Hello there, friends. I hope you’re all well. Look, I can tell it’s the holiday season because you have all that snow in your hair! Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you hadn’t been outside. I’ll sit over here, okay?
Friends, I know I don’t have to tell you that this weekend our Cats take on the villainous North Carolina Tarheels in Chapel Hill. It’s a rivalry as old as the hills around here: two storied college basketball programs and two revered modern basketball coaches. Of course I’m talking about Cal and Roy Williams, the latter a thorn in our side once at Kansas and for the last ten years in North Carolina. Oddly enough, I’ve recently been reading Roy’s 2009 book Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court and I’ve learned that Roy’s aw-shucks, rural-gentleman demeanor — one reason no doubt the fine folks of North Carolina and, previously, Kansas, love him so much — lends itself to a great many words of wisdom. So today I thought I’d share some of the actual quotes from Williams’ book and we could all get to know him a little better. Sound fun? Let’s do it then, shall we? And have a great weekend, gang.
“At the end of each season, I hear some of my critics in the media say ‘Oh Boy, Roy’s going to cry again’…I’m probably too emotional. I went through a stretch at Kansas where I actually tried to talk myself into not crying, but it just wasn’t me. I just can’t help it.”
“I try to pick my battles about when to argue with an official. After all of my years as a referee in intramurals, I know how hard the job is, so I’ll only protest when I’m sure I’m right.”
“When it comes to mentoring my players, I look at myself like a teammate. I am playing as hard as I can every day to get them to believe in what I believe in: that there’s a right way to conduct yourself, there’s a right way to answer people, there’s a right way to dress when you go to a restaurant or get on a plane, and there’s a right way to play basketball.”
“We like to describe ourselves as a ‘family,’ and Wanda and I like to treat it that way. When recruits come on their visits, Wanda will fix breakfast at our house…if we’re not playing in the final of our conference tournament, Wanda makes brownies and banana pudding and the players come over to watch the NCAA selection show.”
“One time Ed Hightower called me after a game in my hotel room. ‘Hey Roy,’ he said to me on the phone, ‘you know, I think you were right about all those calls you were arguing about. I’m real sorry about that. I should have listened to you more out there.’ Sometimes it takes a while but if you have faith in people, they usually come around.”
“I remember one Christmas morning when Harrison, McAdoo and PJ woke Wanda and I up at the crack of dawn. They just couldn’t wait to see what Santa had brought them. Dexter, Reggie and John had a snowball fight and then we all made cookies and sang carols by the fire. It’s times like that with your family you never forget.”
“One day after a really tough practice, I called Drew [Gooden] over to talk to me. ‘Listen Drew,’ I told him, looking him right in the eyes, ‘if there’s ever a tornado you make sure you get under one of those metal washtubs and wait for it to pass, alright? I’m serious. Okay?’ He nodded; I knew that he understood what I was saying. There’s a right way to survive a tornado.”
“Sometimes to relax before a big stretch of tough games, I like to take the team to see Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede show over at the Pigeon Forge. It’s a real good show, I get a group discount, and everyone gets one of those souvenir boot cups. They’ve got folks jumping through fire, real-life buffalo and the prettiest ladies you’ve ever seen riding on horses. Every time I try to talk myself out of crying, but I can’t. It’s just not me.”
“One time Tyler Hansbrough sassed me and I told him not to do it again. He did, so I made him go out and pick out a switch, then I put him over my knee and gave him a whoopin’ with that switch. He never sassed me again. That’s just how it is with families sometimes. Sometimes you gotta do that.”
“I believe in a loyalty to the people who believe in you. True friends, people who really love you, are few and far between, and those relationships need to be protected and nurtured at all costs because they’re the ones that really matter. That’s why I go with Nike.”
“Once I was mashing some onions with a hammer — the onions were making my eyes tear up — while I watched this movie, and in the movie the Home Alone kid got stung by a bunch of bees and died and I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see and I hit my thumb with the hammer and cried even harder. I know people were probably like ‘Oh no, Roy’s crying again,’ but that’s just me. Like I said, I can’t help it.”