As you know if you have read my blog, I am a Tar Heel. Born and Bred, never wavering, always staunch, even during the Doherty years. I love my husband; I love my children; I can't decide if the Heels come before or after my dogs. And I love my dogs! So, living among and being married to a Jayhawk in the era of Roy Williams has not always been easy. When he said he was never leaving Kansas, I actually kicked something (I think it was a chair). When he said he was leaving Kansas, my husband called him names (then I kicked him!--not really).
In the 5 years since Roy Williams left Kansas, I have felt honor-bound to defend his decision to leave. I don't profess to know Coach Williams. I do know that if Dean Smith recommended him, then he is a credit to our program in Chapel Hill. Coach Williams seems to be carrying on the "Carolina Tradition" as if Coach Smith left the notes on how to do so in a drawer in the basketball office. When he was here in Kansas, I was glad to hear Roy talk--it reminded me of home. I am more glad to see him in Chapel Hill--kind of a feeling of "all's right with the world."
I went to San Antonio this past weekend for the Final Four with my best friend. She of the Jayhawk variety. My husband couldn't get out of some work things, and she could, so we went. We discussed even before we had an idea to go whether our friendship would survive this game. You see, she was a "Roy-Hater". Felt like he lied, led them down a rosy path only to strand them. I never understood--she likes Coach Self. She just hates Roy Williams. Unreasonably. Through her hatred, she has taught all of those around her a little about herself. (Her husband, God bless his heart, learned that there would never, never be an amicable divorce, should a separation ever be in their future, and that he really should treat her a little more respectfully!) We not only have not spoken about Roy in 5 years, we haven't even watched a basketball game together. It has been difficult. Basketball was the only thing we could not talk about.
I brought magazines for the 9-hour trip home, imagining a world where we could be trapped in the car not speaking except to beg for a pitstop, which she may or may not grant. So in the car on the way down, we finally talked about basketball. And Roy. Even before we left Wichita, after searching her heart, she decided that hating him was not the best option, and she even broke down and said that, if the Heels won, she would buy a shirt and wear it Monday night. I told her I would buy that shirt.
Well, we all know what happened. My Heels played as badly as they have played in a long, long, time. My friend made an interesting observation: While they were up 28 points in the first half, she wondered how the Hawks would lose--I wondered when the Heels would make their run and win. Kind of the difference in the Hawks and Heels in a nutshell.
So for Monday's game, Roy was shown on TV wearing a Jayhawk sticker. To hear some Tar Heels talk, you would think that the man had a little Dean Smith voodoo doll with a noose around his neck, hanging him in effigy once again. On the message boards, Roy was denounced by his own people. I am so very,very tired of defending Roy Williams to people who don't know him. I don't know him, and he doesn't ask for me to defend him. He doesn't need me to defend him. He just seems like a nice man, and I can't stand to hear people who don't know him hating him, or criticizing his actions. Not his coaching--we all love to second-guess a coach. Should he have called a time-out in the first half? If he has done his job (and his record this year says that he has not only done it, he has done it very, very well), those kids know what to do. This is a discussion of his coaching, not his character. Shooting him down for wearing a Jayhawk on his shirt? That is assassinating his character. Who are we to do that?
So here's my take: Roy came back to Carolina because (among anything else that is personal to him) he is loyal. Why do we hold that against him when he is loyal to another team? Do we not agree that his character is such that he could not coach his best against that same team? I know that I do. Good teams have bad games. Our bad game came at the worst possible time. As much as a coach says "my bad", it isn't his bad--the bad belongs to every player, every manager, every coach, even every fan. It just wasn't going to happen that night. It will happen again. And again. And again. The good and the bad.
Our friendship survived. The program lives on.