Archive for Friday, June 2, 2006

Transition difficult for UNC coach

Ex-Jayhawk mentor says Tar Heels’ Jordan greatest player he has coached, greatest player of all time

June 2, 2006


A question and answer session with former Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams, now fourth-year coach at North Carolina.

Q - How hard was the transition in coming back home to North Carolina?

A - It was a very difficult transition because of what I was leaving in Kansas. I had been there 15 years. I loved it, and people were great to me there. It was a fantastic situation. That's what was difficult. It wasn't coming home again because this is home and always will be. I'd been at North Carolina as a student and as an assistant coach. The difficult part was leaving what I had. We went to the Final Four two years in a row and had four starters coming back.

Q - What's your formula for success?

A - You have to have ability, but you better have character with that or you have nothing. An elementary teacher in Wichita once told me she wished I would put academics above everything. I said, 'No maam, because you can be a 4.0 student and a pain in the rear end.' If that's the case I want him to be a pain in somebody else's rear end, not mine. So we have to look for ability, but in my opinion you can't win without good kids. Character is extremely high for us.

Q - Who is the best all-around player you ever coached?

A - That is a hard question. It's like asking a parent which child they like the best. As an assistant coach, that's pretty easy since I coached and helped recruit Michael Jordan. I think he's the greatest player that ever played the game. In Kansas I had some great, great players - Jacque Vaughn, Raef LaFrentz, Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, Drew Gooden, Paul Pierce. I could name a lot of good players. I've also been very fortunate at North Carolina. Sean May may have had as impressive a run of games as anybody I've ever been around. From about 15 games out from the end of the season to tournament play, it's about as good as I've had anybody play.

Q - There were a lot of tears after the Heels gave you your first national championship in 2005. How emotional was it?

A - Sean May said he always wanted to be on the team that won my first NCAA title and he wanted to be the first one to hug me. It was very emotional for me.

Q - Will North Carolina be your final coaching stop?

A - There's no question in my mind. The biggest mistake I ever made was when I said no to North Carolina the first time and said the next time we'll have a press conference like this it'll be because I'm retiring or dying. I have no thoughts, dreams, hopes or anything about coaching anyplace else. This is it for me.

Q - How much longer do you want to coach?

A - I'm 55 now and I think I can coach easily until I'm 65 if I keep up my health. I've had some fairly significant back problems this past season and that didn't make it nearly as much fun just living much less coaching. Hopefully I can put that behind me a little bit.

Q - Is there one special goal you'd still like to achieve?

A - My goal every year is to do the best I possibly can with that team. There's no question that I'd like to win another national championship and see if I know how to act better the second time.

Q - What do you like most about your vacation home on the Isle of Palms?

A - The seafood is the first thing. I'm not a big-time swimmer, but I love being on the beach. I love listening to the ocean. I can sleep better in Charleston than any other place I've been.

Q - What prompted you to move there?

A - I walked into Kansas one year in January and told my wife we needed to buy a beach house because it was so cold and windy.

Q - Last book you've read?

A - I'm reading one by Al Featherston, a writer in the Durham area who did one on Tobacco Road and college basketball. I love to read old Westerns. I've also read all of John Grisham's books. I don't read as much as my wife and my daughter, but I do read a lot.

Q - What time is your alarm clock set in the morning?

A - I don't even have to have an alarm clock. I don't sleep very much. I go to bed and if I stay in the same spot four or five hours, that's a lot for me.

Q - Where's the best place in college basketball to coach?

A - Chapel Hill is 1 and Lawrence, Kan., is 2. One might say that's political but that's exactly what I believe.


Joe2006 11 years, 7 months ago

Can someone explain why anyone would be interested in hearing Q's and A's from a previous mens basketball coach? I would rather hear from the current mens and womens coaches.

I realize Roy Williams helped put KU back on the national map for basketball, but its not like he won a championship here. I guess even if he did, I still wouldn't want to hear from him. He is a nice guy, but he is the past, not the future!

dingle 11 years, 7 months ago

Larry Brown put KU back on the national map. Roy took over a team that had just won the NCAA tournament. Larry took over a team that was barely over .500 and had to win the Big 8 tournament to even make the post season. I would go so far as to say that Larry Brown and Billy Tubbs put the entire Big 8 back in the national spotlight. (It kills me to say anything positive about Billy Tubbs...)

What I will always give Roy credit for is his integrity and consistency. Highest graduation rate of any public University in the tournament his last year. (Only Lehigh (sp?) was ahead of KU.) I think he tried to recruit the right kind of players and always did his best for them. This certainly brought us the kind of attention that we want and I will always respect and admire him for that.

However, he will always be the first men's bball coach in KU history to leave for another University. To this day he really has no clue what a slap in the face that was. I think an entire generation of KU fans has to die before he will be completely forgiven for that.

Mr_Missive 11 years, 7 months ago

No Thanks Roy. I know how you got your house in Charleston and you didn't pay for it.

docnaismith 11 years, 7 months ago


When you quit acting like the Chapel Hill Journal-World, let me know.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 7 months ago

How does he know that UNC is #1 and KU is #2? Those are the only two places he's been. He has no frame of reference.

missmagoo 11 years, 7 months ago

I miss Roy!! And dingle, you're wrong--some people have forgiven him... grow up.

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