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Barry Jacobs On UNC, Roy Williams, & Close Games

We had intended to run this Sunday before the UNC game but didn't have the opportunity to post it until now. Our apologies.
Roy Williams is a good guy and a superior coach. His arrival in the spring of 2003 immediately revived the sagging fortunes of one of college basketball's premier programs. That said, it has entirely escaped the notice of the ACC media that, under Williams, North Carolina has been something short of sensational in close games.Oh, there's been talk about a lack of toughness, focus and chemistry on the part of the '07 Tar Heels, causing them to stumble lately in close games. In fact, this trait is not new. Including a Feb. 25 loss at Maryland, Williams' Heels are a combined 12-18 in games decided by five or fewer points or in overtime. (Absent play-by-plays for every game, those perameters are reasonably defensible for defining a close contest.)

This 40 percent success rate might be considered an aberration had it occurred over a brief period. But approaching the completion of a fourth season at Chapel Hill, this has the makings of a significant statistical characteristic. Even throwing out Williams' first year, when he inherited Matt Doherty's team and had to break and reshape its habits, the likely Hall of Fame coach is a middling 10-10 in close games over the past three seasons.

Under Williams, UNC is 6-14 in close ACC games, 0-3 in close games in the ACC Tournament, 3-2 in close NCAA contests. The current squad is 1-3 in close games, all in league play. Only Williams' 2005 national championship team won more close games than it lost.

A lack of prowess in close games is particularly striking at a school where Dean Smith compiled a masterful record of rallies and escapes. Take, for instance, the period from 1989 through 1994, when UNC's record in close games under Smith was 37-22, a 62.7 success rate.

2007 (1-3)
L 79-83 at N.C. State
L 80-81 Virginia Tech*
W 77-72 at Boston College
L 87-89 at Maryland
2006 (5-5)
W 83-80 Gardner-Webb
L 64-68 Illinois
W 83-79 at Kentucky
W 64-61 at Virginia Tech
L 68-72 at Virginia
W 81-80 at Florida State
L 83-87 Duke
L 82-85 Boston College (ACCT)
W 69-65 Murray State (NCAA)
L 60-65 George Mason (NCAA)
2005 (4-2)
L 70-71 at Duke
W 85-83 at Maryland
W 75-73 Duke
L 75-78 Georgia Tech (ACCT)
W 67-66 Villanova (NCAA)
W 75-70 Illinois (NCAA)
2004 (2-8)
L 114-119 Wake Forest*
L 56-61 at Kentucky
W 86-83 Connecticut
L 81-90 at Florida State*
W 68-66 N.C. State
L 81-83 Duke*
L 72-74 at Virginia
L 65-70* at Duke
L 82-83 Georgia Tech (ACCT)
L 75-78 Texas (NCAA)
* Overtime game.

All charts by Barry Jacobs are the property of Barry Jacobs. The charts may not be reproduced or disseminated without express written permission of Barry Jacobs.