Roy Williams is rarely accused of being anything but a class act (excepting the occasional criticism that emanates from Durham), and his post-game press conference was no exception on Thursday. After the Tar Heels crushed the Radford Highlanders, 101-58, Williams spoke with unusual candor on several subjects.
First were the usual congratulations to Radford head coach Brad Greenberg (brother to Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg). Williams actually revealed much of what he said to Brad after the game.
After explaining how much he "really liked the guy," and how happy he was to see Radford succeed, Williams continued: "He’s a coach’s coach. He’s very genuine."
"I congratulated him on what they’d accomplished, and told him, I don’t mind saying this, I said, 'Brad, we played really well.' And I said that in the way I intended it to be taken was that we really played well, that’s the only way we were able to do this. We didn’t beat you with our C-game. We played very well."
Williams was his usual self in recounting how he needed to remind Wayne Ellington which color jerseys North Carolina was wearing after Ellington committed three early turnovers.
After Ellington spoke of finding his groove in the first half against Radford, Williams countered, "Especially after he realized we were wearing one shirt and the other team was wearing another color. Three turnovers in the first five minutes throwing it to the other team. So during one of the timeouts we reminded him we were the team wearing the white jersey.”
Finally came a somewhat unusual statement at the very end of the press conference. Williams actually revealed for whom he cast his vote in the National Coach of the Year balloting, and it was none other than his next opponent, LSU's Trent Johnson.
Said Williams, "I know Trent Johnson. I consider him one of the class acts in college basketball. I’m not so sure that anybody did a better job in college basketball than Trent did this year."
"If I knew he’d buy me dinner I’d tell him the truth, and that’s the fact that I voted for him as "National Coach of the Year.” But I don’t think I can swing that anyway. But I do think he did a great, great job. The team is an extension of him."
Roy Williams is nominated himself, but most experts think the leading candidates are Johnson, Kansas' Bill Self, and Illinois' Bruce Weber. There are certainly other names mentioned, but these seem to be the three talked about most often.
Of course, Williams has always been the type of coach to speak as kindly as possible of his upcoming opponent, but he obviously was not blowing smoke up the hindquarters of Mr. Johnson when he made the statement.
LSU's coach has done a phenomenal job with a team picked to finish at the very bottom of the SEC West. Johnson has certainly been instrumental in turning Marcus Thornton into the probable SEC Player of the Year.
So, while these teams will be "enemies" of sorts on the basketball court on Saturday, expect the cordial relations to continue between Williams and Johnson, regardless of the result.
This is just another reason Roy is so beloved in Chapel Hill, as he was in Lawrence, KS. He is a class act and North Carolina is proud to have him.
And, by the way, he made the right call with his vote.