Roy Williams Joins 900-Win Club Heading Into Duke Game

Head Coach Roy Williams speaks at a post-game press conference

Head Coach Roy Williams speaks at a post-game press conference

The sound of ecstatic fans shouting “Wal-ker, Kess-ler” erupted in the Dean E. Smith Center during the second-half of the University of North Carolina basketball game against No.11 Florida State University. Down 16 points after the first half, the Tar Heels banded together to make an impressive comeback and defeat the Seminoles, Head Coach Roy Williams’ 900th career win. 

Williams is one of five NCAA Division I men’s basketball coaches to do so. In fact, he was the fastest to reach that accomplishment; attaining the landmark pillar at 1,161 games as head coach. 

When asked how he was feeling about reaching this career milestone at the post-game conference, he stated: “It’s neat.” He went on to accredit his players, assistant coaches, and other staff who all contributed to the success of his teams over the course of 33 years. 

Asha Patel, a Spartan sophomore and athlete describes how despite being a North Carolina State basketball fan, she has tremendous respect for him as a coach. She shares, “He has coached some of the biggest basketball players into the NBA, such as Michael Jordan, Paul Pierce, and Harrison Barnes; brought his team to the final four numerous times, and won three NCAA National Championships.”

Roy Williams began his college coaching career as an Assistant Coach for Dean Smith at North Carolina in 1978 until he left in 1988 to be Head Coach for the University of Kansas’ Men’s Basketball Team. 

Over the course of 15 seasons, Williams led the Jayhawks to nine conference titles and attained a .805 win percentage. In addition, KU hit the No. 1 ranking in the country in six separate seasons and in 11 of his 15 seasons, they were ranked at a minimum of No. 2 nationwide.

It wasn’t until 2003 that Williams returned to Chapel Hill as Head Coach of the men’s basketball team. North Carolina had a respectable 2003-2004 season, but in Williams’ second season at UNC, the Tar Heels took the National Championship in 2005 over Illinois, 75–70. 

He secured his second National Championship in 2005, defeating the Michigan State Spartans, and once again in 2017 against Gonzaga in the final game. 

There is no denying that Roy Williams has a plentitude of awe-inspiring achievements and has overcome a series of obstacles. One of which is combatting the issues athletics teams have to face as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

While not having fans present in sports facilities isn’t inherently detrimental to the success of teams, they can undoubtedly have a craterous impact on the player’s performance when they are in attendance. This was proven in the FSU game and can be seen throughout all athletic bodies. 

Sanderson JV Women’s Basketball Coach, Erica Brownlow elucidates: “When it’s a tight game and the home team hits a transition 3 or an explosive dunk, the crowd’s eruption lets both teams know the momentum is shifting. This can greatly affect one’s mentality as a player.”

As the end of the week approaches, the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils are pawing their forefeet and polishing their horns to battle it out in the court. The Tobacco Road Rivalry has been a powerhouse for athletic competitiveness within Wake County and the Research Triangle for decades. 

Patel affirms, “I know both teams are going to come into this game hungry for a win hoping to help solidify a seed in the NCAA tournament this year.”

As UNC and Roy Williams are coming off an impressive comeback win against FSU and their close loss to Syracuse, we can expect a captivating game against Duke on Saturday, March 6th.