Wednesday night’s instant classic in Durham resulted in bragging rights for Dookies until the teams meet again in a couple of weeks in Chapel Hill. Not only that, it means the rest of us are left with the insufferable whining of a select subset of Tarheel fans who think their HOF coach has lost his edge. Thankfully, there are national writers who, armed with a broader perspective and at least an average level of intelligence, are able to bring some semblance of reality back to the conversation. Here’s Chris Chase, writing for USA Today’s FTW:
Since returning to Carolina, after losing that title game with Kansas, Roy Williams has been the better basketball coach than Mike Krzyzewski. And not even the craziest at Cameron could say otherwise.
Chase certainly cites some interesting stats to support his assertion1. I don’t necessarily buy into his particular choice of statistics to compare the two almost equally great coaches. Coach K has a knock-out resume even outside of college basketball and Roy has the distinction of establishing substantial success at two different institutions, a not insignificant accomplishment even though he left Kansas without having won a title. But their respective personalities almost perfectly embody their programs2 in ways that, despite budding coaching trees, will be difficult to replace.
I think the subtext of Chase’s point is this – if you’re a Carolina fan and you’re cooing that it’s time for Roy to go, you’re off your rocker. The game hasn’t passed him by, he is a great coach and I don’t see any of that changing significantly before Roy decides for himself when it’s time to hang it up, no matter how near or far away that day is. Just cherish every game, season and ounce of success you have left with Roy because there’s no guarantee that there’s another Roy waiting in the wings to save whatever disastrous succession plan you’ve drawn up on a napkin.
- However, when referencing the coaches’ respective ACC records since Roy returned to Chapel Hill, Chase weirdly excludes Roy’s first year, correctly highlighting that Roy was coaching his predecessor’s players. Okay, but did Roy just roll the ball out for them and say “go play”? No. and pointing that out undermines any attempt to credit Roy with winning the national title the very next year with thos very same players. ↩
- Coach K because he practically built Duke’s program, making it in his own image; and Roy because Roy is basically the perfect successor to Dean Smith – equal parts adaptable to the modern game and aww shucks good ol’ ball coach – though it took UNC a few revolutions around the earth and to Kansas and back to get him. ↩