CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – No. 2 North Carolina could be without its top backcourt reserve for Saturday’s ACC matchup with Notre Dame as backup point guard Nate Britt is suffering with a back injury.
“We don’t know if Nate’s going to be able to play,” UNC head coach Roy Williams told reporters on Friday. “We didn’t play Nate at the end of the game [at Louisville], I think I said something about it after the game, because of his back. He still hasn’t practiced yet. He ran up and down dummy yesterday and that was all he did, so I have no idea what he’s going to be able to do today.”
Britt connected on a 3-pointer with 10:16 to play to cut Louisville's lead to 52-50, and then subbed out two possessions later. He did not return, finishing the game with three points and a rebound in 12 minutes of action. <p>
Williams was unable to provide further detail on the injury, saying the general diagnosis was all he knew at this point in time.
Britt, a junior out of Upper Marlboro, Md., is averaging 6.7 points and 1.9 assists in 17.3 minutes per game. He’s shooting 37.0 percent from 3-point range, good for second on the team, although his scoring (4.7) and 3-point shooting percentage (18.8) is down in ACC play.
“If we don’t have him, then Marcus [Paige] and Joel Berry will be asked to do more,” Williams said. “Kenny Williams will be asked to do more, and Theo [Pinson] will be asked to do more, too. That’s 17 minutes a game that somebody else has got to take care of.”
With Paige’s shooting slump, is that the type of thing where you don’t talk to him about it?
“No, I talk to him about it, but it’s like I said after the game, you’ve got to fight through things and you’ve got to play basketball. There’s no sprinkle of dust I can put on him or anything like that, and he can’t do the same thing. You’ve just got to keep going to work and keep doing the job every single day and things will come back to form. I’m really looking forward to when he comes back to form because things tend to even out.”
How do you think his attitude has been?
“Fantastic. Fantastic. I guess it’s five games now, and he’s been the defensive award winner at least two of the five, and maybe even three.”
How good of a test will Saturday be to see how far your team’s defensive intensity has progressed?
Well, you know, we got our tails beat the last game. If you don’t step up right now, there’s something wrong with you, so I fully expect it that we’ll even play at a higher level of intensity than we did on Monday night against Louisville just because we got it handed to ourselves the last time.”
Justin Jackson was going through a slump before the Louisville game. Do you sense him starting to break out of that slump?
“I don’t get carried away over one game, bad or good. He didn’t make any threes. He was 6-for-9. I told him yesterday, I said, ‘You can help us because you’re playing much better defensively than you did last year.’ The thing I keep harping to him is getting to the backboard and help us on the backboards. But I really don’t… When Brice goes for 39 and 23, what did I say to you guys? Let’s not anoint him yet. I don’t get so fired up, either high or low, on just one game. Justin, Theo, Marcus, Nate, all of those guys. And I’m not going to ship Joel Berry to Siberia after one game in the other direction because he’s been pretty doggone consistent for us all year.”
On Louisville’s self-imposed postseason ban:
“It’s sad, sad, sad. I’ve been there. My first year as a head coach, I had to bring my team together Halloween night and tell them that the NCAA had just put us on probation and we were not going to go to the NCAA Tournament. I had some great kids on that team that wanted to show people they could still be a pretty good basketball team without Danny Manning and Chris Piper and all of those guys. It was one of the hardest meetings I’ve ever had, so I feel for Rick [Pitino], because he had two guys, particularly, that came from Cleveland State and Drexel that wanted to see if they could be on a team that could make a run during the tournament. Rick and I talked about it for 30 seconds before the game started on Monday night. I just feel for him having to bring that kind of message to the team and you feel for those kids.”
On UNC’s continued waiting game with the NCAA:
“It’s frustrating for me right now because I’m so disappointed that we don’t have any finalization to our thing. I’m very relieved, or cautiously relieved, or whatever you want to put, I don’t care, I’m to the point that I don’t really care what anybody else thinks what I say, but I say cautiously relieved that we have no allegations in men’s basketball, but still we’ve been punished for three years already. I wish there was some way that there could be a speedier resolve, but our people are trying to do the best they can do. The NCAA’s probably doing things the way they do them, and it’s been very frustrating for me.”