It's been a mess of a season for head coach Roy Williams. With his top four players jetting to the NBA, Roy was left with one of the youngest teams he has ever coached.
Strickland was the only senior left on scholarship, and junior guards McDonald and Bullock rounded out the upperclassmen. That isn't an easy assignment—even for a Hall of Fame head coach.
Especially one that has been maligned for his stubborn ways. One of the biggest knocks on Coach Williams over the years is that he fails to adapt his scheme to fit the players.
Through most of the season, it seemed it would be more of that same ol' Roy in the same ol' system, despite the obvious struggles of his team.
The Tar Heels lacked dominant scorers at the start of the games. Fans were seeing P.J. Hairston come off the bench that appeared to fit the bill, but Roy was refusing to insert him into the starting lineup for Dexter Strickland.
He eventually found another way.
Roy eventually threw the double post out the window and decided to put his five best players on the floor. That meant moving McAdoo to the 5 and inserting Hairston at the 4. Since the move, North Carolina is 6-2, with both losses coming to Duke.
The changes didn't stop there, either.
Roy has used the hedge-and-recover scheme on defense for his entire coaching career. The young Tar Heels struggled so much with the mental side of the scheme, he decided to test out the zone in practice.
He never made the full switch, but he has occasionally shifted the defense to a 2-3 zone when the defense is failing to make stops. And you can't blame him for not going all-in with the 2-3, as perimeter defense has been one of Carolina's greatest weaknesses this season.
And that is the greatest weakness of the 2-3 zone; it's better for defending the inside than the outside.
Sure, we can question the time it took for him to adapt his schemes or insert Hairston into the starting lineup. We can even hold a grudge against him for acting like we didn't know "what the dickens" we were talking about when we cried, "Free P.J.!"
But Coach Williams managed to do things very few people thought were possible.
Even Tar Heel fans were saying this would be an NIT season once again. And the poor start to the season only amplified those thoughts.
His team ended up the No. 3 seed in the ACC tournament and will be participating in the NCAA tourney.
Fans also never thought they would see the day where the great Roy Williams would adapt to the players he has on the roster. But he did that on both sides of the floor. It may have taken a while, but he did it.
The best coaches remain in development, and Roy has proven he still falls under that category.
Now if he could just start using those timeouts...
Must Improve: Willingness to call a timeout when the team is struggling.