Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wrap Up

The season's over, but there's still plenty going on.

Roy Williams goes to the Hall of Fame:

“I do feel at home at North Carolina,” the Asheville, N.C., native said. “I’ve probably got thinner skin than most people, but when they make an announcement about North Carolina’s score at Allen Fieldhouse and people cheer, I get that information quickly. That bothers me a great deal. It will bother me the rest of my life."

I'm not a Roy hater by any means, but it will bother me the rest of my life if he keeps complaining about how KU fans treat him. He left three years after saying he'd never leave. And he clearly went home when the cupboard was full. So not only did he leave us, he went from being a special guy to just another coach. We had unrealistic expectations of Roy - as a man as much as a coach. But he fostered that.

He can't be hugely popular at both UNC and KANSAS, and if he can't deal with that, he shouldn't have left. However, congrats on getting into the Hall - he's certainly deserving.

And I'll admit to being pleased that he didn't make the Final Four this year as that would have only increased the chatter about Self not being a good enough coach, etc. UNC was plenty stacked, so there's no reason to assume Roy would have pushed our lineup into the Fial Four.

Dana Altman goes to Arkansas - why didn't he end up at Iowa? Altman had turned down Tennessee, Georgia, and maybe Illinois in '03. I thought I read somewhere that the only job he'd leave Creighton for was Iowa. Maybe not. Iowa gets Todd Lickliter from Butler, Michigan gets West Virginia coach John Beilein.

When this many big time schools make hires, and the biggest name is Dana Altman . . .

Creighton may hire Scott Sutton - Eddie's other son - from ORU. Eddie Sutton coached Creighton before heading to Arkansas in 1974.

So if we want to see a star coach switch we'll have to rely on Kentucky, and see what dominoes drop. I'm betting Billy Donovan, Billy Gillespie, or Tom Izzo takes it.

Slate.com has an interesting theory about why Donovan will bolt to Kentucky:

"And while Florida and Ohio State have a stranglehold on big-time athletics right now, don't count on either to maintain megaprogram status. The Gators won two titles in a row because a perfectly balanced and unselfish team won it all as underclassmen then returned for another helping of glory. That won't happen again. Florida reminds me of Michigan State circa 2001. A championship and multiple Final Fours seemingly heralded untrammeled dominance in East Lansing. Instead, the Spartans have regressed to the mean—they're now just a great basketball team, not the greatest in the land. Florida will continue to be a Sweet 16 presence, but they won't pass UCLA in championship banners any time this millennium. Kansas and North Carolina will remain perennial powerhouses. Florida will return to the usual cycle of solid-but-not-transcendent programs."

What if Kentucky somehow got Bill Self? Who would we want at Kansas?

Kevin Stallings?
Mark Turgeon?
John Calipari?


  1. Also, the Hall of Fame denied Eddie Sutton and Dick Vitale.

    And the above post is not so much a "wrap up" as just coaching chat. I suppose a wrap up would focus more on who we think is staying, a season recap, projections, etc.

  2. Self to UK? Are you hearing something I'm not?

    I saw that Slate article; I hope they're right about Kansas being a perennial and Florida fading, but I'm not so sure. I think there's a good chance Donovan might stay (it's very uncomfortable to leave for an in-conference rival that you'll face twice every year).

    I don't read Roy's comments as a "complaint" about KU fans, Chris. I think he's genuinely hurt to find his name is mud in a town that he gave his heart and soul to for 15 years. But the thing I take away from that article is that he still loves KU and cherishes his memories there. What's wrong with that?

    In 2000, I think he genuinely believed he was in Lawrence to stay. Who knew UNC would suffer such a fall from grace? And how could he say no to Dean Smith a second time, when his alma mater was in such dire straits?

    And let's not underestimate the fact that his buddy Bob Frederick was pushed aside as AD in 2001. Here's a telling passage from the LJW article at the time:

    Williams said Frederick was one reason, but not the main reason, he declined an offer to coach at his alma mater, North Carolina, last summer.

    "It was a factor, how comfortable I am with Bob, how much I trust and respect him ..."

    Williams outlined his hopes for KU's next AD. ...

    "I'd hope the next person will have the same kind of integrity Bob Frederick has."

    Oops! Oh, well.

    Roy, along with Larry Brown, brought the program back to a state of consistent dominance, which really hadn't been the case since maybe Phog Allen.

    Plus, Roy did it without Larry's ethical issues. Isn't it ironic that nobody holds a grudge against Larry even though he left the program under the cloud of NCAA sanctions, whereas the hated Roy left the program as healthy as it had ever been? I'll never understand that... (And please, don't talk to me about DJ having to sit out five games--I'm talking about REAL sanctions)

    The greatness of those 15 years far outweighs any quibbling over the manner of his departure. I think we as KU fans need to stop being petty about it.

  3. By the way, Chris, I do share your relief that UNC also went down in the Elite 8, and for the same reason.

    .. but still, I would have had to root for them over Florida or Ohio State. Suffice it to say, the Final Four went the exact opposite of the way I hoped it would this year.

  4. Roy was and is a great coach.

    I'm just not sure why he doesn't shrug off reports of what KU fans do. It makes sense for KU fans to root against UNC as much as they want. That doesn't mean everyone hates him.

    The reason people are upset is partly because he was so good and so special.

    I don't think anything I've said here is petty. The way he stayed in 2000 and the way he left leave him open for criticism.

    I think Brown's relationship with the fans was different. Roy said he was staying forever and left 3 years later. I'm not saying that's a huge ethical lapse, but people will react to that.

    Part of Roy's thing is how much he openly discusses his feelings about people, players, etc. It just seems less charming now that he's gone and he's complaining about how he's treated by KU fans.

    I won't accuse him of being petty, but I think it's time he stopped being so publicly frustrated by fan treatment. It just seems like someone in his position should take that on the chin. I don't mean to diminish him a bit when I say that.

    This stuff happens to many coaches when they leave - Illini nation is still pretty ticked at Self.

    I don't understand this "how do you say no to Dean Smith twice?" stuff. Just don't get it.

    Also, he went where the better players were. I'm not saying that's cynical - coaches do that all the time.

    We thought he was different. He said he couldn't leave these kids in 2000. We thought he was special before, but what coach stays for the kids? He encouraged us to see him differently.

    Dire Straits? You mean an AD firing a coach who was national coach of the year two years prior? A coach who wouldn't have been fired had Sean May not been injured. A coach who left Roy with May, McCants, Felton . . .

    There was definitey dysfunction at UNC when Roy took over, but it wasn't all because of Doherty's temper. How about Dean Smith's lack of support for the young coach? Publicly writing that he never supported Doherty's hiring and saying the university should have hired Rick Majerus.

    It seems to me that Doherty was thrown under the bus, and I didn't sense much loyalty from Roy for his former assistant.

    In contrast, when Stan Heath just got fired from Arkansas, Izzo stood up for his former assistant and complained that Arkansas only gave Heath 5 years.

    Coaches all over the country bemoaned the firing of Tommy Amaker who never got Michigan to the NCAA's, because they thought he didn't get the kind of support neccessary to succeed. They thought he was treated poorly.

    Can anyone deny that Doherty was treated poorly? Has anyone ever heard a peep out of Roy on that issue?

    Obviously Roy had strong ties to UNC and he basically saved their bacon when he took the job. But between the reasons stated for staying in 2000, and the way Doherty was treated, the job switch left a bad taste in my mouth.

    And yes, he had minor violations under his tenure:

    "Roy Williams violated NCAA rules when he was the basketball coach at Kansas, approving payments to players who had used up their eligibility."

    I don't mean to bring up all this negativity, but I think people can be justified if they have mixed feelings about Roy now. I don't mean to take potshots, but when we (and Roy himself) put him on a pedestal, I have to take issue.

    But nothing diminishes his accomplishments. Consistency that is unparalleled in his era.

  5. I should also acknowledge that family and health concerns played a big role in his 2003 decision. In fact, Roy's sister just recently passed away.

    Roy leaving, the when and the why, etc., made many KU fan's attitude a lot more complicated when before it was simple: we loved him.

  6. Good points about the treatment of Doherty, but still, without all the facts, I'm not so sure it's fair to say Doherty was "thrown under the bus" with no justification whatsoever. I mean, we just don't know exactly what went on there.

    But even if it was unfair, does that mean Roy was somehow "selling out" by taking the job? That's a bit of a stretch. It was still his alma mater; Doherty was history, whether Roy took the job or not.

    I agree it's strange for Roy to be so "shocked" at KU fans' attitude. But he admits to being "thin-skinned" and that sensitivity is exactly what set him apart. The fact that he can't just "shrug it off" is what I always liked about him: those 15 years actually meant something to him; there's nothing mercenary there.

    Did he put himself on a pedestal? Only by being a great coach and behaving in an exemplary fashion (w/ a few very minor lapses).

    Also, you keep saying he "went where the better players were." What are you basing that on? Certainly not on Roy's history.

    Do you really think a 15-year coach with an .800 record would be so shortsighted as to jump ship merely to spend a few seasons with Rashard (mercurial) McCants? Read his emotional comments in that article about his first team at KU and try to tell me he'd have rather coached McCants in '04 and '05 than Wayne Simien.

    The only accusation that really holds water, as far as I'm concerned, is the apparent disingenuousness of what he said in 2000 about why he stayed. You can give that one the ol' Lionel Barrymore treatment: "Sentimental hogwash!"

    (Still, does anyone honestly doubt that he did love his players?)

    Anyway, when you weigh that one mistake against all the good stuff, it's just no contest.

  7. And, on the question of Roy's loyalty to Doherty, read this passage from an LJW article right before the firing in March '03:

    UNC's players met Thursday with athletics director Dick Baddour to discuss Doherty and the program's problems. The Tar Heels declined comment after the meeting, and Baddour was mum about Doherty's future.

    "We don't have a democracy at Kansas, especially on the court," Williams said of the meeting. "And there wasn't a democracy at North Carolina when I was an assistant coach there."

    Williams said he would be disappointed if Carolina fired his former aide.

    "I would be," he said. "I don't have any hesitancy saying that. He's a guy that I recruited, or helped recruit, and helped coach. A guy that I hired and worked for me for seven years. That's the biggest trust you can give somebody, to hire them as an assistant because you're putting your livelihood, your life and your career in their hands. It's a guy I not only respect a great deal but someone I care about a great deal."

    So Roy did publicly support Doherty, when it might actually have had some effect, i.e. before the firing.

    The only other way he could have "supported" Doherty would have been by not taking the UNC job at all, but given his other reasons for taking the job, that would have been a rather pointless act of protest, I think.

  8. I think KU fans should "get over" their stuff with Roy. I'm certainly not angry at him. But he did go on to win a championship, so you'd think he could take this stuff in stride. And I'd bet that Allen Fieldhouse cheers when any highly ranked team loses.

    All he talked about during his post-game (syracuse loss) press conference was Nick & Kirk. He kept saying no job offer or situation was going to distract him from those seniors. I knew then that the writing was on the wall. In his mind, and maybe subconsciously, KU was Nick & Kirk.

    I don't think he was a sell out, but I also don't think he would have left if the cupboard was bare.

    UNC's lineup wasn't so impressive in 2000. It was fine, but there was a bigger disparity in '03. Not saying that's the only issue, but it's there.

    He went where the better players were and in his few seasons with McCants won a championship.


  9. Good find on that quote, Deron. I couldn't find anything like that.

    from 2000:
    "The North Carolina people have been fantastic with me," he said. "It's hard to have the same feeling for someone if there's been some type of rejection. I'm hoping this is not a divorce. I hope they understand I'm doing something I was taught to do, putting my players before my dream."

    That was too high a standard for us to hold him to. But this is an example of him fanning those flames.

    I honestly think if he'd left in 2000, when we expected it, KU fans would feel different today.

    Everyone thought he was a lifer.

  10. more quotes from 2000:

    "This is truly a fantastic place," said Williams, who more than once appeared to choke back tears. "With the players we have now, the players we've had in the past the University of Kansas is the place I'm supposed to be. I had a dream of North Carolina being my dream place. But my players, the fans showed me this is the place."
    Roy Williams basks in the glow of family, fans and friends after announcing that he will remain a Jayhawk.

    Robertson was giddy. He was driving to Hutchinson to work a basketball camp when he got word of Williams' news conference and decided to drop in for the announcement.

    "Now he's the Dean Smith of Kansas," Robertson said. "You can't predict what he can accomplish over the next 10, 15 years with the recruits he's going to get now."

    Oof. painful.

  11. True, Nick and Kirk were a factor in his 2000 decision. But it's one thing to stay where you are because you made commitments to certain players; it's quite another to do what you seem to be accusing him of, which is bolting opportunistically just to spend a year or two with a group of McDonald's enfant terribles. That would be odd behavior indeed from a man who turned down the Lakers, Celtics and UCLA over the years.

    And yes, I understand that his comments in 2000 make his eventual departure harder to take, but how can you possibly say he should have left in 2000? As it happened, we got to enjoy one of the greatest eras in KU basketball history, and in the meantime Bill Self cut his teeth in the Big 10 and was ready and willing to step in when Roy left. Seems to me Kansas got the better end of that deal, championship or no championship.

    I was grateful to Roy for twelve great seasons and two Final Fours; I'm even more grateful to him after fifteen great seasons and four Final Fours. Why complain?

  12. I'm hesitant about stepping into this mine-field, and I admit that I only cheered ardently for KU for four of Roy's years there, but here goes:

    I take it that Chris is not complaining so much as laying out some (quite persuasive) reasons why KU fans are still bitter about Roy's departure. How he left (and that he left having promised to stay) disappointed people, myself included.

    I will (I assume) not ever forget going to Memorial Stadium my first year in Lawrence on a Sunday evening to see 15,000 people await Roy's announcement that he was staying. A moving experience.

    Having him then leave was upsetting, and that's that.

    Of course, I don't mean to suggest I would rather he'd left sooner, and I don't begrudge him his present success (and I certainly wouldn't want a world without those back-to-back final fours with Nick and Kirk), but don't ask me to cheer for UNC, okay?

  13. Yancy has summed up my rantings admirably.

    I am happy he stayed in 2000 and gave us some of his and our best teams. But we thought we'd have him for a decade and get that ring. We wanted to get that ring with him. He (for all kinds of reasons) took that away from us, and now he should not be concerned with crowd behavior in the fieldhouse. When 15,000 people show up in allen fieldhouse to support roy in 2000, what do you expect them to do when he leaves?

    Don't be upset when your ex doesn't want to be best friends.

  14. But again, I don't think he's "complaining" about the antipathy in Lawrence; he's expressing sadness about it, which, if anything, is an admirably human response.

    I know you and Yance aren't really part of the "Ruck Foy" crowd, and I wouldn't expect anyone to root for UNC, but it just baffles me.

    He said he'd stay forever. Is it so difficult to believe that he meant it when he said it, but circumstances changed?

    To follow up on an earlier point... In 2000, he says he'll retire a Jayhawk. In 2001 the administration "retires" his best friend Bob Frederick and replaces him with Al Bohl, who unceremoniously dumps another friend of Roy, football coach Terry Allen, in the middle of the season, a humiliating move which Roy condemned publicly. Bohl not only doesn't get along with Roy, he is almost universally reviled, but is retained solely because he has a history of reviving football programs (through ethically questionable means).

    Roy had the grace never to say so publicly, but could you blame him if he began to think that maybe the administration was taking him for granted after his promises in 2000? The desperate last-minute firing of Bohl just confirms that theory -- they only did it once they realized (too late) that Roy might leave.

    There were villains in this sordid story, but Roy wasn't one of them. I might join Chris in blaming Dean Smith, but I'd put more of the blame on Al Bohl and the people who hired him.

  15. And, briefly, to continue my case on behalf of a different defendant... a little nugget from Seth Davis last week:

    • My NCAA tournament all-underrated team: Jonathan Wallace, Georgetown; Brandon Crone, Butler; Josh Shipp, UCLA; Jeremy Hunt, Memphis; Sasha Kaun, Kansas.

  16. More breaking news:
    Huggins to WVU.
    Or so they're saying.

    What do we think of this? He's perhaps best left in the Big 12's past, given his history and all that. On the other hand, a better K-State should mean a better KU. . . .
    They must be mad in Manhattan.

  17. And Gillispie to Kentucky?

    That's a quick ascension for a guy who's only three years out of UTEP.

    The Big 12 coaching ranks are being gutted. ...Though it is fortunate that Rick Barnes turned down that UK job first.

    Huggy leaving is a blow to the conference, at least short-term; I can't imagine all those recruits of his are going to stay around, nor can we expect a coach of similarly high stature to replace him.

    (And by extension... a blow to KU's SOS next year. Yes, it all comes back to that).