Williams unhappy with turnovers
North Carolina coach Roy Williams was upset.
After a 107-64 win over Mount Olive in an exhibition game at the Dean Smith Center Friday night, Williams still had trouble identifying many things he liked from the game.
“The video boards,” Williams quipped. “They really looked good.”
Williams was upset with the Tar Heels’ turnovers. UNC had 26 assists and 22 turnovers in the game. And his two point guards – Coby White and Seventh Woods – were responsible for eight of them. UNC starts its regular season Tuesday against Wofford, which upset the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill last year 79-75.
“That’s one of the three things we’ve been emphasizing more than anything else this preseason, is not turning the ball over,” Williams said, “so we’ve got to do a better job there.”
As Williams described it, Friday’s exhibition game against Mount Olive was like a “glorified practice.”
UNC toggled with different lineups throughout the game – some lasting for only four minutes at a time. Williams said in October at UNC’s media day that he wanted to use two big men on the floor together. He experimented with that on Friday.
He started sophomore Garrison Brooks, seniors Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams, and White, who is a freshman. At times the play was sloppy, but the five played well together against the Division II school.
Brooks led all scorers with 16 points and added 16 rebounds.
Williams also went small. He started the second half with 6-8, 240pound Maye at the center position, 6-9, 210-pound Johnson at power forward, and 6-6, 220-pound freshman Nassir Little at small forward, with Kenny Williams and White at the guards.
Five players scored in double figures for the Tar Heels.
Johnson, who had an arthroscopic hip procedure done in the spring, said he was feeling fine after the game. Johnson said this season he plans to do whatever he can for the team.
“It’s my last year, it’s Kenny’s last year, and Luke’s, and honestly, we just want to win,” Johnson said.
In UNC’s quest to get back to the national championship game, it will lean on those three seniors. Williams was second in scoring with 15 points.
Maye, who was the ACC’s Most Improved Player for the 2017-18 season, had eight points and five rebounds Friday. He said his goal this year is to make plays and continue to be a team player.
“I need to rebound better, and shoot it a little bit better, but I think those things will come,” Maye said. “I know what I can do, and just going out there and doing it is the biggest thing for me.”
Replacing senior guard Joel Berry and wing Theo Pinson will be difficult for the Tar Heels. But they appear to have something in their freshmen.
White, a 6-5, 185-pound freshman point guard ran the show for the Tar Heels. He is one of three freshmen on this year’s squad who came into the season with high expectations. The others were Little, who was the No. 3 ranked recruit coming out of high school, and Leaky Black, a 6-7, 185-pound freshman who can play guard or forward.
Little showed off his athleticism throughout the game. He caught an alleyoop pass from sophomore guard Andrew Platek with 7:40 left in the second half to put the Tar Heels up 93-48.
Much of the talk heading into the season had been around Little and White, both of which were McDonald’s All-Americans and five-star recruits.
But Black showed on Friday that he could be a valuable piece off the bench for the Tar Heels. He made plays and was aggressive on defense. His size makes him a mismatch for opposing point guards.
“He has really played well too,” Williams said. “He is probably a better basketball player instinctively than we have had in quite a while.” Still, Williams pointed one of Black’s turnovers.
This year, UNC travels to Wofford for its game on Nov. 6.
“If I’m Wofford and get that tape, I would definitely press us because we looked so ragged about what we were trying to do,” Williams said.
North Carolina’s Kenny Williams shoots over Mt. Olive’s Darius Spragley on Friday at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina’s Brandon Robinson gets a dunk on a fast break during the second half against Mt. Olive on Friday at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill. UNC won 107-64.