Saturday, March 24, 2012

UNC notebook: Roy Williams says Jayhawk sticker criticism unfair

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams laughs as his players talk about video games during a press conference on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams laughs as his players talk about video games during a press conference on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.


— Shortly after Kansas University's run to the 2008 national championship was complete, North Carolina coach Roy Williams took quite a beating from the folks in Chapel Hill, N.C., for wearing a Jayhawk sticker and supporting his former school during the national title game against Memphis.

Saturday, a little more than 24 hours before Williams and his top-seeded Tar Heels were set to tip off in a rematch of sorts against Bill Self's Kansas Jayhawks, Williams talked about the scars from the harsh criticism.

"It was really difficult for me because I didn't think it was fair," Williams said. "All the junk was coming from the North Carolina side. In 1993, I was coach at Kansas and North Carolina beat us (in the Final Four), and I stayed there for the finals in New Orleans waving my North Carolina blue pom-pom and I didn't get any junk then. So I didn't think I should have gotten any junk in 2008, when I was cheering for Kansas."

Nearly four full seasons have passed since then, and both Williams and Kansas have gone on to add to the greatness that is a source of extreme pride within each program and both fan bases. Kansas has won 125 games and four Big 12 championships in a string of eight straight since then. UNC has won 115 games, including the 2009 national championship.

"It's over with now," Williams said. "And time, as they say, will heal a lot of things. I don't think (facing KU) will ever feel good for me, regardless of the outcome. ... It was 15 years of my life that I felt like that I gave my heart and my body and my soul. And the people were wonderful to me."

KU-UNC every year?

With the history of the KU-UNC series dominating the early portion of Williams' meeting with reporters on Saturday, Williams and Self were both asked if the two schools ever would consider hosting a home-and-home series.

"No," Williams said.

Self, who spoke with reporters first, gave a different answer.

"I think it would be a great game for us. I don't know if Roy would agree with that," Self said. To me, it's, you know, the hardest games to play are sometimes where the other team you're playing has extra incentive for whatever reason. I think those are hard games. I understand why we don't, if we don't. But I certainly think that it would be a great, great series. Kentucky and North Carolina play. And I guess we're the second-, third-winningest program of all time, and I think it would be unbelievably good if we could play. Certainly neither place has a hard time selling out, but we could certainly raise the price of season tickets a couple bucks."

Lucky to be alive

Much of the talk in the early portion of UNC's session with the media on Saturday was about how fortunate the Tar Heels were to top Ohio in overtime in the Sweet 16.

Many described the game as a grinder, as UNC out-rebounded Ohio 63-30 but also shot just 40 percent, turned it over 24 times and allowed the Bobcats to knock down 12 three-pointers to hang around.

"Yesterday, you said grind it out, and I appreciate that," Williams said. "But we were damn ugly. That's what we were."

Few Tar Heels struggled as much as heralded sophomore Harrison Barnes, who tallied 12 points on 3-of-16 shooting. Five of Barnes' 12 points came in OT, though, something the 6-8 forward said helped him move on.

"I think it was a nice way to finish out the game," he said. "Obviously, it gives you confidence that you can make shots in that building. But (Sunday's) a whole new game. Kansas is an extremely good ball club. You have to bring your best in order to beat them. So kind of put that game aside and just change your focus again."

Defending the Jayhawks

Although the Tar Heels boast the biggest front line in the nation, they were not about to say that they expect to have an easy time matching up with KU forward Thomas Robinson and center Jeff Withey.

"Robinson and Withey are fantastic players," said UNC senior Tyler Zeller, who scored 20 points and grabbed 22 rebounds during Carolina's victory on Friday. "We are going to have to have a very good game as a frontcourt and our guards will have to step up, as well. Obviously, Robinson is a Player of the Year candidate and Withey had 10 blocks last night, which is an incredible feat. So it will be interesting to see how we match up. I think with our size hopefully we can give them a some problems, but I think it goes both ways."

Of course, just because the Jayhawks possess size inside does not mean that the Tar Heels are going to shy away from using theirs.

"It doesn't hurt," Marshall said. "When you got a 6-7 two-guard in Reggie Bullock that crashes the boards the way he does, it makes us a hard team to keep off the boards. Like I said, we're huge. It's a very good advantage for us. But you gotta give credit to their team. They don't just depend on Thomas Robinson."

Kansas kinship

When Williams replaced legendary head coach Larry Brown at KU in 1989, he became the seventh head coach in school history, joining a list that included such greats as James Naismith, Phog Allen, Dick Harp and Ted Owens. On Saturday, Williams talked about how he always felt a special bond between himself and the school's eighth head coach of all time, even though he and Self don't spend much time together.

"There's no question that there's a tremendous sense of kinship," Williams said. "Bill's a tremendous coach. And I'm not saying that lightly. He's a tremendous coach. (He's) a friend, but it's more respect."

Much of the reason Williams has such great admiration for Self goes well beyond the ninth-year KU coach's tremendous record at Kansas.

"I understand what Bill is going through," Williams said. "I know the stress and the pressures and the expectations and the feelings and the love and the passion. And it's all of those and some of those are good. The passion that they have is good and maybe the expectations aren't good. So I do understand that part of it. But Bill's a big-time coach and has done a great, great job with Kansas' program."


packywacky88 9 years, 5 months ago

I hear tickets are going below face value in STL. I'm 7 hours out, but headed to St. Louie in the morning. Rock Chalk!!!!!!

Pitthawk34 9 years, 5 months ago

Roy is a class act, Proud to have had him as our coach, even prouder that Self is ours now.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 5 months ago

Agree...20+ years of great basketball from these 2 coaches.

Gary McCullough 9 years, 5 months ago

When Larry Brown took over the helm in 1983, KU returned to the upper echelon of men's college basketball. The only year in that stretch when KU was not in the national tournament was 1989 when the NCAA prohibited us from defending our championship. Almost 30 years of basketball, 3 coaches, 819 wins, 28 NCAA tournament appearances, 11 conference tournament champions, 18 conference regular season champions, 2 national champions. That's KU basketball! That is what it means to be a blue blood!

Doug Cramer 9 years, 5 months ago

I think we will beat Carolina. Our defense and rebounding along with our ability to execute in the half court should lead us into the final four.

jgkojak 9 years, 5 months ago

Here are the minimum state lines needed to beat Carolina...

overall: we win if we make 5 or more 3 pointers - that simple

Withey - 10 pts, 6 blcks Robinson - 15 pts/15 reb Releford - 5 pts, 5 total of assists/steals Elijah - 2 3 pointers Taylor - 1 3 pointer Teahan - 2 3 pointers Young - more than 4 pts

Alohahawk 9 years, 5 months ago

At the time it happened, I was very disappointed when Roy Williams left to return to N. Carolina, where his roots were. I could understand why he made the choice, but as a loyal Jayhawk, it hurt. However, looking back on the aftermath, and to what KU has accomplished under Coach Self, I think it's worked in KU's best interests. It has in recruiting, because Self recruits nationwide. The fact that Williams didn't, as KU's coach, is one of the few negatives I hold against him. He found it too difficult to compete (for recruits) against what was truly in his heart - N. Carolina. (It's like the old saying, "You can take the man out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the man".) And one could debate whether KU would ever have won an NCAA Championship under Williams.

Now, consider this: Which coach - Williams or Self - has more active coaching years left? If they both were to retire at age 67, Williams would have 6 or 7 years left. Self would have 17 or 18 years left.

Coach Williams has been a fine ambassador for both schools, and I think the Jayhawk Nation should keep that in mind. He deserves our respect for the 15 successful years he spent coaching the Jayhawks. He kept the standard high and helped the Jayhawks to get to where they are today. For those reasons, I say "Mahalo." to Coach Williams.

I just can't wish him "Good luck." in tomorrow's game.

aerohawk 9 years, 5 months ago

I just hope luck doesn't factor into the game.

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 5 months ago

The sticker healed most of wound left from his departure.

dgaskill 9 years, 5 months ago

I am getting over Roy's departure ..... time to forgive and forget. Roy gave us many good times in His 15 years !

Especially since we have won both times KU has played them .

Rock Chalk !

okiedave 9 years, 5 months ago

Roy is obviously very nervous about playing Kansas and does not want a home and home series with Kansas. Playing Kansas obviously is stressful for Ol' Roy. Since we blew Carolina out of the gym in '08, just wondering....if Roy's stress is subliminally transfered to his players and makes them tight when playing Kansas. I guess we'll find out today.

REHawk 9 years, 5 months ago

Two of the very best coaches and finest men in our sport going at it again, head to head on a huge stage. Both their names should be inscribed on whatever monuments will live on in the storied history of Kansas Basketball. They both have earned magnificent respect for their bodies of work. Time to bury all hatchets and revere Roy Williams for the spectacular clean job he did while bleeding crimson and blue for 15 years in Lawrence.

Dennis Mahorney 9 years, 5 months ago

The hurt feelings are fading...and yes, the good seems to be shine from what was once a great chapter in KU history..painful breakup aside.

Kit Duncan 9 years, 5 months ago

Kansas fans probably can't even begin to fathom the pressure Roy was under when he made the decision to return to Carolina. His wife and kids wanted him to take the job. His former boss, coach and mentor was pressuring him to return. You can bet the Carolina boosters were in his ear as well. He was embarrassed at how badly things worked out for UNC with Matt Dougherty, who he personally recommended for the job. Top that off with the loss to Syracuse in the Championship, with a team that easily should have won (missed free throws which he had no control over), and the pressure that brought from the Jayhawk faithful.

I believe Roy made the right decision for himself and his family. It hurt a lot of people, but I submit ol' Roy's heart was broken worse than any other's. Roy still bleeds Crimson and Blue as long as he doesn't have to play KU. That's why he says "No."

Hank Cross 9 years, 5 months ago

Get stuffed Huckleberry Roy. He only wore the sticker in an attempt to deflect the very justified criticism from KU fans that he failed to acheive item 1 on his job description.

Jaybate brought up the point that Roy didn't recruit East of the MS river. Why? Because he didn't want to step on Daddy Dean's toes. He was the HC of KU. His loyalty should've been to get the best team from ALL over the country.

Turg is a pure Jayhawk. Yet, if he had a chance to steal a recruit from KU to MD. I would expect him to do so. That is his job. He is a professional who owes his undivided loyalty to MD.

Roy's blood was always Carolina blue.

REHawk 9 years, 5 months ago

Aw, c'mon oxcal, we've gotta move on, lay that hatchet to rest. Roy blundered his way through that job shift, but hey, he's human, prone to errors of the mortal sort. We just defeated his Tarheels for the second time on a giant stage in the BIll Self tenure. Let him live in peace. He left behind some super kids and a clean program which long ranked right up there with the best in the nation. And, hell, he even recruited McDonald's All American J.R. Giddens, and apparently made no attempt whatsoever to lure that marvelous recruit to his new location in the coal country. We might never have landed Bill Self and experienced his 8 consecutive league titles if Roy had squelched impulses to respond to his mentor and father figure and return to his alma mater. If Bill Self should ever make the decision to return to the land of the once magnificent land run, then we will have to brace up, bite the bullet again and hope for another miracle hire to keep the program thriving. Roy's departure left hardly a glitch in Jayhawk hoops success. Worst of the stress was the adjustment which Self and staff were forced to make to Roy's splendid Kansas players...and vice versa. But history has worked its good fortune for Jayhawk Basketball.

Steve Day 9 years, 5 months ago

Quick....somebody get ole Roy his sticker for New Orleans!! Im so glad we have HCBS. Rock Chalk.

Bruce Brock 9 years, 5 months ago

It seems to me that the natural annual non-conference "Big Game" would be against Duke. Duke has the same national profile as UNC, but the games would have none of the intra-family complications. They would be almost a non-conference extension of the Duke-UNC rivalry, great preparation for both teams and undoubtedly a huge TV draw, broadcast from the two loudest, most passionate venues in college sports.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.