Growing Tar Heel Confidence Heading Into Duke Game Grounded in Defensive Effort

By Matt Oakes Posted February 11, 2014 at 12:26 am

CHAPEL HILL– The North Carolina men’s basketball team takes center stage Wednesday in primetime for a 9 p.m. tipoff in the Smith Center against archrival Duke.

One of the keys to the game will be how the Tar Heels fare from the free throw line. Head Coach Roy Williams says he was pleased with junior James Michael McAdoo’s improvement from the foul line in the Notre Dame victory last weekend.

“I never get too high or too low about free throws because there’s always another day. We keep working on them every day. Six for six had to make James Michael feel better. It made his gray-haired old coach feel better,” Coach Williams says.

McAdoo says the success of the team ultimately comes down to the defensive pressure applied to their opponents.

“I think this biggest thing is probably our sense of urgency on defense. With that, just being disciplined and being really sound. Coach uses that word a lot. I think it has to do with one through five playing together. I think that’s the biggest thing just trying to get the offense out of their rhythm,” McAdoo says.

Intense defense. (Todd Melet)

Intense defense. (Todd Melet)

Sophomore Marcus Paige agrees with McAdoo’s sentiments. He says the improved defense has helped the offense gain some traction of late.

“Aside from the effort, we’ve been working a lot on guarding the ball so we don’t have to have guys help. I think the fact that we’ve done a better job doing that has allowed our defense to be a little more successful so guys aren’t always in scrambles and rotations. Guys are just defending the ball better. That’s definitely helped,” Paige says.

Despite the five-game winning streak, Coach Williams says he’s hesitant to predict the future success of the team, but he says mentally, it’s important to build off the momentum.

“I’ve said before, the more you make the more you make. In golf, the more putts you make the more putts you make. I’m not going to say we’re going to win the next 26 because we’ve won five games in a row. But I like the way we’re doing some things. If kids have got more confident, I think that’s a huge part of it,” Coach Williams says.

The Tar Heels take on the Blue Devils tomorrow night at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 97.9 FM, WCHL and televised nationally on

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