By R.L. Bynum
CHARLOTTE — A lot has stayed the same with the transition from Hall of Fame head coach Roy Williams to first-year head coach Hubert Davis.
One clear difference is that the Carolina program has gone from a coach who might let a curse word slip out during a press conference, or famously in a national television interview, to one who doesn’t welcome cursing.
Davis is a devout Christian and has always steered away from profane language. During his time playing under legendary coach Dean Smith at Carolina, he discovered that if any of his teammates cursed, the entire team would pay a price.
“Yeah, if Coach Smith heard profanity, everybody would get on the line, and we would run sprints,” Davis said Tuesday at ACC Tipoff. “My policy is the same policy. If I hear anybody use profanity, we’ll get on the line and we’ll run sprints.”
Davis must have made that clear before the season because he said that he hasn’t had to make the team run for that reason so far during preseason practices.
He understands the contrast on this subject between him and Williams.
With the UNC job open after Coach Matt Doherty’s departure, Williams was asked by Bonnie Bernstein during a live interview on CBS about Carolina after his Kansas team lost in the 2003 national championship game. He replied that he didn’t “give a s*** about North Carolina right now.”
Davis has infinite respect for Williams but views profanity a little differently.
“I have to filter things to my own experience,” said Davis, who doesn’t even say dadgum. “And, I know what a huge impact that made on me, as an 18-, 19-year-old kid, seeing how Coach Smith and Coach [Bill] Guthridge communicated in that way. And, to honor them, that’s something that I want to give back to the players today.”
Many former Smith players say that, at times, he got his message across so strongly, and in his way, that they sometimes wish that he was profane instead. There has been a bit of that dynamic during Carolina practices this season, although some words have apparently slipped out from players in other settings.
“He has gotten on a few players for curse words,” junior center Armando Bacot said. “He don’t like it. But it almost feels like he curses when he gets on you.”
During the practice that was open to the media, Davis was extremely frustrated with how a drill had been run. That may have been a moment when some coaches might have had some salty words for their team. Instead, Davis yelled loudly, “that’s not cool!”
The language rule also applies to music. The players take turns being in charge of the music played during warmups at the start of each practice.
“Every time that we warm up, we stretch and they go through individual work, each player gets to choose their own play mix,” Davis said. “So, I’ve told them in the weight room and in the locker room, you can boom boom it up; you can do whatever you want to. But on the Smith Center floor, everything’s got to be a clean version. So they find the clean version and then they put on their music.”
When they say that Davis runs a clean program, that will be true on several levels.
Photo courtesy of the ACC