Roy Williams’ Memorable Moments at UNC
Roy Williams, head coach of the men’s basketball program at the University of North Carolina, has had a long and memorable career. Here, we examine Coach Roy’s history and a few of his memorable moments as the coach of the Tar Heels.
Roy Williams’ Memorable Moments at UNC
Coach Roy’s Coaching History
Williams started his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach to legendary head coach, and Williams’ mentor, Dean Smith. He spent ten years with Smith before going to Kansas University to take the head coaching position in 1988.
During Williams’ time with Kansas, he led the Jayhawks to 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments, four Final Four appearances, two National Championship appearances, and nine conference titles.
Coach Williams returned to North Carolina in 2003 to take over the head coaching position. His head coaching record is 885-252 and he is the only coach to have over 400 wins at two schools. In NCAA tournament play his record is 79-26, and 4-1 in the NIT.
Coach Roy was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, and has racked up a long list of achievements during his tenure as a head coach:
5 total NCAA Tournament Wins, two with Kansas, three with North Carolina.
9 Final Four Appearances (1991, 1993, 2002. 2003 with Kansas. 2005, 2008, 2009, 2016, and 2017 with North Carolina.
9 ACC Regular Season Champions (2005, 2007-2009, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2019
3 ACC Tournament Champions (2007, 2008, 2016)
4 Big 12 Regular Season Champions
3 Big 12 Tournament Championships
5 Big 8 Regular Season Champions
1 Big 8 Tournament Championship
Awards and Accolades
In addition to the number of championships, Williams also has earned a multitude of awards during his coaching career including the following accolades:
USA Today Sports National Coach of the Year (2019)
AP Coach of the Year (1992, 2006)
Henry Iba Award, (1990, 2006)
Nasmith College Coach of the Year (1997)
ACC Coach of the Year (2006, 2011)
Adolph Rupp Cup (2006)
John R Wooden Legend of Coaching (2003)
Big 12 Coach of the Year (1997, 2002, 2003)
Big 8 Coach of the Year (1990, 1992, 1995, 1996)
With all of his achievements and accolades over the years, it’s a task to narrow down Roy Williams’ most memorable moments of his career as North Carolina’s head coach.
Roy Willaims’ Memorable Moments
Winning Three National Championships
Williams led his North Carolina Tar Heels to three National Championship in 2005, 2009, and 2017. In 2005, the Tar Heels defeated Illinois 75-70 to bring the trophy back to Chapel Hill. North Carolina won their next championship under Williams’ lead in 2009 when they defeated Michigan State University 89-72. Their most recent championship win came in 2017 when the Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga for the title, 71-65. The victory in 2017 was especially rewarding for the Tar Heels, as in 2016 Villanova defeated North Carolina in the championship game with a three-point buzzer-beater, 77-74.
Surpassing Dean Smith in All-Time Wins
Despite the 2019-2020 Tar Heels squad giving Williams his first-ever losing season, Williams did surpass his mentor and took fourth place in all-time college basketball wins. On December 30, 2019, Williams tied Smith for the record, and on January 25, 2020, nine games later, Williams surpassed Smith. Williams is only behind legendary coaches Bob Knight, Jim Boheim, and Mike Krzyzewski in the total number of wins.
2016 Senior Night
Senior night is always a special night in Chapel Hill, and the Senior Night in 2016 was no exception. The love and pride Coach Roy has for his boys exudes on Senior Night. On Senior Night, the young men put into words just how much their head coach means to them. This Senior Night in particular definitely belongs in Roy Williams’ memorable moments list.
In 2016 the Tar Heels roster was stacked with talent as most of the starters from the prior season had returned to the team. Seniors Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Joel James, and Justin Coleman were the seniors on the team. All three gave memorable and touching speeches about Williams on Senior Night. Marcus Paige’s speech was especially touching as he thanked the coach for “making him ten times the better man than he was” when he arrived at UNC.
First Home Game after Dean Smith Passed Away
It was Coach Roy’s goal to give his mentor a send-off unlike any other. He couldn’t have picked a better tribute than to run Smith’s popular four corners offense in the first possession. Williams stood up and put four fingers in the air during the first possession. Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson ran the four corners offense for a layup score. Along with this personal and special tribute from Williams, Smith was also honored with a moment of silence before the game. Players wore retro uniforms.
2016 National Championship Final Game
It was Marcus Paige’s goal at the beginning of the season to end the season in Houston, Texas at the NCAA Championship Tournament. He and his fellow Tar Heel teammates were successful in reaching this goal as they were the only number one seed left in the tournament. The win, however, slipped away from the Tar Heels in the very last second of the game. Villanova’s Kris Jenkins dashed the Tar Heels dreams with a buzzer-beater 3-point shot. This game isn’t just one of Williams’ most memorable moments but is also one of the more memorable Championship games.
The 2019-2020 season will also be memorable to Roy Williams and the Tar Heel faithful, but not in a good way. The Tar Heels finished the season 13-18, giving Coach Roy his first-ever losing season as a head coach. The Tar Heels were eliminated from the ACC Tournament in the second round after losing to Syracuse, and the tournament ended up being canceled due to the COVID-19 virus. The offseason will give the coach and his team time to regroup and come back stronger than ever next season. Roy Williams has plenty of time to make more memorable moments.
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