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March 4, 2013
UNC prepares for final week
North Carolina continued its recent winning ways last week, defeating Clemson on the road and Florida State at home.
The two victories extended UNC's winning streak to four as the Tar Heels head into the last week of the regular season.
UNC will finish out the year by taking on the Maryland Terrapins at the Comcast Center and then hosting their rivals from Durham, the Duke Blue Devils.
UNC Head Coach Roy Williams spent Monday evening partaking in his weekly radio show and talked about a number of topics, including the often talked about line-up change.
"It was a good week," said Williams. "There's no question about it. Yesterday, you take out about seven plays and it was our most complete performance of the year."
Williams was referring to the Tar Heels 79-58 win over Florida State Sunday afternoon.
"There was about a six-minute stretch in the first half where we really opened things up," said Williams. "We were playing better on the defensive end, getting stops and then running the ball up as we're making shots, so it was a lot of fun."
Williams has had confidence that as this year's squad gained experience they would begin to cash in on their talent and potential.
"I think the line-up change is part of it, but I've said since November that our team would get better and better as the season went along and I think we've done that," said Williams. "We didn't play very well at Miami. We were just sitting in the locker
room and I said 'Guys, I'm gonna do something.' We talked about at that time that Marcus Paige and Dexter Strickland weren't shooting a good percentage and the fifth starter, one of the big guys wasn't giving us a lot offensively."
Williams is fond of saying that he knows his team better than anyone and wasn't afraid to remind those listening, once again, that still knows more about his team than the average joe.
"You've heard me say this, but it does tick me off, I know a hell of a lot more about my team than all those guys," said Williams.
"So I've referenced it about seven-thousand times, but if the shoe fits where it."
"Everybody wanted me to take Dexter (Strickland) out of the line-up and put P.J. Hairston in," said Williams. "I didn't think that was what was good for our team but none of those so-called experts said anything about going small completely."
A few high-profile UNC basketball recruits were in attendance for the Florida State game including Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson, as well as incoming Tar Heel Kennedy Meeks.
Williams gave some insight into how UNC handles which weekend's recruits spend in Chapel Hill.
"First, which weekends are going to be the most attractive that you'll be your team, your arena and your fans out there to look best. The other thing is that it has to fit in with the kids, there games and there travel schedules as well," said Williams. "You're getting down the stretch, it's a Sunday afternoon game and it's getting easier for people to travel. We felt like our crowd would really be into this time of year."
Winning or losing, according to Williams, means a lot when recruits are in the stands, albeit not for the reason one might think. Although the answer he gave is still an obvious one.
"Well it's a hell of a big deal to me," said Williams. "If it's not a big deal to the prospect then I'm probably recruiting the wrong guy. I think it is a big deal. You want to put your best foot forward and I know I think it's huge. But I think it's huge every game."
UNC is riding a four-game winning streak but has certainly experienced some down moments during the year. Williams talked about keeping a team together as it hits a rough patch.
"It is a challenge to you. The quality kids you have is always extremely important we think and we think we recruit fantastic youngsters," said Williams. "They care about the University of North Carolina, they care about each other and so that makes it a little easier than if you had more selfish kids."
"It's something that you've got to be concerned about, especially with a young team because they could have their spirit killed," said Williams. "They could completely lose their confidence and you can't allow poor play. If it's just because another team is bigger, stronger and gifted you have to figure out a way to get past that. But you can't allow poor effort and lack of union in your team."
One more win guarantees that UNC won't have to play on Thursday of the ACC tournament. Williams talked about whether that factors into how much wants to win these next two games.
"You want to keep winning," said Williams. "I think you want to have your team more confident and you gain more confidence from winning. I think you're at a greater advantage if you want to win the tournament, and that's what we want to do, if you don't have to play as many games as opposed to four."'
Finally, Williams wrapped up the show by talking about the last two games of the regular season.
"You know we've got two big games. At Maryland and then at Duke on Saturday," said Williams. "Hopefully we keep getting better and better and better but this is big time basketball at its best."