CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Despite leading the team in defensive player of the game awards with five, Nate Britt has struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor. Those efforts prompted Roy Williams to challenge his senior guard before Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech.
“I told him the day before that he was still getting the chance to play because he was doing so well defensively, because his offensive game stunk,” Williams said on his radio show on Monday. “He had been terrible on the offensive end, but he was doing a good job defensively so we kept giving him a chance.”
Entering the Georgia Tech game, Britt was shooting 32 percent from the floor.
The challenge seemed to work, even though the Tar Heels were upset by the Yellow Jackets, 75-63. While UNC shot an abysmal 33 percent from the floor, Britt had the only positive performance, scoring 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He also managed to grab five steals.
Williams said Britt was the only one who showed up on the offensive side of the ball.
“He turned around there and he’s 3-4 from the three-point line and everybody else is 2-22,” Williams said. “He had five steals, the rest of the team had five steals.”
While the bad taste of the loss overshadows the singular success of Britt, Williams said he eventually gave his senior guard the pat on his back that he deserved.
“I didn’t congratulate anybody in the locker room, but as soon as we got back to campus before we got off the bus I said how proud I was of how Nate bounced back,” Williams said. “I was tough on him.”
What were your overall thoughts on the loss to Georgia Tech?
“That’s about the most frustrating games I’ve ever coached. I’m mad at myself because I could have done a much better job of getting our kids more ready. We practiced Friday and really had a good practice. When we went over the defensive group work on Friday I said, ‘Guys if we’re going to play like that then we can just go to the locker room and rest.’ Boy, we didn’t play like that. It’s my job to get them to play and get them to have great effort and great concentration and we didn’t have great effort and great concentration.”
Twenty turnovers in the game against Georgia Tech, and 37 total from the two games this week. I imagine that’s a big concern for you?
“It is. John Wooden used to say, ‘Turnovers don’t bother me. It means we’re trying to do something.’ Some turnovers don’t bother me, but a lot of them do, and we need to be more aggressive without putting the ball in jeopardy. Seventeen turnovers, I was very frustrated in the second half of the Monmouth game and the entire game against Georgia Tech we put the ball in jeopardy so many times. We made bad decisions. I want us to be aggressive, and I always say to go as fast as you can and attack, attack, attack. We were not in control in the mental side of the game or the physical side of the game against Georgia Tech. You’ve got to congratulate them, they made some big shots.”
What would have liked to do better against Georgia Tech’s zone?
“Well we started out and made two of our first four, but then we just got complacent. They shot 28 free throws and we shot 14. We shot the daggum ball from the outside without ever getting it on the inside. Our post players did not move at all, so I was mad at them. I was mad at the perimeter guys for not getting it in there… But again I was mad at myself – I’m supposed to get them to do that and I didn’t get them to do it.”
It was a tough night shooting for your team. At some point, do you just chalk it up as a tough night of shooting the basketball?
“No. I’m not one of those guys. I chalk it up to bad coaching and bad playing. I don’t believe in all that junk. You play basketball the way you’re supposed to, you make your layups and dunks. We missed three straight layups… I’ve had a lot of bad days in my life but I’ve never had a day as bad as that one from a coaching standpoint.”
In the Monmouth game there were 55 fouls and 72 free throws. Is it hard to get into a rhythm with that many whistles?
“Yeah, there’s no question. The game was about to get out of hand and we wanted to make sure it didn’t get out of hand. It wasn’t one of those games you sit there and teams are running up and down the floor and making good plays.”
Joel Berry was 3-17 in the two games this week. I know he was a little bit under the weather, how big of a factor do you think that was?
“We have no idea of knowing, but he was playing great, then he sprains his ankle, then he comes back and then he gets a virus and it really drained him. He hadn’t shot the ball well the last two games, but you’ve got to play…. Every team goes through those types of things and you can’t sit here and feel sorry for yourself. Got to get back to work and play.”
Do you have a feel for the kind of impact Theo Pinson will have on your team when he returns?
“Well he does have a high motor and if he had been playing in the game Saturday and played with the high motor… Now sometimes he’s been bad, too, but if he played the game with a high motor on Saturday there’s no question that that would have helped us.”