A Fan’s Defense of Roy Williams


Being a Carolina Alum living in North Carolina, I meet a lot of UNC Basketball fans. A remark I have heard from more than a few recently is that if Roy Williams can’t win more often, he needs to be fired. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion but people who think this might be a little confused.

I was at UNC during the 3 years of Matt Doherty. My graduating class was the first class since the 1976 that didn’t get to experience a Final Four run. In fact, UNC had won the year before I got there and won the National Championship the year after I graduated.

At least the class of ’76 had Dean Smith coaching. Instead I was subjected to 3 years of failure, which included the infamous 8-20 season, which culminated with team mutiny and ultimately Coach Doherty’s dismissal. Now even though I don’t blame Doherty for all the problems that befell the program during that time, this does set the stage for what things could be and aren’t even close to.

Mar 26, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams watches game action against Wisconsin Badgers during the first half in the semifinals of the west regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Since Roy came to Carolina in the fall of 2003, the Heels have been to the NCAA tournament 11 of the 12 years, with the off year being a run to the NIT finals. This run included zero first round losses, 7 Sweet Sixteens, 6 Elite Eights, 3 Final Fours, and 2 National Championships. He has averaged 27.7 wins per season since he has been at Carolina and has won at least 20 games each season except for the first year he was here in 2003. To put this in perspective Coach K during this same time has 2 National Championships, 3 Final Fours, 4 Elite Eights, 8 Sweet Sixteens, and 3 first round losses. I know the head to head hasn’t looked great in the last few seasons, and Duke had won more games per season, aided by I can’t tell you how many cupcake games, but I would rather have UNC’s postseason run during Roy’s time than Duke’s that for sure.

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So if Roy has been so stellar, why are there people who think he should be fired? First it doesn’t help that Duke’s success has been more recent. Coach K’s involvement with the Olympic team has clearly revitalized not only him but his program, as just 8-10 years ago Duke was becoming mediocre and recruits were going elsewhere. That revitalization has led to some big recruiting classes and some more recent success, though also some embarrassing losses to likes of Mercer and Lehigh. However, UNC should’ve had a championship as recent as 2012 if some Creighton player hadn’t pushed Kendal Marshall to the ground as he was in midair. I know injuries are part of the game, but my point is that if he had stayed healthy UNC would be averaging a championship about every 4 years, a pace we are still currently on as the Heels are a favorite for 2016, and really what fan wouldn’t want that.

Of course the Marshall injury leads to another critique of Roy which is recruiting. Despite popular opinion, Roy has done a fantastic job recruiting players who fit the system and keep Carolina competitive.  Unfortunately, the NCAA has put a damper on that job of late but the fact that UNC is often still listed as a final school for some of the top recruits absolutely shows the great job Roy has done despite this.

So for all of you out there who feel Roy isn’t the right guy for the job, please give a better reason than wins and recruits because it could always be worse. If you need any more proof just look back at where we were before Roy got there.