CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina head coach Roy Williams had high praise for Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon during his press conference on Friday.
Williams highlight the senior guard’s patience, among other things, while discussing Saturday's pivotal matchup between his seventh-ranked Tar Heels and the third-ranked Cavaliers.
“He takes the shots that he likes and he makes,” Williams said.
Brogdon, who joins UNC's Brice Johnson as a candidate for ACC Player of the Year honors, is averaging 18.2 points per game on 55.6 percent shooting this season. The Atlanta, Ga. native is the anchor behind Tony Bennett’s efficient offense due in part to his decision-making ability.
“The effectiveness as an offensive player is, do you not turn it over and do you shoot a high percentage?” Williams said. “I think he does both of those. He’s fantastic at it.”
Defenses can throw multiple men at Brogdon, but his utilization of his teammates still makes him dangerous because of the timing of screens, as well as how he plays them.
“He keeps running around those screens, tight curls sometimes, flare sometimes,” Williams said. “He has those numbers because he’s really a daggum good player.”
With Marcus Paige’s struggles, have you lost the benefit of other teams having to pay more attention to him?
“No, they still give him a lot of attention. And I hope they still do. That means one of two things: Either he’s doing it, or at least there’s a threat there of him doing it. I know if I were playing us, I’d emphasize him and Brice (Johnson) before I emphasized anything else, for sure.”
Is discipline, defensively, even more of a premium playing a team like Virginia?
“I think probably so. It’s probably more important defensively, too, because you can’t take any chances. You don’t want to do something silly, you want to be more sound, I think, on both ends of the court. You’ve got to have poise, you’ve got to keep working at it to get a shot, but you’ve got to have enough poise and toughness to keep defending, because they do what they do, and in the preseason, with me and my buddies and coach and everything, I picked them as the number one team in our league, and I really think that they’re really, really good. There’s not one time this year that I’ve thought they’re slipping or anything like that.”
What makes Virginia’s approach to a slower tempo unique?
“People say slow it down, I think they just wait until they get the shot they want. They don’t stand out there and milk the clock for 20 seconds and then start playing. If you give them a good shot early, they’ll take it early. I’ve never asked Tony (Bennett) if he likes being called a guy that slows it down, but that’s not what I see. I see that they run their stuff until they get the shot that you want. We’ve played against teams that have just messed around for 10 or 15 seconds, and then we try to get in their offense. I don’t really see Virginia doing that. I see them playing, and if you screw it up and give them a good shot in the first five seconds, they take it. But it’s a shot that, I say to my team all the time, that we all want, not just that the person taking the shot.”
Have you sensed the awareness of your team that it’s go-time to win the ACC?
“I think so. I think every coach in America starts talking about, ‘Okay, now we’ve got to really push.’ I think the players have recognized that. The seniors recognize it because they start realizing how many games they have left. I do think that all the kids do, and I do think we have intelligent kids. They’ve put themselves into a pretty good position right now, but they know you’ve got to finish it out. It doesn’t do any good to say ‘Boy, I was really good for two-thirds of the season. Our record was really good with two weeks left in the season.’ You’ve really got to play it out.”