Williams Not Worried About Facing Former Team

By Josh Herwitt - April 04, 2008


SAN ANTONIO -- North Carolina coach Roy Williams knew while his team played Louisville in Charlotte, N.C., last weekend that there was a decent chance he could be facing his former team in the Final Four.

But after Kansas' survival victory over Davidson in the Elite Eight last weekend, that circumstance has now become a reality and Williams has never really totally forgotten about his days in Lawrence, Kan.

"I have the greatest love for a place I gave my heart, body and soul for 15 years," the fifth-year UNC coach said about his former Jayhawks last weekend. "Nobody could have more love and try to give more to that place than I did for 15 years...They gave me a chance, and a chance when [I was] not exactly a household name. I was barely a name in my own house."

Now Williams is ever bit a household name after winning his first national title in 2004-05 with his alma mater and taking this year's team back to the Final Four for another chance at championship glory.

So if he isn't tired of answering all the questions of what it will be like to coach against Kansas and the Rock Chalk Jayhawk faithful, Williams certainly will be very soon.

"He has handled it well," sophomore forward Deon Thompson said about his coach dealing with the hype surrounding the game. "His focus is on the game with his team playing

But Williams also knows that facing his former team will be the Tar Heels' toughest challenge yet, in large part because of the problems that the Jayhawks present on both the perimeter and interior.

"For us, Kansas presents more problems for us than anybody we've faced all year by far," Williams explained. "I think they're the most balanced team we've played all year. They have tremendous perimeter players who can score and who can defend. They have tremendous post players who can score, who can defend, who can rebound.

"I've always felt like when the other team has those five guys who can score at any time, that's the most difficult defensive assignment."

The Jayhawks do have that balance among its guards and forwards, and their athleticism at each position poses another concern for UNC in tomorrow's national semifinal.

"They are all big-time players," junior guard Marcus Ginyard said. "We know it is going to be a challenge. They are tough and we have to do everything we can to slow them down."

Luckily for the Tar Heels, Tyler Hansbrough has managed to take his game to a new level during this year's NCAA Tournament, and UNC is hoping to ride that kind of play for one final weekend.

"After this weekend, there is nothing that he will feel he should have done better," Ginyard said of his teammate, "because he puts it all out on the court. We are trying to give the same effort that Tyler gives every game."

And if the Tar Heels do exert themselves like Hansbrough has done every single day since he's been in Chapel Hill, Williams might have Kansas fans even more perturbed about his departure five years ago.

"Somebody said the other day that if Kansas wins, they're gonna forgive you," Williams joked. "[But] I'd rather them not forgive me. That's just the bottom line."

Maybe forgiveness is overrated. For Williams, it is at least.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 05:15 PM on April 04, 2008
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