COLUMBUS, Ohio — The way Roy Williams would have you hear it, there’s nothing he hates more in life than someone trying to “be cool.”
And that’s exactly what he thought his team was doing in the first half on Friday night. So when he entered the locker room of Nationwide Arena during the intermission to address his players, he made his message clear. Not by yelling, or scolding, or panicking, but by coaching, as senior guard Kenny Williams noted after the game.
Whatever Roy Williams did, or said, it worked for his team. After an underwhelming 20 minutes of play, the No. 1 seed North Carolina men’s basketball team came roaring back to life in the second half on the way to an 88-73 win over No. 16 seed Iona in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
“Needless to say the second half was a lot different from the first half,” Williams said. “I thought the first half we were very tentative on the offensive end, and didn’t do what we planned to do on the defensive end.”
Not only was UNC (28-6) a different team in the first half, but it was a bad one at that. The Tar Heels struggled on both ends of the court on their way to a 38-33 deficit and justthree first-half assists, a number that made graduate guard Cameron Johnson wince after the win.