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Monday, February 25, 2013
UNC notes: Going small, home vs. road

By Robbi Pickeral

A couple of notes from North Carolina coach Roy Williams during Monday’s ACC conference call:

A SMALL QUESTION: The Tar Heels are now 3-1 since making the switch to a four-guard lineup, inserting 6-foot-5 P.J. Hairston instead of 6-9 Desmond Hubert. Williams reiterated that the switch has made UNC a better offensive team.

When we had Desmond Hubert in there, we thought we were stronger defensively and stronger rebounding, but we were not getting any scoring out of that spot.  If we struggled at any other position on the court scoring-wise, that meant that we only had three scorers. So if two of those guys have a bad night, then you're really down.

“So we decided to go with five guys who could score more with P.J. in there, and hope he could fight like crazy and front the guy in the post, and that we could emphasize the rebounding part with our other perimeter guys more, we wouldn't be killed on the boards. Bottom line, we thought it was a much more effective offensive lineup for us, and hopefully wouldn't kill us on the defensive end."

Hairston is averaging better than 18 points per the game since the switch, and the Tar Heels are back to receiving votes in both the AP and coaches polls.

HOME ADVANTAGE: UNC plays at Clemson on Thursday, and the Tigers have played much better at home (4-3 in ACC play) than on the road (1-6). The reason there’s such a home-road disparity for some teams?

Experience, Williams said.

“Young teams feel more comfortable at home than they do getting out of their environment; they may not be as confident going on the road,’’ he said. “But believing you can win on the road is a very important thing for your team to have. I think with young kids, it's hard to get them to handle that adversity. The other team scores two straight baskets and the crowd is going crazy. Young kids have a more difficult time focusing on what you're trying to do and doing what you're doing correctly. So it's very difficult.

“You look at every league in college basketball, the record is always better at home. But the younger your team is, that is the teams that probably struggle more on the road. If they have some success on the road and believe that they can do it, I think it helps them out."

The Tar Heels are 3-4 thus far in conference road games this season.

"I didn't feel like I had a lot of success at Raleigh and Miami and Duke ... at Virginia, but we've won a couple of games on the road,’’ Williams said. “I think our teams have always been good on the road. But we still have Reggie [Bullock, a junior] and James Michael [McAdoo] and the rest of our team is pretty young. We have to make sure our kids believe they can win, which is part of it. But the kids have to step up and do it themselves."