Roy Williams will never forget last year’s trip to Duke. There’s no doubt that he wishes that he could.
After he and his North Carolina Tar Heels had found a string of success at Cameron Indoor, that all came crashing down in a big way when the Blue Devils blasted them by 32 points. It was a lowlight in a season that had plenty of them.
Don’t expect any such blowout this time around. The teams meet at Duke tonight in what could be the latest classic in one of college basketball’s most storied rivalries. The Tar Heels are back in the national rankings and first place is on the line as the Heels try to avenge last year’s embarrassment.
Roy Williams joined The Dan Patrick Show to discuss if he’s scared to play at Duke, whether he ever worried about his future as North Carolina’s coach when the team struggled last season, if North Carolina’s season will be measured by whether it beats Duke, what it will take to beat the Blue Devils and BYU standout Jimmer Fredette.
What it means that he is scared to death to take his team to play at Duke:
“I have no idea, I don’t even remember saying it, but I’ll tell you what it feels like as you’re going over there. They’re really, really a big-time team. … We had had a run of four straight years of winning in Cameron and they were laying awake for us last year and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, just let me live to see the day tomorrow. I felt like it was Custer’s last stand and I didn’t know if I was going to be standing at the end.”
Did he ever worry about his future at North Carolina during last year’s skid?:
“No, no. Maybe I’m naive or something like that, but we had had a pretty good run there for the first six years I was back. … We had more injuries [last year] than I had ever had. I worried about a lot of things, but that was not one of them.”
Does he still think this season’s success will be measured by how the Tar Heels do against Duke?:
“I hope that we’re measured by each other every year. It’s a wonderful rivalry. … I enjoy being part of it. I think it’s a great measuring stick. Coach Smith set a bar for everybody and Mike has done the same kind of thing over there.”
What North Carolina needs to do to beat Duke:
“If we make a bunch, and I mean a bunch, of shots. A bunch of 3s, a bunch of dunks. … You’re not going to beat Duke in a 50-, 60-point game, because they’re going to score a heckuva lot more than that. You’ve got to score and you have to play defense and do those things, but you better be willing to score. The games that we’ve beat Duke, we’ve been able to put the ball in the basket. … That’s the only way I think you can beat Duke.”
On BYU’s Jimmer Fredette and whether he recruited him at all:
“The Jimmer’s something else. I enjoy watching those highlights. Didn’t know anything in the world about it. I guess that says what a poor guy I am. … We played him, I think his freshman year … out in Las Vegas. Man, he’s fun to watch. He could very well be [the national Player of the Year].”