Blue Heaven

by Pat Bradford with Cole Dittmer
July 2012

"Hard work doesnt guarantee success, but without it you have no chance," University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball coach Roy Williams says in his 2009 autobiography. In June, ESPN ranked UNC as the No.1 college basketball coaching job in the country.

This charming, frighteningly organized, demanding, emotional, fiercely loyal basketball coach dribbled his way from a rural, mountainous North Carolina cotton mill town to the top of his game. He grew up hard, in what he describes as a family of outlaws and fighters. Besides fear of failure, Roy Williams credits those who believed in him with his remarkable success in the game he describes quite simply as, "five guys going in the same direction."

On the court he is an intimidating presence, dressed in a fine suit, actively coaching his team to victory. Off the court he finds respite in the sea breeze, in T-shirts and flip flops, in frequent walks, in catnaps and time spent with his family and foxhole buddies. Whether hes on "The Hill" or at Wrightsville Beach, Roy Williams is comfortably at home in his own personal blue heaven.

Roy Williams: The Extended, Unedited Interview

Wrightsville Beach May 28, 2012

WBM: In the summer are you recruiting?

RW: We have our camp for a couple weeks; were recruiting for three weeks, and just so many different things going on.

WBM: Let me make a couple confessions. I am not a basketball fan.

RW: Not a problem to me.

WBM: I have read your autobiography, and I am a fan of your life.

RW: Thank you.

WBM: I grew up hard. And, Ive taken in two children who grew up hard.

RW: Mm hmm.

WBM: Your story from start to finish, to me, is its as much of that as it is anything else. So, some of my questions are geared towards that and my questions come from questions that arose from what I read youve said, or others have said about you. Not so much what you can read in Sports Illustrated, or what you can read in a in a basketball magazine. A lot of our readers dont know who you are or they know about your record, but they dont know who you are.

RW: And theyve got more important things to worry about anyway.

WBM: Well I love your story. Id love to see you make that the story of your life from beginning to end. I'd love to see you make it into a movie.

RW: I guess I've had two or three interviews in Hawaii sitting out over the beach; this is right there with that.

WBM: Thank you.

RW: It's a lot better than sitting in my office; I can tell you that.

WBM: All right. I know that you said you didnt have very long.

RW: Yeah, we have a guy thats coming to look about doing some painting and some work on some of our windows

WBM: Today?

RW: At nine oclock, so

WBM: Oh, ok. All right.

RW: We better go.

WBM: You said in a 2009 Wall Street Journal interview that there are three, maybe four, critical things you put up on the white board that influence the outcome of every game but Im interested in the three or four critical things that influence the outcome of the game of life.

RW: I want to try to outwork you. No question about that. I want to. If I lose, whether it be a game, recruiting or a house that I want to buy, or whatever, I dont want it to be because you put in more time and you put in more effort. I want to be more prepared. The other thing: Life is about people and Ive always wanted to be concerned about people. Im still corny as the day is long but I want people to like me. I do have that feeling that respect would be more important. But I do want to care about people. I want to be friends with people. I want to try to understand that they have different problems than I do. And then the other thing is I try to never lose sight of what is important. Most people think the games are more important than it is. My daughter one time gave me a little thing that said, "Statistics are important, but relationships last a lifetime," and Ive never forgotten that.

WBM: You recruited a host of greats including Michael Jordan from Laney High School. You have said recruiting means everything that your life revolves around recruiting, that you never stop. Do you still personally recruit as much?

RW: In some ways I recruit harder now than I did 15 years ago. Real close friends agree that its fear of failure. They dont think its just that Im driven. You can coach all you coach, but you cant take a Jack [mule] to win a Kentucky Derby; you gotta have a thoroughbred. For me, I do understand that theres a lot of really good coaches and that, if I had better players, Im going to win the game. At the University of Kansas and at the University of North Carolina, winning the game of basketball is extremely important. Coach Smith one time said the athletic department is not the most important thing about the university, but it is the front porch. Its what people see most often that gets the most attention. And the alums have a great sense of pride and so they grab on to that. I realize Ive got to have really, really good players. I sat with Coach John Wooden one Sunday afternoon when he was 90 years old, and he said, "Roy, one thing that you really do well, you can really coach talent. Now nobody can coach no talent, but some people cant coach talent, and you do a really good job at coaching talent." And I said, "Coach, I understand. What youre saying here is that Ive got a lot of good players," and he said, "Yeah, but it is something that is not enough for some people." Regardless of how good or bad a coach is, you can only go as far as really good players can take you. Ive never lost sight of that.

WBM: You have said you could talk the paint off the wall. When you were making little-to-no money as a part-time assistant coach for Dean Smith, you supported your family selling calendars; in fact, you sold $38,000 worth of them in 1985. Youre known as a great coach ... but arent you just as much a salesman? Arent you always selling yourself and your basketball program?

RW: Im always promoting the University of North Carolina; Im always selling the University of North Carolina; Im always selling our basketball program; Im always promoting our success; what we have done and our vision of what we want to do. I believe that I could sell sand to an Arab. I sold programs when I was a freshman at the football games. When I was in graduate school I sold sun visors because I was about to run out of money one weekend, and they had somebody that was not going to be there. I sold more sun visors than anybody had ever sold on a Saturday at Kenan Stadium.

WBM: That does not surprise me.

RW: I do think that, Ill give you an example: I hate talking to somebody on the phone.

WBM: Yes, I read that.

RW: It just drives me crazy because when I'm sitting at home, Im not sitting there staring at that phone wanting it to ring. Im doing something else. And I feel like when I talk to somebody on the phone, when I call them Ive intruded on their life. I've stopped them from doing something, and I know how it makes me feel. You know with kids nowadays, you can be talking to a kid on the phone, and he's playing some game on the TV while he's talking to you; he's texting somebody else while he's talking to you

WBM: Usually doing three things.

RW: Yes, so you really don't have his undivided attention anyway. So when I get a kid face to face and his family face to face, then I can talk. My phone calls are never like most of the other coaches. Some coaches have the gift of gab on the phone and keep a guy on the phone an hour. Im good for about 10 to 15 minutes at the most; that's a humongously long phone call for me.

WBM: It seems to me that your whole career has been about giving kids the life you dreamed of for yourself. The life you wouldve chosen. Am I right?

RW: Theres something to that because my high school coach did so much for me. I dont know where I would be if it hadnt been for Buddy Baldwin, but I know I would not be sitting here talking to you. I know that much. Ill never be as good as Coach Baldwin was, and Ill never be as good as Dean Smith was, but it is something that you try to give those kids and make sure that they know theyre important, and at the same time never lose sight of doing the job that the University of North Carolina has hired me to do.

WBM: Your friend, John Grisham, described your early life as "often unpleasant." You have written about your childhood as "a very hard one. There were no heroes in your family, just outlaws and fighters. And pain, anger, sorrow." The only home you ever had was foreclosed on. You were always feeling like you needed to escape. What do you say to that eighth grade boy trapped in a family situation, just trying to survive the dysfunction, alcohol or drugs, or maybe even crime, just trying to escape?

RW: The first thing would be is that, "Son, you are in charge, you are in control. Every kid has a chance to make a decision." Ill never forget one time I started to leave the house and mom said, "Have a good time, but do the right thing." I said, "Mom, how do I know what the right thing is," and she said, "Youll know."

I believe every kid has an opportunity to make decisions. The guidance that the parents give them is extremely important. Everybody knows parents who are marvelous who follow the line of what every psychologist or every educator in the world says but it doesnt work with that kid. And there have been situations where there was not much parental influence, and those kids come out to do very well

My lifetime when I was a kid was tough. I wasnt always happy. I would have sad moments. I would have moments that I would quote, escape. But I never let the sadness engulf me. I never let the sadness dominate me. I always tried to look to the good things.

WBM: To you, what is a Tar Heel?

RW: I think a Tar Heel is a person who very much cares about being educated, who very much cares about trying to better him or herself. When youre a faculty person at the University of North Carolina you have a tremendous amount of power because youre going to influence kids. So to me, a Tar Heel is someone who gives of themselves; a Tar Heel is one who does try to help other people; a Tar Heel is one who cares about the right things and who has feeling and that feeling of that magical little village in Chapel Hill.

WBM: When you didnt return to UNC in 2000 some people stopped speaking to you, including Coach Bill Gutheridge. You described it as, "wiping you off the face of the earth." When you left Kansas in 2003 a lot of people stopped speaking to you. They wanted to keep you from coming back to speak at the KU end-of-season banquet. You have got to have some anxiety about retiring.

RW: No, I really dont have any anxiety about that and I dont think that I have to. The anxiety that I have, about anything, is getting back to good relationships with the people. After it happened in 2000 and so many people in North Carolina, quote, slapped me off the face of the earth, it just crushed me. Not only had I never, never experienced that, I never even thought that anything could be like that. I never even perceived that anything could hurt you like that. And in 2003 when I did leave Kansas it was the same thing back in the other direction. And I got my kids, Scott and Kimberly, and I told them and Ive even done it with every team that Ive had that in life what you want, you want to have some people that are with you regardless. The majority of people are going to be with you only if you do what they want you to do. And then youre going to have some people that are never going to be with you regardless. Dont worry about those. But the whole thing for me is to have the foxhole buddies to have the group of friends that regardless of what you do, they care about you as a person. Whether you leave one city and go to the other, theyre still with you. That was a hard point in my life in 2000, and just depressing in 2003. In 2003, I thought, you know, you guys heard me talk about what happened in the other direction, and it makes no difference. Theyre not bad people. Thats what it is. To be 100-percent accepted is unrealistic, because youre not going to have everybody with you. Regardless of how right you think any decision is, they are not going to be with you because it may not be what they think is right. Thats a lesson that somebody like me, being so corny, you just think thats not supposed to be the way its supposed to be. I didnt hurt anybody. I didnt maliciously do anything.

WBM: Is it the emotion of basketball?

RW: Its the passion. No question. Ive got millions of things I wish Id said differently, but one more than anything else, when I decided in 2000 to stay at Kansas, I said, "If we have this press conference again, itll be because Im retiring or dying," but I believed it. It wasnt something that I knew was later on going to be a lie. It was truly what I believed. And I believed that since I said "no" to North Carolina that the opportunity would never come back, and that was OK. I couldve lived with that.

WBM: You have said, "Losing is a shock, devastating, dejection disappointment, sticks with you forever." You get upset when you come in second. With the 1997 NCAA loss, you said things changed, and that it was now, "all about enjoying the ride." What shifted? Do you still feel that way?

RW: It was a tremendous change for me. My dream, my focus, my passion was to try to win a national championship. That year we went 34-2. We had eight seniors, and all eight graduated. We had two people first team All American, one of them Academic All-American of the Year, and as I said, we lost two games. How much more perfect could that season be when you really looked at the big picture? And I felt such a sense of loss; I felt rejection I didnt feel like I was worthy because I hadnt gotten those kids to the Final Four. It was a sadness that Ive never gotten over to this day. Because they were wonderful kids, they were never a problem. It was just a fun, fun year. Every day at practice was fun, and then all of a sudden every kid dreams about going to a Final Four, and hopefully win a national championship, and I wasnt able to get that to them. I said, "I cant live like this" because the rejection, the sadness, the hurt, probably more than those other two, was the hurt in something I didnt know if I could handle. Thats when I made the decision that the most important thing was I wanted to live long enough to coach my grandchildren little league baseball and little league basketball.

WBM: Does being here at Wrightsville Beach help you with the postseason funk?

RW: This year, I probably had the postseason funk longer than I ever had. Its because I thought we were good enough to win the whole thing, yet we were so banged up, it hurt at the end of the year. It was such a sad thing that those kids that I thought couldve got to the Final Four couldve won the national championship. If you do that, youve got something that no one could ever take away. You have something that brings you closer to that group of kids, closer to that university and closer to that time period, and then it never happens to you. The 57 team at North Carolina, those guys walk out onto the court and the crowd goes crazy, and nobody in the crowd was even alive when they played. It is something that they have forever that no one can take away and I wanted this years team to have that and so this postseason funk was tough this year.

On the golf course I can escape, because its the one place that I can compete, and so again, its just me against you, and you and the golf course, which is the toughest competitor.

Here at Wrightsville Beach, Ive been here two days and Ive only made one recruiting call in two days. And its a place where I can almost veg out. Ive sat in the rocking chair on the porch and sat down on the beach. Ive walked the neighborhood three times in two days, almost four times. I sleep better at the beach than anywhere else because its a place where I feel like its OK to relax a second.

WBM: In your autobiography you talk about taking a 30- to 45-minute pregame nap. That you also never napped at home when your kids were little because you wanted to spend every minute you were home with them, but now, do you nap at home? And have you found Wrightsville to be a good place to nap, and relax?

RW: Constantly, now it might be five to 10 minutes at a time but I can. Wrightsville Beach is the kind of place too, that I enjoy walking up and down the street. I enjoy doing the Loop and it is funny that Chapel Hill, and Lawrence, Kansas, are the two places in the world that I can enjoy walking downtown, because I love college campuses. But Wrightsville Beach is a place that I enjoy walking a lot. I enjoy walking the Loop; I enjoy walking the beach. Its just that I can let my guard down a little. It doesnt bother me when people come up and say hello or ask for an autograph or a picture. Even though this is my down time, because they say, "We apologize, Im sorry were doing it." I say, "Youre fine," because deep down inside, the real problem would be if they saw you walk in and they left and went out the back door of the restaurant. Thatd be the real problem.

WBM: Do you get away with being incognito here?

RW: At Kohls ice cream the other night it was pretty hectic trying to get out of there, taking pictures and things like that. Jerrys restaurant is a place I love, fantastic food. I would leave but I end up taking five or six pictures, and people getting up from their tables and waiters and waitresses are getting mad because everyone is in their way, but no, its not bad. It really isnt. When I go to a high school game, it is a frenzy sometimes.

WBM: You characterized your life as hard work. The title of your autobiography is "Hard Work;" your team chants that as they leave the huddle. You still say you outwork everyone around you. Do you see yourself slowing down or is it pedal to the metal, forever?

RW: I hope so. I think one of the things is, people want to know, you get to be 61 and they want to know how much longer youre going to go. I always say six to10 years or as long as my body lets me. If Im healthy theres no telling how long I would coach

I dont enjoy parts of it stress, other peoples expectations that are totally unrealistic, or other peoples expectations that are unfair, you know, you get tired of that at times but I enjoy the practicing every day. I enjoy my association with the kids. I enjoy the excitement before games. An hour right before the game is the slowest time in the world. Youre in the locker room; you talk to your kids; youve done everything you can do, and thats the slowest time. Thats the most difficult time. When the game is over, you have a 30-second time period where it really feels good, and then you start thinking about the next game. The highs arent nearly as high as the lows are low. Thats the tough thing about my profession, is that the high moments dont last nearly as long, dont go nearly as high as the lows happen to you. So thats something you have to come to grips with, and at the end of the season youre totally, totally exhausted. Youre mentally and physically spent. So its the reason WB is pretty important to me.

WBM: You said that most of your friends consider you to be the most competitive person they have ever met. Is there a time when you are not competitive?

RW: No.

WBM: Are you competitive when you sleep?

RW: Id like to think I am because I want to make sure I stay in the bed because I dont sleep very much at all. Assistant coach Steve Robinson and I are having a little contest right now about the number of pushups, sit ups were doing in the month of May, and my God, how much sillier can you get than that? We go to dinner; we always flip to see who buys dinner. I dont mind paying. I just hate losing the flip.

WBM: How'd you get here?

RW: We wanted to we have a place in Charleston, but it's about a five-hour drive, and I love it. My wife designed the house, built the whole thing; we love it, but it's five hours away. And I wanted something that was a little quicker. I love the beach; I love the sound of the water; I open the windows and sleep better at night and I came down and stayed a couple of days one weekend and walked around and, we looked up and down the beach, thought about some other places, but this is two hours, 15 minutes away. To me that's like going to the grocery store, compared to what Ive done in my life.

WBM: Foxhole buddies, have you played golf here with them?

RW: With a couple of them, my partner who owns the house comes down with me a lot. I have one of my former assistants who is another foxhole buddy; Jerry Green, who lives in Topsail Beach, we'll get together. Its strange with me. People ask me about, what would your favorite foursome be, and they think Id say Tiger Woods, or Sandra Bullock, or Beyonce or something like that, but my favorite foursome or dream foursome would be four of my buddies.

WBM: Yeah.

RW: It'd be my foxhole buddies.

WBM: Who you trust.

RW: Yeah, I never have as much fun with anybody else. I mean I've played 12, 15 rounds with Tom Watson; I've played with Michael Jordan, I've played with a lot of really, really impressive, successful people. With Michael its a little different; we can revert back to so many years ago its a lot of fun there, but I have so much respect and admiration for what Tiger Woods accomplished on the golf course. Of course I would like to play golf with him, but if it comes right down to it, my foxhole buddies, give me three of those guys and I can have a great time. And I mean I can have a great time cause they give me junk, I give them junk. It's just fun.

WBM: Cole is going to want to know where you play golf here.

RW: For me a great day is not 18 holes of golf; for me a great day is 36 or 45.

WBM: Youve always got to play more...

RW: At Cape Fear I really, really enjoy it. I've been to Eagle Point to play; 100 years ago when it first opened I played. I guess the first Landfall course, but I haven't been back over there.

WBM: Whats your handicap?

RW: Right now its not as good. Most summers I can get it down to about a 5 or 6, but I always start out getting my tail kicked early in the year playing on my handicap from last fall because I take six to seven months off. I play 14 weeks a year, but those 14 I play pretty hard.

WBM: You said that most of your friends consider you to be the most competitive person they have ever met. Is there a time when you are not competitive?

RW: No.

WBM: Are you competitive when you sleep?

RW: Id like to think I am because I want to make sure I stay in the bed because I dont sleep very much at all. Assistant coach Steve Robinson and I are having a little contest right now about the number of pushups, sit ups were doing in the month of May, and my God, how much sillier can you get than that? We go to dinner; we always flip to see who buys dinner. I dont mind paying. I just hate losing the flip.

WBM: You have said that in every game somebodys got to give in. When do you give in, in life?

RW: I like to think, not. I get discouraged like everybody and I get hurt, sad, depressed, whatever, but what that usually does is drive me even more. Ill put it to you this way: The day I give in, that will be the day I quit coaching. Because I think that I couldnt handle it if I did. Id feel I had let down every player thats ever played for me if I didnt.

WBM: Youve said something that Id like you to explain to me more. You said, A parent can, if they're not careful, hurt a child by just focusing on what the child needs to accomplish. I don't want to assume I know what you meant by that.

RW: My wife has a little ceramic thing that I think is really good. Let me see if I can get it right, You should prepare a child for the path, not the path for the child. Prepare the child to handle things. Don't try to move the rock out of the way. Don't try to move something. Don't try to remove it. Try to prepare the child to handle things. And I thats one thing that we have to understand as coaches and as parents, is you do what you can to prepare the child to handle things. Dont live his life or her life for them. Don't try to make decisions for them. And I think that if you do that, it's going to work out. The best recruiting decisions I ever see are the ones where the child, the kid, is the dominant person in the decision- making process. But he still listens and takes guidance from his parents because those years of experience are worth something. But I do really believe that sometimes parents make it less exciting and less enjoyable for kids, and especially when they are trying to, either one lives their life through that child, or two. We face this a lot in college basketball, at North Carolina, or Duke or Kansas, is that the NBA is such an unbelievable monster the money. The parents focus on that more than how well their child is doing.

WBM: Tell us about Michael Michael Jordan.

RW: When you say Michael, I know who you are talking about. Michaels parents did the greatest thing in the world because they prepared him for the path. They didnt try to get the problems out of the way. They were there when he was cut from the varsity. Everyone says he was cut from the basketball team but he wasnt. They just didnt want him to play on the varsity as a sophomore. They made him stay on the JV team. But Michael had some problems and they made him take care of it. They told him, "You can handle it, you can do it, you can survive this, you can benefit from this"

He was gifted off-the-charts gifted. If they ever take an X-ray of his body, his heart is going to be the biggest heart of anybody theyve ever seen, because the competition of him, and excelling was what drove him to be the best basketball player thats ever lived. I can go back to the memories of him as a freshman, sophomore, junior in college and the things that he did and said that were off the charts

In saying all that, neither one of us, not Roy Williams, not Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, Eddie Fogler, not one of us wouldve believed he was going to do what he did. The first time I saw him, I said to Eddie Fogler, "Thats the best 6-foot 4-inch high school player Ive ever seen." We thought he was unbelievable. But we never thought that Michael Jordan was going to be the greatest player that ever lived. That came from what he has inside of him the drive he had, because he truly wanted to be the best, and he had better focus, better discipline, better drive and a better work ethic. Whether it was driven by fear of failure, as not making the varsity as a sophomore, or its just that he wanted to be the best, I dont really know. Every time I think of Michael Jordan, I think competitiveness thats the first thing I think of. But when I think of Michael Jordans competitiveness, a smile comes to my face.

WBM: You have a fan named Ms. Addie, and shes, oh golly, Ms. Addies an older woman and she sent me a list of questions.

RW: Ok.

WBM: Of all the people we solicited, shes the only one who sent in any questions. Ms. Addie asks, is there any chance of the Tar Heels coming to UNCW?

RW: Probably not. And the reason is because as a consolidated university we have 16 campuses and we can't make that our non-conference schedule every year. And what I've done, I've gone to UNC Asheville and helped them open up a new building. Basically I've had politicians in the state who tried to get me to go to East Carolina, try to get me to go to UNCW to Appalachian State, and with our schedule, we can't afford to do that. And what I do is if you build a new building, we'll come and help you open the building. It's what we did at UNC Asheville. And then the other thing is I do consider it a heck of a lot more if you have a North Carolina graduate as your coach. With Buzz Peterson down here I do a lot of different things for Buzz. Now we have a North Carolina guy at UNC Wilmington, North Carolina at UNC Greensboro, a North Carolina guy at Appalachian State, so there's a few of us around the state kinda thing. But it would be hard, because financially, we have 28 sports at North Carolina. And men's basketball pays for the most of that. And if we go somewhere for, pick a number, $25,000 guarantee, we can make 6 or 7 hundred by playing a home game. And so it's just not whats good for our entire athletic department. And there's so many schools that could do over that.

WBM: Miss Addie wants me to ask you about Hubert Davis.

RW: Wonderful, wonderful person, who I targeted; he did not call and express interest in the job. A couple years ago Jerod Haase had interviewed and thought about taking another coaching position and it hit me, you better think about this. One of these guys is going to leave, which I want them to do the young guys, especially. But all my staff, I hope I don't get the numbers wrong. Joe Holladay has been with me. This coming year will be my 25th year as a head coach. Joe's been with me 20 years; Steve Robinson's been with me 19 years; Jerod 11 years, so its not something that we have people leave very often. But at that moment a couple of years ago I thought who would you want to get, and didn't talk to anybody about it or anything, whoever. I thought, I have such a high regard for Hubert Davis the person, and he does know basketball, so when it did happen this time I had 14 former players, former North Carolina players, three former Kansas players that expressed interest in the job, and all of them are disappointed that I didn't pick them. But no one is disappointed in the choice that I made. The university accepted and loved that Hubert Davis is, that he's going to be a tremendous, tremendous addition to the team.

WBM: Hes got a big heart.

RW: Wonderful kid, great family, great role model, everything you'd want.

WBM: After losing three top-10 men to the NBA draft pick this past year, whats going to be the hardest thing to look forward to this next year?

RW: There's about 100 things. I think the first thing is making sure that our kids understand that we can still be successful. They're bright kids too; they know what we've lost, and getting them to understand now, that the team goal is the only thing that can be important. Trying to keep people healthy is a pretty big challenge; that'll be the biggest thing because the last couple years have been tough on us from an injury standpoint. But getting all those kids to focus on what we ask them to do, in regards to how big it may seem to them or how small it may seem to them, convince them and get them to do the absolute best they can do with that assignment.

WBM: And you'll have Dexter and Leslie coming back this year, right?

RW: Well, we hope so. The ACL, you never know how it's going to react, and we have more question marks coming back this year than any team I've ever coached. Because of the lack of experience, so many guys bouncing back from injuries, losing so many high-quality players, more question marks this year than any year I've ever had.

WBM: James Michael looked good at the end.

RW: Yeah, and now the question for him is how hes going to do when teams are aiming their defenses at him. Thats what was great about Tyler Hansbrough. The other team, the last thing the coach said before he left the locker room is, we've gotta stop Hansbrough, and he still performed, and now its a big challenge for James Michael to be able to do it when he's the first option, not the fourth, fifth or sixth.

WBM: You have said no matter how good your team is youre one step away from falling off a cliff. Explain, please?

RW: I do have another little saying; its under my laptop on my desk: "Basketball coaches are the last of the old cowboys." The posse is always around the corner and youre right on the cliff. There is something to that because things can change so drastically. We played Duke at their building last regular season and won by 18. We win the conference championship and that night, we were as good as anybody in the country, maybe the best. Then John Henson gets hurt, Kendall Marshall gets hurt, and were not the same team. Thats out of anybodys control. You go from the penthouse to the outhouse. In 1984 we were clearly the best team in the country. Kenny Smith was undercut on a drive and broke his wrist. Youre never the same team after that. Youre one step away from things changing drastically.

WBM: Life is that way, anyway. Youre always one step away from something drastic.

RW: The difference in life and coaching basketball at North Carolina is sometimes youre the only one that knows. Its your life; with the University of North Carolina, you know, its millions of people that know it, and they still think, "ol Roys supposed to be able to snap his fingers and take care of those things," and some things just cant be taken care of.

WBM: The pressure on you must be mind-boggling.

RW: Its something you cant allow yourself to dwell on. You know everyone is watching every move you make.

We lost to Duke at Duke in 2010 tough, tough year. We lost to them by 903

points, I think it was. It was just awful, and we got in the car and left and drove down here. I went and walked four times. I would go for an hour and come back because I couldnt stand to sit still. After four different walks during the day, a guy rode by on a bike (this was in early March, and it was the last regular season game), and the guy goes, "Man, you got killed last night." For a split second, I felt anger. I said, "You think I dont know that?"

We were on the back streets over here, and there were four or five college-aged kids. They said, "Coach, dont worry about that guy. Can you take a picture? We still love you." And so I go to take a picture with those guys. It was a good thing he kept going because it really did fire me up for a couple of seconds. I didnt need a guy on a bicycle telling me off.

WBM: Lets talk about focusing your kids, getting them to believe in themselves. How much harder is it now with 48-hour news media and all of that other stuff that theyre involved with?

RW: The first part of it is the recruiting is a million times harder. I can go into a home and visit with Pat and her son, and get home three hours later and Wanda tells me what I said in the home, because they put it on their Facebook; they put it on the internet, whatever. Theres nothing that is personal. Its all open to the world. Every kid you have, you can feel like, and I have said before that I thought one kid was just fantastic, and what he did at the game was huge for us, and somebody else the next morning may write a review that 180 degrees left, and I stay away from it. The student newspaper is one of the worst culprits. And I don't even read that. But the players, every student reads the student newspaper. We had Bobby Frasor on the 09 team that was extremely important to our team. And I had somebody in the student newspaper write how Bobby was killing us, how I was playing him too much, he had no worth but you have to get your kids to understand what is really important, what we talk about and the trust that they have for us as a staff.

WBM: The people that mentored you, one of them stood out to me. And Im curious to see how much she stands out. The woman and I think it was Mrs. Baldwin. Youre in Eastern North Carolina for something else, I dont remember what it was, but she has the bus rerouted, to take you through to Chapel Hill, and she says, Roy, this is where you should go to school.

RW: That was Carol Weir. Mrs. Baldwin was that old story, and I use it a lot with kids, high school seniors, college freshmen, sophomores, and I say, Think of the toughest teacher you've ever had, and then who's the best teacher you've ever had, and I'll bet you 75 percent it's the same person. And that was Mrs. Baldwin with me. She cared about Roy Williams too. Carol Weir, the home ec. teacher was purely responsive; she saw me compete in the basketball world and in the baseball world, and I wasn't very big, it was just I just competed. It was the only way I could tell you. And so she took a personal interest in me. I had her in class and had her in study hall, in fact, and she was great for me. She knew a little bit more about my situation than most of the teachers did, and this is a part of my life that most times I don't like to admit to, I was in Cameron Indoor Stadium before I was in Carmichael Auditorium. And they had a square dance thing at North Carolina and we went to this huge folk festival. Its not something I'm the most proud of, but Mrs. Weir we were leaving and she got the bus to come back through Chapel Hill, and she said, this is where I think you should go to school. And Buddy Baldwin went to North Carolina, and Buddy had started until my junior year I never even thought about going to college. College was not a part of my upbringing. My father was a sixth grade education; my mother was 10th grade; my sister didnt go to college, and I was the first in my entire Williams family that went to college. All of my cousins now this is personal, but because of Buddy Baldwin and people like Mrs. Weir and Mrs. Baldwin, I said I guess I should go. It just wasn't something that we talked about.

WBM: You and Coach K, you seem to have a feeling of mutual respect.

RW: And that's ok. We've done some things away from court and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. We're both past presidents. We're both on the board of directors at the same time. Our beliefs are very similar, in what we think is right in college athletics, specifically college basketball. I do have the utmost I could not have any more respect for what Mike had accomplished at Duke and what they've done. But, we don't socialize because we're different people. He doesn't play golf; I love to play golf. He has certain things that he likes to do and I do other things. And that doesn't mean that either of us are bad or don't like each other; it's just that you have such little free time. I'm not going to go to dinner with someone just to make it look good. I go to dinner with someone because I want to be at that dinner. And we're both at the age where you can make those kinds of decisions. Theres things that you have to do for the University of North Carolina and for Duke, that you may not care about doing that you have to do. You should do it. There's some people in the recruiting or coaches clinics that think that you should do, and you do. So when you have your private life, there's very few things I do in my private life that Roy Williams doesn't really want to do. I have to do so many of those other things. If I have some time to myself, I'm not going to call Mike K and say, Ok, Ill meet you at the Chop House or the Angus Barn just so everybody could say we go to dinner. I'm 61. I think Mike is 64, 65. Thats the good thing at our age; you can do what the crap you wanna do.

WBM: How often do you guys recruit the same player?

RW: A lot. We believe in the same things so you look for the same things. The nine years I've been back at North Carolina I think, pretty strongly think, that the Duke - North Carolina game has been the highest-rated college basketball game year after year. This year it was the highest-rated college basketball game in the last five years. Its a pretty big deal.

WBM: Last year it was a great game.

RW: Both of them were great games; I just didnt like the outcome of the last one.

WBM: Tell us about your Wrightsville.

RW: WB is a pretty doggone nice place to be. When you think about it its not unknown, but you dont really realize how pleasant it is until you get here. This is a pretty impressive place to walk through the community. I cant come down here without walking. Walking down to Roberts grocery store and going to Kohls and getting some of the ice cream. Its amazing, because people are always saying, "Coach, I saw you on the Loop." Or we may be in New York City and someone says, "I saw you at Wrightsville Beach."

WBM: One of the sayings about the town of Chapel Hill is that its the southern part of heaven. Do you think that southern part of heaven extends down here?

RW: Heaven in my minds got to have a beach. So if thats the case, Wrightsville Beach is a part of the southern part of heaven. No question.

WBM: Coming from the Asheville area, what drew you to the beach?

RW: You know, its crazy because the mountains are home. Ill always go back there. But Ill never not have a place at the beach. The sound of that ocean at night, the way it makes me relax. I love to feel the breeze. At night when the basketball games are over with, after 11 oclock, I go and sit on the porch for a couple of minutes and get the fresh air and feel the breeze no shoes, no shirt, sit on the beach, and those kinds of things. I dont go without a shirt unless its sitting out in the sun, but I love the flip flops and just relaxing.

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