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College Basketball

No. 4 Tar Heels ready to prove themselves in ACCs

Posted March 5, 2012
Updated March 6, 2012

— North Carolina didn't look much like a preseason No. 1 when it lost by 33 at Florida State or blew a big lead to lose at home to Duke.

The question now is whether a dominant performance against the Blue Devils to clinch the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title was just one game or the start of something more.

When the All-ACC teams were announced Monday, the Tar Heels led the way by getting three first-team honorees. Notably left off that first team was guard Kendall Marshall who missed out to teammate Harrison Barnes by a mere two points. Head coach Roy Williams insists that Marshall, on the verge of setting the all-time ACC assists in a single season record, is one of the programs best.

“I’ve never felt as comfortable with the guy making decisions, as I am with Kendall making decisions," Williams said. "I nit-pick him all the time and pick on him if he makes one bad decision. But he makes better decisions with the basketball than any point guard I’ve ever had.”

Roy Williams Williams: We need to play better when we get there

Williams doesn't throw out that kind of praise often and Marshall knows it. He does however, hold reciprocal feelings.

“First of all, I’ve never been more comfortable with a coach on the sidelines as I am with Coach Williams,” Marshall said.

But UNC is not nearly as comfortable when Marshall’s on the bench which is why he’s averaging more than 35 minutes per game in conference play. By his own admission, Marshall wore down at this point last season - especially when playing three games in three days at the ACC Tournament.

“I was just out there playing, I wasn’t thinking," Marshall said. "I’m a lot more mature when I’m on the court this year (with) just little things such as breathing technique. Coach does a great job of utilizing time outs to get me extra rest.”

Kendall Marshall Marshall: This time of year is about heart

UNC's starting five are all playing big minutes again this year. Managing their time and avoiding fatigue are now top priorities for Williams.

“Our practices have been cut back really short," Williams said. "It’s for all the guys, but Kendall probably more so than the rest. I would say for the last three or four weeks our practices have been cut back maybe shorter than at any time I can ever remember.”

Williams said his players didn't have a great practice Monday, though that was "human nature" after the emotional win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Still, big man Tyler Zeller says the players have gone from just expecting to win to increasing their intensity and concentration to get it done.

The fourth-ranked Tar Heels begin play in the ACC tournament in Atlanta on Friday against the Wake Forest-Maryland winner.

Tyler Zeller Zeller: This is what we play for

69 Comments

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  • keeblerth Mar 6, 2012

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    +1 Very well said Ligg.

  • StunGunn Mar 6, 2012

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    Thanks, Ed. Tarheel23 is nothing but a poor sport. Maybe he's just a kid, or doesn't have kids. I do, and they competed in sports, and I can attest to all the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed at the competitive level. I'd rather appreciate an athlete for their accomplishments, regardless of their school. I'll always pull for the Heels, but I also appreciate good athletes and good sportsmanship.

  • StunGunn Mar 6, 2012

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    Please do us ALL a favor and skip past my posts since they're so "painful" for you to read. Thankfully, not everyone is a poor sport like you are; people like you give Tar Heels fans a bad name. And who the hell are you to determine who is and who isn't a true fan. You're nothing but a poor sport.

  • heelsforever Mar 6, 2012

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    Now you are talking about two entirely different things. In a conference the regular season should carry more weight because 16 games tells you more than 3 or 4. On the national scene you cannot possibly play every team out there, so the NCAAT is necessary to crown a champion...unless you want the hot mess that BCS Football uses.

  • The Gooch Mar 6, 2012

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    Valid question(s) still awaiting an answer.

  • BeastOnTheHill Mar 6, 2012

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    don't respone to that tool. he is another worthless d00k fan without the ability to think.

  • BeastOnTheHill Mar 6, 2012

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    that's correct bad boy and the reason UCONN is the defending champ and d00k got number 4. It is not a perfect system to decide the NT but is is very exciting. Sometimes the best team in the country wins it.

    The NBA/NHL/MLB series system is the best to settle the best team question.

  • Tarheel born Mar 6, 2012

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    And one for the old fashion 3 point play........

    GO HEELS!!

  • Turheel Mar 6, 2012

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    Thanks for finally conceding that the UNC Basketball team are not cheaters! They definitely are "winners", so by your own quote, they can't be cheaters. You're finally coming around kmor!

  • Tarheel born Mar 6, 2012

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    And we continue to wonder why "you're" here..

    GO HEELS!!

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