For one of the few times in his life, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said during his Monday radio show, he actually questioned his decision not to call a timeout -- this time, during UNLV’s second-half-opening 14-0 run on Saturday night.
That is, until he looked at the stat sheet and realized that UNC’s offensive possessions went something like this: missed layup, missed layup, missed jumper, missed layup, missed tip-in.
“I tell you folks, I don’t care if it’s Roy Williams, Dean Smith or who it is -- [you] cannot design an offense to get you three layups, a jump shot an a tip-in, and that was our first five possessions of the second half,’’ he said. “So for us, our offense wasn’t the problem -- we didn’t make shots, but we got good shots. The defensive end is where we didn’t do the job.”
Williams (to the ire of many fans) has always believed in letting his team play through adversity. He pointed to the game against Georgia Tech, several years ago, when the Yellow Jackets had the Tar Heels down by more than 20 points in the first half. He didn’t call a timeout then either. And the time that NC State went on a 12-0 run, but he refused to take a break.
UNC ended up winning both of those games, Williams said, and he hopes that his decision to stick by his philosophy at the beginning of Saturday’s second half will serve the same purpose in the long run: to build toughness and confidence. The Tar Heels ultimately lost to the Runnin' Rebels 90-80.
“I asked them in the locker room, ‘Why do you think we didn’t call a timeout?’” Williams said. “And [senior reserve] Justin Watts said, ‘Well, we need them at the end of a close game; we’ve all seen teams lose when they didn’t have a timeout.’ And I said, ‘Yes, Coach Smith taught me that, and I still believe in it. Give me another reason.’ And Z [senior Tyler Zeller] said, ‘We’re got to be able to fight through that ourselves, and be able to get what we do in practice every day.’
“I said, ‘Guys, I wasn’t coaching just to coach against UNLV. I was coaching this team, for this year, for this program.’”
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.