At the beginning of the second half of North Carolina’s 75-60 victory against Northern Kentucky, starting point guard Marcus Paige took the floor with four other players who were anything but starters.
Coach Roy Williams, who was dissatisfied with his team’s effort to say the least, started Paige with the likes of Jackson Simmons, Desmond Hubert, Luke Davis and Isaiah Hicks.
“He let us know at halftime that he was going to play the guys that showed the most effort and intensity,” Paige said. “That lit a fire under some of the other guys.”
But that wasn’t the only unorthodox plan Williams wanted to pursue.
“I was ticked off, and I wanted to try something different,” Williams said. “What I wanted to do was stay out at halftime and run sprints the entire freaking half, and (my assistants) thought it was not the right thing to do.”
Forward Brice Johnson, who has recently earned a starting role, said that when Williams introduced the idea in the locker room he was already mentally preparing to spend halftime working on his cardio. He knew Williams was serious.
But the less extreme halftime coaching move paid off for the Tar Heels.
As the second half began, the Tar Heels came up with stops on each of Northern Kentucky’s first six possessions and began building on their 35-30 halftime lead.
“That’s something we didn’t do, the starting five, the entire game,” forward James Michael McAdoo said. “That’s something that should motivate us.”