Cliff's Notes: Roy Williams says he'll never walk through tunnel as opposing coach at Allen Fieldhouse
7:26 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Here's Journal-World photographer Mike Yoder's video with sights from Saturday and KU center Jeff Withey talking about the message delivered at a team meeting KU had Friday night.
6:06 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Here's a sample:
5:34 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
4:35 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Here's the Cliff's notes version from Kansas coach Bill Self's comments at the podium during today's media session.
• KU guard Ben McLemore is young. This is his first time on a big stage. He didn't have his best game against Western Kentucky, but KU's much better when he's in there because he's so athletic and can open things up for others. He's a great shooter. Self is pleased with what he's done all year long.
• KU guard Elijah Johnson is a big of a key on the team for everybody playing well because he's the main distributor. Teams are going to guard McLemore a certain way to force him to do things that don't come as easy for him. He's capable of doing those things, though. He just has to enjoy the moment and play the game and not put pressure on himself. When he's aggressive, KU is much better. KU just has to get him to be more aggressive.
• KU senior Travis Releford is smart, strong, athletic and understands angles defensively. But more than anything, he's competitive. There was a long period of time when WKU's leading scorer T.J. Price didn't make a basket, and that was primarily because of Releford. Self hasn't seen anyone more competitive on the defensive end in college basketball this year than Releford.
• On recent teams, KU's guys enjoy playing for games that are the highest of stakes. But Friday night's game was for the highest of stakes, too. Self thinks KU was ready to play, but he thinks the team was tight. Self says the team isn't going to get up for playing against UNC coach Roy Williams. It will get up for playing North Carolina the team.
• KU center Jeff Withey has become better offensively with his back to the basket. Self is happy with him. His numbers don't jump off the page, but he's averaging about 14 points per game. Last year, Withey benefited from Thomas Robinson getting double-teamed. Now, teammates are benefiting because Withey is getting doubled.
• UNC doesn't run the same things as Iowa State, but personnel-wise, there might be some similarities. The difference is UNC has a 5 man in James Michael McAdoo. KU hasn't played a stretch 4-man all year like P.J. Hairston. That's different. The fact KU has played a team has played a team that can stretch it at four spots like ISU will be a benefit.
• KU had opportunities to dunk a couple balls after beating the press against WKU if it could just play catch. KU didn't do a good job against the press. UNC will try to pressure KU. It might not press, but it will pressure. KU has to be better at attacking pressure and scoring behind it.
• Self thinks everybody who has supported Kansas over time respects and appreciates what Williams did during his time in Lawrence. The people at KU were beneficiaries of his time at KU. Anybody who doesn't feel that way isn't real, Self says, because that's the reality of it. Self doesn't think Williams playing KU is as big of a deal after 10 years, though. Self joked he could go back to Champaign, Ill., and they might now know if he was in town there for a month. Williams playing KU might have been more of a storyline if it had happened earlier in time, but Self doesn't see it as much of a storyline now.
3:57 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Here's the Cliff's notes version of North Carolina coach Roy Williams' comments at the podium during today's media session.
• Williams says his team is excited and confident, but it knows it has a big challenge ahead of it. UNC's game was frustrating for a while. Villanova got more aggressive and made a great run before the half. Williams took all five of his starters out not as much as because he was frustrated with them, but more because he wanted to tell the players to defend the post a different way. UNC went back to a big lineup in the second half against Villanova.
• UNC is not as good at running after opponent made shots this year as it has been in the past. Williams says his team still has been able to run effectively after opponents' missed shots.
• Williams says KU is good defensively because it's long, athletic and has a shot-blocker at the goal. KU center Jeff Withey was strong in last year's game against UNC. KU's guys on the perimeter do a good job of keeping opponents in front of them. KU's goal isn't always to steal the ball; it's go give the opponent one bad shot.
• Williams says his team is going to play the way his team has been playing all year. For 15 years, he's taught his players to take the ball right to the eyes of a shot-blocker, but his team doesn't have the kind of personnel to be able to do that this year. He's hoping to spread KU defensively to get good spacing. He also wants his guys to be smart against KU. If a 6-foot-3 guard gets an offensive rebound and tries to go over Withey on Sunday, Williams joked he'll soon have a 6-foot-3 assistant next to him on the bench.
• KU led the nation in defensive field-goal percentage for a reason, and it's not just because Withey blocks shots. KU has other good defensive pieces and also has length. Size helps you close out better, deflect more passes and bother more people's shots. Syracuse's zone under Jim Boeheim is effective because it has long players closing out on shots. KU recruits a certain type of player to play defense, and its defense is a huge reason for its success.
• Williams has changed a lineup mid-season, but he's never changed a style of play in the middle of a season. He's still not totally comfortable with it. But as a basketball coach, you have to try to get your five best basketball players on the floor if you're not successful. The players had to buy in. They're the ones that should get the credit. UNC's team has gotten better as the season has gone on.
• Williams joked that he's a wacko, and said that every day of a game while coach at KU, he ran by the tombstones of Phog Allen and James Naismith on his jog and asked them for advice. He loves the passion of KU fans. Some would tell him, "We've got a seven-hour drive back to Dodge City, but that was a great game." Both places (UNC and KU) have great passion for the game. Williams loved his time at KU. He loved every day there. He's loved his 10 years back at UNC. Williams says it's not immoral to love two institutions. Williams has said before if there's ever a time where he doesn't get goose bumps when walking into Allen Fieldhouse, he would quit. He gets the same feeling in the Smith Center. Somebody asked Williams the other day if he'd ever play a home-and-home with KU. He said the answer is no, and his athletic director understands that. He will never walk out of the opposing team's tunnel at Allen Fieldhouse.
• Williams doesn't worry about the times when he has to go to a knee on the sideline to collect himself when he's light-headed, which happened once against Villanova. Those spells started when he was 13 years old. It's not vertigo. He's had it checked out by doctors. It's just a rush of blood to the head. He's not worried about it.
• Time heals all wounds. Williams had friends that told him that. Some people were very disappointed when he left KU. They let him know about that. The people have been nice from KU during his time in Kansas City this week. People have been yelling at Williams on the street. Only one person yelled something at him that wasn't nice. Basketball is important around here.
• KU guard Ben McLemore can really shoot. He's an unbelievable scorer who does other things well. McLemore right now is one of the best wing players there is in college basketball.