It was just a week ago that UNC impressed in their 103-90 win over 4th ranked Gonzaga, so expectations were high for the Heels heading into Saturday’s Blue Blood matchup against Kentucky. But the Wildcats wanted this win more and it showed on the court.
“Their effort was much better than ours,” Coach Williams said after the game. “We had one play where they go down and get a layup and we have a couple of guys who I don’t think sprinted back as hard and they get a layup. It comes down and one of the guys from Kentucky came running from behind in the corner across from our bench and deflected it. So I think Kentucky’s staff did a better job than North Carolina’s staff about trying to get the kids play as hard as they could possibly play.”
The word “effort” was also echoed by Luke Maye and Coby White after the loss.
“We needed to give a little bit more effort and try to take them out of their offense,” Maye said after the game. “We didn’t come with the right mindset today and they beat us on all fronts. We have to do a better job of holding each other accountable and coming back off a big win with the mindset of getting another one.”
“We’ve just got to figure it out,” freshman point guard Coby White said. “We need to be more locked in. They were being aggressive on defense especially in the passing lanes and we were becoming like robots. We were trying to run something and instead of thinking we were just running it. So it’s just a lack of focus. We have to come more prepared to play.”
It’s no secret that the Tar Heels have the toughest schedule in college basketball this season and the mental preparation that goes into playing teams like Gonzaga and Kentucky back to back has to be daunting. But Roy knows what he’s doing. This how you prepare for March. Character can be built in wins and losses, but toughness and effort have to come from the players. You can’t coach it and you can’t teach it. So Carolina better find theirs, because with ACC play around the corner things aren’t getting any easier.