Archive for Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Woodling: No doubt that Roy’s a winner

April 3, 2007


This column is about Roy Williams. If you don't want to read about Roy Williams - many of you I'm sure still consider him a snake - then stop right here.

I come to praise Roy Williams, not to throw stones.

On Monday, Williams was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame and, let's face it, even if you still despise the man for forsaking Kansas and returning to his native North Carolina in 2003, you must admit he is deserving.

Roy Williams is all about winning basketball games and, during his 15 seasons at Kansas, all he did was win 80 percent of them.

Eight out of every 10 games over 15 years. That might not be a high enough winning percentage for the unrealistic fans at Kentucky, but the truth is you can't expect any coach to do better than eight out of 10.

As far as I'm concerned, Roy Williams made only one mistake at Kansas. Back in 2000, when the Tar Heels were looking for a replacement for Bill Gutheridge, Williams wavered for a week and then decided to remain on Mount Oread. In retrospect, Williams should have bolted for North Carolina then because his gleefully received decision to remain at Kansas in 2000 convinced the Big Blue Nation he was going to stay forever.

To tell the truth, I was surprised when Williams opted to return to his native Tobacco Road back in '03 because I could not picture him leaving so much behind.

Roy Williams didn't invent KU basketball, of course. James Naismith did. But Williams reinvented it, raising the school's revered sport to a level of unprecedented prolonged success. Phog Allen suffered through some bad seasons. So did Ted Owens. Larry Brown lost 22 games in his last two seasons. Williams lost an average of 6.7 games a year over his 15 years.

At the same time, Roy Williams changed during those fateful years.

When he first came to Lawrence to take over the only defending NCAA champion prohibited from repeating because of recruiting violations, Williams wallowed in humility. A lowly assistant at North Carolina for 10 long seasons, he must have wondered if he had bitten off more than he could chew.

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

Williams was very approachable, too. I'll never forget his KU coaching debut at the Great Alaska Shootout because it was the first and last time I was ever in a coach's hotel room. GAS officials had made no provisions for press conferences, so Williams agreed to meet with the KU media - myself included - in his hotel room.

During that first probation-hindered season, the Jayhawks lost 12 games - he would never lose that many again - and Williams invariably blamed himself following every defeat, stressing he had been outcoached.

His mea culpa approach gradually disappeared, however, and so did his humility. Williams' latent ego grew in direct proportion to his accumulating victories.

But I never blamed him for letting it go to his head. Here was a man who had been a faceless high school coach and college assistant who had evolved through the force of his will into a national figure and an icon in the Sunflower State.

Heck, whose makeup wouldn't have been transformed?

Here's what you must not forget about Roy Williams: He worked to attain the status he enjoys today. He worked relentlessly. You don't have to like him, but he has earned your respect.


BLITZED 11 years, 2 months ago

Well done Mr. Woodling, I think it is time for everyone to accept that he is gone and remember that he does not get into the Hall of Fame without his 15 years here at Kansas. We should take pride in the fact that one of our own has accomplished so much.

Bobo Fleming 11 years, 2 months ago

Roys Boys. The 88 team wasnt Roys Boys so the 88 team didnt have a reunion while Roy was there. Neither any of Teds final 4 teams, nor the 52 national champion and I could go on. Great Coach. But it was always and only about Roy...Roy... and dont forget...Roy. My KU kids didnt think we had basketball until Roy. But I remember a lot of great nights at Allen before Roy and some great nights after Roy. But give the devil his due. He is a great coach for Roys Boys.

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