Greer Smith: Williams still seeks answers
Now in his 25th year as head coach, North Carolina’s Roy williams is taking the loss to Virginia in Sunday’s ACC opener in stride.
After all, the Tar Heels did lose two of its first three conference games in the 2008-09 season before rolling to the national championship, Williams’ second at the school.
But, Carolina also lost three of its first four and went 4-8 in the league the following year, a season is more like this one. Then, the Tar Heels lost most of the stars from the national championship squad. This time, Williams is rebuilding after starters Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall.
Williams is still trying to get all the pieces to fit on a young team that doesn’t have a dominant inside presence, doesn’t play with enough grit at times and still has issues on both ends of the floor while waiting for consistent contributions from most of its four freshman.
“You can’t panic, and we don’t intend to panic,” Williams said Monday on a teleconference trying to analyze the 61-52 loss to Virginia. “But, we do intend to work harder and try to be more alert mentally and physically in every game because we just made some errors. Virginia had a greater sense of urgency last night than we did, and that is disturbing as a coach.”
The Cavaliers, led by the scoring of Joe Harris and the playmaking of Jontel James, fought back after falling behind 34-26 to go up 46-40 by reeling off 10 points in a row. Then after Carolina pulled with 51-50, Virginia wrapped up the victory with a 10-2 streak that lifted the Cavaliers to 11-3 and dropped UNC to 10-4.
“It was kind of a rude awakening for us to have that kind of loss where every play down the stretch they made and we didn’t make,” Williams said,
For the Tar Heels to be successful, both junior Reggie Bullock and sophomore James Michael McAdoo, must have good game offensively, Willians said.
Bullock collected 22 on Sunday but got little support. McAdoo had 10 and no one else scored more than eight. Carolina also committed 12 turnovers while having nine assists.
“(Reggie) was really good offensively and yet the whole team was making mistakes defensively, and that’s something we spend more time on then anything.
“We’ve got a long way to go but I do believe my team is going to get better and better as we go along,” Williams said.
BLUE DEVILS FACE CLEMSON
Sitting at 14-0 for the sixth time at Duke going into tonight’s game against Clemson, coach Mike Krzyzewski is starting to get questions about what it is like to coach a team that hasn’t lost.
“You have to keep the hunger for preparation and the hunger for competition while you’re winning, while great things are happening for you. And that’s very difficult,” Krzyzewski said.
So difficult that the closest that Krzyzewski’s teams have come to perfection were two squads that each lost twice.
“It’s difficult to keep your edge at that level for a long time,” coach K said. “Therefore a team has to be really good because it would have to win games when it doesn’t have that edge, where talent sometimes does that.
“I don’t think that’s our team this year. But, I think you need that. And I agree, there is some pressure there.
People start talking about you being undefeated and not talking about the game you are playing, You end up answering questions about being undefeated and not the competitor that you have that you have to face. That can be distracting and reduce your edge in preparation.”