Roy Williams Says 'It's Been a Difficult Year' After UNC Loses to Wisconsin

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2021

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams reacts to a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in the semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Friday, March 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said Friday he believes the Tar Heels' foundation is "really, really special" despite an 85-62 blowout loss to Wisconsin in the first round of the 2021 men's NCAA tournament.

"I started the season when I was 70 years old and I feel like I'm 103," Williams told reporters. "It's been a difficult year. But everyone's had the problems with COVID that we've had. It's been a hard year to push and pull, push and pull every other day to get something done."

Williams added UNC wasn't "good enough or experienced enough or coached well enough" to beat the Badgers, but he remained optimistic.

"When you start talking about inexperience or youth or seven freshmen, that sounds like excuses," he said. "But those are facts. I think we have the foundation that can be really something. The foundation here is something that could be really, really special."

North Carolina bounced back from a forgettable 14-19 season in 2019-20 to post an 18-11 mark this year, but it looked outclassed against Wisconsin on Friday.

The Badgers executed anything they wanted offensively, shooting 50.8 percent from the field and knocking down 13 threes, and the Tar Heels couldn't keep pace. They shot 38.5 percent and tallied the same number of turnovers as assists (10 each).

Williams had never lost in the first round of March Madness, going 29-0 before Friday, counting his time at Kansas, and it was the first time UNC was knocked out in the opening round since 1999.

"I thought [Wisconsin] played very well and Roy Williams didn't coach very well," Williams said of himself.

His comments about the future should create hope for North Carolina fans, though. The roster was littered with key contributors who were underclassmen, and UNC has already signed a pair of 247Sports 4-star prospects, Dontrez Styles and D'Marco Dunn, to its 2021 recruiting class.

Outside shooting is the biggest improvement needed. The Tar Heels shot just 31.7 percent from three-point range through the campaign, and it's hard to showcase any semblance of consistency in the modern game without knocking down outside shots.

Otherwise, the talent is there for Williams and UNC to put together a strong 2021-22 campaign and make a deeper run in next year's tournament.