Marcus Paige definitely found his groove… he’s back folks and it may not be the way you want, but the way his team needs him. Defensively.
Going into the game, Marcus Paige was undoubtedly struggling from the floor. His numbers decreased and at times, critics were wondering could he lead this team, but within the last two weeks, we’ve seen the Super Hero we knew he could be. Paige may not be the offensive threat, but he adapted to what his team needed and played to their strengths. Paige split the job of point with Joel Berry II, who was named MVP. Berry took over this team when Paige was injured earlier in the season and since then Coach Roy Williams allowed Berry to grow in his position and lead this team. Berry has proven that once Paige leaves, he’s very capable of doing what needs to be done. Williams spoke highly of the duo, and wants critics to learn to let HIM coach his team.
“All the critics and naysayers worrying about Paige playing the point, well I’m coaching my team, and as you see Berry done a great job. Paige and Berry are great teammates and they work well together”
While Berry, lead the Heels in points, it was the shut down of Malcolm Brogdon by Paige and Freshman, Kenny Williams, that topped the cake. Virginia forced UNC to play their game and tempo, but UNC adapted and forced the team to shoot only 37% and 8-24 from behind the arc. Brogdon was held to just shooting 6-22 with 15 and 2. Nothing can be taken away from Virginia, they played spectacular defense and never let UNC lead by double digits, but UNC played with such an urgency and intensity that Virginia just couldn’t match. When playing against Brogdon, Paige had this to say,
“He does so many things so well, he just doesn’t rely on jump shots, he goes to the basket; I knew I had my hands full with him. I think I did a good job contesting him and using my quickness.”
But how did Berry get so good? Let’s just say he has no days off.
“I put in the time and the work. Staying after practice, it started over the summer, where I focused on my shooting, but it’s not just me, it was a team effort”
While Berry won’t sing his accomplishments, Williams wasn’t shy in his praises for the MVP.
“Joel Berry II is the most improved player. If not our most consistent player all season. Each game he got more confident”
They say third is a charm and it seems to ring true for these UNC seniors. Brice Johnson and Paige shared the same sentiments in saying this win couldn’t mean more.
“I think this win means more than a regular season win because it kind of shuts critics up about us not playing everyone twice and saying we had an easier schedule. It validates the season we had”
But lets not forget Coach. He’s been very vocal about the criticisms of his team and his coaching, but tonight it all paid off; The net is down.
“We are the most criticized, and least appreciated, outstanding basketball team that I’ve ever coached. We’re a well-rounded team.”
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are your ACC title champs. Are you happy Roy? Yea, I think he is.
Roy Williams!!! https://t.co/pX67gxBhbF
— Joe Wright (@Sctvman) March 13, 2016