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Roy Thinks ESPN Should Own Their Hyping Harrison Barnes

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A little something from Roy Williams' postgame press conference at Illnois which I held off posting until now because everyone seemed perfectly content to set the furniture on fire in the comments section over the loss.

Via ACC Now:

After the game, coach Roy Williams defended the top incoming recruit in the country – and spoke out about some of the criticism the player has been receiving.

"Harrison’s a freshman,’’ Williams said. "And I don’t mean to jump on anybody, but after the first game we play, and he had [several] turnovers, and ESPN does a special on how great he is. And then ESPN did something to me that was very embarrassing to me today – put up that that a kid’s 1175 in field goal percentage in the country; that’s just ridiculous. And then somebody says, ‘Well, if he hadn’t have gone 0-for 12 against Minnesota, I’m sure he’d be in the top 1,000.’ That’s sick.

"If you’ve got enough [gumption] to make somebody a big hero like that, admit that you were wrong, and stop picking on the kid. … It’s silly, if you’r e going to anoint the guy and three weeks later crucify him, that’s ridiculous. He didn’t ask to be voted first-team pre-season All-America."

If you heard this live, you know Roy didn't say "gumption." That was the N&O sanitizing the quote for public consumption in their paper. Roy actually said "balls" which is clearly a departure from the Dean Smith School of Press Conferences. I also think Roy really need to dispense with this "he's only a freshman" business. Yes, that is true but this is an era where freshman show up ready to play. Players ranked #1 overall by the major recruiting services certainly should be doing more than Barnes has done. In that respect, it is appropriate for people to at least ask questions. Let's not forget that Roy himself said Barnes was more focused than Tyler Hansbrough which makes him as much part of the hype machine as anyone else.

Roy's beef with ESPN sprang from the WWL going out of their way to criticize Barnes for not living up to hype they themselves created. That kind of attention and pressure cannot possibly be helpful. That is if Barnes is even paying attention to such things. According to his mother, Shirley Barnes, her son is not thinking about the external media musings. Roy's point is the unfair nature of ESPN elevating Barnes on one hand then ripping him to shreds a few weeks later. It is a nice position for a media organization to be in. They hype a player and if it works out then more hype. If it doesn't they get a big story out of that too. And all the while they never have to own they might be wrong.

Of course the best way to deal with stuff like this is have Barnes actually play as advertised and that is pretty much up to Barnes with some help from his teammates in the back court.