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March 10, 2018

Roy Williams Joel Berry II

New York, New York

UVA - 71, North Carolina - 63

ROY WILLIAMS: Congratulations to Virginia. Tony and his staff and their players. I guess it was two years ago we won the regular season and the conference tournament, and I saw Tony that spring, and he said, congratulations, that's really, really hard to do. And I think that makes it two times for him in the last four years, so they should feel really good because I agree that it really is hard to do in this league.

They're really good. We felt like we had to play really, really well, and I don't think we did that. We shoot 40 percent. We were supposed to be a great rebounding team. We only had two more rebounds than they did. But they're 9 for 17 from three. I think Hall and Guy and Jerome and Isaiah, those guys are really hard to handle. Hunter coming off the bench is really, really good for them, as well. Guy made a couple of big baskets, and Isaiah made a big drive to the basket for a dunk.

We got it to 2, Guy made two straight baskets, and we had one easy shot we missed, and then we had a tough shot that we missed, and then we had a turnover, and all of a sudden it goes from 2 back to 9 or 10. But not using any excuses. We played four days in a row. The first day that we played they were practicing. That's the way the tournament is set up. It's not playing four days in a row that's hard, it's playing Virginia on the last day, and they deserved what they got. But my team is getting better. We've got some bigger goals in front of us, and we'll need to get back to work this week after giving them some rest.

Joel's ankle has been a little beat up. Cam's body is beat up. His back was hurt last night, didn't feel very comfortable about playing him as much as I even played him today, so we'll need a couple of days to rest. Everybody at this time of year has got small injuries, and some of them are not real small. I'm not saying that to use that as an excuse because Virginia beat our tails. That's the bottom line.

If you've got some questions for Joel, I'd like you to ask Joel's questions first so we can let him get back to the locker room.

Q. Joel, the way they played defense, when they get about a seven or eight point lead, does it really kind of amp that urgency up because of how difficult it is to score against them?
JOEL BERRY II: Yeah, I mean, that's how they build their lead. They get up on you and then they put pressure on you thinking you have to come down, and you're thinking you have to get a quick shot to try to get that lead back, and then next thing you know, you take a bad shot, and then you've got to go back down and play defense for 30 seconds again, and then now you're like, oh, dang, we really have to get it going now.

With them and how they play, the slow pace that they have, it does kind of put pressure on you to think that you have to go down and take a quick shot and try to get that lead back in one possession, and that's where they take advantage of teams.

Q. Joel, how do you balance the disappointment of not winning this championship with the opportunity of winning an even bigger championship ahead?
JOEL BERRY II: Yeah, we've just got to go back and we've just got to get better. The biggest thing is we're blessed to be able to go back and watch the selection show tomorrow, and then to be able to get back to the Dean Dome and get better as a team, get a couple of days off or a day off, whatever Coach gives us. But we're blessed, and we have to see that. So we have to put this behind us.

We wanted to win this. We came to the tournament to win. We didn't come here just to say that we wanted to get it out of the way. We wanted to win. But it didn't go in our favor, so we've just got to go back and get ready for the NCAA Tournament and realize now this is the time you lose, you go home.

Each play, each second of the game is very important. But like I said, we're blessed to be able to get another chance to play.

Q. Joel, in terms of the way that the second half went, did you expect to eventually at some point have a one-possession game where you might be able to catch them? I mean, the way it was going, it just seemed like you were right on the cusp.
JOEL BERRY II: Yeah, it was just -- we were right there, and it's just like, they'll come down and they'll hit a big-time shot. I think we got it down to four points maybe --

ROY WILLIAMS: I think we got it to two.

JOEL BERRY II: And then the next thing you know they come down and hit a big-time shot. That's why we work on things in practice like stop, score, stop, so we can go down, score the ball, then get a stop and come down and score and then get another stop. So it was like we were right there, it was just we didn't dig deep enough to try to get that stop so we can either tie it up or get the lead. Those are the things.

You know, it sounds like we say it over and over again, but it just goes to show that every play is important. It really is.

ROY WILLIAMS: You guys have to understand this little nut is playing his butt off, too, and he does have some bigger dreams.

To answer the question, I think it was 48-46, and I think Guy made two in a row at that point, but -- I think he was one of them.

Did we have the ball down two? Okay, so we had an opportunity and didn't get over the hump like the little engine that could. That's what I felt like at times.

But against Virginia you've got to make plays. You've got to really, really, really play well, and I don't think that we did that. Really, as I said, I don't think we got it to that level.

Q. So much attention is placed on their defense, and rightly so, but they only committed four turnovers today, they made 16 straight free throws, their first 16, made over 50 percent of their free throws. Do people overlook how good and efficient offensively they are?
ROY WILLIAMS: I think definitely they do. They just talk about the lower possessions. I've always said I don't think Tony holds the ball. I think they wait until they get exactly the shot they want, and that's the way they play. If it makes you play defense a little longer to play defense, then he's getting double benefits from it because he's still getting the shot he wants and he's wearing you down a little bit more.

Even Nigel Johnson, he comes in, he was shooting in conference play like 27 percent from three, and he makes two out of three in the first half, and he wasn't a great free-throw shooter, but he made his free throws in the first half.

Kids rise up and play better sometimes, and today we needed them to not play quite as well, not make all the free throws, not only have one turnover in the first half. I forget, we were down 10, and we got it back to four at the half, and I felt like, okay, we're hanging right in there. But you've got to do a little bit better against Virginia than just hang in there.

Q. I was actually going to ask you if their guards are better than recent versions perhaps that they've had, but also with Luke, he had 15 points in the first half and only five in the second half. Did they do anything different on him in the second half?
ROY WILLIAMS: I think they really focused on making sure they didn't let him have the open looks. And then second half, I think he only made one three in the second half. I'm not even sure it was one. But I do think that they emphasized trying to cover him a little more. They went a little smaller a lot.

They had Salt, who's really, really good, does some great things for him, but they guarded Luke with a little bit smaller player that could get out on the court. Their guards, I thought Malcolm Brogdon was great, and -- yeah, Perrantes, so that was really a good pair, too.

But both these kids are 6'5" and can shoot the basketball and handle the basketball.

And in reality, one of the easiest coaching jobs I've ever had in my life was in 2002, we made it all the way to the Final Four in Atlanta, I started three point guards, and that's what Virginia plays. If I'm not mistaken Devon Hall was a point guard in high school, so when you have three point guards out there, they really make coaching a heck of a lot easier.

But they're really good. They really are. They defend you. They work hard defensively, too. But they can score.

Q. You heard Joel talk about how even trailing by five against Virginia the way they play can seem so big. Do you feel that, too? And second, what do you tell them during time-outs, et cetera, when the game is really only five, seven points away, but it feels like it's bigger?
ROY WILLIAMS: I tell them that each possession is worth more in a low-possession game. I do all that prior to it. During the game, I try to be as positive as I can be or push them as much as I can. We don't talk that much about, okay, we're only down five. We don't talk about that. I say we've still got a chance. We're still in this game. The game is not decided. But we do talk to them, as Joel said, in the pregame strategy, and when we're talking about what we're doing, you've got to make every offensive possession be a good one, all right, because they're going to make you work defensively. If you go down and slop up a quick shot, now you've got to go back and defend, and you might have to defend for a long time.

But yeah, we made -- I didn't realize, Kirs just told me that play where Joel tried to lob it to Theo, that's the only time we had it when we were down two, but it wasn't a very good play at that point.

Q. Teams have identities and styles that they like to play, obviously, and games are always about who gets to impose their will on the other team. Obviously you guys love the break and the secondary break. When you have to switch your style of play but you can do it, is that difficult for your team to morph into, we're not breaking now, we're going to play a little bit more in the half court?
ROY WILLIAMS: Yeah, but I think I've told every team I've ever coached, we can win in the 50s and 60s, but I like it a lot more when we win when we're in the 80s and 90s. And our really good teams have been able to do both. We've toughed out a couple of games this year in the much lower scoring games. But no, I prefer a faster pace, more aggressive, all that kind of cute stuff it sounds like, but sometimes you have to be able to win when the other team's pace or style of play is more dominant than yours is.

But you know, when you get to this level, you're going to play really good teams. I mean, guys, the ACC is really a freaking -- really, whatever you want to add there, good league. So to go through this and have some success puts us in position. We think we still have a chance. Kirs can correct me, I may miss it by one, but my teams have taken me to nine Final Fours. I think we've only won conference tournaments twice. Is it two or three? Twice? Nine Final Fours, and we've only been sitting up here happy faced twice. Last year we got our tails beat, and then we were okay after that. We played pretty well. But this has been a heck of a league. It's been a heck of a journey, heck of a challenge, and we wanted to play this game, but we wanted to be the last ones standing, too.

Q. People talk about Virginia and they talk about how well they play together and precision and skills. Do you believe that they have a quality like clutch? Do you believe in a quality like clutch?
ROY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do. Ability helps you be really clutch. Confidence in your ability, talent helps you be that way.

But I didn't even realize this: Tony said something else to me. He said, we can beat you in the regular season but we can't beat you in the tournament. I had forgotten about that because we had beaten them two years ago in The Finals and maybe the year before that in the tournament, also.

But I really like what he does. I don't mind telling you, today, again, he got his club to do what he wanted better than I got what I wanted my club to do.

But they're really tough-minded. They're really intelligent. They realize who they are, and they play to their strengths and stay away from their weaknesses, and as a coach, you have to admire that. And the other coach being able to do that, I think he's one of the really best coaches anywhere. I mean, I really believe that.

We played his team from Washington State in one of the NCAAs, and they played like this. He's just a very gifted kid who probably got most of his potential -- I don't remember that much about Tony as a player. I know he's a good shooter and had a great percentage, but I think he got as much as he could when he was a player, and I think that's what he's trying to get his kids to buy into, and they're buying into it.

Q. Apologies for hitting your favorite topic here, but after what you did against Duke, two out of three wins against them and all of your quadrant one wins this year, would you like to start the tournament in Charlotte?
ROY WILLIAMS: You know, Kirs and Clint and my wife and everybody has been talking to me about all that stuff the last couple days, and last night is the first time I asked my question. I don't mind you guys standing over on the sidelines disagreeing with me, but I think last night is the first time I said, do you think that will change where we are going, and the answer I got from all three people, Kirs, Clint and my wife, was yes, they think that'll put us in Charlotte. So I said, okay, let's win tomorrow, meaning today, and then I felt like sure that it would do it. You guys think I'm whacko, hell, I just want to go someplace warm. I've been freezing my butt off up here.

Q. Not that you notice stuff like this, but did you think anything when Virginia was picked sixth in the league before the season and was unranked in the top 25?
ROY WILLIAMS: You know, guys, I'm going to tell you, there's a lot of things I don't give a flip about, and that's lower than anything else, okay.

One of the greatest thrills of my life was walking in my gym in Kansas in 1990, and my senior point guard said, Coach, they picked us eighth in the Big Eight. That's last. And I said, we're going to be all right. He said, no, they picked us last. I said, son, do you think that gives the other team an advantage, do we have to give them points or anything? We won 30 that year, so I can tell you there's a lot of things in my life I worry about, and that damn preseason poll has never made that list. But they've got to get somebody -- if they asked the coaches we would vote, too, and we'd probably be just as wrong as the media is.

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