North Carolina will need to get by Villanova and before Roy Williams would face his former team in Kansas–assuming the Jayhawks win as a No. 1 seed–and Williams isn’t looking ahead. That said, if the reunion does happen, Williams says it won’t be easy. He also says in this interview that he’ll never schedule a series between North Carolina and Kansas because he simply couldn’t coach from the visitor’s bench in Lawrence. Roy Williams joined KCSP in Kansas City with Danny and Carrington to discuss playing in Kansas City, a potential meeting with Kansas in the third round, the wide-open bracket, if it’s a down year in college basketball and why he’ll never consider scheduling a series between North Carolina and Kansas.
What was your thought when you saw you guys were heading to Kansas City?
“I’ve never been a guy to make out a bracket, never been a guy to figure out where we were going to go, but me and my buddies and assistant ADs and assistant coaches, we were walking every day and everybody was saying, ‘Well, we could be a five or a six or a seven.’ So I was surprised we were an eight, there’s no question about that. … Then when I saw Kansas City, I was surprised by that, too. At the same time, shoot, we’re still playing.”
You could see Kansas in the second round. Has playing KU gotten any easier for you?
“A couple things. First of all, I’m not allowing my team to think about it. And the good news is that I’ve been here 10 years, so they don’t know about any of that other stuff. … For us, we have to be focused on Villanova. I had a saying and have kept it for 25 years, if you look down the road, that’s where you’re going, down the road, back home. And yet … it’s never going to get easy for me. For 15 years, I gave my heart, my body, my soul every day to the University of Kansas and the Jayhawk basketball program.”
What is the best team in the tournament?
“Oh boy. I think Louisville played the best down the stretch, Duke played the most difficult schedule, Kansas had two games that they didn’t play at a high, high level, Gonzaga beat everybody that they played, just about. And I’ll tell you another one, Miami. … I think people are right in saying it’s wide, wide open this year. In 2009, for example, I really felt we were the best team, and we did win it. In 2005, I thought Illinois and North Carolina were the two best teams. … I couldn’t narrow it down any more. … This is going to be a year where don’t be shocked if a 2, 3, 4 or 5 wins the whole thing.”
Is it a down year in college hoops?
“I’m one of those guys that thinks the glass is always half full. … It’s so much harder now. It’s harder for kids to stay in school because they have a group around them … that wants them to get to the NBA so much faster. The quality of play, perhaps is down some because kids are gone so early. But it also means the quality of play is down in the NBA. … I think college basketball is great.”
Would you ever consider starting a series with North Carolina and Kansas?
“No, I can’t do that, guys. There’s no way I could walk out of there at the tunnel and sit on the other bench. … When I give something, guys, and like I said, my heart, body and soul, there’s no way I could walk out of that other tunnel.”