Just two games into the 2017-18 basketball season, Roy Williams moved into a category of his own. He became the first NCAA Division I men’s basketball head coach to win 400 games at two schools.
In March 2018, the 84-66 North Carolina Tar Heels victory over Lipscomb last season in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament was the 842nd of Williams’s career.
Last week, the university announced that the floor of the Dean E. Smith Center will be named for Roy Williams.
The accolades continue to pile up for Williams, and within the next two seasons, he could reach a mark that only three other coaches in men’s Division I have achieved: 900 wins.
Why is this attainable for Williams within two seasons? During his 15 seasons at Carolina, Williams has averaged 28 wins a year, with the high watermark coming in 2007-08 with 36 wins. The lowest total of the Williams era was 19 during his first season at the helm.
If the Tar Heels hit the average win mark for Williams’s teams at UNC in the next two seasons, he will be two wins short of 900. With two “average” seasons, Williams will pass a few historic names on the all-time wins list, including one of the two most important figures in not only Williams’s coaching career, but his life.
If the average wins threshold is met this season, then Williams should tie then break Dean Smith’s win total of 879 sometime within the first 10 or so games of the 2019-20 season.
At that point in the season, it is usually in the non-conference schedule after the end of the semester. If all goes to plan, then a normally peaceful campus between the completion of exams and Christmas will be all but quiet in December 2019.
Why two seasons as a frame of reference? The new contract Williams signed in April 2015 extended his deal through April 2020. Williams has not made any mention of retiring and on many occasions points to how the players, practices, and games keep him going and bring him joy. However, this April 2020 date is a natural cutting off point for this exercise.
Although he may shy away from the individual spotlight, Williams will have more accolades and honors in the years to come. Sometimes we, fans and alumni, do not understand how lucky and blessed we have been the past 15 years, not to mention the 45 seasons prior to that. Tar Heel fans certainly have a priceless gem in Roy Williams and we hope win number 900 comes much sooner rather than later.