CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina coach Roy Williams remembers last year’s senior day and the embarrassment that came along with 16-point loss to Duke.
He made a point of not letting the home crowd down again Thursday. His team made a point of re-writing a few misconceptions.
“Those wins that we had early in the season, they needed those. They really did,” Williams said. “Right now, I think we all need to continue playing well because they are gaining some confidence from that. I don’t think you’re ever going to say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re there.’”
North Carolina will put its eight-game winning streak on the line at noon today against Wake Forest in Chapel Hill.
Williams, who added that his national championship teams in 2005 and 2009 could have still been better, might never think the Tar Heels are “there.” But they are definitely a different team from the up-and-down Tar Heels of the nonconference schedule or the down-and-out Tar Heels who opened ACC play with one of the worst starts in school history (0-3).
With eight straight wins, including two against ranked teams, North Carolina has put itself back in contention for a top seed in the ACC Tournament. The streak is the second longest active streak in the conference behind only Virginia, who has won 10 straight.
Heading into Thursday’s game, the Tar Heels had gone from last to fourth. Today, they might be able to pass Duke for third place.
“I’m never going to say we’re consistent even when you have a very talented, experienced team,” Williams said. “I love my team. Even when times were tough, the times I really enjoyed in the last nine months is when I’ve on the court with my team.
“It’s the only time I’ve had fun, and I’ve had fun every day with my kids, even when I get mad at them.”
North Carolina’s victory against Duke, which with a resounding statement of what the Tar Heels could be, was the exclamation point on the current eight-game win streak.
“As far as what we’ve gone against this year and the obstacles that we’ve had to overcome, and then this kind of stretch we’ve put together after dropping (four of the first five) games, it was definitely huge,” forward James Michael McAdoo said. “This is definitely the biggest win out of these wins we’ve been able to get in a row.”
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org