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Tar Heels’ Williams Hopes To Make Amends

Sat., March 28, 1998, midnight

It’s been 32 years since Utah was in the Final Four. North Carolina’s one-year wait must have seemed longer.

The Tar Heels lost in last year’s national semifinals to eventual champion Arizona. It wasn’t just the 66-58 final score and a lost opportunity at a national title that made it so tough to take. It was the poor shooting (31 percent), and no one was worse than Shammond Williams.

“I dealt with it by myself because no one helped me shoot 1 for 13, so I had to deal with it, be mature and put it in perspective,” he said Friday, the day before the Tar Heels (34-3), the only top seed left, face Utah (29-3), the team that beat defending champion Arizona last week.

The Utes defeated Arizona last week in the West Regional final by using a triangle-and-two defense to offset the strong perimeter presence of Mike Bibby and Miles Simon.

“We’ll have a couple of adjustments,” Utah coach Rick Majerus said about playing North Carolina. “I don’t think we’ll play the triangleand-two. We got here and got our record by playing man-to-man defense. In certain situations, like that game, we had to exploit.”

Majerus is amazed by the attention the special defense received in the days after the win over the Wildcats.

“The triangle-and-2 should get a website, it’s been so popular,” he said. “It was some little junk thing we threw in and they struggled with it and it went well for us.”

Any junk defenses used this weekend would be an attempt to stop the offensive quartet of AP Player of the Year Antawn Jamison, fellow forward Vince Carter and the backcourt of Williams and Ed Cota.

“You get enamored with Jamison, and Carter is such a super player,” Majerus said. “Cota is so solid and Williams feeds off Cota. We have to make sure you’re aligned and rotating well or we’ll get stung.”

Williams said he wouldn’t mind seeing a junk defense.

“If you concentrate on two of us, three will get you. If you concentrate on one, four will get you,” he said. “Hopefully, if they do use a junk defense, it will be on Antawn and not me.”

North Carolina mixes its defenses. Its toughest jobs will be containing Utah’s Michael Doleac, who has averaged 21 points in the tournament, five above his average, and Andre Miller, who has averaged 17 points and had the first triple-double in Utah history in the win over Arizona.

“We’ll mix up the zone and man-to-man and see what happens,” Tar Heels coach Bill Guthridge said. “Andre Miller is very hard to contain and Doleac is so good at holding off inside, and they go 10 deep.”

Neither coach has an advantage since both are making their Final Four debut. But, both were here as assistants - Majerus to Al McGuire on the 1977 Marquette team that won it all and Guthridge for 10 of Dean Smith’s 11 trips that resulted in two national championships.

Williams is making his third Final Four appearance.

“As a freshman, it was a learning experience and we didn’t win,” he said. “As a junior, I was expected to contribute and I didn’t come through. This is my last Final Four and I have a chance to win a national championship with a great team.”

xxxx N.CAROLINA VS. UTAH

UNC Utah Record 34-3 29-3 vs. NCAA field-x 12-2 4-2 vs. Sweet 16-x 6-2 0-0 Avg. Pts. 82.5 70.2 Opp. Avg. Pts. 65.6 56.9 Scoring Margin 16.9 13.3 Starters scoring 70.1 53.8 Bench scoring 12.4 16.4 FG Pct. .522 .483 Opp. FG Pct. .383 .382 3-Pt. FG Pct. .373 .378 Opp. 3-Pt. FG Pct. .321 .313 3-Pt. FG-Game 4.9 5.2 Opp. 3-Pt. FG-Game 7.5 4.9 FT Pct. .714 .735 Reb. Avg. 39.7 34.2 Opp. Reb. Avg. 32.1 26.7 Rebound Margin 7.6 7.5 Ast. Avg. 18.5 14.7 Opp. Ast. Avg. 12.4 9.1 Turnover Avg. 13.1 13.1 Opp. Turnover Avg. 13.4 12.3 Steals Avg. 6.9 5.7 Opp. Steals Avg. 6.1 6.1 Blocks Avg. 5.0 3.3 Opp. Blocks Avg. 2.1 2.2 x-not including NCAA Tournament games



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