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November 11, 2013

Roy Williams Live: November 11

While the football team has certainly had its ups and downs this season and are in the midst of a winning streak that has Tar Heel fans feeling a little happier than at the beginning of the year, the somewhat disappointing season on the gridiron has probably led a few people to look ahead to the hard court for a reprieve.

UNC's basketball team got its first victory of the 2013-2014 season this past week when they took out Oakland at home and another season debut was made Monday night: The first edition of Roy Williams' weekly radio show.

Coach Williams took to the airwaves to discuss the opening victory and a bunch of other topics including the ability of his team to focus in the face of adversity.

"The first half was really good. Second half, needless to say, wasn't quite as good. I wasn't quite as pleased with the second half. First half, everybody was into it, defense was good, it got our running game going," said Williams. "Everybody was sharing the ball. It was a fun time for the kids. There have been a lot of things going on, but the kids have really done a great job of staying focused on basketball. I think the club is better now than we were 29 practices ago."

UNC was of course without the services of P.J. Hairston, whose issues have been discussed and dissected ad nasuem and will continue to get a close examination as time goes on, and Leslie McDonald who also sat out due to suspension.

Williams felt like his team handled the obstacle in front of them against Oakland well and also praised their ability to compartmentalize over the offseason as everything UNC related appeared to get mired in turmoil.

"Well the team has really done a nice job of handling. I think our staff has done a nice job with the club. We talk all the time about that there are only so many things that you can control," said Williams.

"We talk about that there are things we can control so let's work on those. 18, 19, 20-year olds, they have a mind of their own in many different directions and everybody understands that if you have children or grandchildren. They have really done a good job. It's been a hard time for our staff. But the kids are sort of our savior. We get out on the court and that's what you enjoy doing---coaching."

On a personal level, Williams admitted, as he has previously, that this is something he's not used to dealing with. Before last season, Williams dealt with some health issues but despite that, the head coach admitted this offseason was even rougher on him than the previous one.

"Oh yeah. It's the toughest offseason I've ever had. There is no question about that. But, I must be living a pretty charmed life. I'm coaching at North Carolina, I'm watching basketball everyday so you know---it's a pretty good deal."

When asked if he's gotten his head wrapped around not having his leading scorer on the court and whether he's gotten a handle on a scenario where he'll need his supporting cast to step up, Williams admitted that's still a work in progress.

"Well that uncertainty is still there. How somebody is going to respond kind of thing. It was fun in the first half. It really was," said Williams. "They caught me on TV one time, in one of the shots and I was just grinning. I can remember one mistake out of a hundred good plays, but it was fun with the kids."

It's obvious Williams is focusing on the positives while he can and the win over Oakland seemed to put him a good mood throughout the broadcast. Williams also has a goal for his team which he believes is entirely achievable with the group he's assembled in Chapel Hill.

"We have five things that will stay on the board all year and one of those is to be very unselfish. Do it instinctively. You don't have to think about it," said Williams. "If your teammates open, just throw him the ball. That kind of thing. We did share the ball and I think they will be unselfish."

As an individual, maybe nobody is being asked to sacrifice as much as James Michael McAdoo. The star big man has flirted with leaving for the NBA over the past two seasons but remains in Chapel Hill for a third year where he will play out of position for much of the season. That doesn't appear to have created a problem in Williams' eyes.

"Well he is more experienced. There is no question about that. We're asking him to do something a little difficult. He's having to play the three-spot and the four-spot," said Williams. "Three-spot is not comfortable for him. He's trying and giving us some solid minutes there as well. That's the way it's going to be all year long."

McAdoo wasn't the only player who got some love during Monday's show. Sophomore J.P. Tokoto is a young guy with all the potential in the world according to the tenured coach.

"He really is. I think he could be, could be, the greatest offensive rebounder I've ever coached. I've been around a long time. He could be one of those guys because his athleticism is unbelievable, he does get to the board. He could be one of the quality defensive players. He could be a Jackie Manuel kind of guy," said Williams. "Now, he's got to do it all the time. If he gives you those kinds of things offensively, he's working hard on his shot, his shot has gotten a heck of a lot better. He does have an ability to do some things that just jump out at you. If he can focus on the little things and be more fundamentally sound with the basketball, I think he's going to be a really, really good player."

If UNC is successful this year, Williams believes they'll get there in a completely different fashion than their attempt to win ball games last season. Whereas UNC relied on the outside shot last year, this season will see a shift to a more traditional approach for coach Williams.

"Well we've got to make the backboards a factor that's going to determine the outcome of the game. Last year we couldn't rebound it so we had to make sure that the three-point shooting gave us a chance to win the game," said Williams. "Well right now we don't have a great three-point shooting team so we've got to find something else that will give us an advantage and we've got to make sure that the rebounding is one of those factors that determine whether you win or lose."


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