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The Daily Tar Heel
From the Press Box

The scene from UNC's open practice Friday at NRG Stadium

HOUSTON — The top-seeded North Carolina basketball team is in Houston for the Final Four, and The Daily Tar Heel sports crew caught up with the team on Friday to watch the Tar Heels in an open practice at NRG Stadium.

Before the Tar Heels took the court, though, they took some time to speak to the media, and consensus All-America senior forward Brice Johnson was asked whether he even liked that responsibility:

"So, Brice, do you like talking to us?"

"Well, I mean, honestly, no, I don't," he said. "I'm going to be honest with you. Coming from a small town, there's not a lot of media. There's probably one newspaper. There are not like multiple. It's different. 

"I mean, it was a learning experience when I first got here. Hey, you're going to get hit with a lot of media here. With all the other junk that was going on, it doubled. It was kind of crazy. But, I mean, I don't really like it. But I know it's part of the job."

Meanwhile, senior point guard Marcus Paige had a bit of a different take.

"I don't mind it. I talk a lot, so this gives me a chance to talk a lot," he said, laughing. "That's one thing. But, yeah, I mean, there's a lot of it. I gets kind of daunting and exhausting after a while. It's just part of it. 

"Coach (Roy Williams) told us earlier, there are a lot of people that would easily trade spots with us right now to deal with all this to be in the Final Four. You got to be thankful for it."

Since UNC is in fact in the Final Four, questions were also asked about its opponent — 10th-seeded Syracuse — in Saturday night's 8:49 p.m. semifinal game.

Many people have argued this week that it is difficult to beat one team three times in one season (the Tar Heels beat the Orange 84-73 in Syracuse and 75-70 in Chapel Hill), but Williams isn't so sure that's the case.

"I think the first premise is you got to agree with that statement," he said. "I'm not so sure (that beating a team three times is one of the biggest challenges facing coaches). If you're better than me, you can probably beat me 20 times. 

"The Syracuse games, the games went right down to the wire. Both games within the last three or four minutes, especially at our place, I think it was like two and a half minutes, we were up one, scored the ball, took it to three. At their place about five minutes to go, I think it was still a one- or two-possession game."


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