Archive for Saturday, February 19, 2005

Williams: UNC-KU tilt would be ‘worst’

February 19, 2005


— With North Carolina and Kansas University rolling toward the NCAA Tournament, fans at both schools probably are dreaming of a head-to-head matchup in the championship game.

Roy Williams isn't one of them.

"When people ask me about it, I usually joke and say if we do meet, I hope it's on Monday night because that would mean at least we're playing for the championship," said Williams, in his second year at his alma mater after compiling a 418-101 mark in 15 years at KU.

"But I don't know if I could handle it. I really don't. This may sound corny ... but for me personally that would be the worst moment of my life. I love people at both places."

The pain caused by his decision to replace Matt Doherty at UNC three years after turning down the job lingered, Williams said.

"I've hurt some people. And needless to say, people have hurt me greatly," he said. "But at the same time ... those were the greatest 15 years of my life."

He said the entire episode had taught him lessons in human nature, which he had tried to pass on to his players and children.

"What you want in life is to have people who are going to be with you regardless of what you do," he said. "It's important to have that."

Not all his old friends turned their backs.

"I had 27 people with Kansas ties here for my first game. I even got emotional thanking them for coming," he said. "But it has been hard. I was so naive, I thought my whole life I'd be able to please people all the time. But I wasn't able to do it."

If NCAA bids were handed out today, No. 2 Kansas and No. 4 North Carolina (21-3) might each be No. 1 seeds.

"I've only been able to see about one half," he said of KU games this year. "It will be easier when (the seniors) leave. My hope was this year would be the best team I would have ever had. I really thought that. I cared so much about those kids. It will always be difficult."

Looking back, he said, he had three regrets.

One was "allowing someone else to make my life miserable, to make a change because someone else had made me miserable."

That person would be former Kansas AD Al Bohl, who replaced Williams' close friend, Bob Frederick.

"No. 2 was the mistake I made at the press conference when I said no to North Carolina the first time, when I said if we have another meeting like this it's going to be because I've either retired or died. But I really believed that. It wasn't that I was trying to mislead anybody," he said.

His third regret was saying on ESPN right after he'd moved to North Carolina that the Jayhawk freshman class he'd just recruited was "stuck at Kansas."

"I meant they were stuck with their decision," he said. "Then my next statement was that the national letter of intent says you are signing with the institution, not with the coach. It was my way of saying that I would never recruit any of Kansas' players. But that really upset some people."

J-W Staff ReportsRoy Williams said it would be the "worst moment of my life" if North Carolina meets Kansas University in the NCAA basketball finals.In the same vein, KU coach Bill Self was asked Friday whether it would be the worst day of his life if his new team, KU, was to meet his former team, Illinois, in the title tilt."Would it be the worst day of my life? No," Self said. "If it was, I hadn't had very many bad days. It'd be a day very difficult for my family members but also a day I'd be very proud of (having been part of both programs). It would not be very fun (but) it's part of the job description."

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