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November 25, 2013

Roy Williams Live: November 25

What a difference a week can make.

After suffering their first loss of the year in a stunning upset to Belmont, the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball program pulled off an upset of their own in Connecticut when they defeated the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals Sunday afternoon.

"It was, needless to say, a lot better than last Sunday," said Roy Williams to open his weekly radio show Monday night. "It was a fun time. The kids, we had good practices last week. I didn't say great practices to anyone but we had really good practices."

UNC freshman Kennedy Meeks had a coming out party by tallying 13 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. His tremendous outlet passing led to easy baskets in transition for his teammates that leaked out on the break.

"Kennedy Meeks was the Kennedy Meeks that I hoped we'd find and I hope we'll find again. His play gives you possibilities of getting easy ones because he can throw it the length of the court with the outlet pass," said Williams. "I've been after our guys all year, 'Let's run. Let's run.' He has a skill, let's take advantage of that."

Williams didn't get the best effort from Meeks on Saturday night against Richmond, something Williams was disappointed in. He says he sat Meeks down and talked about needing more effort and for his young big man to be more ready when he's called upon.

Meeks, obviously, responded with a big performance in the win Sunday afternoon.

"On Saturday he was as bad as anybody I'd ever put in a game and then on Sunday he was about as good as anybody I'd ever put in a game," said Williams. "That's what you have when you have young players. On Saturday he only played five minutes. I talked to him after the game and said 'You've got to be more ready. You've got to be prepared to play.'

Williams also noted that he hopes it doesn't take a terrible game to motivate Meeks and that he'll instead find ways to get more consistency from him game in and game out this year.

The Tar Heels got a career performance from Marcus Paige who bested his previous career high of 26 points from the night before with a 32-point performance against Louisville.

"I said last year that he can really shoot the basketball. He's the king of the "In-and-out" because it kept going in and out. I said, and you can go back and listen to everything, that he's going to be able to shoot the basketball," said Williams. "He was a scorer in high school. He scored 18 points in three minutes once in high school. If you can shoot you can shoot."

It's been beaten to death that UNC is without P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald but the emergence of Paige as the primary go-to guy has put Tar Heel fans at ease knowing that they have a guy that can put the ball in the basket.

Aside from being the leader on the stat sheet, Williams says that Paige is the unquestioned leader, along with James Michael McAdoo, mostly because the head coach bestowed that upon both guys during a practice in the offseason.

"This summer I gave it to him verbally in front of everybody. I said 'The leaders of this team are Marcus and James Michael. You know why? Because I never have to talk to them about bad things. I'm tired of talking to the rest of you idiots,'" said Williams. "Those are going to be the team leaders, I don't care what class they are or anything. Everybody's just got to accept it and it's not going to change. You can accept it or you can fight it and you're going to lose.

"It was a good thing for Marcus and James Michael and you have to credit everybody else. They've done a great job of falling in line. Even Leslie and P.J., they've backed off, they haven't shown one time that they were jealous or one time that they were mad. They've been fantastic teammates."

A quality outing can do wonders for a team that is as young and still finding itself the way UNC is right now. Williams agrees with that sentiment and talked about how seeing the fruits of your labor is going to allow his team to gain more and more confidence as the season progresses.

"I think you need to emphasize it every day that you've got a chance to be really good. I've been saying it all year to give them confidence but regardless of what I say, being able to see it out there on the court against a quality opponent, that does help them," said Williams. "I think it does help them, it gives them confidence, it shows them what they can do. I think seeing the results from those kinds of things really helps you."

Obviously, UNC has been dealing with some unpleasant off the court issues. Williams has credited his squad with handling the distractions well and gave his team another nod Monday night and was happy to see his team enjoy themselves over the weekend.

"Let me put it to you this way, things haven't been the smoothest. My whole thing was I was so happy to see those guys feel good about what's been going on," said Williams. "So happy for them to see the smiles on their face because it has been a tough time with everything that's been going on. It hasn't been the most pleasant thing for the players or coaches, managers, trainers, everybody. I think yesterday was one of the best moments we've had of the season and hopefully we'll have some more of it."


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