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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Roy Williams reaches 700 wins as North Carolina advances to face KU

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— From the moment he arrived in his old backyard, North Carolina coach Roy Williams began fielding questions about the potential match-up with top-seeded Kansas University in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center.

There was, of course, the small matter of both teams having to win their second-round games on Friday first, but a couple of hours before KU knocked off Western Kentucky, Williams’ eighth-seeded Tar Heels wrestled their way past a tough, ninth-seeded Villanova team, 78-71, to set up the showdown.

Friday’s victory was the 700th of Williams’ career. He joins Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim and West Virginia’s Bob Huggins as the only active coaches in the 700-win club and the 21st coach in NCAA history to reach the milestone. Williams has a 700-179 overall coaching mark in 25 seasons, including a 282-78 record in 10 years at North Carolina.

Someday, that might mean something. Today, all it means is that Williams’ team is still playing.

“Number 700 means I’ve been coaching a long time and had really, really good players,” Williams said. “But I was extremely excited for No. 25 for this team because I’m interested in what this team is doing.”

With the milestone victory now behind him, the focus shifts to Williams against the Jayhawks in the NCAA Tournament at 4:15 p.m. Sunday. It will mark the second time in 12 months and third time in six years that the former KU coach will have faced his old team.

Because KU had not yet won at the time of Williams’ news conference, he did not address his next opponent. Not that he would’ve said much anyway. On Friday, the only school Williams cared about was UNC, which survived a scrum with Villanova to advance.

Behind a hot-shooting first half, the Tar Heels (25-10) built a lead of as many as 20 points in the game’s first 13 minutes and appeared to be well on their way to an easy victory.

But Villanova closed the half the way Carolina began it and trailed by just eight, 37-29, at halftime.

Both teams shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half — 12-of-24 — but the Tar Heels built their lead on 5-of-11 shooting from three-point range and 80 percent shooting from the free throw line.

“When we saw the match-up with Carolina, the nightmare was three-point shooting,” said Villanova coach Jay Wright, whose team allowed UNC to hit 11 of 21 three-point tries.

Lifted by their strong first-half finish, the Wildcats (20-14) held the momentum to start the second half and, a little more than five minutes into the final frame, actually led, 44-42.

For the next 10 minutes, the two teams remained within arm’s length of one another, with neither leading or trailing by more than four points. Then came the knockout blow, when UNC hit three-pointers on three straight trips to turn a four-point lead into a nine-point advantage with 5:07 to play. During the decisive stretch, UNC reignited its fire and scored on five straight possessions.

“For whatever reason, to start the game, we were just a step behind,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said after the game. “And you can’t get down 20 to a team like North Carolina. They’re too good, too smart and well coached. They won’t give it back to you.”

Comments

chriz 1 year, 9 months ago

Congrats, Roy! Now hopefully we can keep you there. :)

Joe Ross 1 year, 9 months ago

Exactly! I don't mind Roy reaching 701...next season. Love the guy, though.

Steve Reigle 1 year, 9 months ago

Congratulations to Roy Williams for win number 700! If his team were playing anyone else on Sunday I'd be rooting for 701. But, as it is, I have to hope 701 comes at the beginning of next season.

TexiCaliHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Congrats to Roy! He's a great coach and a class act; handling a difficult situation (which he realizes he created) probably as well as anyone could hope to expect -- who else comes back to the NCAA Championship Game wearing a Jayhawk sticker after getting beat by that team in the Final Four semi-final game? However, everyone should take note that in the 10 years Roy has been at UNC, he has fewer wins than what Bill has accomplished here at KU and, oh by the way, 418 of his 700 wins were during his 15 years AT Kansas. Face it -- we have been truly blessed to have had two HOF coaches (three counting Larry) over the past 30 years.

All that said, let's just worry about getting #300 for Bill on Sunday . . . RCJH!

Mike Bratisax 1 year, 9 months ago

When Roy was announced the new head coach after Larry Brown packed his bags for the NBA, I think the most common reaction was "WHO?". When Roy had left to return to his alma mater he had won more games than any other coach over that time period. The only thing he didn't do was bring home a championship. 4 Final Fours and some fantastic teams who fell short of the goal.

Although a little bitter, it's hard to not understand why he felt he needed to return to North Carolina. Now after a decade has passed, it's hard for me to root against him except when playing us.

I can't understand why anyone wouldn't appreciate the job he did at Kansas. He had turned down North Carolina twice and when Matt Doherty took the job, I was certain that he would remain a Jayhawk throughout his coaching career.

No need to rehash a story we all know well but in the end, I think both teams came out ahead. So congratulations on number 700 Roy and hope #701 comes early next season.

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