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Thursday, January 27, 2011
Roy Williams regrets radio show comments

By Eamonn Brennan

Roy Williams had enough. The North Carolina coach was sick of fans calling in to his radio show to vocally criticize his young team, so he told them as much. This being the Internet, Williams's quote -- which essentially boiled down to "keep your [darn] phone calls to yourself," and which Williams probably thought wouldn't go much further than the radio show itself -- gained traction here and elsewhere, before ending up as a launching pad for quality call-in show discussion in Pat Forde's excellent Minutes column earlier this week.

Some minor backlash has ensued. After all, fans don't exactly like being told to keep their opinions to themselves, especially in such a hoops-crazy place like UNC, and Williams probably should have just let the bothersome stuff slide (or started screening calls a bit better). Whatever the solution, the coach says he now realizes he was in the wrong. From the Raleigh News & Observer:
"Do I wish that I would have just let it go and not said a word," Williams said. "You're darn right I do. I wish I had not said one word. I wish that I would have just kept swallowing it. I hate that I said that. What I hate even more is that I categorized people when I said 'fans,' because our fans don't upset me. My gosh, the fans in the Smith Center this year have been unbelievable. They've helped us in games. North Carolina fans have just been phenomenal.

"But it is, and people have just got to accept it, I'm not perfect. Never will be and never have been. But if somebody says something that is not fair... Somebody told me Mack Brown used to say, 'Well, how many times have you been to practice?' But was I wrong. ... You're darn right I was wrong. I shouldn't have said it because it came out that I was criticizing fans."

Williams is right. At some point, you have to realize that the fans that are criticizing you are doing so because, ultimately, they have your back. They want you to be successful. They want to be helpful in that goal. Their criticism may not always be constructive, and sometimes people just need to vent at someone they think is responsible for their current anguish, but at the end of the day, the people calling in are the people that make North Carolina basketball (or Duke basketball, or Kentucky basketball, or whatever) what it is. Losing sight of that is never a good idea.

In the meantime, maybe UNC fans have reason to turn those frowns upside down. After all, while the rest of the country was locked in to Jimmer Mania Wednesday night, North Carolina got out of Miami with a hard-fought road win, a win that came thanks to some late heroics by freshman Harrison Barnes. Barnes didn't have a great game (he scored just 13 points on 4-of-11 from the field), but he's been clutch in recent weeks, and hey, you know, that's something.