Archive for Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Williams receives Hall pass

April 3, 2007


Baseball Hall of Famers who play for multiple teams must pick just one hat for their bronze plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y.

That said ... what would lifelong baseball fan Roy Williams do if the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame had the same rule for its basketball enshrinees?

"I'd wear a 'Tar-hawk' hat. There'd be two different shades of blue," current North Carolina and former Kansas University coach Williams said Monday after being named a member of the Basketball Hall's Class of 2007.

He will be joined by Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson, the 1966 NCAA champions from Texas Western, former University of Mississippi and Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor, referee Mendy Rudolph and international coaches Fedro Ferrandiz and Mirko Novosel at induction ceremonies on Sept. 7 in Springfield, Mass.

"Some people at Kansas or North Carolina might get mad, but I feel very blessed to have worked at both places," Williams stated. "At Kansas it was 15 years of great players, assistant coaches and great friends."

"Some people are still upset at me. The ones really close to me understand everything," added Williams, who angered Jayhawk nation by leaving for his alma mater four seasons ago.

"If it does upset some people," he said of crediting both schools, "they are getting upset about the truth. I don't think you should get upset about the truth."

Williams, who has coached in five Final Fours, is a combined 524-131 in 19 seasons at KU and North Carolina, and has reached 18 straight NCAA tournaments. He won the national title his second season at UNC.

"I do feel at home at North Carolina," the Asheville, N.C., native said. "I've probably got thinner skin than most people, but when they make an announcement about North Carolina's score at Allen Fieldhouse and people cheer, I get that information quickly. That bothers me a great deal. It will bother me the rest of my life.

"I had a guy here on the street yesterday (in Atlanta), right outside the church, say, 'Roy, I'm a Kansas fan.' I said, 'I am too.' He said, 'Thanks for 15 great years.' I'm trying to focus more on those kinds of feelings."

Williams talked a lot about KU as well as UNC in interview sessions in both Atlanta and Chapel Hill, N.C., on Monday.

"The success that Bill (Self) is having, the great clubs he's had there, that is helping," Williams said. "They love to win there. The passion KU feels about basketball is maybe unmatched."

Former KU coach Roy Williams heads to 'Hall'

Today, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted seven new members, including former KU head coach Roy Williams. Enlarge video

He thanked former KU athletic director Bob Frederick for hiring him - "Bob's wife, Margey said, 'You're not going to hire that guy from North Carolina are you?''' Williams cracked - as well as all his players and assistants.

"My first team - Kevin (Pritchard), Milt (Newton), Mark Randall, Jeff Gueldner, Scooter (Barry), all those guys ... about two weeks into practice we got hit with probation. Those kids would not be able to try to defend the national championship they won the year before," Williams said of the returning players from the '88 title team. "The talk we had with those kids about getting through the season and playing for ourselves and love of the game ... the way those kids reacted and gave me a chance was very important to me. I remember things like the 1997 Senior Day, what Jacque (Vaughn) and Jerod (Haase) said (in their senior speeches) was extremely important to me."

Williams, 56, said he's shocked he made the Hall on his first try.

"It's not sunk in yet," he said. "It is mind-boggling to me. I'm extremely flattered, flabbergasted too."

Former KU athletic director Frederick on Monday said he was "thrilled to death" upon learning of Williams' selection.

"Obviously it's a testimony to the great job he's done since 1988," Frederick said. "I figured with the record he had in the 1990s, once he got the national championship, it would mean he'd receive that honor soon. He's been a great friend and colleague and I feel good for him."

Former KU player and assistant coach Jerry Waugh, who also is a good friend of Williams, said: "Can you think of a more deserving candidate? Roy's success speaks for itself. He came to Kansas as a neophyte and in 15 years won 80 percent of his games. The quality of kids that came through his program remains very important to me."

Williams joins his mentor Dean Smith in the Hall.

"I attended in 1982 when coach Smith was inducted. He ended up getting in 15 more years after that," Williams said of the UNC coaching legend and former KU player. "I don't know if I'll go that long. I want to quit one year in advance of dying. I want to see if I can play 36 holes a day every day for a year. I'd like to have one full year off before I go to the other side of the divot."


prioress 11 years, 1 month ago

Good for you, Roy. Best wishes and congratulations.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 1 month ago

but really, remember when you had to be dead to get into any hall of fame and now it seems people are getting in on name alone. Well at least that is how it seems to me. No that is not a bash on Williams, just seems like you do not have to be around to long or dead anymore. Just rambling ignore me.

mom_of_three 11 years, 1 month ago

As a Kansas fan, I was hurt when he left. I understood the reasons, just didn't like how it happened. Thought, hoped he would be here forever. He is a good coach, and a good person. (my kid still won't wear Carolina blue) But I haven't gotten to the point where I can root for the team, but then again, I never did, except against Duke.
He deserves the Hall.

Mike Blur 11 years, 1 month ago

Jeez momma, you better call George Brett, Nolan Ryan, Willie Mays, John Havlicek, John Wooden, and about 500 other people and tell them they should have died before getting into the Hall of Fame.

You're getting the requirements for the HoF mixed up with the requirements for appearing on US postage stamps.

There was no such time when any Halls of Fame required death before consideration. In fact, four of the first five inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame (Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Walter Johnson) were (gasp!) ALIVE when they were honored!

engineer57 11 years ago

An area of great influence on Roy Williams that was never addressed fully when he was moving back to North Carolina is the quality of life and the amenities he gained by moving back home. As one who grew up in central Kansas and lived 20 years in North Carolina I can confirm the following:

Let's face it no matter how you cut it, UNC carries greater national prestige than my beloved KU both academically and athletically. The geographical location offers unprecedented benefits over dear old Kansas. It has beautiful mountains, a georgous piedmont very similar to eastern Kansas and the Atlantic Ocean beaches. Kansas just cannot compare for places to go, to be comfortable and to enjoy yourself. The only area where I would say that Kansas has a slight edge is in its people. Although North Carolina people are honest, trustworthy, genuine and totally likeable, I belive Kansas people exemplify these characteristics even more than North Carolinians.

I chose to live in North Carolina for twenty years for nearly the same reasons that Roy chose to go home. Besides that he is now near his family. Even though he disappointed thousands of us loyal Jayhawk fans, he did exactly what I would have done. I was surprised he didn't do it in 2000.

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