Q&A With Nate Britt
by Stephen Thompson, GoHeels.com
Freshman Nate Britt was in the starting lineup for Friday's season-opening win over Oakland, becoming the 30th UNC player to start his first game as a freshman and the ninth point guard. GoHeels.com visited with Britt after Friday's game to discuss how his first contest went from his point of view.
On his performance Friday vs. Oakland
I thought it was ok. I was a little nervous coming out, but I thought as a team we did a great job. We improved from the exhibition and Late Night. I'm just glad we are getting better.
"I think I had some bad turnovers and things that I could have done better. And playing with more confidence. I was a little nervous coming out. I think other than that I'll be fine.
Chemistry between Paige and Britt
Playing with two point guards together has always been easier because we always have the same mindset. Point guards usually think pass first and we always try to make the right decisions, so us being out there together, I think it makes the game a whole lot easier.
I think it's good because we have the same type of mindset. I think it's easier to kind of find each other in spots where we know we can do something with the ball or score. Two point guards being out there together at the same time, we have a better feel for the game than I think everyone else does. Us being out there together, it makes the game a lot easier for me.
How fun was first game
I felt more nervous than excited. Just because it's Carolina basketball and it has always been my dream school. I was more nervous than excited, but now after the game and it's over with I feel like I can just relax and play.
I would say there were a lot of nerves building up to the game. I knew that my coaching staff and teammates had their trust in me. I just tried to go out there and put it all behind me and play.
Transition from high school to college
It hasn't been too bad for me. I feel like the speed of the game wasn't very difficult. The strength of the guys is a whole lot different and how athletic they are. I've never played with bigs like McAdoo, Desmond, Brice, Kennedy... just their athleticism, strength and size, I've never played with bigs like them. I think the physicality and athleticism is the biggest adjustment I've had to go through.
How he thinks Coach Williams will use him going forward
I think Coach has a lot of trust in us two being out there together. He has a history of playing point guards together. At Kansas he played three point guards at one time. I think he feels more comfortable with that because turnovers is one of his big things and as long as we keep down on the turnovers I think he likes that type of lineup.
I thought it was big for us. We came out with a lot of energy and intensity. We played hard and I think that's the biggest thing we had to do this year and we came out and did that right away.
Did the first game go better than you thought it would go?
For me, personally it went better than I anticipated because I was nervous and I think for the team it went better than I anticipated because Oakland is a great team. I know I was nervous coming into the game, after doing the scouts and stuff like that, so I'm glad we came out and built the lead that we built and played as hard as we did.
Because of injuries in high school, do you think people may not realize how good you are?
I wouldn't say that. I would say maybe they didn't get a chance to see as much of me as they would like to.
How were you prepared for your first game?
Yeah I think I was prepared. We did a lot of work in the summer. Marcus has been helping me all throughout the summer, since we have been practicing before this game. Just the way that Marcus has been helping me P.J. and Leslie have been helping me a lot and teaching me new stuff. Coach, Coach Rob, and all the coaching staff has been preparing me up for this game because they knew I would have the chance to play like I did tonight.
How he got uniform number 0
I did not take that from him [Joel James]. I requested 0, but he decided that he wanted to switch after last year. So I ended up taking it.
0 was always my number since sixth or seventh grade and that's just always been my number from that point on. As soon as Joel said he was switching I had to get 0.
When I was in middle school, in my area basketball is a big thing, there was a lot of hype from kids going from middle school to high school and I thought a lot of people counted me as the underdog. I always use 0 as motivation to get better.
Emotionally what's it like being in starting lineup for UNC
I think it was more nerve-racking than the exhibition game. I was just nervous about playing against this great team in Oakland. We did the scout and I saw how good the players were, so that was the biggest thing I was nervous about. I don't think I was nervous about coming in and playing or starting.
On Marcus Paige helping him along
It's been great. He's been helping me from the summer. If he didn't go through what he went through last year he wouldn't have been able to help me as much as he did. He knows just about everything. He knows about how Coach wants us point guards to play. He's been teaching me the whole time and I think that's given me a great advantage heading into the season.
On Coach always wanting hustle and intensity
-screaming at him on bench
He was just telling me to sprint to the check in table. That's all it was. He wants us to do everything with a sense of urgency.
I think the biggest things for me to learn were the defensive principles. In high school it was similar but it wasn't the same. We emphasized some things more than I did in high school. Just learning all the defensive principles and how I need to guard the ball, playing my man off the ball. I think those are the biggest adjustments I've had to make.
On new things to learn
There's a lot of stuff like that. Coach just wants us to do everything with a sense of urgency so off the court it's just being on time and doing things with a sense of urgency.
Has the transition been smooth?
Yeah I think it has been a little easier than I thought. When we did things in the summer I was real nervous, I thought it was a lot to take in. There's a lot of plays to remember, a lot of defensive sets. It hasn't been as hard as I thought. Like I said, Marcus has been helping me, and it has been a good advantage for me.
Relationship with Marcus Paige
I think we are real tight. We probably have the biggest bond on the team out of anybody else because we are two point guards, left handed. I think our knowledge of the game creates that bond between us and it's like a chemistry.
On playing for his dream school
I don't think it's really hit me yet. It's great, but like I said, I've just been nervous the whole time so I'm trying to focus on coming out and doing the right things. Do everything the coaches ask of me and do the right play.
It hasn't hit me yet that I'm playing in a Carolina jersey for my dream school and the best program. That's what I've always thought as a kid, this was my dream school. My dad's a Carolina fan, my whole family is Carolina fans. It hasn't hit me yet because I've been trying to focus on doing the right thing and doing the things the coaches have taught me. I think it will hit me eventually.
Doing different things on defense than he is used to
Guarding the ball on the sideline. They put a lot of emphasis on being parallel to the sideline. I'm used to playing the guy to the sideline and opening it up a little more. We help a whole lot more than what I'm used to. Those are the two biggest things that are different.
Learning transition offense
I think that's the easiest thing that I've learned so far. He always wants us to get as many quick baskets as we can. Primary break and then the secondary break, I think those are the two things that are the easiest for me because we started going over that stuff in the summer and it has carried over to now.
On personalities of freshman class
[Kennedy] is the outgoing one, the silly one, I'm kind of even-keel and Isaiah is more quiet or stand-offish. So we are all different.
On how close they are
Me, Isaiah, Kennedy, and J.P. room together. Us four have created a type of bond. We always hang out together and go out together, we go eat together, when we come back from class we are always together. I think it's built a bond between us.
On what surprised him the most
Just knowing that I can play the game with these college players. When you come from a high school level to the college level it's a whole new game. I think just me understanding that I can play with these dudes and coach has me here for a reason.
Who will handle the ball between he and Marcus Paige
I have no idea. Whoever is there will get the ball. If Marcus is already there I can't go all the way back because that takes up time. We want to get as many fast break buckets as we can. If Marcus is there, I get up the court, if I'm there he gets up the court. Whatever happens we just go with it.
How the extra time he will get will benefit him
Playing with those guys has benefitted me in practice. We always mix it up in practice. Different lineups and different groups. I think playing with them in practice has benefitted me more [than playing without them in the games].