UNC's Roy Williams talks basketball, business
October 8, 2012By Jenny Callison
Roy Williams thinks a lot about moving forward.
With his cancer scare behind him and a new season just around the corner, the head basketball coach at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has his eyes firmly fixed on the future.
“This is my favorite time of year,” he said, explaining that as a rigorous practice schedule reveals players’ strengths and weaknesses, the players and coaches can figure out who they are as a team and where they want to go.
“I work them hard,” Williams continued. “I want each player to act like it’s the last minute, but I also want to make it a little bit fun; make every aspect competitive. They have to get ready to face the real world and carry over those lessons. I always tell them, if somebody’s going to give in, it can’t be us.”
Williams’ appearance at the Greater Wilmington Business Journal Power Lunch event on Monday was the first in a series of programs presented by the new Greater Wilmington Sports Club. The organization, an outreach initiative of the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame, has launched its sponsorship and membership drive.
The highly successful coach inevitably drew parallels between sports management and business management.
“Everybody wants to be on a team,” he said to the audience of more than 600 people at the Wilmington Convention Center, adding that successful businesses help their employees find their niche and enable the company “team” to move the organization forward.
“It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit,” he said.
On the program’s recruitment philosophy: “We try to recruit some of the best players and to recruit some kids who we think will be there three to four years.”
On the “one and done” rule: “I don’t try to steer guys one way or the other. I say, ‘Do what you want to do, and I’ll support you.’ For most people, the purpose of college is to prepare them for a better job. There’s no one right choice for everybody. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant made the right decision for them.”
On Michael Jordan: “Mike’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met. He told me he wanted to be the best player ever at North Carolina, and I told him he would have to work harder than anybody else. And he did.”
On constant media attention and critiquing: “I’m pretty thin-skinned, and the media attention is much different these days with the Internet and blogs. But if the mailman stopped to kick every dog that barked at him, he’d never get the mail delivered. They say you need to either get over it or get even. I get over it so I can get even later.”
On probable national rankings at the season’s start: “I think Duke will be No. 1, and State will be No. 2. [UNC] will probably be No. 4 or 5. I love being in a very competitive conference. I’m glad Duke and State are very good teams. But we’re also a very good team.”
On his retirement plans: “If I stay healthy, I’d like to coach for another six to 10 years. I don’t want to garden. I don’t want to go to work. [As UNC basketball coach] every day I get to do what I want to do.