Looks like Coach K struck a nerve with his injury comment, as Ol' Roy had to keep taking about it at his Tuesday press conference. For the record, here's what Krzyzewski actually said: "Nolan hyper-extended his knee at Maryland and has been dealing with that since - and unlike other schools we don't release our injuries - so I thought he played a strong game tonight."
So Roy fired back: "Regardless of what somebody else says about they have injuries too, which is a bunch of bunk, so I don't give a crap what somebody else says, but coach their own damn team, I'll coach my team -- in case anybody has heard some statements about that."
The first interesting question here is: was Coach K baiting UNC? We could be wrong here, but our guess is no. It's a simple explanatory sentence - we don't do this - but again, we could be wrong. There's always a certain amount of gamesmanship between Duke and UNC, with lines like K's classic about Dean Smith, saying that they don't smoke out of the same pack of cigarettes, a comment that zinged Smith on multiple levels and no doubt irritated Smith, who was always focused on his image.
The second question is: did Williams overreact? In his Tuesday comments, he seemed to blame the media:
"Well, it struck a nerve because if you guys would leave me alone, I wouldn't tell you anything. It's not like I'm getting a dadgum plane and flying it around and saying, 'Roy fell against a wall and banged his nose' or anything. We have to do those things. And everybody's hurt, but there are different stages of being hurt...If you're hurt and missing games, I mean that's not exactly like having a hangnail. We do have some people that are getting hurt and missing games, and I don't think that somebody should say we're putting it in front of the public....Let's get off that; that's all I'm saying on that one...We've got enough problems without having to have battles through the media. We've got to beat State, and they've got to beat whoever they've got to beat. ...We don't need arguments with coaches through the media. Like I say, we have enough problems beating the teams we need to beat without -- because I said before when we played Duke, it's impossible to have more respect than I have for Mike, but I felt like that that comment was aimed towards us."
Well, maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. Only Krzyzewski could answer that question, and we're pretty sure that if he meant it that way, he's laughing himself silly, and if he didn't mean it that way, well, he's probably laughing himself silly in that case, too. And it is quite funny that a throwaway comment has overshadowed the State-UNC game.
For Williams, it's just one more bit of public silliness. The guy is a great coach, and the ACC is lucky to have at least one brilliant coach in the Triangle since the early 50s: Case, McGuire, Bubas, Smith, Krzyzewski, and now Ol' Roy Williams. It's incredible if you think about it.
Of all these guys, Williams has the greatest capacity to say really odd things in public. Whether it's blurting out "I don't give a shit about North Carolina right now" to CBS after losing in the NCAA Tournament, or telling the media that he wanted to jump out of an airplane after a loss or that he wanted to run his players until they threw up after another, Williams is perhaps the best copy since Lefty Driesell. And it's nothing new: he said some cutting things to Kansas fans while he was there, insulted callers to his radio show here, and generally seems to just blurt out whatever is on his mind at any particular moment, at least when he's feeling stressed.
At times he's funny and warm, but here's the deal: he's the basketball coach of a highly succesful program at a large state university. He can wish no one would call him and bother him on his radio show, he can wish the Internet would go away, he can wish the fans at Kansas and UNC would be more to his liking, he can wish the reporters would go cover surfing, he can wish that other coaches would never say something he might object to, he can wish that people would drive on the left side of the road instead of the right.
It wouldn't matter. Like most guys who are at his rare level, and that includes K, Williams has a healthy ego. That's totally understandable and in fact is a good thing. But if he wants to play in a world where the Internet, the media, fans and other coaches don't bother him, he'd probably do better to just spend most of his time practicing. Otherwise, people are interested and passionate about his team, and he might do well to remember just where he'd be if everyone would just "leave me alone."