Roy Williams Responds Again To Health Concerns

Roy Williams addressed concerns that his health has recently been deteriorating, questions that began this season after he collapsed on the sidelines after a vertigo attack in February.

“I’ve got a head cold right now,” he said. “I’ve got a sinus infection, I’ve got two bum knees and have never felt better in my life than I feel right now.”

Williams has been particularly critical of a recent Washington Post article that quoted former assistants Joe Holladay and Jared Haase talking about Williams’ health. Both made it seem as if Williams was struggling physically, but Williams said the article did not accurately depict his friends’ feelings.

Roy Williams

Roy Williams (Photo by Todd Melet)

“I’m very disappointed in the article,” he said. “I’ve got two of my very good friends that came to almost literally apologizing, tears in their eyes because they felt like they were misquoted.”

Williams had two knee surgeries last offseason and admitted on the Dan Patrick Show that he will be consulting doctors about a possible knee replacement.

But he answered questions about his health in a way only he could.

“I felt like I could play 45 holes of golf 27 days and never get tired,” he said. “I still feel that way as long as I have a cart that can drive right up to the ball.”

And as for the “R” word, Williams said he doesn’t want to retire. He wants to coach at least a few more years, no matter what happens this week.

“What happens these next five days is going to have nothing to do with the rest of my life,” he said. “If this was the first time and the only time I’d ever make a Final Four and the only time I’d get to compete for national championship, it might have a difference. But I’ve been very fortunate to coach a few more and I hope to coach some more.”

http://chapelboro.com/featured/roy-williams-responds-again-to-health-concerns

UNC Basketball To Celebrate Senior Night

Marcus Paige has been watching more than just game tape of upcoming opponent Syracuse to get ready for his last home game in a Carolina uniform.

“It’s wild how fast it goes,” Paige said. “Part of me feels like I’ve been here forever, but part of me feels like I just got here and was a freshman and I’ve been going back and looking at old clips of me my freshman year.”

He said he’s watched a few games, including the ACC championship game, when Paige scored 17 points, but the Tar Heels fell to Miami 87 to 77.

“I just wanted to remember what I looked like, wearing the t-shirt and ankle braces and stuff,” Paige said. “I was like ‘man I look like a 14-year-old out there,’ but it’s been fun, man.”

Paige was part of a recruiting class that included fellow seniors Brice Johnson and Joel James.

J.P. Tokoto was also part of that recruiting class. He declared for the NBA Draft last spring and is currently playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s D-League affiliate.

Roy Williams said when he thinks about this group of seniors, one word comes to mind.

“They’re really an unusual group,” he said. “Completely, completely different personalities. The uniqueness of the three of them is something I really enjoy.”

He said Paige, being a coach’s son, is always very serious, and has been a starter since day one.

James has slowly carved out a niche as a solid backup big man.

Johnson on the other hand, brings something a little different.

“He’s a unique guy,” Williams said. “One of you asked me one time if it’s a love-hate, it’s a frustration relationship. I’ve always loved the kid. He’s always been a guy that I’ve really enjoyed and when I walk out and see him he’s doing something goofy.”

Williams said he’s going to be sad when he doesn’t get to coach these seniors anymore, but he doesn’t want to talk about their legacy until their final game is played.

“What they’ve done here over the past three years amidst the turmoil and sensationalism and the negative recruiting and all that stuff that’s affected our team for three years it’s pretty admirable,” he said. “But ask me that question when the season is over with and I’ll tell you.”

Toby Egbuna, Spenser Dalton and Justin Coleman will also be honored at Senior Night.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Make sure to tune into WCHL at 5:30 for UNC Health Care’s Countdown to Tipoff to get all of your pre-senior night coverage.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-basketball-to-celebrate-senior-night

Roy Williams And The Importance Of Practice

Roy Williams is no Allen Iverson — he wants to talk about practice.

UNC’s starting lineup has been a revolving door of different players in the past few weeks, but he said the decision about who starts and who sits isn’t really up to him.

“I don’t have a plan,” he said. “So many people think coaches make the decision who starts and I think players make the decision how well they play in practice.”

Questions still remain about what Williams will do with the lineup when the Tar Heels take on NC State Wednesday night.

In the past four games, the Tar Heels have used three different starting lineups, featuring eight players.

The most recent change was replacing Kennedy Meeks with Isaiah Hicks in UNC’s blowout victory over Miami on Saturday.

Roy Williams

Roy Williams (Photo by Todd Melet)

“I don’t sit back and say ‘this guy is playing poorly, I’m going to take him out of the lineup for the next 27 days,'” Williams said. “I’m going to play who I think is the best at that specific time and I thought that’s what Isaiah deserved on Saturday.”

Hicks came out strong in his third start of the season, putting up 12 points and five rebounds, but despite that, Williams said he won’t decide anything about the starting lineup until he sees how his team does in practice.

“To be honest with you I haven’t even thought about that part of it,” he said. “I’m trying to worry about having great practices Monday and Tuesday to get ready for NC State.”

When it comes to the debate over who to start and who to sit, Williams makes it seem like it’s much ado about nothing.

He remembers former Tar Heel Marvin Williams, who helped win a championship in 2005 and went on to be the number two overall pick in that year’s NBA Draft.

“Marvin Williams never started a game for us and he was fantastic and we had a pretty doggone good year that year,” he said. “Sometimes starting is overrated. The kids may not feel that way but that’s how they should feel.”

 

http://chapelboro.com/featured/roy-williams-and-the-importance-of-practice

UNC Basketball Prepares For Tough Stretch

Roy Williams and the Tar Heels are finally ready to put the past few weeks of poor play behind them after a 85-64 win against Pittsburgh.

The Tar Heels broke out of their shooting slump, hitting nearly 60 percent of their shots overall and more than half of their three pointers.

“We lost two in a row, both of them on the road to very good teams,” Williams said. “You try not to go up to the top of the building and push our guys off because it is college basketball, it’s going to have an ebb and a flow or peaks and valleys, whichever you want to call it.”

Unfortunately the team won’t have time to rest on its laurels as Duke comes to town Wednesday night, followed by a stretch of tough competition.

“It was a good day for us, we needed to have that,” Williams said. “We have three games in seven days and six games in 15 days so it’s that time of year when you better be playing well or you’re going to get beat.”

Four of the team’s final six regular-season games come against ranked opponents, with the two unranked teams being NC State and a resurgent Syracuse.

Roy Williams

Roy Williams is ready to put poor play from the Tar Heels behind him. (Photo via Todd Melet)

So far the Tar Heels have managed to stay atop the league, at 10-2 they lead Miami by one game, but Williams said concentration was key this time of year.

“What you have to do is play the best you can on that particular day and then refocus on your next team,” he said. “We put in a lot of time and effort and concentration on Pittsburgh and now we’ve got to change it over to Duke and it’s a big, big game and immediately after that we’ll have to change to Miami.”

One thing Williams said wouldn’t be changing is his lineups.

After playing Kenny Williams, Luke Maye and Joel James significantly fewer minutes against Pittsburgh, some speculated that the head coach was shortening his bench for the final stretch, but Williams said he expects them to play their regular minutes moving forward.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-basketball-prepares-for-tough-stretch

Tar Heels Try To Turn The Corner After Boston College

Many won’t see a regular season win against the team with the worst record in the ACC as a major victory — But Theo Pinson says otherwise.

“Last game was really huge for us,” he said. “I don’t think people really realize how big it was for us.”

Down one with 2:22 to go and without the services of their head coach, the Tar Heels squeaked out a three point victory to halt a two-game losing streak. Assistant coach Steve Robinson took over for Roy Williams after he collapsed during the game.

Roy Williams on his struggle with Vertigo

“We were in a packed house and we were down,” Pinson said. “Everything was going their way and Coach Rob just told us ‘play how we taught y’all in practice.'”

Marcus Paige found his shot at the end of the game, scoring six of the team’s nine points in the final two minutes.

“We did it,” Pinson said. “We got stops and we converted on the other end, we executed and that was huge. It just goes to show that they say things just work out.”

The Tar Heels hope to put a rough stretch of games behind them on Sunday when Pittsburgh comes to Chapel Hill.

“I think now it’s just being consistent with our concentration and effort defensively,” Williams said.

Before the start of the Boston College game, he made an unusual change in his starting lineup, sitting regular starters Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson.

Williams said he sat Meeks and Johnson because they had the two lowest defensive grades against Notre Dame the previous game.

While Jackson responded to the benching with a 20 point game, Williams said Johnson was upset with his play.

“He and I have had a good talk,” Williams said. “He’s an unusual dude and I love him to death. I’m just trying to push, push, push.”

After five consecutive double-doubles, Johnson finished with just nine points and five rebounds, due in large part to foul trouble.

“Brice is Brice,” he said. “But he’s just gotten better and better and better and I think everyone knows that. If I can get him to concentrate a little more on the defensive end then he’s got a chance to be a big time player for a long time.”

Williams said he has not yet thought about whether the three players benched will return to the starting lineup on Sunday.

Tipoff is at 1:00 p.m., make sure to tune into WCHL starting at 11:30 with UNC Health Care’s Countdown to Tipoff with Aaron Keck.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-try-to-recapture-their-toughness

Roy Williams Doesn’t Like ESPN’s Green Room

The green room is a reference to where the top college players gather on draft night, waiting for their name to be called. ESPN, along with other channels broadcasting college basketball games, have used players pro potential to market broadcasts.

In a press conference held Friday afternoon, UNC basketball coach Roy Williams was asked a question about the schedule.

He took that as an opportunity to express his frustration with ESPN frequently mentioning the green room and the NBA during college games.

Hear the full rant below:

 

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/roy-williams-doesnt-like-espns-green-room

UNC Looks To Recapture Shooting Touch

The Tar Heels will try to break out of their shooting slump in Saturday’s game against Boston College.

Despite being in the midst of a 10 game winning streak, UNC head coach Roy Williams said he is concerned about his team’s shooting over the past three games.

“It’s frustrating, it’s disconcerting, it’s questioning what we’re doing,” he said. “I learned under Coach Smith we’ve always wanted to get good shots and have the better shooters take more shots, but right now we’re really struggling trying to put the ball in the basket.”

The Tar Heels have shot under 40 percent from the field in each of the past three games. In the 17 previous games, UNC never shot under 40 percent and made at least 50 percent of their shots 13 times.

“I should say it’s surprising because before these past three games I think we were first or second in the ACC in shooting percentage for the year,” Williams said. “And then all of the sudden we haven’t been able to throw the ball in the ocean.”

The team will have a six day break before the start of the Boston College game. Williams said he is planning on lightening the load to give his players a mental break.

“We’ll get a lot of shots up,” he said. “That’s about all you can do. You can’t get a crystal ball and start humming to it.”

If the Tar Heels want to keep this win streak alive, they’ll have to rediscover their shooting stroke.

After Saturday they will face hostile environments three times in eight days, facing Louisville, Notre Dame and Boston College for a second time.

“You’d better be ready to play every night regardless of who you’re playing and where you play,” Williams said. “I know that’s cliche but that’s the truth.”

http://chapelboro.com/featured/unc-looks-to-recapture-shooting-touch

UNC Winning By Committee

If you ask UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams about his team’s identity – he’ll tell you it doesn’t have one.

“The identity of this team is that we have no identity,” he said. “It just changes game to game who we’re going to depend on and who’s going to get it done.”

Through 18 games this season, the Tar Heels have had seven different players lead the team in scoring.

Brice Johnson is the team’s leading scorer overall, averaging 16.1 points per game, but five other players are also averaging double figures.

“If I had to pick one thing I think it is our depth,” Williams said. “So far, and let me knock on wood, we’ve been able to withstand foul trouble or injuries.”

Most recently, it was junior center Kennedy Meeks who led the team with 23 points to beat in-state rival NC State.

The Tar Heels won despite the lack of production from their three leading scorers.

Marcus Paige, Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson combined for 15 points, something Williams said frustrated Paige.

“During the game on Saturday he came to the bench one time and said ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me,'” Williams said.

Paige finished with three points on 1-9 shooting, but Williams said he was happy that other players stepped up.

“The other guys had to pull them up this time and that’s always good for us,” he said.

Paige will look to get back in form against the reeling Wake Forrest Demon Deacons Wednesday night in Chapel Hill.

Wake has lost four of their last five games, while the Tar Heels look to push their win streak to double digits.

 

http://chapelboro.com/featured/unc-winning-by-committee

Brice and Roy: A Love Story

It’s become commonplace among Tar Heel basketball fans over the past four years to ask themselves a similar question before each game.

Are we getting “Good Brice” or “Bad Brice?”

Perhaps nobody has asked that about senior forward Brice Johnson more than his head coach, Roy Williams—creating a fascinating relationship between them.

Thrust into the conversation recently as one of the nation’s best players thanks to his 39-point, 23-rebound game against Florida State last week, Johnson has shown steady improvement all season long and is the main reason this year’s Tar Heels have made the leap to NCAA title contenders.

Brice Johnson's recent hot streak has the nation taking notice. (Todd Melet)

Brice Johnson’s recent hot streak has the nation taking notice. (Todd Melet)

Despite the growth in his game, Williams knows there is still plenty of potential out there—so he treats Johnson as tough as he always has, almost like a son.

For Johnson, it’s just what he knows. His high school coach, Herman Johnson—his father—treated him the same way.

“It takes a lot for someone to get under my skin,” Johnson said. “My dad did a pretty good job of that sometimes. Coach Williams does a pretty good job of pushing me. He does just about the same as my dad.

“But my dad is my dad, so he kinda did a little bit more,” he continued. “He didn’t want me to be the golden child.”

In recent years, it hasn’t been uncommon for Johnson to appear emotional and distraught during his postgame interviews with the media—even after wins. Many times it’s clear that Williams has just finished using him as an example in front of his teammates—making sure Johnson is never the golden child, whether he scores four points or 40.

“I guess sometimes you can step over the line, and I’m sure I have,” Williams said about the way he pushes Johnson. “But if I’m trying to help you be the best you can possibly be—I sound like an Army commercial—if I’m trying to do that to you, then I don’t think that needs any apology.

“But he’s such a wacko kid,” the coach continued, with a smile. “”He comes in [the room] and I start laughing.”

While the majority of the Williams/Johnson love affair comes behind closed doors, there are times when it spills over into games.

Against Tulane earlier this year, Johnson drew laughs from the bench when he patted Williams’ head as he approached to take his seat.

This reaction is typical for Roy Williams whenever Brice Johnson makes a mistake. (Todd Melet)

This reaction is typical for Roy Williams whenever Brice Johnson makes a mistake. (Todd Melet)

The next game, against then No. 22 UCLA in Brooklyn, Williams benched Johnson for using profanity out on the floor. Held out for close to nine minutes during the first half, Johnson responded with a then career-high 27 points to lead UNC to victory.

“He does every little thing that he can,” Johnson said of Williams. “I can’t say exactly what he says, but he has said some very motivating things that probably hurt my heart a little bit, and kind of got to me—forced me to play a little bit better.”

Williams has done the same thing since Johnson first arrived in Chapel Hill from his home in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Push him to get a little bit better each day, whatever it takes.

Now the scrawny 6-foot-10 185-pound freshman–who wasn’t on anyone’s high school All-American team—has bulked up to 230, added a mean right-handed hook shot to pair with his explosive dunks, and established himself as the go-to guy for a traditional college basketball powerhouse.

“Joe Holladay told me after [Johnson’s] freshman year—the first day of workouts—he didn’t know if [Johnson] would show up for practice,” Williams said, referencing his former assistant. “He said he thought [Johnson] would go home that day. Brice said ’I thought about it.’

“It’s been a gradual process,” he added. “I keep pushing him, and pushing him, and pushing him. And I’m gonna keep doing that.

“But he’s made some very significant progress there.”

Although Johnson has had a couple off-nights this year, like his three points on 1-for-8 shooting against Clemson, his level of consistency has been the most notable aspect of his improvement.

Johnson's emergence has fans in Chapel Hill thinking big this season. (Todd Melet)

Johnson’s emergence has fans in Chapel Hill thinking big this season. (Todd Melet)

Naturally a quiet personality, Johnson admits that the expectations that come along with his recent hot streak do scare him a bit.

That’s where Williams comes in, always preaching to him what he’s capable of—regardless of whether he’s in the mood for it.

“It does help for him to say a couple of things that’ll motivate me to get me into the right frame of mind,” Johnson said. “But I don’t necessarily need him to do that.”

As the season goes on and the Tar Heels continue to win, Johnson’s star will continue to shine brighter.

And with it, Williams’ chances at his third—and the school’s seventh—national title will continue to grow larger, potentially cementing this odd couple in UNC history forever.

No matter what happens though, there’s one thing you can always expect Williams to say about his big man, given what they’ve been through together.

“With Brice, you gotta understand,” he said. “Brice is still Brice.”

http://chapelboro.com/featured/brice-and-roy-a-love-story

Roy Williams Remembers Dean Smith

As Chapel Hill and the nation mourns the passing of former UNC Coach Dean Smith, tributes from notables are pouring in from far and wide.

Current Tar Heel Head Coach Roy Williams reflected at a press conference on Sunday.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/roy-william-remembers-coach-dean-smith