North Carolina Basketball: Why Roy Williams Is Far from Overrated

Drew LaskeyCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MARCH 23:  Head Coach Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels looks on from the sideline against the University of Southern California Trojans during the NCAA Men's East Regional Semifinal at Continental Airlines Arena on March 23, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

On Wednesday, CBS Sports writer Gary Parish released an article showing that a general consensus of 100 college basketball coaches dubbed North Carolina head coach Roy Williams as "the most overrated coach in men's college basketball."

Yes. The man who won two championships between 2003 and 2012; who has the highest winning percentage amongst active coaches; who is the only coach to lead two different teams to three different Final Fours; and, who has led Kansas and North Carolina to 20 straight NCAA tournament appearances from 1990 to 2009 (which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history, and in those appearances he earned at least one win, which is the longest streak of tournament appearances with a win in NCAA history), is overrated.

Not to mention, Williams is: One of four active coaches to have at least two championships (Coach K, Jim Calhoun, Billy Donovan); has had 10 of his players chosen as lottery picks in the NBA Draft since 2005; is fourth all-time in Final Four appearances (seven); and, is the third-fastest coach to reach 600 wins (only the 33rd in NCAA history to do so).

This really isn't adding up.

What's funny is that only two coaches (who may have been) in that poll have equally impressive or better top-to-bottom resumes than Roy Williams, (Coach K, Calhoun).

Coach K is hardly going to say his Tobacco Road foe is overrated. And if Calhoun thinks Williams is overrated, it's easily forgotten being that between Williams' and Calhoun's teams, one of them is actually allowed to compete for the NCAA tournament next season. (Too soon?)

Sure, Williams has fallen short in some years, such as last year or back in the 2009-2010 season. But don't you dare forget about the injuries UNC suffered in those seasons.

Last year, there was an ongoing issue with injuries, before and during the tourney. In 2009-2010, UNC played 30 games with at least one or more player injured. I don't care who you are, that's tough.

There are a lot of variables in college basketball, the most uncontrollable of which is injuries.

The two most disappointing Williams seasons (in Chapel Hill) were first and foremost a result of a depleted roster (last season, 2009-2010). If you're not factoring that into your assessment of Williams, you're in no position to assess anything. Does it speak entirely for the lack of results? No, but it does account for a lot of it.

What's so impressive about Williams isn't just what he's been able to do with the talent he's had, but also what he's been able to do with a seeming lack of talent, or so thought at the time.

How quickly people forget what he did with Tyler Hansbrough's freshman year's team when they were preseason-ranked 40th and took the country by storm, defeating No. 10-ranked Kentucky at Rupp Arena and knocking off No. 1 Duke at Hansbrough Indoor I mean Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Or when we saw Tyler Zeller as a freshman and hoped he would develop into a perennial center by the time he was a senior. And he did, capturing ACC Player of the Year honors, thanks in large part to Roy Williams.


The article points to Williams being an "accomplished" coach, but "who couldn't be at places like Kansas or North Carolina?"

The turnover rate for college basketball coaches is basically this: Produce something in three to four years, or you're canned. This seems true especially at top-tier universities such as Kansas and North Carolina, which are second and third in all-time wins, respectively, and combine for eight national titles.

The fact that Roy Williams coached at Kansas for 15 years, left voluntarily and has been at North Carolina since 2003 is what people should be considering, not something as trivial as "who can't win there?"

Seriously: "Who can't win in a prominent college basketball atmosphere?" Ask Billy Gillespie—he's familiar on the matter.

The expectations at places like Kansas and North Carolina are monumental, and winning there certainly isn't as easy as it seems. And, no disrespect to the coaching legend, but if you really want to nit-pick, Roy Williams won the same amount of titles at UNC in five years as Dean Smith did in 36.

But yeah, Williams is totally overrated.

To sell Williams short like those 100 coaches is a slap in the face to not only Roy Williams, but also his players and to Carolina fans everywhere who have supported the man through the highs and lows since his arrival.


We've seen the way he transformed Tyler Hansbrough from a country boy from Missouri to the most decorated player in North Carolina, ACC and arguably NCAA history.

We saw him take a team that got embarrassed by Kansas in one of the worst beat-downs in Final Four history to a national title the following season.

Do you really think those players would have returned to play for a coach they didn't believe could lead them to a championship? I don't think so—and that speaks volumes to the kind of coach Roy Williams is and always has been. Foregoing millions of dollars for a one-in-345 shot at winning a title is a hell of a gamble—one his players went all-in on for him.

Roy Williams is the ultimate motivator. He demands the best out of his players and he refuses to make excuses for them or his teams' performances. He holds his teams accountable, but furthermore, he holds himself accountable.

He has always put in his best effort with every team he's had (aside from 2009-2010, the worst coaching job of his career). But like any coach, he will fail to meet expectations from time to time. That's the reality of coaching in college basketball—or anywhere.

But if you look at the disparity between Williams' failures and successes throughout his career, there's a hefty margin between the two.

To say he is overrated is not only untrue, it's downright disrespectful. Let's see those other coaches' resumes and how they stack up against Williams'.

Naysayers' arguments might be that those guys don't coach at a place like North Carolina. And I simply point to a coach like Roy Williams as the reason why.