Roy Williams has coached more than 30 seasons of college basketball without ever posting a losing record. It helps when your only head coaching stops are Kansas and UNC, but that’s still a fairly astonishing statistic.
It’s a run that’s almost guaranteed to end this season. After last night’s loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, the Tar Heels are 10-16, with games at Louisville and Duke still to go. It’s a spot Williams is clearly unfamiliar with, and yet another wrenching last-second loss pushed him to do something he almost never does: swear. Not only did he use the real, actual f-word, but he did it at the post-game press conference.
Tonight @UNC_Basketball head coach Roy Williams didn't hold anything back after losing to Notre Dame.
— Miles Garrett WSBT (@MilesGarrettTV) February 18, 2020
A transcription, via ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson:
“You got two choices: You can compete your butt off, or you can get in the fetal position and curl up and start crying,” Williams said. “I’m not going to freaking do that. We’re going to f—ing — excuse me, I apologize to everybody — we’re going to freaking compete. That’s what we’re going to do. We play Saturday. You feel sorry for yourself, and you’re going to do that the rest of your freaking life. I apologize. I don’t know what I’m doing right now the way I’m cursing.”
Williams has cultivated a reputation for not swearing, substituting words like “freaking” instead. (Although he did swear during the infamous Bonnie Bernstein interview back in 2003.) Indeed, his presser contained quite a few of those substitutions, but frustrations are apparently high enough that the filter couldn’t catch all of them. North Carolina hasn’t just been a victim of bad luck, either; they currently sit 94th in the KenPom rankings, and 92nd in the NCAA’s NET metric. They’re not very good, despite featuring probably lottery pick Cole Anthony.
To some in the media, Williams adopting this kind of theatrical frustration has instead come across as entitlement, too. Here’s Fran Fraschilla, of all people:
I like & respect Hall of Famer Roy Williams but after watching these post-game press conferences, I say, “Welcome to the club.” Everyone who’s coached has endured a year like this. 99% of us. Kansas & UNC can spoil you. Now it’s time to roll up sleeves, coach, teach, motivate.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) February 18, 2020
Had Williams somehow managed to go his entire coaching career without a down season, it would have been a miracle, exclusively powerhouse program resume or not. As it is, it’s kind of interesting to see how a coach at his level handles a kind of narrative that he’s really never had to deal with before.