The last time Roy Williams left North Carolina, he was a virtually unknown assistant who had his first shot as a college head coach in Kansas, a city rich in tradition. Now Williams is leaving the Tar Heels again with an honor-filled résumé as a retiring Hall of Famer with more than 900 wins, three national championships and a legacy built on more than three decades of success in two of the shows. with more college basketball history.
The school announced the decision Thursday, two weeks after Williams, 70, closed his 18th season with the Tar Heels after a successful 15-year career with the Jayhawks. In all, Williams won 903 games in a career that included those three titles, all with the Tar Heels, in 2005, 2009 and 2017. The Tar Heels lost to Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in their last game, their only first round loss in 30 tournaments.
“It has been a difficult year, but everyone has had the problems with Covid that we have had,” Williams said excitedly after the game. “It has been a difficult year to push and pull, push and pull every other day trying to do something. But how can you get luckier than Roy Williams is coaching basketball?
Williams thrived on lessons rooted in his time as an assistant to the late mentor Dean Smith – he still respectfully refers to him as “Coach Smith” after all these years – even as he forged his own style. Williams always pushed for more and usually got it. His teams played fast, with Williams frantically waving his arms for them to push the ball. They attacked the boards with their favorite two-post style. His competitive drive was fierce and only slightly obscured by his popular sayings and the allure of his time in the mountains of North Carolina.
His time as an assistant coach included the Tar Heels’ run to the 1982 NCAA championship for Smith’s first title, a game that memorably featured a freshman named Michael Jordan making the leap for the lead. late to beat Georgetown.
“Roy Williams is and always will be a Carolina basketball legend,” Jordan said in a statement through his business manager. “His great success on the court is really matched by the impact he had on the lives of the players he coached, including me. I’m proud of the way he continued the tradition of Coach Smith’s program, always putting his players first. “
Williams spent 10 seasons at his alma mater under Smith before Kansas took a chance on him in 1988. He spent 15 seasons there, leading Kansas to four Final Fours and two national title games.
Williams stepped down from UNC in 2000 after Bill Guthridge’s retirement, but was ultimately unable to say no for the second time and returned as coach in 2003 after Matt Doherty’s tumultuous era that included an 8-20 season.
Williams immediately stabilized the program and achieved his first national championship in his second season with a victory against Illinois, marking the first of five Final Four trips with the Tar Heels. His second title came in 2009 with a team that went through the NCAA Tournament, winning every game by at least a dozen points, including the final game against Michigan State, played in the Spartans’ home state.
The third title was handed out by a team that included players who had lost the 2016 championship game to Villanova on a ringing triple. This time, the Tar Heels beat a Gonzaga team that lost a championship loss.
Williams only had one losing season, an injury-plagued 14-19 year in 2019-20, and otherwise missed the NCAA Tournament only in his first season at Kansas, when he inherited a program on probation, and in 2010. with a UNC team that made it to the NIT final.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Danny Green, who played four seasons for Williams and was part of the 2009 title winner, said Williams had been a “father figure.”
“I became a man in four years there,” said Green, a three-time NBA champion who recently made a million-dollar scholarship donation to the Tar Heels basketball program. “He has always been more than a coach for me. He taught me how to be a man and how to do things the right way. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism