Tar Heels must win on boards against Providence

Mar. 19, 2014 @ 10:10 PM

After losing his last two games, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said rebounding was “probably the No. 1 thing” his team needed to work on heading into the NCAA Tournament, no matter who UNC would face.

The opponent turned out to be Providence, which adds even more urgency to Williams’ task.

The Friars were tied for second in the Big East in rebounding margin (plus-3.8), and the battle for the ball will be a critical factor when No. 6 UNC faces No. 11 Providence on Friday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio (7:20 p.m., TNT).

UNC led the ACC in rebounding margin in conference play at plus-5.2, but the team slipped in its last two games. In those losses — the regular-season finale at Duke and the team’s lone ACC Tournament game against Pittsburgh — the Tar Heels allowed 41 second-chance points and were outrebounded by 22

UNC finished the Duke game with 20 total rebounds — its lowest total since 1987 — and allowed Panthers center Talib Zanna (21 rebounds) to outrebound the entire Tar Heels team through 34 minutes as Pitt opened up a 20-point lead.

“At the end of the day, if (Zanna’s) pulling down that many rebounds, then he wants to win the game more than we do,” Tar Heels sophomore Marcus Paige said. “He’s fighting off box outs, he’s being physical, he’s the one initiating the contact, and we didn’t have any of those types of plays on our side. That’s really what it comes down to — he wanted it more and his play showed it.”

Williams listed a number of reasons why UNC was getting uncharacteristically beaten on the boards recently.

“We weren’t boxing out as well. We weren’t going to the boards as well. We weren’t getting off the box out when the other team had the inside position,” Williams said. “It was just not doing a very good job.

“It’s basically what we consider one of the foundations of our whole program. I’ve talked about that as being the most important thing there is in the game of basketball. We’ve led the nation in rebound margin before. We’ve been in the top 25 to 30 teams several times, because I think it is really important. We just slipped.”

Paige said that it came down to effort.

“We just have to get back to understanding we have to box out on every possession and we can’t just rely on size and strength to get rebounds,” Paige said. “You have to go make contact and box out better than we’ve been doing.”

The Tar Heels eventually cut the 20-point deficit against Pitt to three in the final minute before the Panthers came away with a five-point win. Now UNC must play with that sense of desperation throughout the whole game, knowing that another big deficit would likely mean the end of its season.

“Everybody’s got to understand now that if you don’t play well, then you don’t get a do-over,” Williams said. “If you don’t play well now, you go home.”


NOTES — Paige wore protective tape around his sore left thumb against Pittsburgh, but he no longer needs it for practice this week. Paige also said that the thigh bruise he suffered against the Panthers is getting better and will be fine by Friday. … When asked what he remembered about his last game in San Antonio, Williams responded: “I’m pissed off, and that’s about as blunt as I can say it, so let’s just stop there. Didn’t like it at all. I was dumbfounded.” UNC fell behind 40-12 to Kansas in the 2008 Final Four, got back within five with nine minutes left, and eventually lost 84-66. “I loved San Antonio — love the River Walk, love the warmer weather — but we didn’t play worth a darn,” Williams said.



Record 23-9 23-11
Avg. Pts. 76.3 73.2
Opp. Avg. Pts. 69.1 69.5
Margin 7.2 3.7
FG Pct. .463 .425
Opp. FG Pct. .411 .442
3-Pt. FG Pct. .336 .350
Opp. 3-Pt. FG Pct. .313 .329
3-Pt. FG-Game 4.2 6.3
Opp. 3-Pt. FG-Game 6.1 5.4
FT Pct. .625 .781
Rebound Margin 4.9 3.8
TO Diff. 1.7 -0.6
Avg Steals 7.3 5.6
Avg Blocks 4.8 4.9



Coach: Roy Williams

  Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown
0 Nate Britt G 5-11 165 Fr Upper Marlboro, Md.  
2 Leslie McDonald G 6-5 215 Sr Memphis, Tenn.
3 Kennedy Meeks F 6-9 290 Fr Charlotte, N.C.
4 Luke Davis G 6-0 175 Jr Raleigh, N.C.
5 Marcus Paige G 6-1 175 So Marion, Iowa
11 Brice Johnson F 6-9 210 So Orangeburg, S.C.
13 J.P. Tokoto F 6-5 200 So Menomonee Falls, Wisc.  
14 Desmond Hubert F 6-10 225 Jr Cream Ridge, N.Y.  
21 Jackson Simmons F 6-7 225 Jr Webster, N.C.
22 Isaiah Hicks F 6-8 220 Fr Oxford, N.C.
30 James Manor F 6-6 220 Sr Carrboro, N.C.
34 Denzel Robinson F 6-4 220 Sr Chapel Hill, NC  
42 Joel James F 6-10 280 So West Palm Beach, Fla  
43 James Michael McAdoo F 6-9 230 Jr Norfolk, Va.
55 Wade Moody G 6-0 175 Sr Mount Airy NC  



Coach: Ed Cooley

  Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown
4 Josh Fortune G 6-5 205 So Hampton, Va.
10 Kadeem Batts F 6-9 245 Sr Boston
11 Bryce Cotton G 6-1 165 Sr Tucson, Ariz.
12 Casey Woodring G 6-2 180 Fr Darien, Conn.
13 Brice Kofane F 6-8 210 Jr Yaounde, Cameroon
21 Lee Goldsbrough F 6-9 230 Sr Newcastle, England
22 Ted Bancroft G 6-6 215 Sr Marion, Mass.
23 LaDontae Henton F 6-6 215 Jr Lansing, Mich.
25 Tyler Harris F 6-9 215 So Dix Hills N.Y.  
33 Carson Desrosiers F 7-0 250 Jr Windham, N.H.