They found a fitting way to honor Dean Smith by running his trademark four corners offense to score on the game's opening possession. They built on that momentum by stomping struggling Georgia Tech 89-60 to put Wednesday's Duke loss behind them.
North Carolina accomplished everything Roy Williams could have hoped Saturday, yet the Tar Heels coach had a complaint after the game.
When a reporter in Chapel Hill asked about the four corners tribute, Williams didn't get far into his response before launching into an impassioned plea for increased fan support. An announced crowd of 20,779 fans attended Saturday's game at the Dean Dome, but Williams wasn't pleased with the amount of noise they generated or their lack of recognition of the four corners tribute as it took place.
"I was a little disappointed more of our crowd didn't have more savvy, but I felt they were asleep most of the day anyway, so it's alright," Williams said. It's not intended to be criticism but it's criticism. We need some dadgum help. We go on the road and people are screaming like banshees or something. Today it's like, every time I yell at a player, they turned around and looked at me. I yelled at a player Wednesday night (at Duke), and he never knew I was freakin' yelling. He thought I was doing exercises.
"If you want to act like I'm chastising the fans, tell them to come in and invest. Come in and invest. We need some help when we come play back here.
"We need some more support. My gosh. We're trying to honor the greatest coach I've ever — maybe one of the greatest individuals I've ever known. And I can understand if you didn't recognize it because it sort of went quickly. And it was nice to get a backdoor layup. But don't sit over there and feel like we have to entertain you. This is a team thing."
Williams certainly has a point even though North Carolina was fourth in average attendance nationally last season and is likely to crack the top five again this year. Crowds at the Dean Dome often aren't as loud as those at ACC rivals Duke, Syracuse or Louisville. Furthermore a segment of North Carolina fans has been critical of Williams for not emphasizing defense enough and for not having quite the same caliber of talent as fellow blue bloods Kentucky, Duke or Kansas.
At the same time, the timing of Williams' criticism was curious with the Tar Heels having finished off one of their most dominant wins of the season to emerge from a stretch of four losses in five games.
Maybe Williams wanted to fire up North Carolina fans entering Tuesday's home game against rival NC State. Maybe Williams was simply disappointed honoring Smith with the four corners play didn't instantly generate a bigger response.
Regardless, he made it clear to North Carolina fans he expects more from them.
- - - - - - -