North Carolina coach Roy Williams is hoping for better production out of James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock. ROBERT WILLETT
CHAPEL HILL — While I was driving back from Charlottesville, Va., earlier today, North Carolina coach Roy Williams was taking some time to speak with reporters on the first ACC teleconference of the season.
After a disappointing 61-52 loss at Virginia on Sunday night, Williams was asked, basically, about his level of concern over the loss last night, especially given that in recent seasons UNC has suffered early-season setbacks – like the debacle at Florida State last season – and recovered from them.
So the question went, basically, don’t these sort of things happen from time to time?
“Yeah, and I think you're right, it does happen,” Williams said. “It's a pretty doggone good league. I can even go back a little deeper, you go back to 2009, we were 0-2 in the league if I'm not mistaken ... I'm pretty sure we were 0-2, and we won a national championship. So it is a long year, it is a marathon that you're facing.
“You can't panic, and we don't intend to panic but we do intend to work harder and try to be more alert mentally and physically in every game because last night we just made some errors that -- Virginia had a greater sense of urgency last night than we did, and that is disturbing as a coach.
“But it is a long season, and if you start panicking, then you really have problems.”
No one would suggest that after one game it’s time to panic. Yet when is one loss just a loss, and when is it a sign of deeper problems? As bad as that loss at Florida State was a season ago, no one who was paying close attention believed that UNC was in serious trouble. This was still a team with Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller. The pieces were always there for that team, even amid that awful performance in Tallahassee.
The loss at Virginia, though, was similar in some ways to the Heels’ other three defeats. UNC has now lost four times, and some common threads have emerged: defensive lapses, lack of energy and intensity, a lack of offensive consistency from players who have to be consistent. So while it might not be time to panic, it probably is time for UNC to prove that it’s learning from its mistakes – and time for the Heels to stop repeating the same ones.
Some other things of note from Williams’ teleconference:
--Williams said UNC is improving, and that it’s a better team than it was in November and December. But, he said, “each individual has got to step up. The guys who have played more, Reggie and James Michael, we need those guys to have good games on the same game.”
--As he did on Sunday night after the loss, Williams said youth won’t be an excuse. It’s too early to tell how the freshmen adapted to ACC play, he said, given that they just played their first conference game about 24 hours ago.