UNC Basketball: Roy Williams comments on Sweet 16 win over Butler

Mar 23, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams speaks during a press conference the day before the South Regional semifinals of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams speaks during a press conference the day before the South Regional semifinals of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports /

Roy Williams’ thoughts on Tar Heels’ Sweet 16 victory over Butler

After a convincing victory over Butler in the Sweet 16 on Friday night, North Carolina will move on to the Elite 8 to play the winner of the Kentucky and UCLA game.

The Hall-of-Fame head coach seemed happy to be on his way to the Elite 8 on Sunday, but not completely pleased with his team’s performance.

"“We feel fantastic being here.” Williams told reporters during his post game press conference. “I was a little frustrated with the way we played in the middle of the second half. First half we shot the ball great, make a bunch of threes; second half, we’re 1 for 7. Sometimes it’s fool’s gold, but we were sensational shooting the ball in the first half, Joel, Justin, and Luke. And what Luke did today, we see a lot in practice, and he’s had one game this year where he had 15 rebounds. He’s made some threes in the game, but today he even got one to bounce and crawl up from under the rim and go in. That was a big lift for us. Isaiah was in foul trouble. Tony and Isaiah both had two, and Kennedy got his second right before the end of the half.Butler just keeps coming at you, keeps coming at you. And thrilled with this group, thrilled with what they’ve accomplished. Was not thrilled for about six or seven minutes in the second half, and yet when they got it to — looked up, when Nate, I think it was, went to the free-throw line, that was the first time I looked at the score in the second half and it was 10. And Nate made the free throws, and we still let them score more than we wanted, but we’re still up here talking with a smile on our face.”"

And speaking of the Elite 8, it’s the eighth time in 14 years that North Carolina has made it to the Regional Finals under Williams.

The Tar Heels will have a shot at reaching the Final Four in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2008-09.

For now, though, the focus is on the teams remaining in the loaded South Region. Would the Tar Heels match up better against Kentucky or UCLA?

"“Oh, it’s a good question that I’m not equipped to answer right now because I haven’t watched tape on either team, and this is nothing different than the regular season. I always make sure that I take the tape the day before we play,” Williams said. “I’ve seen bits and pieces of UCLA. Needless to say, we played Kentucky, and they scored three more points than we did, and we didn’t play very well on the defensive end, and Malik led us up for 47. I’ve only seen three or four different stretches in some of the UCLA games, but that’s what tonight and all day tomorrow is for.”"

And of course, questions about Luke Maye’s outstanding performance were a hot topic this evening.

The sophomore power forward had a huge first half that propelled the Tar Heels to a 52-36 lead at halftime and finished the game with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

"“You know, he’s prepared,” Williams said. “Last year he sat in my office and told me he was going to work harder than anybody on the team in the off-season. We don’t give him grades, but he’s — what was that Bum Phillips said about Earl Campbell was not at the top of the class, it’s very small, it doesn’t take long to call the roll.Well, that’s the way it is with Luke. He works exceptionally hard. He’s a good shooter. He has good savvy. He had one game this year, I think it’s Florida State, he had 15 rebounds, so he’s been able to help us. And he really does provide a lot of headaches for the starting five during practice almost every day. But yet, at everything we do, we always switch him over so he plays with those guys a little bit, as well. But he can shoot the ball. He can rebound the ball. Got to get him to be a little bit better defensively and one time he shot his little jump hook, when he had Kennedy underneath the basket with nobody guarding him, so he’s got see his teammates. But he’s got a big role with our team, and I think it’ll just get bigger and bigger over his career.”"

The final question that Williams was asked during his post game press conference focused around Sean May and his relationship to the team as the assistant director of player development.

"“Well, every now and then I’ll ask Sean, do you remember what it felt like at this point, and he’ll say, yeah. I’ll say, did you ever have any more fun? Williams continued, “He’ll say no. So talking to him like that, he’s a cheerleader for those guys. And I do, I say, hey, Sean’s jersey is up there, but also he’s got a banner on the other end that he was really responsible for. Any time that he’s encouraging them or cheering them on, they like that.”"

North Carolina awaits the winner of the South Region’s second Sweet 16 matchup and will play Sunday for the right to go to the Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.

Stick with Keeping It Heel for continued coverage of the North Carolina Tar Heels and their march through the 2017 NCAA Tournament.