Sometimes “dadgum” doesn’t get the job done, even for Roy Williams.
Coarser words, than the folksy North Carolina coach’s preferred vernacular, are sometimes necessary.
Halftime of UNC’s game with Notre Dame on Monday was such an occasion. Actually, senior guard Joel Berry said, “Ol’ Roy” has been working blue on the regular.
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“He’s been doing that lately,” Berry said. “It’s a good thing for us.”
It was in UNC’s 83-66 win over Notre Dame and it has been for UNC, which has turned into something of a second-half scoring juggernaut.
Williams, who has been known to slip in a curse word (or two) into his unique colloquialisms, said he couldn’t repeat what he said at the half.
After Notre Dame forward John Mooney hit his fifth 3-pointer of the first half (on five attempts), Williams nearly tore the sleeves off his black pinstripe suit jacket (the same one he wore for UNC’s win at Notre Dame on Jan. 13).
Nothing will draw the ire of a coach like a scouting report that falls on deaf ears.
“I don’t curse a lot and don’t go ranting and raving crazy but nobody can see what I said at halftime,” Williams said. “I went ranting, raving crazy, slobbering and all that kind of stuff.”
Williams said it was “different” but UNC senior Theo Pinson, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds against Notre Dame, said it was not totally unexpected.
“I knew it was coming,” Pinson said. “I was mentally prepared because we gave up five 3s to one guy who we said was a shooter.”
Berry said Williams has been dipping into his bag of four-letter words more frequently since a subpar effort in the second half of a loss at Virginia Tech on Jan. 22.
“Honestly, that’s how you have to get sometimes,” Berry said. “There’s times when you can say things nicely but there’s sometimes when you’ve got to do that to get guys and get them motivated.”
Berry, for one, doesn’t mind the more colorful, fiery version of his hall-of-fame coach.
“That’s the kind of person I am and that’s how I grew up, using that kind of language,” Berry said. “But it’s a little different when you’ve got young guys. Sometimes you’ve to make sure you’re not being as hard.”
Whatever the halftime word choice is for Williams, it has worked. The Tar Heels have shot better than 56 percent in the second half five times in six games.
In three of those games, UNC has made at least 63 percent of its second-half shots, including Saturday’s unconscious 78.1 percent effort at N.C. State. And in three of those games, UNC has scored at least 50 points in the second half.
If Marcus Paige was “Second-half Marcus” during the 2013-14 season, this group is turning into “Second-half Carolina.”
Pinson said a little prodding from Williams does help but confidence is the real reason UNC has come out of the halftime break breathing fire.
Over those six games, which includes a 34.9 shooting effort in the second half of the Duke win last Thursday, UNC has made 56.7 percent of its shots (110-194) and averaged 49 points per half.
“It’s just confidence, you can’t act like it’s not,” Pinson said. “I hit a couple of jumpers (Monday), so you knew it was going to be a good night.”
Williams isn’t going to take the credit for the recent surge in second-half scoring.
“It’s not coaching, it’s kids,” Williams said. “They may listen to one of the hundred things I say.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio