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What Roy Is Looking For

We have spent over 24 hours parsing Roy Williams' postgame comments after UNC defeated Rutgers as well as the player performances in that game. Roy's displeasure with the team was expressed in full today with two practices on the day between games which sounds pretty rough until I heard that Kentucky had seven practices in the three days after Christmas. In that respect, Roy is not pushing the colts too hard. However it is clear after the game against Rutgers that the Heels are doing plenty wrong.

It is well known Roy is a perfectionist and demands perfection in every aspect of the game. Now, he is fully aware he is not going to get it but that is the standard. You can imagine a game full of mistakes like UNC committed against Rutgers stand a good chance of driving him up the wall. For Roy it is all about making smart plays and executing on both ends of the floor. Simply being great on offense is not good enough, you better play defense too. From where Roy sits the ends can never justify the means. Why? Because playing smart gives you the best chance to succeed versus depending solely on talent.

For the life of me I could not figure out why Roy was so upset over Dexter Strickland's made three then it dawned on me. Roy expects his players to execute the best play, the smart play. The result, especially in a game like this, matters less to Roy than the Heels executing properly. The primary reason behind that thinking is the reality of basketball versus the caliber of teams UNC will face in the ACC. Strickland's talent trumped the coaching in this instance because Strickland's talent exceeded that of his opponent though the gap is thinner than one my think. In upcoming games UNC fill face similar to even superior talent levels not unlike what they have already seen in the ranked opponents. When the talent level is virtually equal the coaching then matters much more. The difference between an ACC win or loss could come down to UNC being the team the executes better or plays smarter. Yes, there will be moments where a risky shot, like Strickland pays off. Talent is not without its merits and sometimes you get the talented play even if it is not the smart play. For now though, Roy is looking to get his players on the same page when it comes to doing what he expected them to do. Executing on the fundamental level which leads to fewer turnovers and theoretically higher percentage shots is the best formula for winning. It is never wise to come up short in those areas then believe you can be better in terms of talent to simply get by.

Of course we could also debate the merits of Roy openly chastising players before the media. Certainly he could have been more circumspect in his remarks as not to crush any one player's confidence. Then again this is Roy we are talking about who never spared the allegedly fragile egos on the 2005 team and likely will not here. It has long been his style to talk about his players in a very raw and honest way which at times comes off harsh. It is done partly for motivation and partly because Roy doesn't care for fluffing things in front of the media. Not to mention the fact that reporters ask about specific players and plays. Roy obliges them with some very straightforward assessments. If you catch him on a night in which he is really pissed about the Heels' play, those comments go supernova awfully quick. Fortunately it appears the players understand and agree with the assessments despite the tone and method of delivery.

Overall I think Roy's goal is to get this team meshed as a unit and executing on both ends properly. I also think for some reason the curve is a little steeper than it was in 2006. Roy often spoke of the 2006 team as being willing to learn and fairly smart when it came to doing whatever he told them to do. This squad seems a little more stubborn in this regard so breaking them in fully might take a little longer. Which is to say even though UNC is struggling at times now it does not mean it will continue. It only means Roy is going to push them as hard as regulations permit to eliminate the shortcomings and produce a solid unit of players.

Given the track record alone I cannot imagine it not coming together not to mention betting against Roy is so abjectly stupid it should never be entertained seriously.