Sometimes things don't go the way you hope.
When things go as planned — like head coach Roy Williams celebrating his 900th career win postgame — it’s perfectly satisfying. When things go wrong, it’s perfectly maddening.
And UNC’s 83-70 loss to Marquette on Wednesday night was a perfectly maddening backfire. Williams will have to wait for number 900.
“Well if I’d known we were going to lose, God almighty, I wouldn't have scheduled it,” Williams said. “C’mon, we can’t operate in damn hindsight. If you told me we were going to lose, hell yeah we wouldn’t have played the game. If you told me we were going to beat the Lakers, then I’d have scheduled them.”
Then he walked off the postgame Zoom call.
But really, how can one react to following up a 45-point domination against Louisville with a non-conference loss? How can one react to going 5-18 from the 3-point mark?
“Everyone is a little bit angry,” first-year guard RJ Davis said. “We could’ve done this, we could’ve done that. But now, we just have to go back to the drawing board and move forward with positive energy.”
There were signs early on this wasn't going to go well for the Tar Heels. Why? A complete lack of that positive energy right from the outset.
While Marquette’s bench was rowdy, refused to sit in their chairs and cheered with yells that echoed around the almost-empty Dean Smith Center, UNC’s bench seemed like they simply forgot to bring their spirit with them after Saturday's win over Louisville. The juxtaposition between the teams was stark from tipoff to the final buzzer.
“Marquette came ready to play,” senior forward Garrison Brooks, who notched 18 points and 5 rebounds, said. “You could tell by the first couple minutes they came out with a lot of energy and took advantage and ran with it and never looked back.”
While there were certainly moments where UNC looked to be on the cusp of a comeback — bringing the game within seven points and then eight points multiple times throughout the closing half — the Golden Eagles just had a spark. And UNC didn’t.
“We've laid an egg a couple of times this year,” Williams said. “Let's make sure we say this right here: Marquette beat our rear ends. They outplayed us. I said outcoached us. That's not something I enjoy saying. But they outcoached us, they outplayed us, they wanted it more, everything.”
It was a game that left a lot of questions for both the Tar Heels' players and fans alike. Will this team make the NCAA Tournament? Can this team make the tournament?
The game left questions even the seasoned veteran Brooks couldn't answer. When asked why the team looked so unfocused and so lacking in attention to detail, all the senior forward could respond with was a shrug.
“Truth be told, I don’t know," Brooks said.
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