Roy Williams has had a rough 19 months since Tyler Hansbrough left Chapel Hill after guiding the Tar Heels to the 2009 National Title. Last year was a predictable debacle – UNC missed the NCAA tournament and finish 20-17.
There was the incident in December where Williams had a fan ejected for “cheering” at the Dean Dome. In 2010 things, began looking up when Williams landed super-recruit Harrison Barnes … but a few weeks into this season – UNC was a preseason Top 10 team – the Tar Heels are just 4-3 with losses to good-but-not-great Minnesota, an ordinary Vanderbilt team, and a very good Illinois squad. It isn’t a stretch to say that the Tar Heels – who lack cohesion on offense and are not a formidable defense team – could struggle to get into the NCAA tournament.
All of this has clearly worn on Roy, because after Tuesday’s loss to Illinois, Williams ripped ESPN, for daring to show the ugly early statistics of Barnes, a pre-season All-American.
“And I don’t mean to jump on anybody, but after the first game we play, and he had [several] turnovers, and ESPN does a special on how great he is. And then ESPN did something to me that was very embarrassing to me today – put up that that a kid’s 1175 in field goal percentage in the country; that’s just ridiculous. And then somebody says, ‘Well, if he hadn’t have gone 0-for 12 against Minnesota, I’m sure he’d be in the top 1,000.’ That’s sick.
“If you’ve got enough [gumption] to make somebody a big hero like that, admit that you were wrong, and stop picking on the kid. … It’s silly, if you’r e going to anoint the guy and three weeks later crucify him, that’s ridiculous. He didn’t ask to be voted first-team pre-season All-America.”
Williams is losing it. The early-season stats of Barnes – remember, he made his college announcement via Skype, live on ESPN – are completely fair game. Is pointing those numbers out really “picking on the kid?”
This outburst adds intrigue to UNC’s game Saturday against Kentucky. The Wildcats feature point guard Brandon Knight, a highly-touted freshman who passed on UNC. Just like Kyrie Irving did. Just like Austin Rivers did. The biggest problem with North Carolina? It hasn’t had a reliable point guard since Ty Lawson left. There isn’t one coming in next year (yet).
What’s Williams going to say if Barnes gets dominated by UK freshman stud Terrence Jones?
Who’s he going to blame this time?
[Photos via Getty]