Tar Heels honor Williams after milestone win
Roy Williams usually writes the number of teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament on the white board in the locker room after a game.
But after No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 9 Villanova 78-71 on Friday at the Sprint Center, there were two numbers. Williams put down “32” since UNC (25-10) advanced to Round of 32. Then, in larger font, junior Reggie Bullock wrote “700” to signify Williams’ career wins.
Williams, who is 700-179 in 25 seasons, became the fourth active coach to hit that mark, joining Mike Krzyzewki, Jim Boeheim and Bob Huggins. He’s the 21st coach all-time to achieve the feat and was the third-fastest behind Adolph Rupp (836 games) and Jerry Tarkanian (876).
“No. 700 means I’ve been coaching a long time and had really, really good players,” Williams said. “But I was extremely excited for No. 25 for this team. I never mentioned 699 or 700 one single time to the team because I’m interested in what this team is doing.”
It was fitting that Williams’ 700th win came in UNC’s NCAA Tournament opener. In 15 years at Kansas and 10 years at North Carolina, Williams has made 23 NCAA appearances and won his first game every time, and his 20 consecutive years with at least one NCAA Tournament victory from 1990-2009 is an NCAA record.
“You know, when something like that happens, you usually like to have it happen at home where all your family and friends can be there,” Williams said. “If I was going to choose another place, this place was a fantastic place for 15 years in my life.”
Williams entered the season with the highest winning percentage of any active coach (.800) and the most wins of any coach after 24 seasons (675). He is also third all-time in NCAA Tournament wins with 62, behind only Krzyzewski (80) and Dean Smith (65).
Williams has won two national championships at UNC, beating Villanova along the way both times, and twice was selected as the AP national coach of the year.
Bullock, who wrote the number when Williams wasn’t looking, also presented the coach with a No. 700 UNC jersey to commemorate the accomplishment.
“I wanted to get 700,” Williams said. “I’d like to get 800, 900, 1,000, 1500. I know that’s not going to happen. But my focus was not on that, it really wasn’t. It was trying to get number 25 and have this team stay and play in another game.”
Kansas City is expected to receive 8 to 12 inches of snow this weekend, but the NCAA does not expect Sunday’s Round of 32 games to be affected.
“We are monitoring the weather situation on the ground and in our tournament control center and are fully prepared,” NCAA Vice President of Men’s basketball championships Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “We do not anticipate any game delays.
“In Kansas City, all of the teams and officials are already onsite. We are exploring extending their hotel stays if their travel is delayed after the games because of inclement weather. This region routinely has winter snow and has the appropriate equipment and procedures to manage these winter conditions.”
The snow is expected to start tonight and continue until mid-day Sunday. The times of Sunday’s games had not been released as of late Friday night.
“We encourage fans planning to attend games to pay attention to the weather, use good judgment and follow any directions from local authorities regarding travel and weather,” Gavitt said.