Roy Williams Handed First Losing Season as Tar Heels Struggle to Finish Line

Feb 11, 2020; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams looks on during the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The University of North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball season ended with its 18th loss of the 2019-2020 season. For the first time in his lengthy coaching career, head coach Roy Williams’s squad recorded a losing season.

The Tar Heels finished the season 13-18 overall and in last place in the ACC with a 6-14 record.

North Carolina opened the season as the No. 5 team in the nation and won the first six of seven games, only losing to Michigan on Nov. 28, 73-64.

The Tar Heels didn’t fare so well in the second month of play, however, and dropped out of the rankings after their third consecutive loss when Wofford handed the Tar Heels their second consecutive defeat against the Terriers. The Tar Heels recorded losses for the first four games in December, only winning the last two against UCLA and Yale.

The new year didn’t look any better for the Tar Heels as they lost five consecutive games for the first time since 2003 in January and also recorded the first-ever six-game conference losing streak. There were several occasions where it appeared as if the Tar Heels would come away from the game victorious but then ended up losing with a buzzer-beater or in overtime. North Carolina lost three games in overtime; first to Clemson, then to Virginia Tech, and finally in the first rivalry game of the season between North Carolina and Duke.

The Tar Heels won the last game in December against Yale, in which Williams’s all-time winning record was tied with that of his mentor, Dean Smith. North Carolina wasn’t victorious again until they beat Miami five games later, and it was then that Williams surpassed his mentor in all-time wins. The victory against North Carolina State the following week on Jan. 27 would be the last for this North Carolina squad until they met the Wolfpack again on Feb. 25 and then beat Syracuse and Wake Forest for a late-season three-game winning streak.

The streak would end during the last game of the season which was the second rivalry matchup between the Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils at home in the Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke easily handled North Carolina and didn’t give a repeat close game as witnessed in the first meeting between the two teams.

The Tar Heels were defeated 89-76 and for the first time in his career, Williams recorded his first losing season. To add insult to injury, his squad placed dead last in the ACC.

This North Carolina team was plagued by injuries in the 2019-2020 season early on when Sterling Manley, Anthony Harris, and Jeremiah Francis were ruled out due to injuries in the preseason and Brandon Robinson was injured during an exhibition game. Francis and Harris returned to play on Dec. 8 but in the following week, Manley was confirmed to be out for the rest of the season.

Harris was injured in the Dec. 30 matchup against Yale and was ruled out for the rest of the season. Cole Anthony and Brandon Robinson fought injuries on and off during the season, as did Andrew Platek.

Coach Williams’s team had become such slim pickings that during the Duke vs. Carolina game in early February, there were only eight players total … and two were injured during the game and forced out of the locker room and onto the court for the game to continue when their teammates fouled out.

Coach Williams didn’t attempt to make any excuses for the poor performance of his team and expressed his disappointment with the team on multiple occasions. The Tar Heels will have at least one more chance to add a victory to the win column when they play in the first round of the ACC tournament against Virginia Tech on Tuesday.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply