This UNC team is different. They’re not playing with a clear-cut leader, nor do they have a loud presence, but one thing this team does have is perseverance. The frustrations of Coach Roy Williams are no secret. He’s stated in press conferences and on his radio show that effort seems to be something he’s had to coach, but it seems like tonight he’s seen glimpses of what this team can be.
“I think we’ve played the kind of schedule that made our guys be attentive every game and not just go out there and go through the motions, so I’m hoping that helps us.”
With 5 players in double figures; Luke Maye (11), Cam Johnson (17), Brooks (11), Kenny Williams (12) and Nassir Little (10) all contributed to the 82-60 win. The second half was the key to the game. UNC, playing with their familiar confidence, went on a 9-0 run sparked by Garrison Brooks and Cam Johnson – giving UNC their biggest lead of the afternoon. Once the Tar Heels found their rhythm they didn’t allow Davidson to come within 15. Coach Williams applauded the team effort, but acknowledged the 14 turnovers are still a team problem.
“The most encouraging thing to me about our team is that we haven’t shot the ball really well. Some of our turnovers are sort of silly, but we only had five in the second half – I can live with some turnovers because we play at such a fast pace. We should have more assists than anyone in our league – and we do normally. It wouldn’t surprise me if we had more turnovers because we play at such a fast pace, but the percentage of turnovers is way, way up there so that’s what we’ve got to stop.”
Coach Williams also stated that UNC had great defensive stops, but overall communication between players has to increase in order for them to become a complete team.
“The more active you are with your voice that means you’re seeing the bigger picture and you’re helping your teammates. I think that’s the biggest problem we have is communicating and trying to make sure everybody gets picked up. I don’t know that I saw it get any better in the last two hours, no.”
Players are also noticing little details. Senior guard, Kenny Williams, is well aware of the effort his team needs to display.
“We’ve seen what it looks like when we give effort on both ends and seen what it looks like when we don’t. The result is totally different,” Williams said. “We know we can do it, and I think that’s what we learned. It’s just a matter of us doing it consistently now.”
With 3 losses before Christmas (the first time since 2014), UNC is looking to figure out the growing pains to make a successful run in the ACC. Conference play is only a week away. UNC has no choice but to fine tune the details and prove to Coach Williams and fans they want to win just as much as they do.