure everybody's on the same page.

Q. Last week when you won the regional final, you were in single digits. Today Bobby leads in offensive rebounds, give up 22 offensive rebounds. How are you able to win when you're not playing real well in all areas? WAYNE ELLINGTON: I think basically just finding a way. You know, it's something that we've emphasized all year long, just to find a way. You know, we've been able to do it so far this season. Little things like, you know, Bobby leading offensive rebounds, guys stepping up in different areas, that's finding a way for us. TY LAWSON: Yeah, basically like Wayne said, find a way. I mean, people that stepping up in different areas. When we were locked out in other areas, like boxing out, Bobby came in and got the most offensive rebounds. Like he said, just find a way basically.

Q. Wayne, you said on many occasions the reason you chose North Carolina is because you wanted to play for a national championship. What does it mean that you know you're going to be doing that on Monday night? WAYNE ELLINGTON: It feels great. You know, we worked so hard all season, all year long to be able to play in this big game. For our seniors, this is huge. We want to send those guys out right. It feels great to be able to get to this game and be on the biggest stage in college basketball.

Q. Ty, could you talk about the rematch. What do you remember about that game? TY LAWSON: The impact of the last game really doesn't have anything to do with the next game 'cause they had a couple players that was hurt, and also they came off of like a long road stretch of games. I know they're a better team right now. They got Suton, yeah, I think Suton. He's playing real well right now. We're going to have to change up our game plan and just see where it goes from there.

Q. Did you get a chance to get gauge what the crowd was like in the first game? WAYNE ELLINGTON: No, we didn't get a chance to really see how the crowd was. But we're sure it was a lot of green in the crowd. So, you know, we play well on the road, so we look forward to continuing that. TY LAWSON: Yeah, just before -- I didn't see any of the game or the crowd. But just driving around the city in our bus, just looking out, you see a lot of Michigan State shirts everywhere, a lot of tailgate parties and things like that. So I'm expecting probably 80% of the crowd is going to be Michigan State. We play well on the road.

Q. You talked a little bit about your last game against Michigan State. What do you think about Monday night's game? What are you looking forward to? COACH WILLIAMS: Tell him you don't have any idea because we haven't told you. WAYNE ELLINGTON: We don't know (smiling). We're looking forward to competing. We're looking forward to a big-time challenge. For us, leaving everything out on the court.

Q. Ty, defending the perimeter tonight, you held them to 5 of 27 shooting. Talk about the effort and the focus you did there. TY LAWSON: Uhm, we knew that both of the guards were real good. Fisher and Scottie Reynolds are real good driving the ball, also shooting it. I owe a lot of it to the big man for stepping out in the ball screens. They gave me time to get around the screen and just stay in front of them. When they got in the lane, we had to put our hands up. We knew they pump faked a lot, so that's the main thing we did to slow them down.

Q. Ty, early in the second half, they get what was once a 17-point lead down to 5. Can you describe what you're thinking when that happens? Wayne, Green makes two three-pointers right after that. How important were shots like that for you to win? TY LAWSON: Basically when they made their run, I just remember from LSU made their run at halftime, cut the lead down. We were just thinking that the next time down, get a good shot, we got to set offense. And we got a good shot -- was it -- I think it was Danny Green who knocked down the shot. Got to have a good shot wide open, and that's what we needed. We can't panic when things happen like that. So basically we just come down, get a set, and get somebody an open shot, a good shot we all want. WAYNE ELLINGTON: Those shots were huge. You know, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. That's what he did for us. Like Ty said, we didn't want to panic. We wanted to keep our poise and make a play. What it really came down to is we got stops and got the lead back up to where we wanted it to be.

Q. Because the expectations for you are so great, they expected you to be here at this point, is it more a sense of relief or do you feel joyous and happy? WAYNE ELLINGTON: I think we feel pretty joyous and happy, you know. All those expectations from outside, within ourselves, we know we wanted to compete as hard as we could this season and leave it all on the floor. You know, with us doing that, we got back to this point and got past where we were last year, and we're happy to be able to compete for a national championship on Monday night. THE MODERATOR: Wayne, Ty, thank you very much. We'll continue with questions for Coach Williams.

Q. Your thoughts about Bobby Frasor, his performance tonight? COACH WILLIAMS: You know, Wayne said something about finding a way. I challenged our guys to do a better job of chasing the ball, chasing the loose ball, having a sense of urgency. When I watched Villanova's tapes of the Pitt game, the UCLA game, the Duke game, they had tremendous sense of urgency and chased down everything. There was one play in the UCLA game where they were up 23 with like six minutes to go, and Anderson came from behind and dove and slapped the ball loose. I showed that to my team last night. That's the way we've got to play. I think Bobby Frasor has struggled all year long with his shot. Sophomore year, he had a stress fracture. Junior, had an ACL. I think he showed some sense of urgency and effort on that. We talked about it last night, a great deal about we can't allow somebody to out compete us on this stage.

Q. A lot has been made about what this Final Four means to the City of Detroit, what Michigan State means to the City of Detroit. I know you don't want them to celebrate on Monday night, but do you feel glad for the city, the people, that their team is in the championship game? Talk about your thoughts about what this city is going through. COACH WILLIAMS: You know, the whole country's going through an extremely difficult time period right now. I think Michigan, particularly with the auto industry, what they're going through, the people losing jobs, it's perhaps even a little more harsher, if that's a word. Think about that for a second, it's a little more difficult for those people here. And I appreciate that and understand what they're grabbing onto. They're latching onto Michigan State. Tom, his club, what a great run they've had. I do appreciate that and understand it. I'm happy for them. I will not be as happy on Monday night, okay? Let's understand that. But I think it is great. Even in playing basketball, I always say to our players, give me something to hang my hat on to keep putting you in the game. Do something to keep putting me -- do something to make me feel good about you. I think that's what Michigan States basketball team is doing for this state. They're giving them something positive to latch onto. I'm ecstatic. Tom Izzo, it's impossible to have any more respect than I have for Tom and his staff. Lupe, his wife, they're people I generally enjoy, like, respect. It's fantastic. But I'm not going to be a Tom Izzo fan on Monday night.

Q. You guys are now undefeated when Wayne Ellington is 50% from the field. How tough are you to beat when you have another option like that? COACH WILLIAMS: Well, I think he is important, to say the least. With Tyler Hansbrough, Deon, some of the players we have inside, if we have somebody scoring from the outside, they can't jam down and double and triple team Tyler. I've said for years, since I became a head coach, I love balance, that offensively you can score inside and outside. I can give you another stat, too. It's really interesting, too. When we score more points, we win those games, too. But we do need Wayne and Danny to make shots. The question behind you there, Danny made those two big threes when they cut it to five. I think that was huge.

Q. In '03, when you lost to Syracuse, Jim Boeheim said to you that you will be back. I know you carried those words with you. Could you share what you said to Jay. COACH WILLIAMS: Well, I remember '03 very well, because I told Jimmy, I'm really happy for you. I really was. Let's be honest. Up until that time, he wasn't respected nearly as well as he should have been. I think since then, it's changed and everybody realizes what a great coach he is and was. But I did tell Jimmy that. That was his statement back to me. He said, You will get one, too. I've never forgotten that. I've never felt that I would ever be able to say anything to Jim Boeheim that would make him feel as good as what he made me feel at that time. It was pretty simple with Jay. I love Jay's club. Yesterday I watched tape eight hours, okay? It wasn't any 24-hour deal. I don't know how people do that. And I loved Jay Wright's club. I love what he's done, got that team to pull together. Perhaps more than any team recently, get a team to understand how they're so much better collectively. What I said to Jay, and a couple of his players is, I've been where you are. Try to focus on what a great, great year you've had to get here. Don't just think about the feeling that you have over this game today. I think Jay Wright, Jay's gonna be back, Jay's gonna get one. Jay's gonna be fine. He doesn't need Roy Williams as a PR guy, but if he wants to, I'll do that after I retire.

Q. Could you quantify this run you're on right now in the tournament, how hot you are? How long, the way the season ended last year, did it stick with you? COACH WILLIAMS: Well, I was there 15 years. That game is gonna be with me forever, how we just didn't play as well as I wanted to play. I still felt like at halftime we were going to win the game. I honest to goodness felt we were gonna win the game. But we didn't. And then the criticism that I received two days later for one of my former players handing me a sticker and putting on. It was not the best weekend. It's not going on vacation, Lampoon or, anything. That was a tough time. But I'm a big boy. You've got to be able to handle that stuff. It didn't make me work any harder over the summer. It hurt a great deal. I still hurt a great deal. But at the same time, I have a wonderful group of kids that helped me turn the page. I have not looked at that tape, not one time. Until I die, at the Pearly Gates, if I happen to be lucky enough to go there, I'll ask St. Peter to give me the tape and I'll watch it at that time.

Q. Earlier, when Ty was asked to compare tonight's meeting to Monday nights, he said that Suton was not in that game. What do you plan to do in the next 48 hours to guard against your team becoming overconfident? COACH WILLIAMS: Well, we are a confident team, but we will not be overconfident Monday night. We will not be, okay? That's just not gonna happen. We'll be intense. We'll have a sense of urgency. We'll have a tremendous amount of respect for what Michigan State has done. If you saw the game, you could tell early, early in the second half that Michigan State just did not have their legs. The three games and the travel had a tremendous impact on that game. Not having Suton had tremendous impact on that game. I honestly believe that, and no one will ever convince me differently. I've coached in games before where we beat a team easily or got killed and turned around and beat them the second time. As I said earlier to one of the questions, I have respect for Tom. My team will not be overconfident. My team will be confident. But my team knows that they'll have the battle of the state of Michigan. We're not in New Orleans. But the battle of Detroit is what we will have Monday night.

Q. Earlier Jim Calhoun said he probably would reflect more this off-season on the potential of retirement. Could you empathize what he's going through? COACH WILLIAMS: To me, it is hard to imagine what the state of Connecticut and Connecticut basketball would be without Jimmy Calhoun. When you say the Connecticut Huskies, I see Jimmy. And he is a good friend. We worked together in USA Basketball, I've stayed at his house. He's one of the giants of the game. He took a program that wasn't one of the top five programs in the country and made it a marvelous, marvelous program with great players and great coaching. I was afraid you were going to ask me if I was starting to think about retirement there. I hope I have a few more years kind of thing. I hope that Jimmy will do what he and his family wants him to do. He's struggled greatly and he's handled it with an unbelievable grace and with an unbelievable competitiveness. And that's Jimmy Calhoun. He taught me a few extra words on some of the trips we've been on that I've even used recently and slipped up. But he told me he was proud of me for that. I called him and told him the way he answered the question about his income, I called him and told him I appreciated being the guinea pig because he alerted every coach in America to be careful what we say. But kidding aside, if that's what he wants to do, I'm fine, but I hope that's not what happens. THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Villanova. We'll ask Coach Wright to make an opening statement. COACH WRIGHT: Well, we want to congratulate Carolina. They played a great game. And they are playing extremely well. I think they've got all the pieces, and we have great respect for them. We've been getting better every game. We did not get better this game. There's a number of reasons. Probably the main reason, though, is we played a better team tonight. There's nothing wrong with hurting and nothing wrong with failure. We gave it everything we got. We're going to hurt tonight, and then tomorrow we're going to make sure we celebrate this senior class and this team. But we're going to try to learn from this tonight. THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Scottie, three-point shooting hadn't been the strength of this team in the tournament. Was there any thought when so many of them weren't falling early to try to slow it down or do something different? SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: I mean, our greatest strength is us always being on the attack and being aggressive. Coach just kept saying to be on the attack. If the shot's there, take it. You know, we weren't going to try to do anything different that we haven't been doing all year. Carolina did a great job of just contesting our shots and just rebounding those shots and getting out on the break.

Q. Scottie, one of the things that Jay said also about this team is you guys didn't panic at all during the year when things went bad in a game. In the first half, you fell down 14. What was it that they did in the first 10 minutes of game? SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: They did a lot of things well, and they did a great job of mixing it up, whether it was penetrating, putting it in the post, or reversing the ball and shooting the three. They did a great job of coming up with big-time lose balls, offensive rebounds, second-chance points. That kind of put us kind of down. We tried to keep a good attitude. We knew if we could get it under 10 or around 10, I think we cut it to 9 at the end of the half, we felt pretty good, in the hole we had been in, to be down nine. We hadn't played our best basketball, come out in the second half and try to play another 20 minutes of Villanova basketball.

Q. Reggie, can you talk about how it feels? Are you able yet to think about tomorrow and think about the whole season? REGGIE REDDING: I mean, we had a great season. We're not going to try to let this loss like spoil the great season we had. But, of course, it hurts right now. All the hard work we put in all year, us coming together as a team. If you're not hurting right now, then I don't think you're a player. You don't care that much. So I think right now we're still in the hurting state, but hopefully we can just keep our heads up and just move past it.

Q. Jay mentioned the seniors. Obviously tough way to see them go. Can you address what that group really meant to you guys this year. SCOTTIE REYNOLDS: They did a great job of bringing this team together and teaching us how to play Villanova basketball for 40 minutes. That's something that we concentrated on throughout the season. We didn't know when it was going to click, but it started clicking, and it was all because of the seniors and their strong will to will this team to do that. It would have been easy for them to be satisfied and just let us do what we wanted to do, you know. We were, what, fourth in the Big East, or third. I forgot what we were. I guess we were like, I don't know, tops in the -- in the top 25. It was easy for them to just let back and throw in the towel and not push us. But they kept pushing us. That's why we continued to get better. And they took us on a great ride. You know, we just tried to do that day in and day out. We sorry that it's over, but they'll never be forgotten. THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We'll continue with questions for Coach Wright.

Q. I'm sure you've seen that run they made at the beginning of the game on film getting ready for this game. Is there a sense of, not hopelessness, but how do we plug the dikes here? COACH WRIGHT: That's what is scary about them, is their runs. You have to score, you know, because when you're missing shots, they're out. The guys you have back are usually guards. And their wings, Green and Ellington, are just bigger. They just go right at them and score. If they don't, they're kicking out for threes. They do a great job of reversing the ball, if they don't get something early. They're a very, very good team. I think they're playing their best right now. That's what we ran into. We ran into a team that's just playing better than us right now, that's better than us.

Q. I'm sure you were looking to really make it a Big East game in the second half. Is that the feeling you had in the locker room, that you were in a good spot, and why didn't it keep going your direction the second half? COACH WRIGHT: We actually felt pretty good at halftime. Being down 17, getting it back to 9, they had guys in foul trouble. We came out of it with Dante with one foul, Scottie with two. We were feeling good. And we started off pretty well in the beginning of the second half. This is where I think they're just really a good team. There was a time we got it under 10, and they missed a free throw, and they got the offensive rebound on a foul shot. They didn't just rely on making shots. They got to loose balls. They did a lot of little things that didn't allow us to make that run. You know, sometimes you do that against teams. They miss a couple shots. They get their head down, and you get 'em. They never put their head down. They kept defending, kept rebounding. They're playing great basketball right now. They really are.

Q. You've dealt with teams who had the season end in the tournament, deal with their emotions. With this group, how long do you think it will take until it really sinks in what that he accomplished, making the Final Four? COACH WRIGHT: I always tell our guys, There's nothing wrong with failing. You can't fear failure. And when it happens, you've got to learn from it. So I really want us to learn from this tonight. You know, we didn't play our best game. The number one reason is Carolina played better tonight. You got to give them credit. But there are things we could have done and should have done that we have to learn from. And then tomorrow, I'm going to make sure that this senior class is celebrated. I'm going to work hard at it. To answer your question, I'm gonna do everything I can tomorrow that they're feeling great about themselves.

Q. Not to put you in a place where you have to speak for the whole conference here, but for so much of this season, the Big East has been what everyone has talked about. Do you think the fact that there is no Big East team in the national title game in any way diminishes what's been said all along? COACH WRIGHT: I really don't. I think that what we thought was great about the Big East this year was just top to bottom level of competition, outstanding teams. I think that was proven throughout the tournament. I think right now Carolina proved, regardless of conference, that they're playing the best basketball in the country right now. And so did Michigan State. That's what it was. You know, I think that Michigan State/UConn game could have gone either way. I think Michigan State finished it and just played a little bit better. Our game, I think Carolina's just playing much better than us right now. But, you know, four of the top teams in the country, two of them were Big East teams. I think that speaks well for our conference.

Q. Do you feel the confidence that you have in this program right now, this is a matter of when it's gonna be back again on a stage like this, not if, with what you accomplished this season? COACH WRIGHT: Well, one of the things we've learned going through this is how difficult it is to get here. You know it's difficult, but after you get here, when you look back, you realize some of the things that happened in the Pitt game, that we were this close to losing to American. I don't think I would ever plan on being back. But we're gonna work hard on it. What I've also learned is I never know when it's your time. I thought in '06, that was our time. I thought we had the team. We ran into the national champion, you know, in the Final 8. We might have run into the national champion tonight. I don't know. I think we'll have a great game Monday night. But it's just a matter of where you run into a team that's better than you, you know. So we're going to work hard at it. We've learned a lot from this trip.

Q. Coach Calhoun said before he would reflect more on retirement this coming off-season than any time before. COACH WRIGHT: Are you asking me about retiring (smiling)?

Q. Not you. Could you empathize with what he went through or can you imagine the conference or the game without him in it? COACH WRIGHT: I know how I feel right now, and I'm excited about coaching a lot more years. I would never want to make a decision right now. I could probably be talked into retiring the way you feel right now. Tomorrow we'll be excited about the next year. So I hope he waits a couple days. He's a young, energetic guy. He's a big part of our conference. Their program is a big part of our conference. UConn basketball is Jim Calhoun. It starts with Jim Calhoun. I really couldn't imagine UConn without Jim Calhoun. THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.