We’ve talked a lot this year about how important it is for fans to give rookie coach Jon Scheyer time to establish himself. With three significant injuries and seven freshmen, not to mention the immense pressure that comes with the Duke job and following Mike Krzyzewski, Scheyer has, in our opinion, done very well. Toss in the immense changes in the game, and you could up that to brilliantly well.
As we’ve said before, when it comes to basketball, Duke and UNC often seem to parallel one another. Win a championship? We’ll get one too. Replace a Hall of Fame legend? You first, but we can do that too.
Only it’s not going as well in Chapel Hill.
Last year, remember, things started slowly before the Tar Heels got hot and Brady Manek opened the interior wide with brilliant three point shooting, allowing Armando Bacot to become a dominant presence around the basket.
But before the triumphalism of the Final Four run, there were a lot of unhappy Tar Heel fans. And now they’re unhappy again, only it’s not just the fans. Now, members of the UNC family are expressing some concern.
Well, one is anyway - former Tar Heel Jawad Williams.
Williams, who originally spoke to Inside Carolina, wasn’t angry like a lot of fans are (if you’re not following IC Meltdown on Twitter, you really should be, especially when things get bad over there), but he is clearly concerned and has some pointed comments. Check this out:
“I think the expectations were very high. I never expected them to be in this situation… there looks like there’s a disconnect between each other. At the end of the day, you have to learn to play for each other and if they can’t it’s going to be a long season. And that’s where they are right now.”
And there was this too: “With this team, I think there’s a lack of accountability. Sometimes you just have to let guys know what it is whether they like it or not. It’s always better to be respected than liked.”
You could construe this as either advice or criticism but either way it’s aimed directly at UNC coach Hubert Davis.
Davis is clearly modeling himself on his coach, Dean Smith, but he might also Baylor’s Scott Drew, famously seen as a nice guy, and ask him how that’s worked for him.
The challenge that Davis, and for that matter Scheyer, is taking over a program that has a firm identity and putting his own stamp on it.
Rivalry aside, Davis has always seemed like a decent and likable guy. Pretty clearly, as Williams suggests, there are some boneheads on his team. But Davis got a team to the Final Four in his first season, which seemed really unlikely for most of the season.
He’s also recruiting well. The roster will be changed over soon enough and then it will be fair to judge him with his own guys.
We hope UNC fans (and family members) give him time. He has to get a chance to do it his own way.
Otherwise, you run the risk of the Wooden Spiral. What’s the Wooden Spiral?
Well, we just made it up, but it’s a useful term, named for what happened at UCLA after John Wooden retired.
It’s when you fire/run off a decent coach or two and hire several inferior coaches sequentially, thus destroying an illustrious program. It’s even worse when you insist on hiring “family” members who really can't coach.
New guys need time to get going, especially when they step into big shoes.