Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2003

Woodling: NCAA shtick helps Williams steal show from Coach K

March 27, 2003


— Too bad they didn't have a laugh meter registering the decibels during Wednesday's coaches' press conferences at the NCAA West Regional.

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski was cracking 'em up, and Kansas University's Roy Williams had 'em rolling in the aisles during their scheduled interview sessions at the Arrowhead Pond.

OK, I'm exaggerating a bit, but both Coach K and Coach W, veterans of these obligatory pre-tournament media moments, weren't about to let something like their meeting in the Sweet 16 tonight tighten their sphincters.

Krzyzewski was particularly hilarious when he was asked a question by a reporter from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"I love that name," Krzyzewski said. "Picayune. That gives me such a rush. I'm 56 years old, and it's hard for me to get a rush."


"Will you ask me some more questions?" Coach K said.

More laughter.

"Do you sell tapes?"

Still more laughter.

By the time the flustered reporter from the New Orleans newspaper finally was able to ask his question, nobody much cared about the answer.

About a half an hour later, Williams took the stage ... er, dais, and promptly ridiculed the Gestapo-like tactics of the NCAA by pouring the contents of an "unofficial" soft drink bottle into an "official" blue NCAA paper cup.

Momentarily, Williams whispered into the microphone: "They told me, 'You can't carry that up there.' Can you imagine that? Do I have to use NCAA ice, too?"

As if on cue, an official walked up to Williams, handed him a cup of ice and, after the KU coach had poured the ice into his drink, Williams ceremoniously lifted the bottle in the air and placed it behind his chair out of sight.

This wasn't the first time -- and likely won't be the last -- Williams has made fun of the NCAA's insistence on running its annual cash cow strictly by the book.

Williams, it turned out, was just warming the audience. Still, he would need straight men, and the first sports writer to join the act was Wendell Barnhouse, national college basketball writer for the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram.

Barnhouse wanted to know if Williams, being a North Carolina graduate and all that, considered Duke, the Tar Heels' arch-rival, a four-letter word.

"Yes, it's a four-letter word," Williams replied. "It's D-U ... or is it D-O-O-K? No, it's D-U-K-E."

Later, Williams, who hails from Asheville, N.C., revealed that Duke was the first campus he ever visited.

"I was on the square dance team," the KU coach said with a twinkle, "and I was there for the Duke Folk Festival."

Moments later, another writer -- it might have been the guy from New Orleans -- asked Williams if he knew how to do the Virginia reel. Too late. Williams realized he had scraped out information better left unearthed.

"I'm not going to repeat it," Williams said. "I'm afraid somebody's going to write about it."

Who was funnier, Krzyzewski or Williams? To tell the truth, Coach K had me in stitches with his Picayune shtick, but for sheer mirthful quantity Williams won the prize.

The bronze medal, incidentally, went to Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who was an assistant coach for eight years under Krzyzewski and obviously learned more than X's and O's.

Asked by a writer to compare himself to Krzyzewski, Brey replied: "I'm a better shooter. He's a better passer."

Yuk, yuk.

A distant fourth on my humor ballot was Arizona coach Lute Olson, whose lone attempt at humor was ... well, I've pored over my notes five times and I can't find so much as a one-liner. I thought Olson might at least have had a quip about candy machines.

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