Posted Sunday, March 30, 2008
Charlotte, NC – Tyler Hansbrough scored 28 points and had 13 rebounds to lead the Tar Heels over the Cardinals and into their 17 th Final Four. After their 83-73 win over the Louisville Cardinals in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament at Bobcats Arena, Carolina’s head basketball coach Roy Williams and players Tyler Hansbrough and Marcus Ginyard talked with the press.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: Folks, Ty is in the locker room getting some ice. I know you all have deadlines. I’m not going to make an opening statement. I’ll tell you we’re ecstatic.
Q. Tyler, could you talk about the 12-point second half lead gets away from you. I’m sure Georgetown might have been on your mind but you looked like you were not going to be denied the trip to the Final Four this time.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Yeah, I mean, you know, it was in the back of a lot of our minds. One thing about tonight there was that point where they went on that run and I think the difference this year is we handled that run better and stayed poise and came back. Got some points and kept fighting back until eventually we had a run.
Q. Tyler, just what your raw emotions knowing the buzzer sounded that after three hard years, you’re finally going to the Final Four?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: My feelings right now are great. Definitely I’ve never been — it takes all of those past experiences away. But also, at the same time I feel like we want to accomplish more. Marcus said something to me as we were walking in here, it feels like we did something big, but we can also do something bigger.
Q. Coach, could you talk about the pump fake and shot that Tyler hit on the left side and does it sometimes seem like the things he does are larger than life in those big moments?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I’ll answer that but I think we want the questions to go to the student-athletes.
Are you talking about when the score was tied at 59? The reason he made that shot is he’s made it hundreds of times already. Just like that television commercial, the young man shoots extra shots before every practice, every off-day, he’s made that shot hundreds of times.
Q. Marcus, I know you in particular were really affected by last year, it’s kind of been on your mind, and this is something that you wanted to do. Your emotions right now? And could you describe the way you guys picked up your defense with about sixth and a half minutes to go and caused some turnovers, forced them to miss shots?
MARCUS GINYARD: It feels good right now. I’m just going to piggy back on what Tyler said. You know, coming to the press conference right now, Tyler said we just won a tournament in a tournament. So we know that this is not our last step. We’re very excited to get to this point but we continue to have that same attitude that, you know, we have more work to do.
But this team has continued to show that when we need to dig deeper and play better and play harder and play smarter, we do. And I think that just shows how good this team really is. Every time we get into those sticky situations we always get ourselves out. And that’s what you need, you need a team that’s going to be tough enough to not give in, and to continue to push forward.
Q. Tyler, if you could address the two big jumpshots down the stretch that you hit. I think the clock was winding down on both of them. And Marcus, if you would also talk about those and just what that did as far as momentum and everything else.
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Well, to be honest with you, I kinda felt like they were both going in when they left. I was confident. But, you know, in that situation, the clock was winding down, so I knew it was a good shot. And I felt confident. We work on it every day in practice. The bigs do, and it’s nothing that — it just carried over to the game.
MARCUS GINYARD: And, you know, I’m just going to say the same thing Coach Williams says, he’s made that shot each and every day hundreds and hundreds and thousands of times. He shoots that shot every day before practice. Every off-day he’s in there shooting those shots. And everybody on this team feels confident when Tyler shoots those shots. And I told him during the game, at halftime we were talking about using the screen on the ball and having Tyler pop up and knock that shot down. Everybody is confident in it. He’s confident in it and we know he can make it.
Q. Marcus, what was going through your mind when Clark hit that second free-throw to tie the game with a little over 10 minutes left?
MARCUS GINYARD: I don’t remember that free-throw.
Q. It tied the game, what was going through your head.
MARCUS GINYARD: You know, Coach tells us not to look at the score, and just to go out there and play, and to be honest with you, I never saw the score tied, so I don’t know. I don’t know how I was feeling at that point.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: That shows he’s a very coachable player. I don’t look at the score a lot. When Steve and I were walking down here, he said, They tied the score, and I said, What was it? Was it 64? And he said, No, it was 59. Because I want to play everything possession the best you can, and I think that’s what the kids do.
Q. For Marcus, I was hoping you could talk about how in last year’s regional final it was outside shots, and, yes, Tyler hit some outside shots, but how you found him and how important that was down the stretch?
MARCUS GINYARD: You know, Tyler is a big-time player obviously. So you’ve got to find a way to give a player like that the ball to give him the opportunity to make those big-time shots like that. It says even more about Tyler, the fact that he’s ready and the opportunity presents itself, he’s there and he’s got the guts to knock the shot down.
Q. Tyler, when it was tied up at 59, I think you scored seven points in a row. Did something go through your mind where you said, all right, Wayne is not hitting it, Danny is not hitting. I got to put it on my shoulders?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: Not necessarily, I think there were times when I became more active and my teammates got me the ball. Certain times when things aren’t falling outside we try to get the ball inside, and I just happened to demand the ball and got some looks.
Q. Tyler, I would like to get your reaction about what Coach Pitino said about you because I thought he gave you one of the ultimate compliments: He mentioned a lot of the great players he’s coached against in the NBA and college, Michael Jordan and a lot of different people, and he’s never seen any player play every possession as hard as you play it. To hear a guy like that say to you, what does that mean to you?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: It means a lot. Coach Pitino, if you know basketball, he’s one of those guys that everybody kinda knows. His teams are always great, so I know that he’s seen a lot of players, and it’s an honor to be considered in that category that he’s put me in.
Q. Marcus, could you just speak a bit about Louisville’s defense? I guess you could consider this the first really tight game you all have played in some time, particularly in the second half.
MARCUS GINYARD: Louisville did a great job of pressuring us, and forcing us to make bad plays, I think, for a good stretch there. We weren’t taking care of the ball, and they were capitalizing on those opportunities that they created for themselves. So they did a great job of fighting back and just staying on top of us. But in the end it gets back to, you know, this team getting put in that situation, we’ve got to step up and we did a great job of stepping up tonight.
Q. During the tournament how much were you all able to watch what was going on? Like Davidson has been a big story in the tournament, do you see those games or the Kansas games? How much time do you allow for that?
TYLER HANSBROUGH: A lot to be honest with you, because a lot of times during breaks and things we’re laying around the hotel, and it’s hard not to turn on the TV. And you hear about Davidson and Curry, what he’s doing. You see all these other teams. So I’m aware of it. I mean, I can’t talk for Marcus, but that’s just my take.
MARCUS GINYARD: We’re definitely aware of it. We see it on TV, but nothing that is going on on TV while we’re not playing is really that important to us. Obviously we enjoy watching it to see what happens, but we’re more focused on what we’re going to do what when we get on the court.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Congratulations. Questions for Coach?
Q. Coach, it just doesn’t seem like this team has ever really been rattled in the last few weeks, even when the game was tied. The team’s focus seems like it’s at an all-time high.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: They are focused young men. They have dreams and hopes. I’ve said many times this year, we don’t deal in other people’s expectations. They don’t have anything invested in it like these kids do. When the score did get tied, Tyler came down and he got a layup. And he showed a lot of poise because he faked, and guys were flying around, and I think this is the right one, and he ended up laying the ball up. And then we go down and get a stop, and he comes down and he scored again. And we go down and they miss, and we come down and I think we’re up four, and we pass it around and it gets knocked out of bounds. And it was our ball out of bounds underneath. And it’s one of the times Louisville was playing man to man. And I called a set play for Ty to get a shot from the corner, and he stepped up and knocked in the three.
So it was something where the kids were able to step up and make plays, they are focused, they’re tough kids. We still don’t guard people as well as I would like for us to guard, with Louisville shooting 50% for the game. But we did get some stops down the stretch, and they had some turnovers and things that helped us as well.
Q. You all played Davidson in the first game, are you surprised at all by the run they’ve had and what they’ve been doing in this tournament?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I would say I’m a little surprised, you beat a 2 seed and a 3 seed, and I think that’s what they’ve done. I think Georgetown is a 2, Wisconsin was a 3. That’s been sensational. I think Steph Curry’s accomplishments in the games that he’s played have been phenomenal. I really haven’t watched a lot of other games but I’ve seen the highlights on Sports Center, and he’s just been phenomenal. I knew they were an extremely good basketball team. You know, they had UCLA by 18. They played us and lose a close one. They lose a close one to us by 4, a close one to Duke by 6. So when you think about that, you shouldn’t be surprised, but maybe I’m just not as big of a fan of the other teams or the Selection Committee or what’s going on. I’m so focused on our club, but to beat a 2 and 3 seed to get to the final 8 is amazing.
Q. Roy, we’ve talked about Tyler for three years and watched him do a lot of stuff, but to hear a guy like Rick say he’s never seen a player play every possession the way he does, as his coach, could you comment on that.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: You guys have heard it before, he does the same thing in practice every day. I mean, the young man is the most driven, most focused youngster I’ve ever seen in my life to try to be the best player he can be and to help his team win. And twice during a late time-out he yelled, “Hey, come on, let’s finish this off.” One other time he said “Come on guys, let’s go.” He’s not a rah-rah individual. When he says something like that, they listen to him. But, I mean, 28 points and 13 rebounds and being willing to take those shots. But he does, last week, I forget which day it was that we had off, he was in the gym two and a half hours on the off-day. So for Rick to say it, it was fantastic. I compliment Rick for making a youngster feel like that, I think that’s great. But that’s Tyler Hansbrough. And that’s Tyler Hansbrough at practice every day. That’s Tyler Hansbrough in the off-days. It’s what he is.
And I’ve said that when that young man takes the Carolina blue uniform off and doesn’t put it on, I’m going to sit on top of the Smith Center or whatever and sit there for an hour and realize how lucky I am to have coached that youngster.
Q. Before we go you might want to describe that play and give us an injury report on your left hand, when Tyler pitched that ball over there to you. It didn’t look like you were ready to receive that pass.
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: No, I wasn’t. I slammed it to the floor. I wasn’t mad at the officials by any means, I was mad at our offense. Two possessions in a row. And I really jammed the dickens out of my finger here, but sometimes you’ve got to suck it up and not be a baby.
Q. Obviously you have a great love for Kansas, when you watch that game tomorrow, knowing if they win, what will your emotions be like?
COACH ROY WILLIAMS: I have the greatest love for a place I gave my heart, body and soul for 15 years. I have no idea what my emotions are going to be. I know when I was at Kansas and we played North Carolina in ’93 and ’94. I said I hated it, but if I was ever going to play North Carolina and Coach Smith, I wanted it to be at the Final Four.
I will never play the University of Kansas in a regular season game. It will have to be a tournament, whether it’s NCAA Tournament or a holiday tournament. But nobody could have more love and try to give more to that place than I did for 15 years and they gave me a chance. They gave me a chance when I had Bob Frederick, and a chance when not exactly a household name. I was barely a name in my own house.
So I have no idea what the emotions will be. I’m ecstatic for this club right now to be going to San Antonio and enjoy what’s going on, and enjoy the accomplishments that they have made.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Louisville basketball head coach Rick Pitino came out with players David Padgett and Terrence Williams.
COACH RICK PITINO: Well, we congratulate North Carolina on making it to the Final Four, it was a much-deserved victory. Real proud of our guys. They played their hearts out, made a few turnovers down the stretch that really shot us in the foot, but I couldn’t substitute as much as I wanted. And I had some guys giving everything they had, their heart and soul to try and get a victory.
Tyler Hansbrough made two shots that you prayed they were going to take, and shows you what an All American he is to make those shots, because they were both challenging — I was following the flight of the ball; he couldn’t even see the basket. That’s what an All American does, makes those shots and he’s a heck of a basketball player. First time I’ve seen him up close, and some pro team is going to be very lucky. I haven’t seen a guy play every possession like that in a long time. I’ve never seen it, actually.
So we congratulate North Carolina. I’m real proud of our basketball team. They’ve had a very good season and I’m real proud of them.
Q. For David and Terrence, if y’all could talk about Tyler Hansbrough after seeing him firsthand, because it’s one thing to see a kid on TV, and you guys know better than us what it’s like when you actually guard someone.
DAVID PADGETT: Yeah, I mean, he deserves every accolade and all the success that he gets. Like Coach said, I’ve never played against somebody who plays that hard, and the kid is just absolutely determined to be a great basketball player. And big-time players make big-time plays and he made two big-time plays at the end of game.
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: I agree with David. I’ve never been on the court where someone goes hard for every position, every rebound, dives on the floor and do whatever to make his time win. He deserves everything that he gets.
Q. Where do you think things went wrong for you in the last ten minutes of the game? Because you were drawn even at 59-all.
DAVID PADGETT: They hit some big shots when they counted. You got to give them credit, they’re an outstanding basketball team. And they made big shots when they counted. You’ve got to give people credit when they make big plays, and that’s what they did.
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: Like he said, they made big shots, and we had a couple of key turnovers, and they got a couple more rebounds than we did.
Q. What do you think went into them getting their lead, what were they doing well and you not doing well, and what went into you pulling back even with them?
DAVID PADGETT: Well, they’re one of the best offensive teams in the country. They played well tonight and did a good job rebounding the basketball. And we came out after halftime and I thought we dug in and slowly chipped away at the lead and tied it up, but it’s tough when you dig yourself a hole like that. But I thought our guys did a good job of battling back in and not giving up and trying to get out of here with a win. They were just a better basketball team.
TERRENCE WILLIAMS: Our team didn’t lay down but they fought back hard. For everybody watching, that speaks volumes for their team, and they happened to make more shots than we did.
Q. Guys, you got back and did a good job in transition defense a lot of the night, but they still had speed and were able to hurt you with that. Can you talk about the way they were relentless in pushing the ball?
DAVID PADGETT: That’s their style, but I didn’t think they hurt us that bad in transition. They’re going to score in transition once in a while because that’s how they like to play.
But like we’ve been saying, when it came down to it, they made big-time shots.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Rick, do you feel like the pace caught up with you at all? Did you guys lose your legs at the end?
COACH RICK PITINO: No, I don’t think when you make a post move and you get called for two travels that’s losing your legs. I think they pulled the chair and played good defense on him. He learned a valuable lesson from that. He thought he was getting fouled in the beginning, and then they pulled the chair on him twice, and he had two. Turnovers hurt us down the stretch, but like I said, they made some real difficult shots. I don’t think the transition game was a factor for them. I think they made some very difficult shots, made all their free-throws and we turned it over at some crucial times. But we did a lot of good things offensively tonight, really some good things, shot a good percentage, but they were a little bit better than us, and our guys hung tough in a tough environment.
Q. Rick, you’ve seen so many great basketball players and been around so many, to say you’ve never seen someone play quite like Hansbrough is a little astonishing. I realize I’m getting you to talk about the same thing over again, but if you could elaborate on why he catches your eye in such a way?
COACH RICK PITINO: Because I’ve coached against Michael in his prime, Barkley in his prime, Kareem when he left, Magic, all the great ones I’ve been fortunate to watch and observe those guys. Certainly he doesn’t have those abilities of those superstars, but just like shooting, rebounding, playing defense, passing, skills, working hard is an acquired skill. Every NBA coach would love to have a player not only because he works hard, but he has a lot of talent. Imagine that. You know, we have an old saying as an offensive rebounder, “treat every shot as a pass to you.” And it’s a good saying, except most players can’t do that. He does that.
But the shots he made, I mean, I was right there, were unbelievable shots because they were under duress, and he had very little time to get it off, and he came up big. And obviously I don’t like to lose, but you’ve got to give credit to a great basketball player.
Q. Coach, did you change anything up at halftime to get you back in?
COACH RICK PITINO: We were just turning the ball over too much and we were shooting a good percentage, we were turning it over. You know, turnovers hurt us against Tennessee and turnovers hurt us against Carolina a little bit. You can’t work that hard and force turnovers. Some of my great teams would force 23 turnovers, but most of the season we would only turn it over 13, 14 times.
The second half the reason we came back because we weren’t turning it over. And then we got those two travel violations. And that type of turnover doesn’t bother me as much because it’s a great defensive play by a guy who pulls the chair on him and he traveled. The other turnovers when T Will turned it over on a pass, he was just dead on that play. When our guys did a much better job in the second half. The elements caught up with us in the second half, but our guys did a wonderful job. They’re a terrific basketball team. You’ve got two teams going to the Final Four right now that are both great on defense, terrific on offense.
Q. They were pretty much good in any style on offense whether you dropped back or pressed. How much did you weigh whether to come after them with full-court pressure or drop back?
COACH RICK PITINO: We played exactly the way we needed to play to beat them. We tied it up, had a chance to win, and they overpowered us down the stretch. We played exactly the style of play we needed to win. Very difficult sometimes for people to admit when the other team is better but we’re a very good basketball team this year, very good, and they were better tonight, made big shots. So we played exactly the way we needed to play, they just played better.
Q. Coach, there was a time back in December where I don’t know if you thought your team would get to this point. What changed from then to now?
COACH RICK PITINO: You serious?
COACH RICK PITINO: We got healthy, we had no Padgett, you want me to repeat all that?
COACH RICK PITINO: We had no Padgett, we had no Palacios, we suspended Caracter for a game against Purdue. We didn’t get healthy until the first Big East game another two weeks later. I used Georgetown as an example, if you don’t have Hibbert and you don’t have Patrick Ewing, Jr. or you don’t have Tyler Hansbrough, and you don’t have one of their big guys, how good would they be? It’s very simple. This is a players’ game and you win with talent.
The worst thing about everything that we went through and all the things we had to overcome is we had to play Walter McCarty in practice for three weeks. That was the most difficult thing. We couldn’t even practice. On top of all our problems, the NCAA clearinghouse never cleared two of our freshmen. One had open heart surgery and the other was declared ineligible. So it was difficult times. So for us to get to the Elite Eight and come back and do this…
What every coach wants is for their team to reach their potential, and that’s when you give the players credit because they reached their potential. And they played a tough team tonight. And I’m real proud of the fact that they came back and fought in the second half.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Congratulations on a great year.