Just as long as no one is discussing three point shooting in the Final Four with Shammond Williams, everything should be fine.
In the wake of the debacle versus Duke, former Tar Heel Shammond Williams offered some advice to Kendall Marshall about managing end of game situations. That discussion led to a rather bizarre quote from Marshall(via Durham Herald Sun)
“(The Duke ending) was always in the back of our heads, and this time we did the things we were supposed to do,” Henson said. “We held the ball and used the clock a little better and also executed on offense a lot better.”
There was certainly some luck involved in Duke’s comeback, but UNC’s stars all had something to do with the outcome as well.
Tyler Zeller missed two free throws, Harrison Barnes was called for charging with 16 seconds left in the shot clock, Henson’s failure to box out led to a second-chance basket for Ryan Kelly, and a bad pass by Marshall with 24 seconds left in the shot clock led to a transition 3-pointer by Seth Curry.
Marshall said former Tar Heels guard Shammond Williams came by practice on Friday and talked to the players about finishing games out.
“He just asked us, ‘Has anybody ever explained to you all how to manage a game? You know, how to win a game?” Marshall said. “And as weird as the question sounds, no.”
Williams talked to Marshall about using the clock, and hammered home the point when he attended the Virginia game on Saturday.
“One time I dribbled up court and I could see him behind the bench going crazy,” Marshall said. “And I think we all realized we had to find a way to finish this game.”
The question from Williams and the answer from Marshall is bizarre for one reason. UNC does go over end of game situations. Ever since Dean Smith was at UNC, end of game situations have been a staple in Tar Heel practices. That means covering being ahead and behind. Roy Williams has also said as much when UNC has been in close games or on his radio show since the question has come up. In that respect, Marshall is not talking about the basketball side of "closing games" but rather the mental side. In that respect, I am not sure how much teaching a coach does. Looking at UNC's final two minutes versus Duke, winning the game was a matter of hitting free throws and finishing possessions on the defensive end with a defensive rebound. UNC did neither particularly well and it cost them the game.
The other odd angle on this stems from watching this same group last season or heck even a few days before against Maryland which illustrated the ability to close games out. The concept of closing out games, winning in tight situations or protecting the lead are not new to Marshall and his teammates. They were put into the same position during multiple games last season and handled it fine. There will always be a game here or there a team doesn't close out. The 2009 team blew a similar lead vs Maryland during the title season. That same group had all sorts of issues winning close games or finishing the job in the 2007 season but in 2008 won several tough games at the wire.
In short, I would love some clarification from Marshall on what exactly he is getting at here. And no, I don't think he is taking a shot at Roy or throwing his coach under the bus as some have suggested on Twitter. Nor do I think the quote is out of context. There is a good chance it simply did not come out as Marshall intended. In the case its much ado about nothing. At any rate, this season rolls along with its constant stream of strange occurrences.