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Thursday, December 1, 2011
Weekly Hoopsbag: North Carolina edition

By Robbi Pickeral



Each week, I’ll try to answer your queries, comments, raves and rants about North Carolina hoops. Send your interrogatives by visiting this page. You can also email me at bylinerp@gmail.com or contact me via Twitter at @bylinerp.

This week, I’ll answer the first question via video. Read below for more. And if I didn’t get to your question today, there's always next Thursday. Or the Thursday after that. Keep them coming ...



Craig in St. Louis: Do you think Roy allowed/wanted UNC to lose the UNLV game to teach them a lesson or to motivate them for later in the season?

Pickeral: No. Triple no, actually.

Williams hates to lose. I remember asking him once if there’s such a thing as a “good” loss (you know, one that can be used as motivation, etc), and he looked at me like I was crazy. Heck, if he’s constructing Lego towers with his toddler grandkids, I bet he is competing to build the tallest one – that’s just the way he is.

Now, that said/written, I do think he used that loss to make a point – that this team still has a lot of work to do, that the No. 1 ranking needs to be earned instead of given, that defense needs to actually be played and opposing forwards aren’t just going to say, “Sure, Tyler! You can have that rebound!” Watching the Wisconsin win, that point seemed to be made -- but only time will tell.


Chip from Greensboro, N.C.: It's funny that good ole Roy could only name 2 games when he didn't call a timeout during a run and the Heels still won the game. Much to my regret, I could easily name 5-10 games that were lost when the opponents went on runs and Roy didn't call a timeout. His philosophy on timeouts is insane and because of it, Carolina has lost games it might have won.

Pickeral: Lots of comments/questions about Roy Williams’ timeout philosophy this week.  Understandable since he didn’t call one during UNLV’s 14-0 run to open the second half during UNC’s loss on Saturday.

But were you really surprised?

Long ago, I realized that grinding my teeth about Williams’ (lack of) use of timeouts (save them till the end, let the team work out its problems on the floor during a foe’s run is his mind-set) is kind of like banging my head against a cement block: if I do it, it’s just going to bruise my brain. I look at it the same way that I do my dad’s insistence on trying to fix plumbing (even though that’s a bad idea) – better accept it, because that’s who he is, that’s what he does, and he’s not going to change.

I mean, if Williams only called one timeout during Kansas' 40-12 run during the 2008 national semifinals, is he going to call one during a 14-0 breakaway this early in the season? No. Does that mean I think it's the right decision? No. But it’s part of what he believes in – along with playing at a breakneck pace and drinking Coca-Cola.

His explanation from his radio show, for those who missed it:
“I asked them in the locker room, ‘Why do you think we didn’t call a timeout?’” Williams said. “And [senior reserve] Justin Watts said, ‘Well, we need them at the end of a close game; we’ve all seen teams lose when they didn’t have a timeout.’ And I said, ‘Yes, Coach Smith taught me that, and I still believe in it. Give me another reason.’ And Z [senior Tyler Zeller] said, ‘We’ve got to be able to fight through that ourselves, and be able to get what we do in practice every day.’

“I said, ‘Guys, I wasn’t coaching just to coach against UNLV. I was coaching this team, for this year, for this program.’”

An assistant coach also explained it once like this: When Williams does call a timeout during tough stretches, it really gets the players' attention -- because they're not used to it.


Bill from Ft. Bragg, N.C: Is the UNC recruiting class of 2012 complete?

Pickeral: Bill, I went straight to the expert for this one – ESPN.com recruiting analyst Dave Telep, whose blog can be found here.

He says: "I hesitate to say finished because rosters are never finished in this day and age, especially when you're dealing with a team like UNC that is destined to have NBA defections. Having said that, I'm not sure there's an available senior UNC would turn to right now. I can see them calling on a guy like Ricardo Gathers if something comes up and they want to go big again and best available, but outside of the coaching carousel shaking someone loose, it's likely they'll be slow to react in the spring.”