For all his accomplishments as Carolina's head coach - including two NCAA championships, three Final Fours and more than 200 wins in just eight seasons - the 2010-11 season may have been Roy Williams' finest body of work. The Asheville, N.C., native led the Tar Heels to a 29-8 record, the ACC regular-season championship, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA East Regional and a spot in the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight.
UNC accomplished that despite having lost 13 players in the previous two years, including the team's leading returning scorer a week before practice began in October and another starter midway through the conference schedule. The Tar Heels went 14-2 in ACC play, but did not have a single player make the All-ACC first-team or earn ACC Player of the Week honors even one time. Carolina started two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior for much of the season, and only one player who started a game in the 2010 NIT started in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
The Tar Heels began the season ranked eighth in the Associated Press poll, fell out of the Top 25 completely for nine weeks at mid-season, but climbed back into the rankings in late January and finished No. 7 in the final poll.
Williams was named ACC Coach of the Year for the second time and also won district coach of the year honors by the USBWA. The Tar Heels finished atop the ACC standings for the fifth time in the last seven years - Williams' teams have finished first in the Big 8/12 or ACC 14 times in his 23 seasons as a head coach.
A member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and College Basketball Hall of Fame, Williams has led Carolina to national championships in 2005 and 2009, another Final Four in 2008, additional Elite Eights in 2007 and 2011, four NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds, six Associated Press Top 10 final rankings, five ACC regular-season titles, two ACC Tournament crowns, four 30-win seasons and developed nine first-round NBA draft picks.
ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Fox Sports named him the Coach of the Decade for 2000-2009. Williams led Kansas and Carolina to 33 NCAA Tournament wins in the 2000s, eight more than any other coach.
Over the last 10 years, Williams has won 288 games, second-most in the country, and coached four National Players of the Year. He's won 33 NCAA Tournament games and led Kansas and UNC to the Final Four five times. That's more NCAA Tournament victories and more Final Fours than any coach in the nation in those 10 years.
His teams at Kansas and UNC have a record of 643-163 and his winning percentage of .798 is the fourth highest in the history of college basketball and No. 1 among active coaches. No other coach in NCAA history has won 600 or more games in fewer than 24 seasons, a mark he hit in his 22nd season.
On April 6, 2009, the Tar Heels beat Michigan State to capture UNC's second NCAA Tournament title in five years. In 2005, Carolina beat top-ranked Illinois to win Williams' first national title. He is one of 13 coaches to win multiple national championships, joining an illustrious list that includes only two other ACC coaches - Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski.
In 2010, The Sporting News surveyed a panel of 50 former ACC standout players and asked them which current ACC coach they would want to play for other than their alma mater's - Williams received 19 votes. No other coach received more than 8.5 votes. His Tar Heel teams are 225-62 (.784) and he's set UNC records for most wins for one year (36 in 2007-08), two years (70 in 2008-09), three years (101 from 2007-09), four years (124 from 2006-09), five years (157 from 2005-09), six years (176 from 2004-09), seven years (206 from 2005-11) and is tied for the most in any eight-year span (225, tied with 1991-98).
At Carolina, Williams has coached two National Players of the Year (Sean May in 2005, Tyler Hansbrough in 2008), two Bob Cousy Award recipients as the best point guard in the country (Raymond Felton in 2005, Ty Lawson in 2009), two ACC Players of the Year (Hansbrough in 2008, Lawson in 2009), two ACC Athletes of the Year (May in 2005, Hansbrough in 2008), four ACC Rookies of the Year (Marvin Williams in 2005, Hansbrough in 2006, Brandan Wright in 2007, Harrison Barnes in 2011), two Final Four MOPs (May in 2005, Wayne Ellington in 2009) and 12 NBA Draft picks.
Hansbrough set the all-time ACC scoring record and became the first player in league history to earn first-team All-America and first-team All-ACC honors in each of his four seasons. He also became Carolina's all-time leading rebounder and set the NCAA record for made free throws.
Williams is one of the most successful coaches in the history of the NCAA Tournament. His teams are 58-19 in 21 seasons and he has the third-highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament history (.753) for coaches with at least 30 games. Carolina is 24-5 in the NCAA Tournament under Williams, a winning percentage of .828 that is the highest for any coach with at least 25 NCAA Tournament games at one school. In the last seven years, the Tar Heels have advanced to at least the regional final five times - no other school has more than three appearances in the Final 8 in that same span.
The Williams ledger includes:
- 418 wins at Kansas and 225 at Carolina, the second-most at each school behind Phog Allen and Smith, respectively
- A record of 918-224 in 33 seasons as a collegiate head coach and assistant coach
- Seven Final Fours, fourth-most in history behind John Wooden, Smith and Krzyzewski
- Nine 30-win seasons, the second-most all-time (and 17 seasons with 25 or more wins)
- 21 seasons with 20 or more wins, including every year except when he won 19 in his first years at both Kansas and Carolina
- Three consecutive 30-win seasons, the first time Carolina has accomplished that
- 58 NCAA Tournament wins, third-most all-time behind Krzyzewski (73) and Smith (65)
- 77 NCAA Tournament games, third most in history
- 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the second-longest streak in NCAA history behind Smith's 23
- 20 consecutive seasons with a win in the NCAA Tournament, the only coach to accomplish that and 21 Tournaments with at least one win
- Seven seasons as the National Coach of the Year (1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2005, 2006 and 2009), nine years as conference Coach of the Year (1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2011)
- Recipient of the 2003 John Wooden Legends of Coaching Award
- One of three coaches (with Frank McGuire and Larry Brown) to lead two different schools to the national championship game, but the only coach to lead two schools to two appearances in the finals (Kansas in 1991 and 2003; Carolina in 2005 and 2009)
- Five ACC regular-season championships in eight seasons, fourth most in ACC history (Smith won 17 in 36 years, Krzyzewski 11 in 31, McGuire six in 24 and Vic Bubas four in 10)
- 14 conference regular-season championships and 18 times in 23 years finishing either first or second in the conference standings
- Winning his 500th game on Dec. 9, 2006, in his 19th season (only coach to do so in less than 20 years)
- Also reached 100, 200, 300, 400 and 600 wins in fewer seasons than any coach
- Winning more games than any coach after eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 seasons
- 91-37 record in ACC regular-season games
- 165 wins in his first 200 games at an ACC school, more than any coach in history
- 314-32 record at home, a winning percentage of .908
- His teams have been ranked No. 1 in the nation in 10 seasons and at least No. 2 in the country in 15 seasons
- The Associated Press has ranked the Tar Heels in the Top 25 in 130 of 153 polls, including 90 Top 10 rankings, 70 times in the Top 5 and 24 weeks as the No. 1 team in the country.
- Teams have averaged 80 or more points 18 times
- Coaching four National Players of the Year, 13 first-team All-Americas, eight conference player or athletes of the year, two Bob Cousy Award winners, 25 first-team all-conference players, 34 academic all-conference selections and 20 NBA first-round draft picks.
Dan Wetzel, national columnist for Yahoo! Sports, wrote in April 2009: "There isn't a more perfect union in college basketball than Roy and Carolina; the ideal combination of style and substance, recruiting might and coaching acumen, of championships won and won and, most certainly, won again."
In February 2009, Forbes named Williams the best basketball coach in the country, choosing him by analyzing win-loss percentages, NCAA Tournament appearances, Final Fours, national championships and recruiting.
Forbes wrote: "A top-notch recruiter and motivator, Williams coaches with an unflappable cool, a trait reflected in his players' calm on the court."
Williams' ability to relate to players and their families, both in the recruiting process and throughout their careers, is something his players speak of when they account for his success.
On March 8, 2009, Senior Day at Carolina, an emotional Hansbrough thanked Williams for living up to a promise Williams made during his recruitment that the coach would always be honest with him.
"He always tells you the straight up truth about what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear," says Hansbrough. "That helped me not only as a player but also as a person."
Williams is one of nine Tar Heels to be enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, joining a group that includes Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, Larry Brown, Billy Cunningham, James Worthy and Bob McAdoo. Twenty-three of his former players from Carolina and Kansas joined him in Springfield, Mass., for the induction ceremony in 2007.
From 2007-2009 Carolina went 101-14, winning 21 more games than any other ACC school. Over the last six seasons, Carolina went 33-15 in ACC road games.
The 2009 Tar Heels won their fourth ACC regular-season title in the last five years, won their fourth straight game at Duke and landed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year. In the NCAA Tournament, Carolina put on a stunning display, winning six games by an average of 20.2 points, the highest margin in 13 years. UNC became the first team to win all six games by a dozen or more points.
UNC led the nation in winning percentage (89.5) and scoring margin (+17.8) and was second in scoring (89.9 ppg). That was the seventh time in eight years his teams had finished in the top four nationally in scoring (first in 2002 and 2005, second in 2007, 2008 and 2009, third in 2003 and fourth in 2004). His teams have averaged 84.3 points at UNC with the Tar Heels reaching 100 or more points 36 times.
His teams have finished in the Top 10 nationally in scoring 10 times, in scoring margin 15 times, in field goal percentage 12 times, in win-loss percentage 10 times and in field goal defense four times. Also, his squads have finished in the top seven nationally in assists per game in seven of the last 10 years and in the top eight nationally in rebounding margin in 10 of the last 15 years.
In 2008, Williams led the Tar Heels to a school-record 36 wins, ACC regular-season and Tournament titles and a berth in the Final Four with a win over Louisville in the regional final. Hansbrough won every major National Player of the Year award. He is the fourth to play for Williams - along with Jayhawks Drew Gooden and Nick Collison and UNC's Sean May - to win National Player of the Year honors since 2002. The 2005 national championship capped a season in which the Tar Heels went 33-4, including a 14-2 mark in the ACC. Carolina led the nation in scoring average, scoring margin and assists and became the third team in history to lead the nation in scoring and win the NCAA championship.
In 2006, Carolina faced the loss of its top seven scorers, which was unprecedented in ACC history. Sports Illustrated predicted Carolina would miss the NCAA Tournament and the Tar Heels were picked by the media to finish sixth in the ACC. However, Williams earned National and ACC Coach of the Year honors by leading the youngest team in Carolina history to a second-place ACC finish, a win at top-ranked Duke and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Williams became the UNC head coach on April 14, 2003, 10 days after leading Kansas to the NCAA championship game against Syracuse.
Williams was assistant coach at Carolina from 1978-88. Working for Dean Smith, he helped coach such standouts as Mike O'Koren, Al Wood, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty, Michael Jordan, Brad Daugherty, Kenny Smith, Joe Wolf, Steve Hale, Jeff Lebo, J.R. Reid and Scott Williams.
Carolina won the NCAA title in 1982, finished second in 1981 and won or shared six ACC regular-season titles and three ACC Tournament championships.
Kansas hired Williams on July 8, 1988, replacing another UNC Hall of Famer, Larry Brown. Williams coached a number of the finest Kansas players in history, including Mark Randall, Adonis Jordan, Rex Walters, Greg Ostertag, Scot Pollard, Jacque Vaughn, Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce, Drew Gooden, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich.
The Jayhawks averaged 27.9 wins per season with a high of 35 in 1997-98. He also won 30 in 1989-90, 34 in 1996-97, 33 in 2001-02 and 30 in 2002-03. The Jayhawks reached the Sweet 16 nine times and the Final Eight on five occasions.
In seven years of Big 12 Conference play, his teams went 94-18, capturing the regular-season title in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2003 and the postseason tournament crown in 1997, 1998 and 1999. In 2001-02, KU became the first Big 12 team to go 16-0 in league play. From 1995-98, Kansas was a combined 123-17 - an average of 30.8 wins per season. The Jayhawks went 201-17 (92.2) in Allen Fieldhouse, and won 62 consecutive games in Allen from February 1994 to December 1998.
Williams has coached players to 25 first-team all-conference honors, including eight UNC selections. Seven players - five Jayhawks, Hansbrough and Lawson - have won conference player of the year honors.
Hansbrough and Lawson earned first-team All-America honors in 2009. That marked the 12th and 13th first-team All-America seasons by Williams's players.
Gooden (2002), Collison (2003), May (2005) and Hansbrough (2008) won National Player of the Year honors and LaFrentz (1997 and 1998), Pierce (1998), Gooden (2002), Collison (2003) and Hansbrough (2007, 2008 and 2009) have earned consensus first-team All-America honors.
The NBA has selected 20 of his players in the first round, including Hansbrough (13th), Lawson (18th) and Ellington (28th) in 2009 and Ed Davis (13th) in 2010. In 2005, UNC became the first program to have four players chosen in the NBA Lottery. Williams emphasizes academic development, as well. Every Carolina senior in his tenure has either received his degree or is on track to do so. Sean May, the 2005 Final Four MVP, entered the NBA Draft after his junior year but later earned his degree. Marvin Williams, who went to the NBA in 2005 after just one season, has taken summer classes in Chapel Hill since and is a junior in academic standing.
Four players have earned first-team Academic All-America honors - Jayhawks Vaughn (twice), Haase and Ryan Robertson and Tar Heel Tyler Zeller - and 36 have earned first-team academic all-conference honors, including Zeller, a three-time recipient. Williams grew up in the Biltmore area of south Asheville. He attended T.C. Roberson High, where he played for Coach Buddy Baldwin. He played on Carolina's freshman team in 1968-69 and earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1972 and a master's in teaching in 1973.
He began his coaching career in 1973 at Owen High School in Swannanoa, N.C., and was inducted into Owen's Hall of Fame in 2010. He coached for USA Basketball teams in the 1991 World University Games, the 1992 U.S. Olympic Development Team, a U-22 tournament in Argentina in 1993, and the 2004 Olympics in Greece.
Several of his staff and players have gone on to head coaching positions, including Matt Doherty, the late Neil Dougherty, Jerry Green, Steve Robinson, Kevin Stallings, Mark Turgeon and Rex Walters.
Born August 1, 1950, he and his wife, Wanda, a 1972 Carolina graduate, have a son, Scott, and a daughter, Kimberly. Scott earned a business degree from UNC and played point guard on the basketball team in 1997-98 and 1998-99. He and his wife, Katie (Wolford), live in Charlotte, with their sons, Aiden (born in Jan., 2010) and Court (born Aug. 2011). Katie is a 2001 Carolina graduate and former cheerleader. She earned a doctorate in physical therapy from Boston University. Kimberly, who also lives in Charlotte, is a 2002 Carolina graduate with a degree in English and a former member of the UNC dance team.
The Williams family has contributed more than $400,000 to the Carolina Covenant, an initiative at UNC that allows low-income students to attend the University debt free. Roy and Wanda serve as honorary chairs of a $10 million campaign to endow the program. Coach Williams hosts an annual Coaches vs. Cancer breakfast that has raised more than $1.3 million and directs the autographed basketball program that has contributed more than $650,000 to local charities.