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The Daily Tar Heel

Heels hit the road vs. Hokies

Williams looks for new strategies

He can add new plays to the offense and defend the inbound pass with a zone.

And he can make them run all day.

But how does Roy Williams teach effort?

As the losses have started to pile up for North Carolina, its head coach has been faced with that troubling question.

“I’ve never had to coach concentration and effort as much as I feel like I’m trying to coach that now,” Williams said. “And they should be able to supply that.”

Williams was sure to accept equal responsibility for the team’s struggles, both on the court and of the mind. But he wasn’t alone in his assessment.

“I don’t think anybody’s effort right now is where it needs to be for us to be the team that we’re striving to be,” point guard Larry Drew II said.

“And it’s definitely showing out there on the court.”

The Tar Heels would be hard pressed to find a worse time to have motivational difficulties. They have three games in the next week, the first two on the road and the third against ACC-leading Duke.

The tough stretch begins today at 9 p.m. at Virginia Tech. UNC beaten the Hokies at home this year before the Tar Heels dropped four out of five.

In a conversation between Drew and his father, former NBA player Larry Drew Sr., the elder pointed out that going on the road might actually be a refreshing escape for the team.

“My dad said especially with the situation we’re in, one of the best places to get better is on the road,” Drew said.

Last time against the Hokies, forwards Ed Davis and Deon Thompson combined for 33 points in the 78-64 win. But since then, they’ve averaged a combined 19.2.

The Tar Heels also failed to contain a VT perimeter player, a trend that has continued. Malcolm Delaney dropped 26 points, including sinking 12 out of 14 free throws.

Williams has been implementing some new on-court strategies that break from his mold.

UNC is now defending the inbound pass with a zone, switching up assignments in free throw situations and throwing five freshmen on the court at the same time.

And that’s not to mention the zone offense that Williams has gone away from this season.

“You say sometimes in recruiting that the shoe doesn’t fit,” he said. “Well that didn’t fit this team, and we’ve gone away from it.”

With a buzz around Chapel Hill that includes the letters N, I and T, Williams and the team know there is only one real solution.

“If you don’t want to have this feeling, you’ve just got to win,” Drew said. “It’s as simple as that.”

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