UNC has been right on the doorstep of an ACC Tournament title, making the finals five of the past eight years, but recently haven’t managed to get the win they’ve needed to cut down the nets.
“We just haven’t gotten over the hump,” head coach Roy Williams said. “I’d like to, if we’re going to be there that long, let’s win the whole daggum thing.”
UNC hasn’t won an ACC Tournament since the year Tyler Hansbrough ran down the court, arms flailing, after hitting the game winning shot against Virginia Tech to send them to the 2008 finals.
Last year the Tar Heels saw a nine point lead in the finals over Notre Dame quickly slip away and turn to an eight-point loss.
“We had it right there,” Joel Berry said. “We were five or six minutes away from winning and the game just turned around. We’re looking back at last year, we’ve got to finish it out and that’s been a big thing for us is finishing games.”
Forward Justin Jackson played well in the tournament last year, but struggled in the finals, finishing 3-12 from the field with just seven points.
“Individually that game hurt quite a bit,” he said. “Because I felt like if I made one or two of those shots then we possibly could’ve won. So it definitely is fuel but for us there’s not individual-type stuff in it. We’re just trying to play for each other.”
Even though his team locked up the regular season title on Saturday with a win against Duke, Williams still expects his team to be ready to play when the tournament starts.
“My teams have taken me to seven final fours,” he said. “And all seven years we won the regular-season championship, so don’t tell me my team is going to be complacent because that ain’t happening.”
The Tar Heels begin their quest for the title that has been so elusive recently on Thursday. They are scheduled to play whichever team wins Wednesday’s game between Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
WCHL will begin broadcasting every game of the ACC tournament starting Thursday and continuing through the championship Saturday.