Photo: Roy Williams
CHAPEL HILL – Roy Williams lives by unwritten philosophies he began learning from Dean Smith upon arrival in Chapel Hill 51 years ago to play on North Carolina’s freshman team. He never disagrees with his mentor.
“I am mad at Coach Smith right now, to be honest with you,” Williams said. “He had this thing he told told us two or three times, and I always disagreed with him, around here we should have a really bad year every seven or eight years to make people appreciate what we do the rest. I told him I disagreed, and I didn’t want to go through that crap. Crap is the best word I can give you right now. One of the few times I disagreed with Coach Smith, but I violently disagreed with him.”
North Carolina (8-10, 1-6 ACC) returns to the floor to face Miami (10-8, 2-6 ACC) at noon Saturday at the Smith Center. The Tar Heels are trying to snap a five-game losing streak that dates to tying Smith for career wins at 879 with a 70-67 win over Yale.
Williams has never suffered through a losing season in 31 previous seasons as a head coach, 16 at North Carolina and 15 at Kansas. Smith’s only losing season in 35 was an 8-9 mark suffered in 1961-62 when he was promoted to head coach to take over a program handicapped by NCAA probation. The program's last losing season was 8-20 in 2002 under Matt Doherty, who was dismissed at the end of the season for his treatment of the players as well as the losses.
Until this year, a bad year was a 16-16 regular-season record in 2009-10 that missed the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels accepted an NIT bid and finished 20-17 after a 4-1 run, losing to Dayton in the final at Madison Square Garden.
As the Miami game approaches, Williams can’t turn to previous experiences with Smith. But he’s been a coach long enough he has guide young players also dealing with North Carolina losing some of its luster
“I keep tell them in life you get hit, things are not going to go smoothly,” he said. “You got to keep going. I’m old fashioned and corny. I believe people enjoy athletes, but it also handling losses and bouncing back prepares you for life.”
The hits in the form of injuries keep coming at a roster that started the season depleted. North Carolina lost three seniors, Cameron Johnson; Kenny Williams; and Luke Maye; two players declared for the NBA draft as one-and-dones, Coby White and Nassir Little; and another transferred out, Seventh Woods.
This year injuries have caused seven Tar Heels have combined to miss 57 games.
--- Junior forward Sterling Manley is out for the year after surgery on his left knee.
--- Freshman guard Anthony Harris has missed 13 games, missing the first eight to start the season and missing five more with knee surgery on Jan. 4.
--- Freshman guard Cole Anthony has been out the last nine games after knee arthroscopic surgery.
--- Freshman guard Jeremiah Francis has sat out nine games while recovering from a high school knee injury.
--- Senior guard Brandon Robinson missed the first four games, but he returned to the sideline for Wednesday’ loss at Virginia Tech. He aggravated a neck injury when he was in the neck in the previous game at Pitt. He first hurt his back when he was in a car accident caused by the other drive.
--- Sophomore guard Leaky Black has missed one game while playing through a turf toe injury.
--- Junior guard Andrew Platek missed two games with an ankle injury.
Cole Anthony’s injured hurt the most. He's projected as a Top 10 NBA draft pick while handling the ball for the Tar Heels. The team has gone 6-3 with Anthony and 2-7 without him. In nine games, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder from Oak Hill Academy has averaged 19.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
He was expected to be out four to six weeks after the surgery to repair a partially torn cartilage. The six-week mark is Monday, when the Tar Heels are scheduled to play Monday at N.C. State.
Williams also said not to misinterpret a social media posting from Anthony he will be back “soon.” He views that as a reaction to speculation he will sit out the remainder of the season to protect himself for the NBA draft. Williams has no plans to rush Anthony back to the court. He has yet to do anything in practice more than shoot.
“I think he got tired of people saying he’s delaying, he’s not coming back,” Williams said. “I don’t have any doubts that he’s coming back. He’s just waiting for the doctor to clear him.
“I go into everybody’s home and say I’ll treat your son like I treat mine. Why would we not be cautious?”
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