Kansas, Kansas, Kansas (Ugh!)


It had to be Kansas. Kansas. Kansas.

Roy Williams may be over the heartbreak and heartache his leaving Lawrence caused in 2003, but it’s just getting worse with me. The tweets, emails and blog posts are already out there, claiming that Bill Self has built a better program at KU than ol’ Roy has at UNC over the last 10 years.

Statistics don’t show that (they’re pretty damn even, in fact), but the fact that Tar Heels have now gone home at the hands of the Jayhawks in three of the last six NCAA Tournaments makes it seem that way to a lot of basketball fans.

Both programs have been great all the way back to the Phog Allen and Frank McGuire eras, each having blip periods that caused them to change coaches. But the last 10 years have been basically even-steven, certainly close enough to disavow any notion that one guy has out-coached the other.

Kansas and Self have won more games and have a better record (300-58 for 84%) than Carolina and Williams (282-79 for 78%), but that is largely due to several factors over that 10-year span.

One, Self took over a Kansas team that Williams left in sounder shape than the one Roy inherited from Matt Doherty. Two, the Tar Heels had one dreadful season in the last 10 years, the 20-17 debacle that followed losing four starters off the 2009 national champions. And, three, Carolina’s overall pipeline to the pros has been better than Self’s at Kansas, which ironically has made it worse for UNC.

Thirteen players have been drafted in the first round during the Williams era, 11 of them who left a total of 17 seasons on the Tar Heel table. Compare that to Kansas under Self, which has produced nine first-round picks,   one who left after one year, two who left after two and another two who left after three seasons. If you add Mario Chalmers, the MOP of the 20008 Final Four who was drafted in the second round, the Jayhawks have lost 10   seasons of eligibility in the last 10 years.

As for the NCAA Tournament, Self and Kansas have been there all 10 years but with less results than Carolina and Williams in nine trips. KU has one national championship (’08) and reached another Final Four (2012) and could still improve on those numbers this season. The Jayhawks have gone out in three regional finals, one Sweet Sixteen (and counting), one second round ouster and two embarrassing first-round upsets (Bucknell and Bradley in 2005 and ’06).

Carolina under Williams has those 2005 and ’09 NCAA titles, one other Final Four and three Elite Eight game goners. Sunday’s loss to KU was the third second-round ouster for UNC and Williams, who holds the record of 23 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with at least one victory. Both Self and Williams have won three national Coach of the Year honors at their current schools.

Their conference records are pretty close, with Self winning a few more regular-season and tournament titles in the Big 12 than Williams in the ACC. But, over that 10 years, the ACC has been the better league top to bottom and won three national championships to KU’s one for the Big 12.

So don’t give me that hoo-ha that Kansas has a better program than Carolina. They are both great. What skews the pooch are those three losses to KU in the three NCAA match-ups, and each one has a story to itself.

At the 2008 Final Four at San Antonio, the Tar Heels were a slight favorite over Kansas after winning both the ACC regular season and tournament and losing only two games all season. But this was the first time Williams faced Kansas, the still-angry KU crowd and all the storylines took away from the game itself.

The Heels played horribly, fell behind by 40-12 in the first half and made a late push that fell short in the 84-68 crusher. Williams (wearing the infamous KU sticker) stayed to watch the Jayhawks win the national championship two nights later, only after Memphis did not foul Kansas with a three-point lead and Chalmers’ dramatic bomb sent the game into overtime.

When the 2012 NCAA brackets came out, Carolina was on another collision course with Kansas in the Midwest Regional, hoping to have John Henson back at full strength from the wrist he sprained in the ACC Tournament. Of course, it got worse after Kendall Marshall went down in the second-round win over Creighton. With back-up point guard Dexter Strickland already sidelined by a knee injury, the Tar Heels were left with freshman reserve Stilman White, who played admirably in the 13-point loss to the Jayhawks in St. Louis.

The committee did it again this season, when it was an even worse scenario for Carolina, which lost two sophomores, one junior and one senior from its 2012 starting lineup that when whole was the only serious threat to Kentucky’s national championship. And the suits sent the Tar Heels to Kansas City (which is like playing Carolina in Greensboro).

By then, UNC had made the NCAA Tournament only due to perhaps Williams’ best coaching job of his 25-year career. Reluctantly, in early February, he scrapped his two low-post offense for a small lineup of four guards and little presence in the paint. The Heels launched and made enough three-pointers to turn their season around and get another NCAA bid, but they went to the Dance living by the long bomb, which was enough to give Williams the hives.

And, yes, they died that way, shooting barely 30 percent for the game and giving in to Kansas’ best half of the tournament thus far. So Carolina under Williams is 0-3 against KU and Self. And, since they will never play in the regular season by mutual consent, it will stay that way until the next time they meet in the NCAA tournament.

With at least five guys 6-9 or bigger next season, Williams will go back to the way he likes to play and, sooner or later, he’ll see his old school again. The NCAA committee seems to like that kind of theater for TV.

Even though, as of this moment, we hate it.

 

All photography in Hoop It Up is provided by Todd Melet.

http://chapelboro.com/hoop-it-up/ford-corners/kansas-kansas-kansas-ugh/

Roy To Face KU's Self In Skins Game

Everyone knows that Roy Williams’ favorite off-season past time is golf, chasing that little white ball around his favorite courses all over the country and the world. Williams keeps a list of the top 100 golf courses in America and at last count ol’ Roy had played about 65 of them.

While he is never a phone call or thought away from his basketball team and the latest recruiting target, Williams strategically schedules his golf games from April to October in basically three categories: regular matches with his closest cronies wherever and whenever they can tee it up; carefully planned trips for his so-called Foxhole Gang of long-time friends (sometimes they even bring their wives!) and a few of the hundreds of charity events he is invited to play in.

In the last month, after completing his 2011 high school recruiting class and learning happily that Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller will return for the 2012 season, Williams has been executing all three of his golfing missions. He will occasionally meet three of his local buddies early in the morning at the Chapel Hill Country Club and, riding carts quickly between shots, try to complete a competitive match in record time. His goal is to always be at his office three and a half hour after they tee off (which if you don’t play golf is considered a very fast round).

In the last month, Williams went on a “boys’ golf trip” to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico and a “wives’ trip” to Palm Springs, California. This weekend he is headed back to Kansas, where most of the hard feelings from his emotional departure in 2003 have subsided. He will participate in a Skins Game at the grand opening of the Firekeeper Golf Course at the Fire Brand Casino and Resort outside of Topeka. It is to support the Notah Begay III Foundation, which benefits Native Americans all over the country. Begay, the professional golfer who was Tiger Woods’ roommate at Stanford, designed the Firekeeper course and will play in the Skins Game with Williams, head pro Randy Towner and current Kansas Coach Bill Self, who is a 12 handicap compared to Williams’ 10.

“Trust me, he is a better golfer than me. When I played with him before, he was (better),” said Self, who recalls playing two rounds with Williams when Self worked at Oral Roberts and Williams was at KU.

“It’s a nine-hole Skins match with two pros, one really good player and one hack,” added Self, referring to himself as the hack. “I’ll definitely be the weak link in that group. It should be a lot of fun playing with those three. Of course, Roy will add so much to it. Everybody respects the job he did at KU.”

Self succeeded Williams at Kansas and has had the Jayhawks highly ranked in the last eight years, including the 2008 club that hammered the Tar Heels in the Final Four semis in San Antonio and won the national championship two nights later over John Calipari’s Memphis team. (Williams, lest we forget, has won two NCAA titles since coming home to Carolina).

The following week, Williams is scheduled to be paired with Calipari, who has since moved to Kentucky and has played UNC three times already. Kentucky won in Lexington in 2010 and the Tar Heels returned the favor in Chapel Hill this past December. Then, of course, the Wildcats won the rubber match in the 2011 Elite Eight game in Newark for a trip to the Final Four.

Self and Calipari are the last two coaches to take Williams’ teams out of the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels will face the coach and team they beat in between – Tom Izzo and Michigan State for the 2009 national championship – in the first annual (aircraft) Carrier Classic in San Diego on Veterans Day.

So far, no golf game is scheduled with Izzo this summer.

Any suggestions for golf or basketball tips Roy should offer Self and Calipari?

http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/roy-to-face-kus-self-in-skins-game/