Tar Heels 'Re-Focus'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – While the Tar Heels have been getting hammered this week in the media and on radio talk shows for perceptually not showing up for the ACC Tournament last weekend, fans may take some solace knowing UNC has performed exceedingly well this year coming off of losses.

"We know what we need to do," Jawad Williams said during Tuesday's press conference. "We're not out to prove anybody wrong. We could care less about what people think about us. We're going to go out there with the same focus that we have all year."

Following the season-opening loss to Santa Clara in Oakland, the Tar Heels won 14 straight games. After getting beaten somewhat handily at Wake Forest, they rattled off five in a row. And subsequent to a one-point loss to Duke at Durham, UNC won eight consecutive contests.

"This is one of those times we need a six-game winning streak," May said.

While Carolina's performances against ninth-seeded Clemson and fifth-seeded Georgia Tech were seemingly out of character and worthy of some criticism, one loss shouldn't take away from what the Tar Heels accomplished this season.

Of course, despite not earning the right to stick around for last Sunday's final in Washington, D.C., UNC still won't be able to hide in this year's bracket. However, the opportunity to feast on a 16-seed and then the Minnesota/Iowa State winner in Charlotte, should give the Tar Heels more than enough opportunity to repair whatever ails that seem to have popped up the worst possible time.

"[Coach Williams] just got back to telling us, ‘You guys have done so many good things this year, now is not the time to drop off,'" May said. "We did a lot of things we weren't accustomed to doing. This week is getting back to playing the way we've been playing. We'll be fine.

"Right now, we're not looking past the first round. We have a tough region ahead of us, but at the same time, we're ready and we'll be prepared for whoever we face."

But when, and if, Carolina can punch its ticket to the Syracuse Regional where the real possibility of back-to-back games with either Florida or Villanova, followed by a potential rematch with Connecticut in a Big East venue or a clash with Kansas; there is no doubt the Tar Heels are going to have to "bring it" every game.

Rest assured, the suddenly "soft" label some have attached to UNC is being addressed this week in practice, as promised by Roy Williams. Many have scratched their head wondering why Carolina would not be hungry, considering what the program and most of its current players have suffered through in recent years.

"We've gone a little bit back to basics," Williams said. "We spent about two hours on Sunday watching the tape. It was just a total breakdown up in D.C. Everything slipped a great deal."

Everyone knows Roy Williams is an excellent recruiter and coach – the winningest active all-time from a percentage standpoint - and that the team is in good hands for as long as Williams holds the reins. But just like his predecessor once was, he has been saddled with a "can't win the big one" moniker, which will only add pressure to this year's task at hand. Yet it could be argued he rarely has had the level and depth of talent down the bench he possesses today.

Unfortunately, anything short of cutting the nets down in St. Louis around midnight on April 4th will come as a disappointment to many. As the Tar Heels stare down the road ahead, they must find themselves quickly, get tougher and embrace the huge challenge of winning 64-team tourney over a three-week period.

Any extended on-court lapses lasting more than a couple of minutes will likely end UNC's season and the incredible hopes that have permeated it.

"We have shown a toughness, or a hunger, to bounce back and I hope we will again," Roy Williams said.

"There is a sense of urgency to play again, but right now this team needs a few days to regroup, get healthy and get back to form," May said.

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