Williams Answers Reader Questions
Before going into Roy Williams’s office last week for a preseason interview, I asked fans to send their best questions for the Tar Heel head coach. They responded with some great queries, and some of his responses are listed below.
Aaron Horne: Will his recent medical issues have any impact on how much longer he coaches?
We’ve reached the point that fatalistic Tar Heel fans are already considering who the next Carolina coach might be (in a recent ESPNU podcast, the omnipotent Andy Katz pegged Hubert Davis as the most likely successor…before Davis has ever sat on the bench for one game as an assistant). The good news is there’s no sign a successor will be needed any time soon.
“It changes the way you think about everything,” Williams said of his recent health scare. “But it hasn’t changed what I want to do in coaching hardly at all…If anything, it’s made me appreciate what I do even more. To tell the players the night before I was going into surgery was very emotional. Seeing them and the interactions they gave me that night was wonderful.
“I did the surgery on Wednesday and they let me go home on Thursday. On Friday, I wasn’t feeling very good, but I came to the Smith Center to watch conditioning because I wanted to show them I was alive and kicking. The feeling with those players has made me understand how much I enjoy coaching. And even more than the coaching, I enjoy hopefully having a positive impact on some kids. In that way, this has made my desire to coach even stronger.”
Whitt Carter: What does Coach Williams take away from these recent cancer scares and how can he relate them to the team and this season?
Part of the answer to this question can also be found above. As for the mechanics of this season, as you probably expected, Williams wasn’t particularly excited about taking a month out of his normally hectic fall to “waste” time going to the doctor.
“I asked my doctor if I could go recruiting two days before or after my biopsy,” Williams said. “He said, ‘Well, Coach, you’re still in the first two weeks after your surgery…” And then Wanda interrupted and said, ‘He’s not talking about driving to Charlotte. He wants to get on an airplane.’ They very quickly told me that I would not be doing that.
“But my staff is so good. They do such a good job of doing everything they can possibly do to make up for the fact that I haven’t been able to go out (recruiting). And the fact of the matter is that an hour after they told me it looked like I had kidney cancer, I went into a prospect’s home. The next morning, I went by a prospect’s school. Before surgery, I did another visit. I wanted to do everything I could possibly do until the point that they told me I had to stop. “
By the way, knowing Williams's affinity for golf, you know his health issues were also difficult for him for another reason: he was scheduled to address the Ryder Cup team in Chicago, but was unable to travel due to the surgery.
We also received a fairly specific recruiting question that needed to be reworded in order to keep Williams out of the danger zone of specific prospects. We rephrased it as follows: How do you have to build a program differently because of the changes in recruiting over the past five years?
“It is even more difficult now than it was five years ago. It’s drastically different now than it was 10 years ago. You’re going to have some surprises. Sitting here right now, neither of us thought Kendall Marshall would be in the NBA right now. Both of us probably thought Harrison would be. We’re 50-50. We’d make an F on that test, but it makes no difference because they’re gone. We couldn’t prepare for that.
“At the point guard spot, I like to have some depth. The way I recruit, we’re always going to have more than one point guard. A couple years ago, Ty (Lawson) and Bobby (Frasor) were down and we went with Q(uentin Thomas). Last year, Kendall and Dexter (Strickland) were down and we went with Stilman (White). We recruit that position a little differently than we do the rest. You can never know what is going to happen and when it happens, there is no way of resupplying the team because all the prospects have made their decisions.”