No. 9 North Carolina beats Albany 87-70
Roy Williams hasn’t been shy about talking about everything his
North Carolina team is doing wrong these days: the silly mistakes,
the bad shot selection, the lost look on defense.
And yet, his oft-repeated message of frustration still hasn’t
The defending national champions beat Albany 87-70 on Wednesday
night for their third straight win by double figures. But Williams
was already planning a team meeting for Thursday to address the
line of oncourt mistakes, saying his team has to show more
individual accountability with Atlantic Coast Conference play a
little more than a week away.
“We’ve got to get better, guys,” Williams said. “It is
frustrating right now. The kids are frustrated. It’s probably the
most negative I’ve been with any team, but we talk about so many
things and say the same things over and over. You know what?
They’re great kids and we’re going to be all right. We’ve just got
to do a better job.”
Ed Davis had 18 points to lead the Tar Heels (11-3), who had an
easy time in their next-to-last game before opening league play
here against Virginia Tech on Jan. 10. It was a drama-free
performance in terms of the game itself, with the Tar Heels
building a 20-point first-half lead and increasing it to 38 points
midway through the second half.
The most obvious problem was how the Tar Heels finished,
outscored 23-2 in the final 7 1/2 minutes by the Great Danes
(4-10). Williams was a little calmer this time than after Monday’s
81-67 win against Rutgers – “I’m so ticked off it is
unbelievable,” he said that night – but he was still ready to
rattle off a long list of mistakes.
“I’m tried of saying, ‘Point guards get back in defensive
balance.’ We gave up four layups,” Williams said. “I’m tired of
saying, ‘It’s not OK just to get a shot up.’ We had three tips at
it (on one play) and it bounces to one of our players and he shoots
it over 17 guys. It’s not OK just to get a shot up. (Senior Deon
Thompson) is in there with 14 guys within 3 feet of him … and
he’s still trying to shoot the friggin’ ball. Pass it out to an
Williams’ list of mistakes Monday included everything from guys
forgetting repeated instructions not to try to save the ball under
their defensive basket to one play in which two players lined up to
guard the same guy.
“You can definitely tell he’s still upset,” point guard Larry
Drew II said.
It probably didn’t help matters that the Tar Heels played
without fifth-year senior Marcus Ginyard and sophomore Justin
Watts. Watts injured his right ankle during Monday’s win against
Rutgers while Ginyard has missed two straight since spraining his
right ankle in practice, further depleting the Tar Heels’ already
Williams said he expects Watts could play Monday at College of
Charleston, but Ginyard might be out again.
North Carolina had its good moments, getting a 3-pointer from
Drew followed by two more from Will Graves on the ensuing
possessions for a 39-19 lead with about 5 minutes left in the first
half on the way to a 46-29 halftime lead. The Tar Heels then hit 17
of 21 shots in the second half to take an 85-47 lead with 7:35 left
in a stretch that pleased their otherwise irked coach.
“Guys know what to do,” said Thompson, who had 15 points.
“You saw that in the first 20 minutes and 8 minutes of the second
half. We just have to mentally focus for a whole 40 minutes.”
The rest of the way offered more positives for Albany, which
ended an eight-game road trip with just one victory. Will Harris
led the Great Danes with 22 points, nine coming in those final
“There might be some people scratching their head thinking,
‘Why wouldn’t you just go play somebody at the bottom of the ACC or
the bottom of the Big East, collect the check and have a chance to
compete?”’ Albany coach Will Brown said. “My thing is, our kids
grow up wanting to play at programs like Carolina, UCLA. … They
want to play the best and if you ask every kid in my program,
‘Would you want to play the defending champions next year?’ they
would all say yes.”