Archive for Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A new chapter

After five years, Williams, KU meet

From left to right: A statue of Forest "Phog" Allen wears a tee shirt that expresses Kansas University basketball fans' hopes that Roy Williams would choose to stay in Lawrence and coach the Jayhawks. Williams pauses to hold back tears at the annual KU men's basketball banquet in 2003. Williams is seen leaving Allen Fieldhouse to accept the head coach's position at North Carolina. Williams packs for his flight from Lawrence to Chapel Hill N.C. Williams speaks at the 2003 media day at UNC. It has been five years since Williams left KU for UNC, but Saturday, the North Carolina coach will go up against his former squad.

From left to right: A statue of Forest "Phog" Allen wears a tee shirt that expresses Kansas University basketball fans' hopes that Roy Williams would choose to stay in Lawrence and coach the Jayhawks. Williams pauses to hold back tears at the annual KU men's basketball banquet in 2003. Williams is seen leaving Allen Fieldhouse to accept the head coach's position at North Carolina. Williams packs for his flight from Lawrence to Chapel Hill N.C. Williams speaks at the 2003 media day at UNC. It has been five years since Williams left KU for UNC, but Saturday, the North Carolina coach will go up against his former squad.

April 1, 2008

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Bill Self and Roy Williams in Monday's Final Four teleconference

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Maybe someday, say 10 years hence, the idea of a Roy Williams-led team playing against the university that gave him his first head-coaching gig might be old news.

Now, though, it's novel enough that Williams vs. Kansas University is sure to dominate talk of a Final Four loaded with college basketball royalty.

And Williams, who insists he bleeds both Kansas crimson and Carolina blue, knows it.

So Monday, for one of the first of what's sure to be umpteen times in the days leading up to Kansas vs. Carolina in an NCAA Tournament semifinal at 7:47 p.m. Saturday in San Antonio, Williams - without so much as a "dadgum" - addressed his thoughts leading up to the first Carolina-KU showdown since he left Mt. Oread for Chapel Hill, N.C., back in 2003.

"I definitely care," Williams said during a national conference call with the four Final Four coaches. "I gave some school, some basketball program, some state - whatever you want to call it - 15 years of my heart, body and soul. I'm never going to lose that. I'm never going to lose those memories. I'm never going to lose their appreciation for basketball, their passion for basketball. I'll always appreciate that."

To illustrate his point, Williams mentions his summer camps. On Day One, he said, he establishes an inviolate ground rule.

"There are a lot of little kids running around," he said. "They're instructed on the first day, they can wear Carolina stuff or Kansas stuff, but not anybody else's stuff."

Still a KU fan

Contrary to what some still bitter KU fans - and they are many, though they seem to dwindle with time - might believe, Williams still cares about Kansas.

Williams recruited fifth-year Kansas senior Jeremy Case to KU, and, he recounted Monday, he recalled young Darnell Jackson and Darrell Arthur attending games.

But most of his direct ties to the Jayhawks are gone.

Many of the same diehard fans and supporters, however, remain, and Williams was reminded of that as he watched a replay - "I Tivo'd it. I didn't want to watch all the commercials," Williams said with a laugh - of KU's 59-57 victory over Davidson that gave the Jayhawks their first Final Four trip since (you guessed it) Williams coached them to the 2003 NCAA championship game.

"They were showing sideline shots of the crowd," Williams said of the KU-Davidson game, "and I saw some people I really enjoyed cheering for my team for 15 years."

Not all of them - or the rest of the Jayhawk Nation - are so happy with Williams' success since departing KU.

The first time UNC tried to woo Williams back to his alma mater, back in the summer of 2000, a weeklong emotional roller coaster concluded with Williams' public "I'm staying" declaration, and KU fans apparently took that as a ironclad commitment to Kansas until death did them part.

Thus, when Williams accepted the second time Carolina came calling, some Jayhawks felt jilted. Many fans were livid; T-shirt sales ("Benedict Roy," "I don't give a sh-- about Roy Williams") were brisk.

Even now, those emotions still run deep, as is evidenced by the deluge of e-mails, message-board posts and phone calls whenever Williams' name or image happens to cross paths with his former school.

More than a few Kansas fans thought, "Now WE can make Roy cry," a nod to Williams' penchant for crying after tournament losses. Early in his KU career, it was an endearing sign of his commitment to the program and, especially, the players, but eventually came to become symbolic of his inability to win it all with KU.

Monday, Williams expressed hope any hard feelings eventually would pass.

"There's no question I hope so," he said. "It's something that's bothering me. I gave my heart and soul there for 15 years. I love that place and always will love that place. People pass me in the airport and say, 'Rock Chalk," and I say, "Go KU.' It should pass. The game should take center stage."

'We'll put all this stuff behind us'

Williams has been nothing but consistent on his approach to KU vs. Carolina.

In the ensuing five years, when such a showdown was purely hypothetical, to this week, when it has become inevitable, he has sounded a familiar refrain: that KU is his second-favorite school now, just as Carolina was his second favorite when he was at KU; that he'd never schedule a KU-Carolina game in the regular season; that he only would want such a showdown in the Final Four or, better yet, in the national championship game; and that he wished ol' Roy wouldn't overshadow what should be a dandy semifinal.

"Hopefully, we'll put all this stuff behind us," he said, "and it'll be about this year's North Carolina team against this year's KU team."

Not likely anytime soon.

Even Bill Self - who left his own similarly high-profile position at Illinois to replace Williams at KU - was asked about the Williams angle.

Specifically, he was asked if he was troubled that Williams talk had taken precedent over many other obvious story angles, like the fact four No. 1s make up the Final Four field for the first time in NCAA history, or that Self, after four previous Elite Eight setbacks, was going to his first Final Four.

Self just laughed.

"I'll deal with anything getting there," he said. "You could put me answering questions in a dark room with a bright light shining on me eight hours a day, and I'd love every second of it."

Then he sucked it up.

"When you leave a high-level place to go to another high-level place, five years is a pretty long time that those teams haven't matched up," he said. "Or Kansas and Illinois haven't matched up. So we've probably dodged some bullets. : This could have happened before now. But if it's going to happen, it's great to have it happen on a big stage, and this certainly will be the biggest of stages."

Comments

Rickyonealku 7 years, 4 months ago

Kansas, Duke, North Carolina would be my places to coach an NCAA men's basketball team....

tonym9428 7 years, 4 months ago

I gotta agree with ^...well saidGO TAR HEELS

domino 7 years, 4 months ago

Coach Williams left KU for what he had always said was his dream job. I can't fault him for that - how many others would have done it any differently. It's been 5 years - get over it! We have a great coach - let's support him and the 'Hawks the very best way we can - and that does not include running down Coach Williams. I believe he still loves and cares about KU and that will never change. That being said, I hope we beat the crap out of NC and whoever else stands in the way of a National Championship! Go Hawks!!!!

KLATTU 7 years, 4 months ago

Only the media and pathetic losers are still whining about Roy. It's boring. Get some therapy. Go KU! Go Bill!

fabian_zimbabwe 7 years, 4 months ago

Finally, some sensible posters. Roy gave us 15 seasons...didn't exactly pull a Huggins on us. He took us to four Final Fours and two Nat'l Champ. games. Is it his fault he couldn't nail any free throws against Carmelo and Company? He got us there, but the players failed to execute on the grandest stage...twice. Leave the guy alone and support Coach Self. Rock Chalk, Jayhawk...Go KU!

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 4 months ago

Say what you want, but Roy Williams was always a class act. Shall we name modern coaches previous to him that had a far less stellar public image, with co-ed chasing that eventually got revealed, either publicly or through campus legend (that would be Larry Brown and Ted Owens for the young'ens).Let's stop this nonsense once and for all. The guy is a great coach and was a great person to say 'hi' to first thing in the morning when you saw him stop into Dillons on 6th street for a yogurt after his morning run. The guy is a human and inspires his players through the whole gamut of human emotions. How many other great, winning coaches are there like that in the NCAA?We'll eventuall put Bill Self into that category also. Five years isn't that long of tenure yet. Let's enjoy this long-overdue matchup with our chief rival school (forget about the rivalry with that no-tradition school 3 hours east) and yet best-loved friend where so much of our coaching talent has come and gone.

mom_of_three 7 years, 4 months ago

Say what you want, but not everyone can get over it. The way it was conducted leaves a bad taste in some people's mouths. Carolina overshadowed our Hawks in the national championship game, and Carolina wasn't even playing. Coach Williams is "he who must not be named" in my house. My middle kid feels like a friend betrayed. won't wear anything if you call it Carolina blue. Maybe one of these days, the kid will get over it, but who knows..

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 4 months ago

mom_of_three,"he who must not be named" usually refers to Y'weh (Almighty God), but reverent tradition holds that man is not worthy of assigning a name to such an overwhelmingly holy being or entity. Just thought you'd like to know.ronwell

jayhawks71 7 years, 4 months ago

what about dean smith? He is the real traitor. He put his ego ahead of everything. He didn't make Roy but he sure made Roy feel like he owed him. I will eventually get over Roy's jilting but not Smiths arrogance and backstabbing of his alma mater.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 7 years, 4 months ago

When Roy left he pointed out the difference between the two times NC recruited him and that difference was Bob Fredricks. And who was responsible for Fredricks departure? Why don't you Roy haters ask our incompetent Chancellor how that happened. Was Roy a slave who had to suffer any fool that came along as part of his job? Is that something you'd do in your job if a great offer came along?I also think Roy is a class act and when I'm not rooting for KU I'm rooting for Roy and his squad because i know it will be a class program.

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 4 months ago

He would cry after tournament losses?! That's just...weird.

blahblahblah 7 years, 4 months ago

At least they were tournament games. Anyone remember Vermeil with his post game water works after nearly every Chiefs game?

avoice 7 years, 4 months ago

"I gave some school, some basketball program, some state - whatever you want to call it - 15 years of my heart, body and soul..."Well, he doesn't care enough to say the name of the school, basketball program, or state. I'm still a Roy fan and I agree with most of the posters. But, what the?

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 4 months ago

Sadly I think Herm Edwards isn't even smart enough to cry. Heaven knows the 2007 Chiefs gave him the reason to do so.

sweettrue2 7 years, 4 months ago

Go Coach Self!!!! Go KU!! That's what this week is all about.

blindrabbit 7 years, 4 months ago

T. Boone is ready to open the coffers to attract Bill to OSU since Sean Sutton has resigned; we've heard about those rumors before even when Sean's position seemed secure. Might as well start speculating about Turgeon's return to his mater; no wealthy Oklahoma Tea up here to oil the skids though!!All this comes with success.

Hawkdoc82 7 years, 4 months ago

The statement I will always remember is when Roy said that he was 'born a Tar Heel and will die a Tar Heel'. It was like being dumped and hearing 'I always loved her anyway'. I can forgive but I won't forget. I hope that we crush NC.Rock Chalk!

BLITZED 7 years, 4 months ago

I dont see how we can villianize Roy when he came into a messed up situation and turned it into solid gold. Let us not forget that Coach Larry Brown, who everyone looks to as royalty around here, did the exact same thing with one difference..... Roy did not leave the program under investigation and eventual probation. Roy said he was staying and kept his word for two years, Larry said he was staying and kept his word for two weeks. Oh how we all forget. Everyone has since forgave Coach Brown, now it is time to do the same with Coach Williams. This University is bigger than Ol' Roy, and will be bigger than any other coach that may come and go. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

jayhawks71 7 years, 4 months ago

Dean Smith = The Devil!I wonder what Dr. Allen would think...

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