Kansas hadn’t even completed its win over Memphis in the NCAA championship game Monday night when an e-mail from an angry reader arrived.
Two nights after Kansas crushed North Carolina 84-66 in the NCAA semifinals, Roy Williams was in the stands at the championship game wearing Kansas gear.
Some North Carolina fans want to know if their coach’s loyalties are with the Tar Heels or Kansas, which he coached for 15 years before coming to North Carolina in 2003.
The answer is easy. Williams’ heart always is with the players he’s currently coaching. He always seems devastated when a season ends without an NCAA title, and this season is no exception.
North Carolina did not look well prepared Saturday as Kansas stormed to a 40-12, first-half lead. Fans who believe Williams should have used a timeout earlier to stop the Jayhawks’ momentum have a legitimate gripe.
But Kansas simply was the better team and would have beaten North Carolina regardless of whether Williams, Dean Smith or Red Auerbach was coaching the Tar Heels.
Why would Williams wear Kansas apparel after the Jayhawks clobbered his team? I haven’t had a chance to ask him, but here’s a guess.
Unlike many coaches, Williams wants everybody to like him. That’s usually an endearing trait. He is generous with fans, and no ACC basketball coach makes more of an effort to give the media interesting material than Williams.
Many Kansas fans resented him, though, after he left for North Carolina. Some expected him to coach there until he retired, and they turned against him. Williams was hurt to hear that a poster bearing his image was placed facing the toilet in a rest room they call “Roy’s Room” at the Downtown Barbershop in Lawrence, Kan.
Wearing Kansas gear might have been his way of trying to show those fans that he still cares about them. Many Kansas fans will be able to forgive and forget Williams now that successor Bill Self brought them something Williams never did – an NCAA title.
Those who still can’t forgive him will hold grudges forever, so it’s pointless to try to change their minds.
Problem is, now Williams angered North Carolina fans. They expected an NCAA title this season from the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. They didn’t get it after losing in such a way that Williams apologized to his players for not having them ready for Kansas.
Seeing him on CBS in Kansas gear after that was difficult to stomach. No matter how much you want everybody to like you, you’re always going to offend somebody when you’re in the public eye.
That might be the lesson Williams learns from his first meeting with Kansas as North Carolina’s coach.
– Ken Tysiac
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