UNC kicked off the 2010-11 basketball season with their annual media day. Roy Williams met with the media and let me just say that the last time we saw Roy in front of the media during the season the man looked beat. It would seem the break has been good for him and the fact he has Harrison Barnes gives him some optimism. Tar Heel Blue has full video of Roy's remarks as well as player audio. Roy's press conference highlights after the jump.
- The foremost question on everyone's mind was whether or not the current NCAA investigations into football, particularly the academic prong will spill over into basketball. At this point Roy said he has only received positive feedback on the issue. According to Roy, research has been done into player's emails and the emails of the basketball team's academic adviser(also named Jen, believe it or not.) So far none of the players have been called into for an interview and Roy said he has not been notified of any issues. Hopefully it stays that way which will make NCSU fans most unhappy.
- The freshman class is considered to more mature than last year's group according to....John Henson. Speaking of individuals, Roy is high on Kendall Marshall's understanding of the game and his passing ability which his defensive ability in question due to lack of quickness. Reggie Bullock "looks like a basketball player" which is a good thing since he is on the basketball team. Bullock also showed some toughness going through the conditioning drills with a bruised hip. Then there is Harrison Barnes who Roy said had copious amounts of discipline, focus and intensity. Roy went as far as to say Barnes was more focused than even Tyler Hansbrough was as a freshman. Roy could not say how much they would be putting on Barnes as compared to the way Hansbrough was used five years ago.
- Roy is expecting better play from Larry Drew and even said Drew was blamed too much for the troubles last season. Roy pointed out the point guard play will be an interesting mix. All three PGs bring different skills to the game. Drew with quickness and length, Marshall with passing and an understanding of the game and Dexter Strickland with his speed and toughness though Strickland will shift to the two to make use of his speed more.
- In discussing Will Graves, Roy had hoped that this team could be as good a three point shooting team as the 2009 squad. Losing Graves hurts them in that respect. There was a plan to use Graves at PF which would create a mistmatch with the opposing PF since they would have to chase Graves all over the court. Now those plans have been scrapped.
- The Bahamas trip was very helpful in that it got everyone's feet wet so they can hit the ground running more so than past seasons. UNC also gets the benefit of a longer preseason training camp than last year.
- Roy Williams really hates agents. I mean really hates them. Like would not talk to a former player if he became an agent.The agent discussion warrants its own box here. Roy is heavily involved in knowing what is going on with his players. He checks ticket lists and stuffs the ticket envelopes for the players. He gives them talks on agents and is very engaged on this issue and I imagine many others. In one of his infamous superlative comments Roy said he could not imagine anyone who does more to monitor his players. At the same time he acknowledged you cannot monitor them all the time. What you can do is talk about it with a fair amount of persistence and make sure they are buying into what you tell them. In fact Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said(yeah I know, bear with me here) something similar today and added one of the best ways to combat issues like this is create a culture where players are inclined to follow the rules but also players and coaches are willing to protect the program by alerting someone when something is amiss. So while you cannot monitor players all the time, you can engage them on these issues to the point perhaps they hear your voice in your head when confronted with temptation. The question we should be asking on the football side is whether Butch Davis was doing this. Maybe he was but the way Roy handles his program is the textbook definition of promoting an atmosphere of compliance.
Overall Roy seemed very upbeat about the season. He feels pretty good about the guard play and scoring options this season as opposed to last year when he made it clear the perimeter play was going to be haphazard The frontcourt depth this season will be an issue, especially with the loss of Graves. However, Roy believes they can truly get back to running his up-tempo system and this group can execute it properly.
Late Night is Friday then time to get to work on Saturday.
Opening tip in 29 days.