Roy Williams: It's too early to panic

North Carolina coach Roy Williams was not happy with his team’s defense, composure or overall focus during the Tar Heels’ 61-52 loss at Virginia on Sunday.

But with 17 more ACC games to go, he agreed during Monday's ACC’s conference call that it’s too early to panic when a reporter pointed out that the team had suffered early league losses in past years, and bounced back.

“It does happen; it’s a pretty doggone good league,’’ Williams, whose once-ranked team fell to 10-4, said of the loss. “And I can go back even deeper and go back to 2009, and we were 0-2 in the league … and we won the national championship. It is a long year, and it is a marathon we’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 physically and mentally in each game. Because last night, we just made some errors.

“Virginia just 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, you really have problems.”

This team does not boast the talent or experience of that NCAA title team in 2008-09, and it has yet to show anything near that squad's leadership or drive. But Williams insisted that his current squad, which has now lost three straight road games, is better than it was in November and December, although "some individuals aren’t progressing as fast as I would hope.”

He also said his more veteran players, junior Reggie Bullock (22 points on 7-for-9 shooting Sunday night) and sophomore James Michael McAdoo (10 points, seven rebounds, four turnovers), need to post good games during the games, and that “each individual has to step up.”

“We didn’t do a good job on either end of the court; give them [the Cavaliers] credit for it,’’ Williams said. “It was a rude awakening for us to have that kind of loss where every play down the stretch they made, and we didn’t make. It’s hard to gain confidence when you’re doing that. But congratulate Virginia, Tony [Bennett], and his club and his staff, and we’ve got to play a heck of a lot better. We only have 17 more of these.”

Beginning Thursday versus Miami.