Williams is typically laid back in his weekly gatherings with media. On Thursday, however, the 12th-year UNC head coach had an edge to him. Williams was blunt in his criticisms of his players, and roughly 10 minutes into his press conference, a question prompted an explanation of his agitation.
When asked if he had seen any improvement in his team’s toughness during the first month of the season, Williams replied: “I’ll learn a lot today by seeing how many show up for practice.”
That response detoured the final five minutes of the Q&A as Williams told the story of how former Kansas Jayhawk Scot Pollard introduced him at the 60th anniversary party of the Allen Fieldhouse opening as the only man in his life he had ever been afraid of.
Williams described how he used to coach with fear as his primary motivator and how Wednesday’s practice served as an example of those good ole days.
“Being a nice guy is not working,” he said.
While Williams stressed that he’s not worried about the quality of his kids, he is concerned with their toughness.
“We’ve got to get tougher on the basketball court,” Williams said. “Mentally probably more so than physically. I don’t want anybody to go out and clobber anybody. That’s not the game.”
The fear angle works, according to Williams, because discipline functions as a great equalizer for a coach.
“If you don’t like it, just put them on the end line,” he said. “I can blow the whistle all day. They can’t run that long.”
If it were up to him, he would rather not have to resort to such measures. Williams said he would prefer to coach a player like Tyler Hansbrough who matched his level of desire. There was never a need to scare No. 50.
Sophomore forward Kennedy Meeks told reporters that he had seen a change in Williams’s approach.
“His attitude in practice is a lot different,” Meeks said. “He’s a lot more serious. He still smiles and all of that, but you can just tell that he’s taking it a lot more serious right now. I think he thinks that we’re playing around too much, which I think we are.”
The players need to focus more on the details in practice, according to Meeks, that have translated into miscues in games. UNC ranks 107th nationally in turnover percentage and 288th in defensive rebounding, according to kenpom.com.
“Sooner or later, we’ll learn from our lessons,” Meeks said. “Hopefully it will be this Saturday.”
Another lesson will be offered during Thursday afternoon’s practice, courtesy of their head coach.
“They better be afraid of me again today,” Williams said.
Ol' Roy Gets Mean
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