Williams was particularly upset with the announced crowd of 20,779 when fans didn’t cheer following a reverse layup by Brice Johnson on the first offensive possession of the game. Johnson’s layup came off of a set play from Tar Heel legendary coach Dean Smith’s four corners offense. It was UNC’s first home game since Smith passed away. Williams honored Smith by signaling the play in by holding up four fingers just like Smith used to.
“I was a little disappointed more of our crowd didn’t have more savvy, but I felt they were asleep most of the day anyway, so it’s alright. It’s not intended to be criticism but it’s criticism. We need some dadgum help. We go on the road and people are screaming like banshees or something. Today it’s like, every time I yell at a player, they turned around and looked at me. I yelled at a player Wednesday night (at Duke), and he never knew I was freakin’ yelling. He thought I was doing exercises. If you want to act like I’m chastising the fans, tell them to come in and invest. Come in and invest. We need some help when we come play back here. We need some more support. My gosh. We’re trying to honor the greatest coach I’ve ever — maybe one of the greatest individuals I’ve ever known. And I can understand if you didn’t recognize it because it sort of went quickly. And it was nice to get a backdoor layup. But don’t sit over there and feel like we have to entertain you. This is a team thing.”
According to Jeff Eisenberg, editor of the Dagger blog on Yahoo! Sports, Williams has a right to chastise the Carolina faithful because “they often aren’t as loud as those at ACC rivals Duke, Syracuse or Louisville.” This despite the fact that Carolina ranks in the top 10 in the nation in attendance annually, including fourth last year — to be fair Syracuse and Louisville also generally among the nation leaders in attendance.
Williams also might have been getting back at a segment of Tar Heel fans that have been critical of the 64-year old coach for not emphasizing defense enough and not recruiting the same caliber of players as other top programs — such as Kentucky, Duke and Kansas.
The criticism of Williams is nonsensical. He is a great coach having been inducted into both the College Basketball Hall of Fame (2006) and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (2007). He is the second winningest coaching, percentage wise, in UNC history among coaches who have coached at least 100 games. Williams has posted a 325-97 record (77.0 percent) in 12 seasons on Tobacco Road. He has led the Tar Heels to two national championships (2006 and 2009), 10 NCAA Tournament bids along with three Final Fours and four Elite Eight appearances. He also has guided his alma mater to two ACC tournament crowns and six regular season titles.
Maybe, just maybe, Williams was getting Tar Heel fans fired up for Tuesday night when North Carolina State invades Chapel Hill. North Carolina (19-5, 9-5 in the ACC) has underachieved a little this year under Williams. The Tar Heels, currently ranked 15th in the AP Poll, have dropped four of their past six contests and are 10-3 at home.
[Image via Lance King/Getty Images]