CHAPEL HILL — It was good enough for a win, but it wasn’t good enough for Roy Williams.
North Carolina shot 49 percent from the field, outrebounded Stanford 45-35, had more assists, free throws and fewer turnovers, but the Tar Heels’ 90-72 victory wasn’t even close to good enough for the Hall of Fame coach.
Williams wants his team to play to a standard, not to a final score, and on Monday night at the Smith Center, they didn’t do it.
“Not the kind of game we want to play,” Williams muttered to himself after he took a seat in the media room.
Williams said he was too disappointed to make an opening statement, instead asking the assembled media to ask him some “good questions.”
It didn’t much matter because midway through the answer to an unrelated query, Williams went back to the defensive issues that had been gnawing at him all night in the Tar Heels’ home opener.
“It was frustrating in the second half,” he said. “We didn’t guard them, they switched every screen and we acted like we’ve never seen that before in our lives. The best thing that ever happened to my team is we don’t have practice tomorrow.”
Carolina was dominant on its way to a 52-26 halftime lead, but Williams wasn’t feeling too fuzzy about that, either.
He blamed the large lead on Stanford missing open shots, rather than anything the Tar Heels were doing defensively.
Things only got worse from there as the Cardinal scored 46 points in the second half, hitting 44 percent from the field. To add to Williams’ ire, the Tar Heels committed the cardinal sin of being outrebounded in the second half 24-21.
In assessing his team’s defensive performance, Williams asked if there were still 351 teams playing Division I basketball.
“Then we’re close to 351,” he said. “Think about the other night, Elon missed a bunch of shots. They had some wide open, too. I’m not very happy right now.”
There are 353 Division I teams now, but that didn’t change his point. He liked Carolina’s defensive effort and attention to detail in the season-opener at Wofford. He hasn’t been much pleased with the past 80 minutes, though.
“Today it was like matador, just run out there and let them drive right by you,” he said. “It was very frustrating, yet I finally just said in the locker room, ‘I’m just going to shut up and I’m not going to say anymore until I see the tape.’ Then I might say a lot more.”
His point reached his players pretty clearly, where the postgame mood didn’t much reflect an 18-point victory nor a team being 3-0 just six days into the season.
“They beat us in the second half,” guard Cam Johnson said. “Coach is definitely upset about it, and so are we. We kind of came out a little more relaxed after a big first half and we have to improve on that. We can’t let that happen. This is on us as the seniors to get everybody going and not let that happen.”
At halftime, they were warned not to worry about the score; just keep playing. That’s where human nature took over, and playing their third game in seven nights, the Tar Heels took their foot off the pedal.
Johnson, a fifth-year senior, said there’s a process that young players have to go through in becoming more process-oriented than results-oriented.
“Definitely,” he said. “We’re going to play teams that we won’t have a 26-point lead on in the first half. We’ll play teams where we have to fight every second for 40 minutes, and when we get out in those games we need to be prepared to do that.”
That’s why, on Nov. 12, something as simple as Luke Maye’s three missed box outs are enough to ruin everyone’s mood, despite an 18-point victory. Little things can become big things in no time.
“We’ve just got to have more pride on that end and pay attention to the little things,” Kenny Williams said. “The little things can look so much bigger when a team is eating you up like they did today.”
No. 7 NORTH CAROLINA 90, STANFORD 72
da Silva 5-11 0-1 11, Okpala 6-13 3-5 16, Sharma 4-5 1-1 9, Davis 2-7 3-4 7, Ryan 4-12 2-2 14, Delaire 1-6 0-0 2, Stanback 0-1 0-0 0, Kisunas 1-1 0-0 2, Herenton 0-1 0-0 0, I.White 0-1 0-0 0, Sheffield 2-6 2-2 7, Wills 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 27-67 11-15 72.
NORTH CAROLINA (3-0)
Maye 5-9 5-9 16, Brooks 5-8 2-2 12, C.White 2-8 5-6 9, Williams 4-6 2-2 12, Johnson 7-11 0-1 17, Huffman 0-1 0-0 0, Little 4-10 0-0 8, Rush 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 0-0 0-1 0, Manley 2-7 0-0 4, Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Woods 0-3 0-0 0, Platek 0-1 0-0 0, Ellis 0-0 0-0 0, Black 4-4 0-0 8, Robinson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 35-71 14-21 90.
Halftime–North Carolina 52-26. 3-Point Goals–Stanford 7-22 (Ryan 4-11, da Silva 1-2, Okpala 1-2, Sheffield 1-4, Herenton 0-1, Delaire 0-1, Davis 0-1), North Carolina 6-13 (Johnson 3-4, Williams 2-3, Maye 1-3, Little 0-3). Fouled Out–Manley. Rebounds–Stanford 32 (Okpala 9), North Carolina 41 (Maye, Brooks 8). Assists–Stanford 17 (Ryan 6), North Carolina 19 (Woods, C.White, Williams 4). Total Fouls–Stanford 18, North Carolina 18. A–19,647 (21,750).