UNC Basketball: Are We Giving Roy Williams Enough Credit?


As I looked at the court and saw a lineup of Stillman White, Desmond Hubert and Justin Watts on the court at the same time.  Then I looked at the score and noticed the 1 next to UNC.  A thought hit me, the Tar Heels are a #1 seed in the tournament despite not having nearly the amount of depth that was expected.  Which begs the question, is Roy Williams getting the credit he deserves for his teams performance this season?

Coaching the North Carolina Tar Heels is unlike coaching any other program in the country.  The expectations year in and year out for this program aren’t just to win the national title.  They pretty much have to go undefeated in order to receive any type of just recognition.  For justification of this argument, simply look back at this season.  The preseason #1 team coming into the year, cut down the nets or the whole seasons a failure has been the mindset all year.  Every single Carolina loss was dissected more than when any other team in the land fell.  With each loss came a big fall in the rankings when compared to teams like Duke, Kansas, Missouri or Michigan State.  UNC was routinely ranked below teams that had more losses and is MSUs case, a team that not only had more losses, but had lost to the Tar Heels on a neutral court.

The Heels didn’t get any slack when starting shooting guard/backup point guard Dexter Strickland went down for the year with a torn ACL.  Never mind that Roy had lost his best perimeter defender and the only player outside of Kendall Marshall he could rely on to handle the point.  No adjustment period would be given, the next man up would simply have to come in and produce right away, Carolina could not miss a beat.  That is the reputation this program has had under the great Dean Smith and now Roy Williams (eff you Matt Dougherty!).  While other teams in the nation who had actually lost to unranked teams, something Carolina didn’t do.  UNC had to go on an absolute tear down the stretch of ACC play and blow Duke out of their own building to force everyone’s hand and rank them where they belonged, in the top 4.

That’s the deck stacked against Roy Williams, not just this year, but every single year in Chapel Hill.  When you look at the team Roy was supposed to have this season.  A healthy Strickland and Leslie McDonald on the perimeter, depth at all positions, it changes everything about how Carolina operates.  Adding two more highly skilled wing players allow the system UNC runs to operate better.  Roy likes to constantly shuffle players in and out of the lineup in order to keep fresh legs in the game for the Heels high octane, transition style offense.  Both Strickland and McDonald can run the point and both Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock have the size play inside, imagine the possibilities.  And trust me, Roy did, and that team would have been far better than the one he has on the court.

Carolina just keeps moving forward, keeps getting better, and nobody’s looked back, not once this year.  Guys like Stillman White, Desmond Hubert weren’t supposed to play much more than Blue Steel this year.  Senior Justin Watts would have maybe received three or four minutes with the original crew all together.  Now at any given time Roy could have to call on Watts for big minutes.

With Syracuse losing Fab Melo and looking like crap in the first round.  It’s obvious they are not legit title contenders this year.  Two of the four #2 seeds have been knocked out with Missouri and Duke falling in the first round.  Michigan State in my opinion is highly overrated in my view, they are next for an upset with Syracuse.  That leaves Carolina and Kentucky as the national title favorites right now.

Since losing star junior forward John Henson to a wrist injury in the ACC Tournament.  UNC has hung strong, and despite losing to FSU in the conference tournament championship, the Heels have gained a lot of positives since the injury.   Each of the last three games Henson has been listed as questionable.  You have to think with no fractures and the upcoming three day rest after Sunday’s game against Creighton that Henson will play soon.  And once he does enter the lineup, Roy will regain some of that depth with freshman James Michael McAdoo returning to the bench brimming with confidence after playing well in the Henson’s absence.  Look around college basketball and two teams are peaking right now, Kentucky and Carolina.  Only Carolina has dealt with a ton of adversity and are peaking at exactly the right time, and we still don’t know how good they can be.  How’s that for a coaching  job?

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