Thursday, August 2, 2018

UNC to name basketball court after head coach Roy Williams

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams laughs with injured guard Kendall Marshall during a day of press conferences and practices at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams laughs with injured guard Kendall Marshall during a day of press conferences and practices at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.


In a different world, a similar move could have happened at Kansas.

Instead, it’s the University of North Carolina that will name its basketball court after long-time Tar Heels basketball coach Roy Williams, the school announced Thursday.

Three weeks from today, during a Carolina Basketball reunion in Chapel Hill, N.C., Roy Williams Court at the Dean E. Smith Center will be dedicated, giving Williams a permanent place at his alma mater.

“It's very hard to believe; it's just so flattering," Williams said in a UNC athletic department news release. “I have to figure out a way to thank all my current and former players, because it may be my name on the court, but it really honors all of them because they made the plays.

“I also want to thank my family for all the support and love they've given me over the years. I've missed many family things over the years, and they were so understanding. Naming the court will be a thrill for my family. I'll try to say the right things to the former players, to my family and to the Carolina administration, but I don't know if I will be able to adequately state how grateful I am.”

Williams, who coached at KU from 1989-2003, returned to North Carolina to coach his alma mater in 2003, following a six-year stint in which the UNC program struggled to maintain its place at the top of the college basketball world under Dean Smith replacement Bill Guthridge and then Matt Doherty.

The Tar Heels went 133-71 in the six seasons between Smith and Williams.

After leaving Kansas the second time the UNC job was offered to him, Williams two seasons later led North Carolina to a national title in 2005 and followed that up with NCAA titles in 2009 and 2017.

“Coach Williams is one of college basketball's greatest coaches ever," UNC AD Bubba Cunningham said in the release. "But I've come to see that the measure of the man is his integrity, his honesty, the manner in which he relates to and supports his players and the love he has for the University of North Carolina. He didn't want this honor, but his players and our staff wanted it for him, and that says so much about why we will forever celebrate the game of basketball at Carolina on Roy Williams Court.”

Williams is the third active head coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference to have his team's playing surface named in his honor. Legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski routinely leads his team onto "Coach K Court," and Syracuse's court at the Carrier Dome is named for long-time Orange coach Jim Boeheim.

Even if Williams had stayed at Kansas and maintained the level of success he delivered during his 15 seasons in charge of the Jayhawks (418 victories and an .805 winning percentage), KU, as it someday might with current coach Bill Self, would have had to find another way to honor Williams.

In 1997, during the school’s 100 years of Kansas Basketball celebration — Williams’ 10th season at KU — the floor at Allen Fieldhouse was named after James Naismith, the inventor of basketball and first head coach at Kansas.

Self, who is set to tip off his 16th season at KU this fall, has racked up 447 victories and an .823 winning percentage during his first 15 years as Williams’ successor.


Aaron Paisley 2 years, 8 months ago

I think the practice facility is the best Self can hope for in regards to something being named for him at KU.

Len Shaffer 2 years, 8 months ago

If he went another 10 years or so and won another title or 2, I could see KU adding a statute of Self in front of AFH.

Eric Dawson 2 years, 8 months ago

Self wins another NCAA title and/or passes Phog as winningest coach in KU history and there will be something in AFH named in his honor. I would not be surprised if the next upgrade to AFH resulted in his name joining Phog’s on the building itself. Barring that, there are always the Bill Self Stands overlooking the James Naismith Court in venerable Allen Fieldhouse. That’s in addition to the statue.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 8 months ago

Call such a place the "Self Center". See what I did there? :)

Sean Lancaster 2 years, 8 months ago

I knew Roy during his time in Lawrence. I even had the email address when the email addresses first emerged (and I have stories). But I was very glad he left when he did because he wasn't going to get it done at KU and he purposefully wouldn't recruit against UNC (so, he avoided the East coast too often). It was time for him to leave and leaving benefited both programs. Kudos to UNC for what he accomplished there and what he earned, and great for KU because we got Self and 2008 and some other final fours as well.

Benz Junque 2 years, 8 months ago

Honestly, if Self wins another title with a few more FFs and sticks around for 10 more years racking up wins, I'd have no problem with them naming the court at AFH after him. Naismith already has a street named for him outside.

Craig Carson 2 years, 8 months ago

all that happening would be great..KU should have won the title in 2011..they just had to beat VCU, BUTLER and UCONN....

Craig Carson 2 years, 8 months ago

as a KU fan, I love Bill Self..the ONLY thing that stings me about Roy leaving is the NC he has won at UNC..if he had won 1 at KU, I dont think his departure and subsequent success at UNC would hurt as much..its like supporting an lover in a relationship while they are going through hard times only to see them leave you and outperform with someone else..Roy sharpened his teeth at KU then went and feasted at another school LOL

Bryce Landon 2 years, 8 months ago

The name of the court at AFH should be reserved for James Naismith, and for no one else.

Joe Ross 2 years, 8 months ago

So Larry Brown changed the directionality of the program at Kansas, pointing it toward a better future. Roy Williams solidified that direction and ensured consistency and footing as a powerhouse. Bill Self's legacy, if he happens to win another championship, maybe two, will be that he will have underscored what everyone already feels intuitively about Kansas: that we are a top 3 program, perhaps with Duke and Kentucky. I know UCLA, Carolina, Indiana, and Connecticut have more than we do now, but a couple of championships by Bill Self and Co. will elevate Kansas when considering both the body of work AND titles, so that all of the country will feel the same way WE do about KU.

Self can elbow out those other programs. And that's the legacy I hope he leaves behind.

Tony Bandle 2 years, 8 months ago

No disrespect Joe but the second most victories in NCAA history, the national record for consecutive titles, the current record for consecutive NCAA appearances, the best venue for college basketball, the total number of titles notwithstanding and not even mentioning the inventor of the game as our first coach and the inventor of coaching as our second coach and the Hall Of Fame coaching tree that springs from it's roots in Lawrence, Kansas, it would appear to me that we are already that "top three" program

Dane Pratt 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm okay with no. 5.

Before Larry Brown showed up we would be further down the list. I sometimes forget how important he was to KU basketball.

Len Shaffer 2 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for the links, Joe. I've just looked at the first one so far, but I'm guessing Misuse is the highest-ranked team (at No. 29) to have never made it to the Final Four. Somehow that makes me smile ...

Brad Watson 2 years, 8 months ago

I think maybe Naismitih Drive could be renamed after Coach Self...or another road in town...Clinton Lake could be renamed....... lots of other campus buildings .......Rock Chalk Park..lots of possibilities. other than at the field house......he will be honored in a big way for hurry...he is a long way from hanging it up.....just an opinion...but I think the jury is still out on Roy Boy....wouldn't name anything after him quite be continued.......

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