Author: Dawson Haywood
I had just turned ten years old when I watched the buzzer go off in the 2009 National Title. I had watched one of the most dominant duos in NCAA and Carolina history, Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough, tear up the league and seal the deal against Michigan State. Before I even understood what journaling was, I wrote about that game as it was happening. I was mesmerized. The 2009 team is the team that got me into basketball. I owe a great deal of my love for basketball to Roy Williams and the team he put together that year. This is my tribute to him
After 33 seasons of coaching, you would expect a coach to have a few losing seasons tangled up in such a long career. Roy Williams has only had one. What might be just as impressive is that during his long career his Kansas and Carolina teams have only missed a total of two NCAA tournaments. In fifteen seasons at Kansas Roy led the Jayhawks to nine regular-season titles and four tournament titles. In eighteen seasons with Carolina, he also led the Tarheels to nine regular-season titles, three conference tournament titles, and three National Championships.
In 2017 at the North Carolina State Title games my sister takes a look at my parents after an old man comes across the jumbotron and says “Hey I met him in the tunnel” and went on to tell us about the short encounter he had with him. The man she had had that short encounter with was Roy Williams. Roy actually approached my sister who was in the tunnel because she was working for the Hickory Ridge High School yearbook, Hickory Ridge Women’s Basketball made the State Finals that year, and she was holding a camera. He had asked her how she was doing and wondered what she was doing with a camera. She had explained to him why she was there and my sister proceeded to ask him “Are you here to watch any family members?”. Roy replied with a short chuckle and said “Not exactly”. He was there to watch Leaky Black and the Cox Mill Chargers who would go on to win a state title that year and the next year.
Us Carolina fans that have really followed the team yet have never met Roy in person still feel like we have a personal connections with him especially with the emergence of social media. During the season we would frequently see videos of him dancing with his team after big wins, the Carolina Men’s Basketball pages would often showcase what shoes he was wearing that night (His last pair being a pair of Carolina Blue Jordan 4s), and sometimes he would make an appearance at Charlotte Hornets games where his appearance on the jumbotron often caused to crowd to have a mix of cheers and boos because there were Duke fans in the stands. This leads me to the Coach K v Coach Williams rivalry.
Since Coach Williams accepted the job as head coach at Carolina he has gone 18-22 against Coach K’s Blue Devils. Fortunately enough, though he has a losing record against them, Roy decided to go out the best way any Carolina Coach could. Roy’s last game in the Dean Dome and on the Roy Williams Court was against Duke. For his final act for his home fans Roy and the Tarheels defeated Coach K and the Blue Devils in a dominating fashion. 18 seasons we have seen the two legendary coaches square off against one another in the greatest rivalry in basketball. Though Roy may have a losing record against Duke one thing he can hold over their heads is that he won three National Titles since joining the Tarheels in 2003 whereas Duke has only won two since then.
Roy Williams. One of the most winningest coaches in basketball history. He’s going to be a hard one to replace and whoever does replace him must be able to maintain the high standards Williams and Smith have set for this school.