10 Things I Learned From UNC

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Al Groh and the Cavaliers picked up their first win. Finally.

A win is a win is a win is a win … and for those who no longer recognize what one looks like, this week’s game against UNC resulted in a win. Not a terribly pretty win, I grant you. Not a win without issues, true. Not a dominating win, I agree. Not a win that will register on the national scene, we all accept. But a win. A much needed win. A stop-the-bleeding-before-you-return-home win. A 1-0 in the conference win. And most importantly, a win … period. Finally. And that sure makes it a lot more fun to break things down.

1. 1-0. Sometimes, being a head coach is all about getting your team to focus on a next step, and only a next step. In this regard, Al Groh has shown some skill over the years, and this week was another example.

When you are a head coach, you have to set goals for yourself, your staff, your program, individuals on the team, and the team as a whole. As the season progresses, you hope that the team in particular is progressing toward the accomplishment of the goals set for it. If not? If the team is not doing well? You absolutely have to set new goals – a team needs something it can shoot for, something it can try to achieve, something that it believes is possible. If you set a new goal and the team can achieve it, you can then move the bar a little higher and start to get back on track.

Go back two weeks, just after the Southern Miss loss. If you heard Al Groh answering questions and discussing the loss, you might have thought it was a win. Why? Because after a 0-2 start and going into a tough road game against a solid opponent, the head coach had to move the bar, had to set a new goal. So in a way, the game did involve a kind of “win” since a goal was achieved: going into the game, a key goal was to see improvement on offense and that goal at least was accomplished. In the locker room, the postgame press conference, and in numerous settings afterward, Groh talked up the accomplishments of the week again and again and again, not ignoring in practices the areas where substantive improvement was needed but making sure the team heard that