UNC had it's media day on Thursday to mark the beginning of the basketball season which will officially kickoff with Friday night's Late Night with Roy. UNC head coach Roy Williams met with members of the media and as expected most of the time was consumed discussing his recent health scare. The academic scandal was brought up and yes, there was a little basketball thrown in. Full video of the press conference can be found here.
On his health
Williams said he was experiencing heartburn and went in for his annual physical. After an ultrasound and CT scan, the tumors were discovered. During the initial meeting with the doctors, Williams was told there was a 95% chance the tumors were cancerous. After a one surgery and the biopsy, Williams has been cleared but will be monitored. He called it a "whirlwind 24 days"
At present Williams is not up to working full time instead opting to stay home in the morning and then come in for the afternoon. There has been a concerted effort to "slow down."
As noted in previous reports, Williams told the team at 10 PM the night before the first surgery out of an abundance of caution that it not leak out via social media.
Williams says he plans on coaching 6 to 10 more years assuming his health allows him to do so.
As for the responses from other coaches, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski called three times and Wake Forest's Jeff Bzedlik sent ice cream.
On the academic scandal
Dan Kane actually showed up for the press conference and broached the subject. Williams repeated his pride in "what we've done academically" and referred to the scandal as "sad." He also indicated there have been mistakes made
Kane then asked about the NAVS 302 class which had six basketball players enrolled in it in 2007. Specifically Kane inquired what Williams thought about the class requirements which didn't require exams or quizzes but a paper and presentation instead. Williams responded that it was up to the professor and said
I don't know what the professor's deal was but if he felt like he was teaching someone something and they were learning what he wanted then he must have felt good about doing it that way.
As a side note, I am still not sure why Kane is focused on the NAVS 302 class or why he doesn't understand that just because a class doesn't require exams or quizzes it doesn't make it any less legitimate.
Overall, Williams handled the questions with restraint and after having discussed it at length did he basically shut it down in a way that made it clear to Kane he probably shouldn't be coming to anymore basketball press conferences.
On the current team
The current team is taking a hit in terms of personnel lost to the NBA/graduation. According to Williams, you have complimentary players who need to step up, two players coming off injury and four freshmen. In his opinion, this team is more like 2006 and 2010. The bottom line: "This team has to play as close to its potential as they possibly can to be successful."
On the point guard
According to Williams, Marcus Paige will likely be the point guard mainly because Dexter Strickland will still be limited and is also not a natural point guard. Luke Davis will "surprise some people."
Williams was asked if Paige was as good as Marshall(apparently a player said he was) to which Williams said
Kendall Marshall had 351 assists on a team that couldn't shoot.
Williams is not sure the team can be as fast as last season because the point guards don't pitch it ahead as fast and players like Joel James don't run the floor as well as Tyler Zeller. Still Williams wants to run as much as possible.
On team defense
He said he might be "wacko" but he thinks UNC will be pretty good on defense.
I tend to agree. If Strickland is healthy then you have two top notch defenders with him and Reggie Bullock. McAdoo will need to step up his interior defense without fouling plus this team will have tremendous athletes. If they commit to playing defense, UNC will be strong in that area.
On Joel James
Williams says he is a "fun kid" who was 315 lbs when he first saw him, dropped to 262, back to 273 but his body fat has dropped. Since he has not been playing basketball long(sophomore year of high school) there is still a curve but Williams is really excited about him.