Roy Williams Joins the 300 Club
If you ignore the absolutely embarrassing performance by the refs, and the reality of what last night’s loss means to Florida State (likely, no NCAA Tournament, barring a run in Greensboro), the end of the UNC-FSU game was a good thing for the ACC. Sure, the game was exciting, seeing the Seminoles lead 21-6 at one point before the Tar Heels stormed back, but that’s not why it will have a significant place in history. No, last night’s game was important because Roy Williams set a major conference record, joining the 300 Club of the ACC.
Now, as a member of the 300 Club, we don’t mean that Williams took the Polar Bear Plunge. He’s not one of these guys (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/300_Club), although he was seen apologizing to students while wearing shorts after Duke backed out of last week’s game. It was cold. Really cold. No, he joined a much more elite group of people, coaches including Carolina’s own Dean Smith, as well as Coach K in reaching the 300 win mark in conference play. He set the new standard by only needing 386 games, to Smith’s 406, passing his mentor in stunning fashion.
The accomplishment is not surprising, even if the timing is. Williams constantly ranks in the top 10 in winning percentage among NCAA Division I men’s basketball coaches with a .793 mark. No one doubted that he could set the record, just maybe not last night after his team got itself into such a big hole.
But the surprise and unpredictability is somewhat fitting because that’s exactly how last night’s game was to anyone who watched. At times, it seemed like the Heels’ six game winning streak was a fluke. That maybe they actually were the team that had lost to Belmont and UAB. But the way that they persevered, even through shooting struggles and an off night by James Michael McAdoo showed their true character. They might just be here to stay, making Thursday night’s rescheduled game against Duke all the more interesting.
Let’s hope that there’s a different crew calling the game. Seriously. Phantom calls and questionable fouls led to both James Michael McAdoo and Brice Johnson leaving the court at the worst possible time for the Heels. It was almost comical when the announcers complained that the remaining players weren’t guarding well because the refs weren’t allowing any defense to begin with. What could they do? Fouls were called when there weren’t fouls. Nothing was called when players traveled. Curiously awarded possession arrows occurred, and apparently it was decided that tackles aren’t intentional. It was bad all around and Florida State wasn’t spared either. In fact, while they were victims of their own ineptitude in the second half, they were hurt by the ref’s performance just as much as the Heels. An arguable goal tend potentially changed the game, taking the wind out of any potential comeback (not that they should have needed one after being up so much). All in all, 46 fouls were called making it a long game for both fans and players. It was stressful and frustrating to watch.
The NCAA has made a point to emphasize ‘hand checks’ this year, but the more basketball I watch, the more I think that they’re trying to remake the college game into the NBA. Don’t get me wrong, I follow my favorite players well into their professional careers, but the ‘defense’ in the Association is just laughable. In the NBA, players just stand still and let each other shoot. Now in the college game, players are forced to stand five feet away from each other and get called for a foul anyway. It’s embarrassing, and it needs to stop.
But no matter how you feel about the outcome of last night’s game, it’s a significant moment in conference history. This mark may never be eclipsed again. Sure, it might be, but it’s difficult to imagine legendary coaches such as Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino standing a chance against it since they’re so new to the league (unless they coach well into their 80’s and have perfect seasons). So congrats to Williams and the Heels, and here’s hoping for many more years of excellence from one of college basketball’s greatest coaches.