North Carolina basketball: Roy Williams, Tar Heels search for better fit with different lineups
CHAPEL HILL –– North Carolina's experimentation with downsized lineups took an even smaller turn during the latter stages of its last game, the Tar Heels using what amounted to a group of five guards for an extended period.
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"We've got to make some changes, got to make some tweaks, got to do a few things," Williams said. "But also, I strongly believe what we're doing works. It's worked for at least a couple of weeks out of 30 years, so we've got to do a better job of our execution, too."
Coming off back-to-back losses, suffered on the road against ranked opponents in Florida State and Virginia, North Carolina is experiencing its first losing streak since mid-February 2016.
The Tar Heels didn't absorb two losses in a row at any point during last season, which, of course, ended with them claiming the NCAA championship.
"We just have to get back to the drawing board and get better," swingman Theo Pinson said Saturday, after the 61-49 loss at Virginia.
North Carolina trailed Virginia 53-42 when Coach Williams put the combination of Joel Berry, Kenny Williams, Brandon Robinson, Cameron Johnson and Pinson together for 5 1/2 minutes of game time down the stretch, from the 9:19 mark until 3:50 remained.
That meant wing players Johnson and Pinson were matched up against Virginia forwards Isaiah Wilkins, De'Andre Hunter and Mamadi Diakite.
When the Tar Heels had gone small previously this season, without big men such as Garrison Brooks or Sterling Manley on the court, forward Luke Maye typically was used during those situations as the lineup's one player familiar with operating in the post.
"I think I'm going to look at some other things," Roy Williams said. "I went five small guys there (at Virginia) just to see if I could do something, and we did better defensively, but we didn't get much going offensively."
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Meanwhile, Berry said after scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds in Saturday's loss that no matter who's paired together, North Carolina's competitive spirit needs a boost.
"What we're always taking about and what Coach is always stressing is, you can make mistakes, as long as you're doing it with effort and competing," Berry said, "and I think we need to get some more guys to buy in and compete. Give it your all when you get out there on the floor. We're the defending national champions and we're North Carolina, so it's a big-time game each and every night we go out there."
This article is written by Adam Smith from Times-News, Burlington, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.