North Carolina coach Roy Williams tried to take the blame for his team's 2-4 ACC start on his shoulders Sunday night, saying he needed to find a better way of coaching.
But after being blown out by Virginia 75-60, senior Deon Thompson said the blame rests with the players: "Guys just need to care more. [They] just need to care more about this jersey the name, that we wear on the front of our chest. It just means so much in the history, and it represents so much, and we're just not representing Carolina basketball that way right now."
Point guard Larry Drew II said that leading up to the game against the Cavs, workouts weren't as intense as the ones before Tuesday's victory at N.C. State. "I don't want to say I saw it coming, but practices this week leading up to [this] game haven't been up to par with the practices before the State game."
Never miss a local story.
Thompson said that he and fellow senior Marcus Ginyard have tried to take on leadership roles to rally the team, "but guys have to respond,'' Thompson said. "Even if you get mad, it's still up to them to respond to what you say. So it's a two-way street."
Asked if there was some sort of divide within the team that's affecting its play, he said no.
"In the past - we all aren't the same as we were in the past, when everyone was so close off the court,'' Thompson said. "But ... it's two different classes - a whole bunch of younger guys, and a few older guys. So it is a little more divided, but I don't think that has to do with anything on the court."
For his part, Williams - who was tearing up after the game, he said, because he was so "ticked off" - said that he must find a way to push the Tar Heels to get better.
(And fast. With 10 games left in the regular season, they must go .500 the rest of the just to finish 7-9 in the ACC, and even that mark is an iffy one historically for earning an at-large NCAA bid.)
"In April, everybody thought I was pretty smart,'' Williams said. "But we're not playing very well, so I've got to do a better job. Things that I've always done my entire life are not working with this group, so I've got to find something different to do. And it's - players still play, but I've got to do a better job of coaching."
But Thompson said the Tar Heels also have to find a better way to accept his coaching, then show it on the court.
"He's definitely been more intense about the way he's approached practice, and stopped the spoon-feeding of the younger guys and trying to teach them so much,'' Thompson said. "Because by now, you've got to know the things that he's been teaching. He tries to put a lot on himself, but it's not him at all. He wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame and have the record that he has, if what he teaches isn't true. It's us, and we've got to make that change, and buy in to what he's trying to teach us."