How Roy Williams' Surgery Affects North Carolina in 2012-13

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How Roy Williams' Surgery Affects North Carolina in 2012-13
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We don't know much about Roy Williams' surgery except that it happened, his recovery has begun and it will probably affect him to start the 2012-13 season.

According to the Associated Press via the Boston Herald, the North Carolina head coach underwent surgery on Wednesday to "remove a tumor from his right kidney," and he might still require surgery to remove another one from his left kidney.

The report states that he could be "on the sideline" when UNC's 2012-13 campaign begins. The Tar Heels' upcoming schedule has not yet been released, but according to the AP, practice is slated to begin on October 13.

Obviously, Williams' health comes before anything basketball-related. The hope is that he will recover from this not so that he can get back to coaching as soon as possible, but so he can simply maintain his health.

But when you're talking about a program like North Carolina—with its rich history of success, particularly under Williams, who led the Tar Heels to national championships in 2005 and in 2009—it's impossible to avoid thinking about what affect this will have on the team he built.

It was clear that when Williams showed up in Chapel Hill, he revitalized a powerhouse that had been flagging for over a decade. When you are a North Carolina, a Duke, a UCLA or one of college basketball's other bona fide superpowers, failing to compete for a national title is considered a failure of a season.

There's very little room for error when you are the Tar Heels. That's why Williams' impact on this program was such a story: He showed up in Chapel Hill after leading Kansas to the national championship game in '03, and in only his second year with UNC, he was already cutting down the nets in April.  

The moral of the story is, this isn't one of those cases where it doesn't really matter who the head coach is. It clearly does matter.

This isn't one of those programs that can find a way to win no matter who's calling the plays on the sideline. Sure, it has more talent than most, but a head coach makes or breaks a team, no matter how much talent is on it.

Williams is one of those make-or-break coaches.

All of that being said, though, there is very little reason to believe the Tar Heels' outlook will change in light of Williams' situation. Tar Heels assistant C.B. McGrath—who played for the coach during his tenure at Kansas—explained it best when he said that Williams has always built his teams from the ground up, and he's built them to last.

McGrath told the AP:

All of our veterans know what they’re supposed to do. All of us working for coach all these years know what we’re supposed to do. So things are going to be fine as usual with the program.

As McGrath said, priority No. 1 is Williams' health. And though we don't know much about the severity of his current condition, if he needs to take his time in order to make a full recovery, then so be it.

It just so happens that his program is one that has been built to last, no matter how much time he does or doesn't need off. 

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