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January 13, 2014

Roy Williams Live: January 13

It's safe to say that this isn't a familiar position for North Carolina's basketball team. After dropping an unexpected ACC opener to Wake Forest and then a home loss to Miami, the Tar Heels traveled to New York to take on the Syracuse Orange and the No. 2 team in the nation dismantled UNC and sent them to their first 0-3 mark in conference play in well over a decade.

The loss has soured many in the Tar Heel family, from the fan base, to the players and of course, UNC' head coach Roy Williams. Monday night, Williams took to the airwaves as he does every week to host his weekly radio show and answer listener questions.

"No question about it. You don't feel good about the record. You don't feel good about the way you played but yet you do have a great deal of confidence, a great deal of hope that you can get things turned around," said Williams. "This time last year we weren't feeling great either and then had maybe as good a turnaround as we've ever had so there is a lot of hope."

While Williams feels confident that he can get things turned around, he's also tried to make sure that his team understands that it's not all bad. They just have to focus on the things they can control and improve in the areas their weak in.

"Just came from practice, good practice today and so we played Saturday, had a short meeting when we first got back, practice yesterday, brought them in last night. Watched game tape for about an hour and I think they saw some things that will hopefully will help them," said Williams. "Hopefully we'll have a chance to get better. Give them a little time to catch their breath and let some of the bodies heal a little bit now and we'll get ready and fired up for a couple of practices to end the week."

The Heels ran up against the notorious zone defense that Syracuse employs against all of their opponents. Williams says that in past years he's looked forward to playing against a zone scheme but admits that this year's team hasn't been well-equipped to handle such a tactic.

"We've had some great shooting years but right now we're in the middle of a tough shooting year but we've got to get it turned around. But those last three games you have to pick out something different in every game but the one constant has been the inability to shoot the ball in the basket," said Williams. "We've had some key turnovers at moments, we haven't defended as well so somebody asked me what we're going to work on and I said everything."

It's not just shooting that has Williams concerned. He says that every aspect of the game has to get worked on and improved upon but he knows his players have the right mindset to tackle the task at hand.

"We've got to get better at every phase of the game. Every part of it needs some work and the kids understand that and I'll go back, we've got some good kids," said Williams. "We've got to get them a little bit more focused, get them a little bit tougher and compete a little bit harder. Sometimes those things are the most difficult things to do but that's what we're going to try to do."

Going forward, Williams wants his team to remember that at times they've been quite effective against teams that have sagged off and given them room to shoot. Marcus Paige and Leslie McDonald are clearly the two guys relied upon the most to spread the floor and keep defenses honest.

They both struggled against Syracuse but Williams chooses to give the Orange their due in that department.

When the team looked at the tape, Williams says they found that consistency will be their biggest friend going forward because they know they have the talent to get the job done.

"You've got to move yourself and move the ball intelligently. When we made the tape up last night we didn't just show all the negative things," said Williams. "First play of the game I told the guys this is what we're talking about but we've got to do that the entire game and not have any silly turnovers. But give their team some credit. Syracuse's defense is really good."

When asked what he thought was the biggest thing holding his team back, Williams says that it's a matter of his kids trying too hard and thinking too much about the pressures of winning at a big time college basketball school.

"I think I would probably speak to there is more stress. You know the kids feel the pressure of North Carolina basketball, they've got to win regardless of who their playing, they've got to do this and they've got to do that. We have good kids. You have a choice," said Williams. "You can take guys that are not really good kids, you know, who don't give a blanket-blank about what everybody else says, during the course of the game I'd like to have that kind. But the other 21 and a half hours of the day I'd rather have the kids that are really good kids and care about what people think. If you play at North Carolina, you care about what people say about you."

When asked what his players should be focusing on, Williams simply said it's about the task at hand and not getting too far ahead of that task.

"We've got to talk to the kids about letting that stuff go, any pressure that we put on we put it on ourselves. You know, the stress that we feel because we want it desperately, I hate to use that word but I'll use it, desperately want to be successful. So we try to focus on those good things and try to understand that we are going to get better. We have no chance to get better if we get stressed and worry all the time," said Williams. "Put that junk behind you and go "next play, next play and next game,' whatever it is. You've got to learn from your mistakes. I love when kids hurt when they lose because it means it does mean something to them. It means they do care and so we've got to take it from that stage and learn things from our mistakes and keep trying, keep trying. You know me, if I get down ten times I'm going to get up 11 and we've got to get that attitude over to the kids."


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