Last week, North Carolina coach Roy Williams answered a lot of questions about why he didn’t call a timeout during UNLV’s 14-0, second-half-opening run on Nov. 26 – which helped lead to UNC’s 10-point loss.
During his Monday night radio show, Williams was asked about why he didn’t call time Saturday at Rupp Arena, after Wildcats point guard Marquis Teague missed a free throw – giving the Tar Heels the final possession to try to make game-winning shot. (Ultimately, UK’s Anthony Davis blocked a John Henson jumper with about five seconds left, and the Wildcats won 73-72.)
“Our rule is, and for every team I’ve ever coached, is if it’s less than seven seconds, we’ll call a timeout. If it’s more than seven seconds, we’re going to run,’’ he explained. “Why give the other team a chance to call timeout, and set their defense?”
That was Dean Smith’s philosophy when Williams was an assistant at UNC, he said, and he took that strategy to Kansas, where he coached for 15 years before returning to Chapel Hill.
“Why would you call a timeout?” Williams asked. “To get a play set, that’s one answer. We knew what we were going to run. Why else would you call a timeout? To get somebody else in the game. I had the guys I wanted in the game.
" … So when you call a timeout, at that stage in the game with 20 seconds left, you just allow the other team to full-court pressure you, or to change to a zone. You don’t know what they’re going to do. So I have no problem with anyone second-guessing me … I knew what we were going to do, the team knew what we were going to do, that’s why we go to practice every day.
“I am disappointed that we did not foul [after Davis’ block] … but I’ll go to the grave and argue with the Pope or everybody else [about my timeout philosophy].”
REHASHING THOSE FINAL SECONDS: The Tar Heels needed just one more play to win the Kentucky game, Williams said – whether it was making one of the dunks they missed earlier in the game, or being a step faster on defense in the second half, when the Wildcats made a couple of key 3s.
Even so, when Teague missed the front end of his one-and-one in the final minute, “I really thought, when he missed the free throw, ‘We’re gonna win this dadgum game,’ and I almost never think of the outcome,’’ Williams said. “But I just thought ‘We’re going to make this shot here.’"
After reviewing the game film, Williams said he thought his team got great spacing on its final play – and got exactly what it wanted when point guard Kendall Marshall passed the ball into the lane to 7-footer Tyler Zeller.
“The ball slipped out of his hand, and it went to John,'' Williams said. "John didn’t know how much time was left, probably shot it too quickly, and their kid made a great play. I wish John had pump-faked, and taken a dribble, and [gone to] the backboard or passed it to Harrison [Barnes] … but the bottom line is, he didn’t know how much time was left, rushed it a little bit, and their kid made a fantastic play.”
As for not fouling after the block, even though about five seconds remained: “When they [the Wildcats] did pick up the loose ball, I think our guys were stunned. And we practice those things, calling timeouts, but we didn’t get it done. And they made a nice play, because when Reggie [Bullock] started towards him – he was the first one to recognize ‘we’ve got to foul’ – then he [Davis] passed it to Marcus Teague and took off on the dribble.”
INJURY UPDATE: Williams said freshman P.J. Hairston, who sprained his left wrist last week but scored 11 points at UK, was fine after the game.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at bylinerp. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.