“We’ll be better with all the B.S. going on,” Williams said. “But when the game starts, that makes no difference and I really believe that. If you can play, you can play on game night.”
The “B.S.” that Williams is referring to is all the dinners, events and media obligations that make the Final Four the spectacle it is.
Having gone through all of the festivities during last year’s Final Four run, the moment shouldn’t be too big for the Tar Heels. Despite playing in a football stadium, the court is still 94 feet long and the rims are still 10 feet high.
As far as doing anything differently in the time leading up to the Final Four, junior wing Theo Pinson joked that he’ll make sure not to pack so many pairs of pants to the Arizona desert.
What will be different for UNC this time is that it will constantly be reminded of its heartbreaking loss to Villanova in last year’s championship game.
As painful as the loss was, it has been the motivating factor to get North Carolina back to Final Four to have an opportunity at redemption.
“We were four seconds away,” senior forward Isaiah Hicks said. “Just to see your dream taken away right in front of you, that’s all the motivation you need.”
“Of course, nobody likes to lose, but that one — when you’re right there, all of us, we just need that second chance.”
Although North Carolina desperately wants to avenge its loss from last season, Williams believes the good times during the run the Tar Heels went on last time are motivation enough.
“I think it did make those guys work harder in the off-season,” Williams said. “I asked them one time, ‘What’s the most fun you’ve ever had in basketball?’ And they said, ‘Last year.’”
Junior wing Justin Jackson echoed his coach’s comments about how fun the journey was and how appreciative he is to be returning.
“The Final Four was the most fun all of us have ever had in basketball,” Jackson said. “We’re going to enjoy the experience and then Saturday, it’s all business. You don’t get many times to get to one Final Four, let alone two.”
The Tar Heels aren’t alone, though. All four teams are coming into Phoenix having some form of experience. All of them are motivated. And all are most certainly having the times of their lives.