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Tarheels square off against BC

Hoopsters have room to improve on defensive end

By: Gregg Found, Senior Writer

 Taking stock of his Tar Heels, especially of the woes, laments and criticisms leveled at the team's defense as of late, Roy Williams put it simply:

"It's not where I want it to be," Williams said at his news conference Wednesday. "But it's good enough to be 19-1."

Not about to fall into the pit of panic that started with close calls at Clemson and Georgia Tech and then picked up steam with a home loss to Maryland, Williams said the Tar Heels are edging closer to his defensive demands.

"It's not that far from being a pretty good defensive team," Williams said. "It really isn't. Coach (Dean) Smith left a message after the Miami game and said, 'I thought you were a lot better defensively, they just made some shots.'"

Tonight the Tar Heels return to the scene of their only failure - the 82-80 loss to Maryland.

With fresh legs, they'll welcome Boston College to the Smith Center after an extraordinarily long regular season layoff.

UNC hasn't played for a full week since beating Miami, and in that week they have had two days off, two light practices and three full practices.

"I hope mentally it helped them more than anything," Williams said. "I was trying to help them get their legs back 'cause it's a marathon that we're trying to run here."

Searching for a time in his coaching career when his team has had an eight-day break during conference play, Williams found nothing.

"I don't know that I've ever had one," he said.

Any Tar Heel rust will need to be brushed off quickly - especially at point guard.

Boston College brings Tyrese Rice and his 20 points per game into a stellar matchup against Ty Lawson.

"I really believe it's his team," Williams said of Rice. "And I believe he plays like it, acts like it, talks like it, walks like it."

Marcus Ginyard played AAU basketball with both Rice and Lawson - though that was about eight years ago - and said that Lawson is undoubtedly faster but that Rice's determination can lift him to another level.

"I just hope that Ty takes this as a personal challenge," Ginyard said. "I want him to really push."

And in the paint for Boston College lurks 6-foot-11 senior Tyrelle Blair, the conference's top shot blocker (4.3 blocks per game) by a mile.

"You have to coach guys how to play against a shot blocker," Williams said. "Most guys think you go in there and you double and triple pump … (but) the toughest block is when a guy takes it right at your face."

After tonight's game, the Tar Heels won't get an extended break for the next month - which might not be bad.

"I was dying after the Maryland game, but you know what happened?" Williams said. "We played another one."


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