I am actually surprised at the frequency of articles we are still getting about basketball. The first meaningful game is four months away and the media keeps pumping out articles such as this one about the 2008-09 Tar Heels. Granted there is still some level of housekeeping going on concerning the active spring/early summer. It is a requirement that everyone's take on the NBA draft process and the decision of the Tar Heel Three to return is recorded. In this article Roy discusses everything from the expectations next season to how surprised he was Lawson, Green and Ellington returned. Selected quotes after the jump.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams made it clear to his Tar Heels that if they don't put the team first in their quest for a national title, they won't play for him next season.
"If I feel that someone is out for themselves, I don't give a darn who it is, they won't play," Williams said last week in Akron, Ohio, while evaluating high school talent at the LeBron James Nike Skills Academy.
Well that covers that.
"I didn't think [there was] any way in Hades that we'd have all three back," Williams said of getting Lawson, Ellington and Green to return on the deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft.
You and me both coach.
The only thing Williams still doesn't have a handle on from last season is the perplexing first half against Kansas in the national semifinal. The Jayhawks raced out to a 40-12 lead in the first 13 minutes, a shocking 44-27 halftime lead and an eventual 84-66 win. Kansas went on to beat Memphis in overtime for the national title in San Antonio, with Williams watching his former team in the stands, wearing a Kansas sticker on a black shirt to show his support.
"It's the most dumbfounded I've ever been as a coach," Williams said of the Kansas loss. "In the locker room, we prepared like we did every game in the ACC and in the NCAA. They'd all been the same and the kids appeared to have a good focus. I'm just dumbfounded, still dumbfounded. Kansas just came in and hit us in the mouth."
I will never figure that one out and if Roy can't figure out it then I am guessing no one will ever understand why they came out as flat footed as they did.
UNC won't back down in scheduling once again. Williams has the Tar Heels in the Maui Invitational with potential top-25 teams Notre Dame, Texas and Alabama. They will play Kentucky in Chapel Hill and Michigan State at 2009 Final Four site Ford Field in Detroit.
Williams is taking the Tar Heels on the road, too, against lower-level teams that could cause problems, like UC Santa Barbara on the way to Maui and Valparaiso in Chicago in a game to get Illinois native Frasor back home.
The ACC has another five teams that will start the season as probable NCAA tournament teams in Duke, Miami, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Clemson, with a few others that could possibly earn a ticket to the Dance.
"The league is so much better and experienced," Williams said. "And in playing Kentucky, Michigan State and the Maui games, I think those kinds of games will get us ready."
This may be the most important aspect of the season besides the defensive side. UNC was criticized for not having played tough competition prior to the Final Four. It was not their fault since the names on the schedule all looked good but the state of Ohio State, Kentuck and the fact Louisville did not make to the finals in Las Vegas left the Heels playing a schedule that probably did not challenge them as much as it could have. The SOS still was good but this season promises to offer more regular season match-ups that are akin to playing NCAA Tournament teams. As I pointed out in the countdown, the 1989 team played 21 of 34 games against NCAAT teams prior to entering the Big Dance. The imbalance in ACC scheduling will never allow such a thing to happen again but I like the fact they will play in Maui as they did in 2005 versus some top 25 teams.
Yes it is still only July. Yes it still sucks.