Somehow, even though we're true Duke fans to the core, UNC's winning the
title this year wasn't nearly as annoying as we expected.
We've thought about this a lot, actually. Is it because we think Sean
May is a good kid? And Jackie Manuel and Marvin Williams as well?
That's balanced by our disdain for Rashad McCants, and to lesser extents,
Jawad Williams and Raymond Felton. McCants has been an obnoxious camper
from day 1. Jawad Williams has had a habit of saying some dumb stuff, but
at the end of the day, he just got his job done. Felton for some reason
just rubbed us the wrong way, though in his case, we came to admire him to an
It's not the players, even though we're pretty sure that someone like Tyler
Hansborough is going to be really annoying soon enough.
No, there are two reasons why it didn't bother us as much as it used to: the
first is that in the old days, Duke was not in UNC's class. That's no
longer the case.
And the second is Dean Smith is no longer coaching.
It's impossible not to respect Smith's coaching genius. He was a master
at what he did, and he had more tricks than any one coach has a right to.
And as good as Roy Williams is, his talent is not as vast as Smith's
And we're relatively sure that at some point, he'll get on our nerves,
probably fairly keenly.
But Smith always seemed to not just take satisfaction in winning, but also a
certain satisfaction in rubbing people's nose in it at times. He had a
habit of making seemingly innocuous comments that only later were fully
understood as digs and insults. On other occasions, he would just say something
snide like the infamous "Mr. Choke" comment about an FSU player, for
which he later apologized.
For people who weren't UNC fans, the great pleasure in beating UNC was that
Smith could say something nasty or underhanded, but he just lost, so screw you,
Roy Williams just doesn't generate that kind of passion. Partly that's
because most of us got used to seeing him at Kansas, where he had his moments -
the dustup with Billy Donovan, for one, occasional shouting matches with Kansas
fans - but it always seemed earnest, and never duplicitous.
For all his genius, Dean Smith always seemed duplicitous.
Whether it was keeping his smoking and drinking out of public view, or
letting his mask drop with "Mr. Choke" type comments, Smith managed to
drive just about everyone outside of UNC fans to distraction.
There are things to dislike about Roy Williams, starting with where he
works. But the list is not nearly as long as El Deano's. He seems
like a nice sort of man, and it's hard to work up a good head of hate for him.
We'll never be UNC fans, but it is surprising to realize how much of our
antipathy centered around Smith.