By Matt Oakes Covering THE compelling stories ALL the time. Sports Reporter, Columnist and Radio Personality

Oakes: Roy’s Remarks – “Down and Dirty”

By Matt Oakes Posted January 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm

“We’ve got to be more attentive to finishing the play instead of worrying about getting fouled.”
                                                                                   -Coach Williams

Fired up Coach Williams

“Worrying,” says Roy? What do these college athletes on full-ride scholarships to play for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the house that Dean Smith built really have to worry about? (Well, besides upholding a winning tradition, I guess.) It’s like the Carolina basketball team is walking on eggshells these days.

In ACC play, the Tar Heels have been to the charity stripe fewer times than their opponents have made free throws. Let that soak in.

What happened to the fighting spirit they displayed prominently in the upset in East Lansing over now No.3-ranked Michigan State? It appears to be long gone.

Gone are the days of Tyler Hansbrough roaring down the lane like a runaway locomotive. Anyone or anything that got in his way was going down on his drive to an emphatic score. He’d thank them for the foul later. He struck fear in the hearts of opposing defenders. In short, he was an absolute beast.

Who’s Carolina’s “beast” this year? Anybody?

The “old-fashioned three-point plays,” as Roy calls them, have practically disappeared from the Tar Heel arsenal. Over the last couple of weeks, the Carolina coach has been a bit of a broken record, looking back longingly at the good ol’ days when he had a few less grey hairs and didn’t have to preach the basic basketball necessities: intensity and toughness.

UNC vs. Virginia 020Recently, loose balls and passes have been ricocheting off the hands of an assortment of Tar Heels – J.P. Tokoto and Joel James most prominently in the Virginia debacle.

The offensive struggles have been well documented, but the toughness deficit is more disturbing. After all, there’s luck involved once the ball leaves your hands. Sometimes, even the sharpest shooters find a lid on the basket.

But being tough and competing is another thing. That’s under a player’s control. It’s a choice – a mindset. Yet (thus far at least) for this batch of Tar Heels, it seems to have been forgotten, buried beneath the sands of a 1-4 ACC start.

If Carolina maintains any aspirations of turning around its season, it’s going to have to start getting a little angry. The Tar Heels have to roll up their sleeves. It’s time to get down and dirty.

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