Posted: 2:38 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013
We may not be the biggest fans of Ol’ Roy Williams, but the fashionable notion that he’s overrated is kind of ridiculous.
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Williams is said to benefit from coaching at Kansas and UNC, and there is some truth to that. But let’s remember that he followed Larry Brown. Brown was of course successful, but largely because he got Danny Manning, and the way he got Manning was by hiring his truck-driving father as an assistant coach.
When he left, he complained, like Rick Barnes at Clemson, at how tough it was to recruit at Kansas.
It wasn’t always easy for Williams, either, but he developed two key sources of talent: first, California, where he found a number of really useful players (Jacque Vaughn, Paul Pierce, Jerrod Haase and Drew Gooden, among others). And second, and quite surprisingly, the plains, where he found Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison, Rex Walters, Greg Dreiling, J.R. Giddens, Raef LaFrentz, Cedric Hunter, Mark Randall and Ryan Robertson. That’s home territory of course, and Kansas should be the dominant team on the plains, but it’s not like Brown was bringing these guys in.
He also put Kansas, long since a historic program, in a different orbit. Here’s KU’s tourney appearances from 1966 (Ted Owens’ first tournament appearance to 1986, Larry Brown’s last: 1966, 1967, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986
Obviously bids were easier to come by after the tournament expanded in the ’80s, but still. From Roy’s first year until now (Williams years highlighted in bold): 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013. It’s not like Kansas was what it became when he got there. He transformed that program.
And there’s no doubt that it’s easier to recruit to UNC than almost anywhere except maybe Kentucky lately, but we live now in the one-and-done era, and as cool as it is to send four or five players off to the draft in a year, you pay the price for it the next.
Despite that, Williams has been highly successful at UNC: he’s won two titles, been to three Final Fours and three Elite Eights. His worst year was 2009-10 when UNC was the NIT runner-up.
Obviously he gets a lot of talent, but so does Scott Drew. So does Rick Barnes. So did Ben Howland.
The talent on the bench is still really key.
We respect his ability. What we find irritating, along with a lot of Kansas and UNC fans, is his difficulty in being diplomatic. It’s one thing to tweak Duke fans, it’s a whole other to piss of significant sections of your own fan base, which Williams does fairly regularly.
His rather significant gaffe of comparing a poor season at UNC to the devastating Haitian earthquake, his cursing on CBS after losing to UNC in the title game, his general lack at times of self-control is off-putting.
But overrated? It’s ludicrous.