North Carolina coach Roy Williams didn't want to go small, necessarily, but he acknowledged it has provided the Tar Heels with their best chance to win. ROBERT WILLETT
CHAPEL HILL — If you haven’t already be sure to give this column from colleague Luke DeCock a read. As he writes, North Carolina coach Roy Williams is uncomfortable, in some aspects, with the Tar Heels’ small lineup.
It’s a new thing for Williams, going small with a four-guard lineup that includes P.J. Hairston, Reggie Bullock, Dexter Strickland and Marcus Paige. Williams has built his offense, and much of his coaching success, on a traditional lineup of big guys who can score and rebound down low, smaller guys who can shoot and drive on the perimeter, and a point guard who can tie the whole package together.
Except this season, Williams doesn’t have those pieces. It took him a while, but he adapted.
Here’s Williams, in his own words, after Luke asked him earlier today whether going small has yanked him out of his comfort zone:
“Poor play yanks me out of my comfort zone, is probably a better way to put it. I’d say I’m comfortable with it. I really am. I’d like to get the basketball inside and score inside more and have a better balance. But the fact of the matter is that we don’t have that kind of player right now. And so whether I’m comfortable or not, I think you’ve got to put guys out there that give you the best chance to win.
“And Dexter’s shot was not going in as much as he wanted it to, or we wanted it to. Marcus’ shot was not going in as much as he wanted it to or we wanted it to, and we weren’t getting as much offense out of Desmond – Joel, the same thing. And so it is a game that score counts. And so we tried to figure out a way to get more scoring in there and we went this way.
“And I’m still not comfortable with part of it, there’s no question. But I think it gives us the best chance to be successful. And it has. It’s helped. I mean, Dexter’s play has been better the last three games, too, because with Joel and Brice and Desmond, we haven’t had enough time, or they don’t have enough experience to move out of there sometimes and so they sort of hang around in low too much, and that clogs things up a little bit, too.
“When P.J.’s out there, he stretches the defense so that it opens it up perhaps for some other guys, too. But I’m not giving up on our big guys, I can tell you that. Because they’re going to get great opportunities from now until the day they put me under the ground to be players.”