For as long as he has been a head coach, Roy Williams has had to answer very similar questions about his coaching style. The questions usually go something along the lines of the following:
“Do you think you should’ve called a timeout there?”
“You had all of your timeouts, looking back at the tape of the game do you think you would have called a timeout when (insert situation here) happened?”
“I’m sorry if this comes off as rude, but why didn’t you call a timeout?”
This is a question that is, understandably, asked a lot. It can be suffocating to watch as a fan when UNC go through stretches where they either look lost, tired, confused, or disinterested on both sides of the ball, while either losing a lead or failing to recover from a deficit. Roy Williams was asked about this at Tuesday’s press conference.
He was asked this question following the 83-90 loss against Duke Friday in the ACC Tournament semifinal game and then again on his radio show Monday. Roy decided to take a more thorough approach toward answering the question during this most recent presser. To paraphrase it all in his own words: “Find something damn original to think about. I’ve been criticized for 29 years for not calling timeouts and I’m still 5’10 ½. That part ain’t changing, either.”
Roy then spoke for about six minutes on the issue and addressed how he prepares his players for situations where a timeout could come into play. He explained his stance on calling timeouts by telling a story. “I had a player one time tell me, coach, you call a time out, I’m going to panic,” Coach Roy explained. “I don’t want my players panicking.” He then talked about a very specific in-game scenario he creates every practice where the team is down by 6 points and have to come back from the deficit with three minutes to go. He even made a joke about how if they were playing Virginia the next day he would make it 66-60 instead of 86-80.
It is easy to criticize as fans and as the media, however, it is also easy to forget that teams practice these types of situations all the time. The way that Roy has conditioned this North Carolina squad, as he has many of his teams, is how to overcome adversity without using timeouts. Near the end of his statement, Roy did say: “One year we played Billy Tubbs when we won at – maybe it was TCU. Yeah, I think it was…so I made it 96-90. And we beat the dog crap out of them. They were the leading scoring team in the country. So if any of my guys look nervous, or if they look confused or panicky, then I’ll call it at that point. But I’m doing this for my benefit, not yours.”
With the many accolades that Roy Williams has achieved in his coaching career, it is hard to argue that his methods don’t provide results. This won’t be the last time we hear about Roy not taking timeouts. We just need to remember that he trusts his players. If he feels like the team is starting to crack, he will certainly call timeouts whenever it feels absolutely necessary. In the meantime, he “doesn’t care what the blankety-blank-blank anybody says.”
Good ol’ Roy.