Indiana's rightfully getting the lion's share of the attention for its tremendously fashionable home win against No. 3 North Carolina on Wednesday night -- but Tar Heels coach Roy Williams had a comment in his postgame press conference that will have North Carolina buzzing into the weekend.
Maybe all season long? This is a shot at the UNC fan base, and it's not veiled in any typical Ol' Roy aw-shucks language.
To anyone that watched UNC-IU, the vibe of Assembly Hall seemed to pulse through the TV screen. It was why on-campus games between college basketball blue bloods make for the best possible scheduling for the sport in November and December. Bloomington looked like the most exciting place to be in America on Wednesday night.
Roy knew it. And he took the time to mention it afterward, with a direct challenge to UNC fans. Via Andrew Carter of the Raleigh News & Observer, who was on hand at the game Wednesday night. (Emphasis mine.)
"It was a great college basketball atmosphere, and one team really played right from the get-go, the second one did not and that was us," Williams said. "We were not ready for the intensity, the enthusiasm, anything that you want to talk about in the first half. But it was a wonderful crowd. Gosh. I'd like to play in front of a crowd like that in the Smith Center every night other than the frickin' Duke game. And that was just ... congratulations to them, their fans, their students. It was a big-time crowd. But I've got to coach better, players got to play better. First half, it was about as ugly as it could be."
North Carolina's Dean Smith Center is one of the treasured arenas in all of college basketball. But UNC has long had an issue with the intensity of its crowds for any games not involving Duke or a highly ranked opponent. Williams has sparingly mentioned his frustration with this in the past, but this comment, after a loss, should ignite the region heading into the weekend.
The big problem is how many seats near the floor go to older folks or big-money donors. UNC lacks a student section near the court, and because of that, its environment can't compare to what Indiana, Duke, Michigan State, UConn and so many other big-time schools can. Brice Johnson, who was a stud last season for UNC and is now in the NBA, echoed his old coach's sentiments.
And it's not merely UNC that has this issue. Randomly across college basketball, there are programs that still don't get the student section close to the floor. It's an element that absolutely enhances home-court advantage, and generally something every coach and player wants. Wisconsin is another example. Star Nigel Hayes used Williams' comments on Wednesday night to remind the powers-that-be in Madison that UW's student section deserves a better location.
Nothing will change this season; tickets have already been sold and logistics cannot be changed. But going forward, UNC would be wise to listen to its coach and change up the dynamic of the Dean Dome. It can never be Cameron Indoor, but it can still be so much better. The oft-mocked wine and cheese crowd should tap into and take advantage of the eager college kids who will support the Heels for decades to come.