Roy Williams, who says games are more stressful now, making sure to give Davis his space

By R.L. Bynum

Roy Williams thought his first Carolina basketball season as a fan after retirement would just be fun because he wouldn’t have to worry about coaching and could just enjoy the games.

He soon found out otherwise and said that his biggest concern all season was to give first-year head coach Hubert Davis his space and to make sure not to “get in the way.”

During an interview on the WCMC (99.9 the Fan) show “The OG” Wednesday with hosts Joe Ovies and Joe Giglio, he said that he quickly found out what fans have known for years: it’s stressful to watch a game when you can’t do anything to change the outcome. Ovies and Giglio also interviewed Williams for the excellent podcast “Roy: That Dadgum Legend” in October.

“It’s a completely 180 degrees away from what I thought it would be,” Williams said. “Because I thought that I would sit there and relax and just enjoy the games. It’s been more stress than coaching because coaching, I was always thinking about the next play and what to do or something like that.”

The way he watches a game is dramatically different as well. During many games he coached, he rarely looked at the scoreboard until he was walking to the dressing room at halftime. He didn’t want the score to tell him how the Tar Heels were playing and wanted to evaluate them based on what he was seeing.

While he’s watching players he coached last season — such as Caleb Love, RJ Davis and Armando Bacot — he’s also constantly checking the score.

“Now Caleb’s got the ball, he passes to RJ, I look at the score,” he said. “RJ  passes to Armando, I look at the score again. Every three seconds, I’m looking at the score.”

Williams loves that he doesn’t have the postgame duties that now fall to Davis.

“The best part is that, when the players go off the court, I can sneak out right behind them, up the steps in the parking lot, in my car out and away from the Smith Center before Hubert even gets to the press conferences,” Williams said. “Getting out of there so quickly is really good.”

The only real concern he’s had all season is to make sure that he’s there to help Davis if needed but to keeps his distance otherwise.

“That’s something I worried about a lot, concerned myself about a lot because I didn’t want to get in the way,” Williams said. “I’ve probably gone the other direction 100 miles. He knows where I am. You know, I’ll go to practice and stay there a little while and leave or come by the office.

“Really sincerely been worried about that more than anything,” Williams said. “I want to be a fan. I want to sit up there and clap and try to get the fans going and get our guys going and those kinds of things, but I don’t want to get in the way. And it’s something that has been the only thing that I’ve worried about. The rest of it I’ve been fine about. But that’s the seriously the only thing that I’ve been worried about, but I’m going to be in the games.”


He went to every home game and some road games, and was in Fort Worth, Texas, for UNC’s first two NCAA tournament games (above photo). He was in Uncasville, Conn., with some buddies to see the Tar Heels lose to Purdue and Tennessee, and told them not to worry about the team.

“I said just wait, and at the end of the year, we’ll be one, two or three in our league and we’ll have a chance to win the whole thing,” said Williams, who was correct because the Tar Heels finished tied for second in the ACC. “I really felt that way strongly after losing to Purdue and Tennessee. There were a lot of naysayers out there, but I felt that way very strongly. So, I do think I still know a couple of things about the game. But Hubert Davis doesn’t need Roy Williams’ help and if Hubert Davis does, he’ll come and say something.”

Like Williams, Davis isn’t on social media so he probably isn’t aware of all of the early-season criticism of the job he was doing. But the Hall of Fame coach’s advice was to not worry when he did hear criticism.

“What Coach Davis and the staff has done is continued coaching,” Williams said. “Don’t worry about those kinds of things. Don’t worry about what everybody else is saying. You’ve got to believe in what you think is going to work for this team. And that’s what they’ve done is, they’ve kept coaching.”

Being away from the bench, Williams no longer has to worry about getting a technical foul if he yells at the referees but he said he’d only yelled at them twice. He said that he yelled at the official at one of Hall of Fame Basketball Classic games in Connecticut and during one home game.

It sounds like he’s enjoying retirement, even if the games might be more stressful.


  1. Charles Williams says:

    I appreciate Roy saying that he very seldom yells at the refs during games. He’s a gentleman. But during the Baylor game, he and many others should have been yelling at them all night long, for such egregiously one-sided foul calls. The Baylor team was grabbing, pulling and hitting all night long, and very seldom getting called. The Heels, on the other hand, got whistled for one pitty-pat touch after another. Maybe the refs felt he pressure of being so close to Waco? Or maybe they are just not very good at their job. Don’t know about her others, but this isn’t he first time that Kip Kissinger has called a game that seemed egregiously one-sided against us.


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