North Carolina coach Roy Williams said when his team begins to get overconfident, he reminds them of the Georgia Tech game on Dec. 31.
On paper Georgia Tech had no chance. The Yellow Jackets haven’t made it to the NCAA tournament since 2010. But North Carolina played its worst game of the season and lost by 12.
“We stunk it up,” Williams said Friday. “That’s about as bad as I’ve ever seen any one of my teams play.”
It was an embarrassing loss for a team some think could get back to the national championship game, if healthy.
But things have changed since New Year’s Eve. Heading into the game at Boston College on Saturday, the Tar Heels are riding a five-game winning streak, including wins against No. 9 Florida State and a 51-point shellacking over rival N.C. State.
“When we came back I didn’t try to get on the waiver list and trade everybody,” Williams said. “We just tried to go back to work and get better.”
Senior forward Kennedy Meeks confirmed that the Georgia Tech game is Williams’ go-to reminder when the team is having a bad practice or playing without energy.
“He says something like, ‘You guys are looking like you were in Atlanta, so pick it up,’ ” Meeks said, “because that wasn’t a good practice the day after that. So needless to say, I think our main objective is to never play like that again and prevent him from saying things like that.”
Here are a few quick hits from Friday’s press conference:
On Boston College
Williams said Boston College (9-10, 2-4 ACC) is not as bad as people say.
“Two of the three games that I’ve watched, they played well,” he said. “In one of them they made 15 3’s. We’re going up there knowing we have to play really well if we want to be successful.”
“(Jerome) Robinson and (Ky) Bowman, they really do some good things. And (Jordan) Chatman came off the bench the other night and played great. Had 20 points or whatever it was, and they can score.”
The Eagles have beaten N.C. State and Syracuse, and battled Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium until the final buzzer.
On Roy’s in-season recruiting
Williams has made quite a few in-season recruiting trips this year. He said right after the Florida State game, he was on a plane for six hours to recruit. Two days ago, he was on a plane for four hours.
“It’s out of fear,” Williams said. “I just feel like if I’m not doing that, somebody is getting ahead of me.
“It’s just that I feel like it’s my job and I love watching kids play and trying to make a decision on whether they can be successful in the way we play, and can they add something to our program. And would I like to be their coach.”
On Tony Bradley
Freshman forward Tony Bradley is expected to play Saturday after suffering a concussion against Wake Forest on Jan. 3.
Without the 6-11, 240-pound Bradley, Williams has at times had to go small. He said Saturday when Meeks and Isaiah Hicks sat, he was forced to play junior wing Theo Pinson (6-6) at the 4, and junior wing Justin Jackson (6-8) at the 5.
“That’s the first time I’ve had to do anything like that in 29 years of coaching and it was not pleasant,” Williams said. “I was not happy doing it, not comfortable doing it.”
Having Bradley back will help with that.
On Michael Jordan shoes
After his 800th win, Williams was presented with a silver pair of commemorative Nike Air Jordan shoes, signed by Michael Jordan. He said he has not yet had a chance to put them on.
When asked what type of social function Williams could see himself wearing the shoes, Williams said “absolutely zero.”
“I’ll put them on some time just to see what they feel like,” he said.
It was the second pair of signed shoes he’s received from Jordan. The first was the same Converse shoes the 1982 UNC team wore in the national championship game.
He said he’ll never wear those, though.