Roy Williams is known for the occasional tangent during his post-game press conferences. After a rousing win over Syracuse in the national semifinal Saturday night, he was back at it again. This time it only took one question to set him off.
Williams was asked about the media second-guessing many of his decisions. In response he ranted that he makes the decisions he does because he’s “smarter about basketball” than journalists and that he knows his team better than them.
John McCann from the Durham Herald-Sun asked the question and, to his credit, Williams was polite as he gave his response.That said, his statement was clearly driven by a lot of pent up frustration.
Here is his response in full:
“Well, take this the way it’s intended, not to be critical. But I’m a hell of a lot smarter about basketball than you guys are. I mean, I’m serious. What do you do after basketball season’s over with? You cover baseball. What do you do after baseball is over with? You cover football. I don’t take any breaks.
“This year I heard more than ever announcers and writers question things more than I’ve ever heard. One of the other guys said we’re not in the locker room, we’re not at practice every day. If you asked me if I’m as smart of a sports fan as you, I’d say probably not because I don’t work on those other sports. But I do see our guys in the locker room every single day.
“The last question, I wasn’t paying attention to know who asked it, but we want to be a balanced team. I have to have some contributions from everybody that plays. It is something to listen or read – I haven’t read very much this year to be honest with you. I haven’t read many articles. But that’s the best answer.
“Do you know how many practices we’ve had? Ninety-eight practices. Not just you, because John I liked the way you asked the question. You didn’t hit the wrong buttons or anything, you did it nicely. How many of you guys came to any of our practices? Michael came to one. Somebody else came to one. I mean, you think about that. I would never criticize somebody about something that they know a heck of a lot more about.
“Bill Guthridge has the best statement: Do not condemn thy neighbor unless you’ve walked in his moccasins for two full moons. I have to explain that to my guys to explain what moccasins (are) and how long moons lasts.
“But it is, it’s journalism to a certain degree today. So (my decisions) weren’t (made out of) stubbornness, it was intelligence. And if we get beat by Villanova Monday night it’s not going to be because of stubbornness, it’s going to be because Villanova played better.”
While he came across as insanely arrogant, Williams is probably right. There are very few journalists who can even come close to claiming they know as much about basketball as any college head coach, let alone a Hall of Famer.
Williams continued with a short comment that had some nodding along and others rolling their eyes:
“When I retire in 2035, OK, I want to be an announcer (for) one year, because I want to be the only announcer to never criticize coaches, acting like I know more than they do, when they’ve been with their team every day.”
I was with Williams until he went there. Announcers and journalists are paid to question coaching decisions and/or praise them. It’s one thing to consistently go off on coaches and tear them down (as many journalists do), and another to ask legitimate questions. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the latter. It’s Williams’ job to prove those second-guessers wrong. This year he certainly has.