CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina coach Roy Williams, still recovering from surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney last month, isn’t really allowed to go full-out “wacko” in practice for another two weeks or so.
But he hasn’t been able to help himself.
“The first day at practice, I went wacko about 10 minutes into practice, so my determination to be calm didn’t last very long,’’ he said Wednesday at ACC’s media day. “So then I went home and told my wife, ‘I’m going to be better tomorrow,’ and then I did it about 15 times the next day.
“The last two days have been good; there are some things I can’t attempt to demonstrate that I’ve had [to demonstrate] in the past, and I can’t get too wacko and yell too much because it comes from your core, and I’ve still got those incisions that the stitching’s got to dissolve, and it hasn’t done that completely yet."
Williams, who is beginning his 10th season as UNC’s head coach, had a 3 1/2 –hour surgery to remove the tumor Sept 19, then had a biopsy on a tumor in his other kidney Oct. 3. Both were non-cancerous, but he has called the 24-day span from when he found out he'd need surgery to learning he didn't have cancer an emotional whirlwind.
He hasn’t missed any workouts since the team opened preseason practice Saturday; he even danced a brief modified shag at Friday’s “Late Night with Roy Williams” shindig.
But doctors are limiting him to 4-to-6-hour workdays until six weeks after his surgery (which is about two weeks from now). By then, he said, he’ll be at about 95 percent.
“I don’t have the stamina,” he said, “and the only reason I don’t have that is: I work out all the time. Now they tell me the way to get better is to do nothing. So I haven’t done one sit-up, one push-up, anything since Sept. 19, since the surgery, because of all the incisions and everything in your core. A couple more weeks, I think I’ll start getting the stamina back, too.”
Junior guard Reggie Bullock said he hasn’t noticed much of a difference in Williams at practice: “He’ll definitely get on anybody,’’ Bullock said.
However, “we just try to give our best effort so he won’t strain any muscles from yelling, because he still has stitches ... . We just try to do everything possible that's right to take all the tension off him,” he added.
But sometimes, Williams admits, it’s hard to hold back.
Tuesday, the coach was in the lane at practice, stretching up his arms and positioning his hands to show the players how not to foul, “and I felt like my whole stomach was pulling apart at that point -- which is wasn’t.
“It’s like I told everybody: I thought I was this tough guy, and I found out I’m the biggest pansy in the world. At that moment, it really did hurt. So I just bent over a moment, then I turned to Coach Robinson and said, ‘If anybody’s got to show the players how to wall something -- we talk about building a wall inside -- it’s going to be you, because I’m not going to do that anymore.' There will be no more demonstration of that for me.”
At least not for another two weeks, when he’s allowed to be “wacko” again.
“In some ways, it’s made me more hungry,’’ Williams said of his surgery, cancer scare and recovery. “Because I do really enjoy teaching; I do really enjoy coaching. I do love being out there on the floor trying to get five guys to pull together for a common goal. I do love to teach guys to make sacrifices, and you will benefit from it greatly. I do love that part of it.”
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.