Roy Williams, Tar Heels Have No Answers After Blowout Loss vs. Ohio State
CHAPEL HILL — There’s not much Roy Williams hasn’t seen or felt over more than 30 years and 1,100 games as a coach, but after Wednesday night’s destruction at the hands of Ohio State, the North Carolina coach found himself in a new position.
“I’ve never felt so sorry as I feel right now,” he said. “Whether it’s in the post or whatever, I’ve got no answers. It’s a frustrating feeling.”
Frustration has been the operative word around the Carolina basketball program for the past two months, whether it be a laundry-list of injuries that have plagued the Tar Heels since the preseason, an inability to get the offensive rolling or missed defensive assignments.
All three were to blame as the Buckeyes’ steamrolled the Tar Heels 74-49, handing Carolina its second-worst lost at the Smith Center on a night that saw several numbers enter the wrong side of the record book.
Carolina’s 27.4% shooting night was its worst in Smith Center history, while Ohio State’s 23-point advantage in the second half was the largest the Tar Heels have suffered at home, while their 49 points were their third-lowest output in the building.
Add to that a sprained ankle for Armando Bacot that figures to keep the freshman big man out for a while, and it was a disastrous night for Carolina that was bad enough to leave a Hall of Famer speechless.
“Not a lot to say,” Williams said. “I’ve had my butt beat before and it’ll be beat again and I’ve lived to face another day.”
The problem for the Tar Heels right now is there’s no good explanation for why this has happened twice in the past three games, falling behind by as many as 24 in a loss to Michigan last week.
“As evident from the game, I have no answers,” Williams said, repeating himself. “The head basketball coach at North Carolina did a sorry-ass job tonight.”
Williams' frustration has been obvious from the start this season, expressing his irritation with his team and his inability to get it in position to win. On Wednesday, the frustration turned more toward sorrow and disappointment in as surreal a postgame press conference as Williams has delivered in recent memory.
As much as Williams wants to take the blame for his team’s shortcomings, his players fought back.
“He took the blame, but it’s not his fault; it’s our fault,” senior Brandon Robinson said. “Like I said, we’ve got to be more accountable as a team and we’ve got to play better. Coach can tell us to go out there and do everything, but we’ve got to go out there and execute and we didn’t execute tonight.”
Robinson pointed to one particular situation, when in a timeout, Williams told the Tar Heels to switch every screen on defense.
“The very next time we went out there on the court, they set a ball screen and we didn’t switch,” Robinson said.
Garrison Brooks delivered his usual thoughtful observations, just in fewer words than normal as he talked about where accountability is lacking.
“Internally, with each person,” he said. “I feel like you’ve got to look in the mirror and ask, ‘What are you doing to get better, what are you doing to hurt yourself?’ We’ll come across and realize that.”
Reserve guard Shea Rush saw the most significant action of his career as he entered a the eight-minute mark when Williams removed all five starters.
A member of the 2017 national championship team, he’s seen Carolina at its best and now been a part of the two worst home losses of the Williams era.
Getting the offense fixed isn’t complicated in his eyes.
“It starts with effort,” he said. “If you’re playing harder, things are just going to happen and we talk about that. Luck is really being prepared; the more prepared you are, the more lucky you get. So, the harder you’re playing, the ball is going to start falling your way and things like that.”
In terms of accountability, this team isn’t where those ACC title teams were.
“A lot of these guys it’s been very easy for them, we’ve got some of the top talent in the country and so everything is, you expect it to happen,” Rush said. “ Now, we’ve got to be accountable for each other, we’ve got to make sure it happens and execute on everything and we can’t have one guy not doing it, two guys and three guys. If everybody can get on the same page, we’ll be successful.”