North Carolina takes care of Albany, 87-70

By AARON BEARD

AP Basketball Writer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) 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 gotten through.

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 open

teammate.”

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 thin perimeter.

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 ragged minutes.

“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.”

Updated December 30, 2009