he left five players on the court during the final 14 seconds of North Carolina’s 90-57 loss at Florida State on Saturday.
“You know, it’s strange because after the game, I always usually say a couple of things to the team. Sometimes a little longer. One of our wins this year, I kept them in a locker room a little longer. I think the media made a statement about that because I was concerned with how we were playing.
“I had a friend of mine and he said, ‘Roy, you’ve been so frustrated. But you’ve been winning – you win by 20.’ I said, ‘I’m concerned about how we’re playing. We’re not trying to prepare to win one game in the regular season. I’m trying to get us to be the best team.’ But usually I say a couple of quick things, get them together, I say a little prayer. They don’t have to pray, they just have to put their hands and do whatever they have to do. And then we go on and I go to the press conference.
“Coach Smith always would come in and not even do that. We would just get up, put our hands together, say a little quick prayer. I’d say, Coach, I’ve got to blast them sometimes. And this was when I became head coach.
“He always said, you should wait until you see the tape and you know exactly what you’re saying and you know if you’re exactly right or wrong. Because sometimes, you know, coaches could mess it up, too. Something that they thought they saw. So I basically have adhered to that. But I say a few things.
“Well, after the game Saturday, our players got in the locker room, I walked in and I said one sentence. I said, ‘Everybody up.’ So we came together, we put our hands together. I said a little prayer. I walked out. Because I did not want to talk to my team at that point.
“We got on the bus. We went to the airport. Got on the airplane. Came home. The bus pulled up down in the ramp at the Smith Center. Everybody, what we call ‘AYOs’ – all you others – get off the bus. And I walked to the back of the bus and this time I gave them the schedule. I said, ‘We have Special Olympics tomorrow [on Sunday]. Everybody be there at 12:45.’ And then I got off the bus and still didn’t say one thing about the game. Because I still wasn’t mature enough to say anything.
“My kids had the Special Olympics things on Sunday. And we met at 12:45. I walked in the room. I sat down in front of the room. Jerod Haase, I pointed to Jerod … Jerod said, ‘This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to split up in these groups. You’re going to work with this and you’re going to work with that. And here’s the diagram, make sure you know where you know where you’re needed.’ And I said, ‘Guys – I don’t think I need to say that we need to do a great job today.’ That’s all I said. Because I still wasn’t mature enough to say anything to them.
“We did the Special Olympics clinic. At the end of the clinic, we got in there. I told everybody, I said, ‘Guys, you did a great job. I appreciate that.’ And I walked out. I still hadn’t focused my [thoughts]. So that’s 24 hours, I still hadn’t spoken to my team.
“Today [on Monday] we met. We had a film session. They did weights. We had another little film session. We went out on the court. Went back in the locker room, finished watching the tape. And I apologized, to five guys, because I did not even know until I watched the game tape that my five walk-ons stayed out there on the court. Did not know that.
“Regardless of how, in my opinion, unfair the people treated [UNC spokesman] Steve Kirschner when he tried to give them a response, that’s the exact truth. There’s nothing else. That’s the exact truth. Because if you watch the tape, Joe Holladay at first and I are talking.
“Joe said, ‘We’re going to have a problem getting off this court again. Because they’re already in the aisles.’ He said, ‘We’re going to have a problem.’ I think, understand the word ‘think’ – [referee] Jamie Luckie was in front of my bench. And I’m whispering and talking into his ear, the game’s going, I said, ‘Jamie. We’re going to have a problem getting off the court. Do you have any suggestions?’ He said, ‘I don’t know what to tell you.’
“And then all of a sudden there’s a loose ball and a dead ball and a timeout. And I start walking – you can see it on TV – I start walking and I motion for Leonard Hamilton to come. Leonard comes up there and I said, ‘Leonard – I’m worried about getting our guys off the court. Would it offend you if I were to leave? If we were to leave?’ He said, ‘No – I think that’s what you should do.’
“Which I thought was great on Leonard … I’ve known him for 100 years. He’s always sensible in things like that and when he said that, I told him, I said, ‘Leonard, I appreciate it. Please understand this is not intended to be an indictment on your security. We just need to get [out safely]. He said, ‘No – go ahead.’
“I turned to Joe Holladay and I motioned. I said, ‘Come on.’ Like that. And I took about three steps and you can see it on TV – regardless of what those people are saying to Steve Kirschner. Leonard says something, he says, ‘Roy, your players.’ And I turned around and said, ‘Come on!’ And you can see me motion on again.
“I take off and I stop and try to congratulate as many [Florida State] players as I can. I even got Luke [Loucks] and [Deividas] Dulkys mixed up … and then I found the real Dulkys at the end. I said to every player, ‘Congratulations on a great win.’ I said to the assistant coaches, ‘Please don’t be offended by this.’ And everybody said, ‘Coach, we understand.’
“I go to the locker room. And it is a long way down the side of the court. It’s all the way back there. And I get back there and I’m standing outside of our locker room, waiting for every player to get in. And I said, ‘Is that everybody?’ And they said, ‘No.’ And so I’m standing there and all of a sudden, here comes Joe Holladay and [Patrick] Crouch. And I said, ‘What took Patty so long?’He said, ‘He got caught up in the crowd.’
“And I didn’t think of what the [heck] he was talking about … I am watching the tape of the game and it’s the first time I realized that five guys, [the] Blue Steel guys stayed out there on the court. Every prospect, every walk-on I’ve ever had – I say one thing: If I ask the biggest guy or star on our team to run a sprint, you’re going to have to run a sprint. If I eat steak, you’re going to have to eat steak. Whatever happens to every scholarship player, you have to do.
“I would never leave five kids out there. And if I’m going to do that – why wouldn’t I stay out there? I saw it happened one time on TV when … I [said], ‘Why would they leave those kids out there?’ … And in the press conference, I said, ‘Please don’t make this issue a bigger issue. Because the issue should be what a great win that Florida State had.
“We had a terrible incident at UNLV. One of our female managers went down to the ground. And I said, I didn’t want that. I said, ‘Please don’t let that be a big issue. It’s not a big deal. I just appreciate the way coach Leonard Hamilton handled it …’ That’s what I said. Go and check all the tapes.
“Steve comes to see me today [on Monday] and I said, ‘Are we getting drilled because of [this]?’ Because I never read Sunday’s paper until today. And I said, ‘Are we getting drilled?’ He said, ‘You’re just getting drilled because of leaving those five guys out there.’ I said, ‘It’s funny you say that because I just apologized to my team.’ … Because I said, ‘Guys, there was miscommunication between me and Coach Holladay. I did not even know that you guys stayed out to play the game.’
“Stilman [White]comes up and says, ‘Well, Coach – I came up to you, but you were talking to Coach Hamilton. I didn’t know if you wanted me just to stand there and dribble the ball.’ And I said, ‘Stilman – I would have sacrificed you.’ I said, ‘I would not have sacrificed five of you.’ I said, ‘Please understand that.’ And he laughed and knew I was kidding and the whole thing.
“I said, ‘Guys … I apologize. There was miscommunication between Coach Holladay and myself. I would never have left you out there to play the game. What I wanted to do, needless to say we’re not going to erase a 33-point lead with 14 seconds [left]. I was trying to get my entire team off the court – to apologize to Florida State, make sure that they weren’t interpreting it the wrong way …
“So Steve Kirschner calls some people on the radio and tells them that. And basically, I’m not going to speak for Steve, they get on the radio and say it’s not true … You’re not going to call me a liar. And that’s exactly what happened. Every player on our team would tell you that. Every coach. I even told the coaches that today is the first time I told them that I didn’t know our guys stayed out there.
“I didn’t want to talk to any coach [after the game]. I didn’t want to talk to [anybody]. I just wanted to kill some-freakin’-body. We just got beat by 33. And all of those people who want to say different things – that’s their prerogative. We have the right to tell the truth and however which way they want to color it, they can do that. But we have the right to tell the truth.
“I told Steve Kirschner the truth, he said the truth. And that’s what it is. But there’s no way in Hades I would leave five of my guys out there. I mean, my gosh, if that had been me when I was on the freshman team, coach Guthridge would have left my butt out there. I wouldn’t want that …
“And again. It’s gotten too much attention. It was a mistake. It was confusion. It was miscommunication.
“But the fact of the matter is, Florida State kicked our rear ends.”
-- Andrew Carter