Roy Williams makes a lot of sacrifices to have his teams play the style he wants.
Insisting on playing two traditional bigs on the floor at all times makes UNC's spacing look atrocious at times. The Tar Heels consistently have to trade 3s for 2s in a losing numbers game. Plus, there's an automatic mismatch with any mobile, skilled forward.
But the second half of North Carolina's 81-73 win over No. 22 Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament showed how just Williams won his three national championships — oh, and how he just passed Bob Knight to become third all-time in career wins for a Division I men's basketball coach.
The Tar Heels take the ball and ram it down their opponent's throat. Over and over again.
UNC might not be able to shoot much, but who needs to shoot when you can muscle away every rebounder to score immediately on a putback? The Tar Heels might not have perfect spacing, but who needs spacing when your bigs can just overpower everyone around them on their way to them rim?
North Carolina was lucky to be down just three points at the half. After playing an undersized Notre Dame team, Virginia Tech's physicality seemed to catch the Tar Heels by surprise. UNC had just two offensive rebounds in the opening 20 minutes after grabbing 18 in the first frame on Wednesday's bout with the Fighting Irish.
"I thought (Virginia Tech) had a good strategy at the beginning," sophomore forward Armando Bacot said. "They was just doing a good job of boxing us out, meeting us early. But I mean, we got four good bigs, so eventually, we knew that was gonna wear (them) down, and that's in the second half."
That's the secret to Williams' style. He knows it will hurt to play against his team for 40 minutes.
The results aren't always as soul-crushing for the opponent as they were against Notre Dame on Wednesday, when the Irish looked like a squad of middle schoolers trying to prove they can hang with the varsity team.