UNC held a press conference today(video here) with Roy Williams, Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller answering questions about the upcoming NCAA Tournament game on Friday and adjusting to Kendall Marshall's injury. Barnes was by far the most entertaining(which is saying something considering Henson talked to the media) by taking multiple shots at ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb.
Barnes is asked about how the team is responding to the "naysayers" and takes the opportunity to call Gottlieb out.
ESPN Producer: We heard you guys were watching our network earlier today and there are some naysayers out there. Where is your confidence, where is the team's confidence you guys can still get it done?
Barnes: I mean our confidence hasn't changed at all. I mean we feel like we have people who can step up. Doug Gottlieb the person who knows everything, has his own statements. We are going to go out there and continue to play food basketball.
Reporter: Don't hold back
Reporter #2: [Gottlieb] couldn't shoot free throws.
Barnes: Among other things.
Then there was this.
Reporter: John said the pressure is off you guys now because no one believes in you all of a sudden. Is that something tangible you feel as well. Did you feel pressure before and has that been removed?
Barnes: I mean overnight we just got kind out of the race for, you know, national championship or people telling us, your friend Doug Gottlieb, go back to Chapel Hill and not come out, not go to New Orleans but we'll keep doing. Whether the spotlight is on us or not we're going to continue to play basketball and continue to do what we do.
Reporter: I've got Doug Gottlieb's cell phone number in my phone, what would you like me to text him?
Barnes: Just text him: "See if you can get the flight over to St. Louis, I'd love to meet him"
Tyler Zeller and John Henson have expressed a similar line of thinking. UNC has been written off which is not an insane idea given what Kendall Marshall means to UNC. However, this is a team with a ton of talent. There will be concerns with how Stillman White and Justin Watts handle the point and feed the post. That just means UNC needs to be a top flight defensive team as much as possible and hope there is enough offense to get the job done. According to Roy Williams, UNC will prepare to play without Marshall which makes perfect sense considering the uncertainty and the fact Marshall cannot practice.
The big takeaway from hearing the players talk is they are highly motivated. They are taking the idea of being written off as a chip on their collective shoulder and still believe they can win the national title. At this point ll you can ask is that they believe in themselves, show up and leave it all on the floor.