Q&A with Dean Smith

CHAPEL HILL - <i>Inside Carolina</i>, and other media outlets, spoke with Dean Smith after the press conference introducing Roy Williams as UNC's new head coach Monday evening.

Well, certainly we have the entire package, in my opinion. You heard what Roy had to say and he's proven to be an outstanding coach. He will do what he just said. He played a very tough schedule and I think he might be the winningest active coach in American today and he had maybe two wins [over weak opponents] and the rest were all real tough games – he doesn't hide. [His teams] do play hard and they play together. I think the execute and play smart.

He'll put the program back on track?

It's started back. See, Bill Guthridge left a real good team for Matt [Doherty] his first year and Matt left some good players this time, so I don't think that factored into Roy's decision. I think a lot of credit goes to Bill and Matt there. It was just an aberration a year ago and if [Sean] May doesn't get hurt this year I know we'd be better.

How many times did you talk to Roy?

The final one was this morning when he called – at 9 he called Dick. Monday night we commiserated together after we lost to Syracuse with his Kansas friends and a couple of Carolina guys in his suite. Then I initiated a call on Tuesday night – no, he called me. When I left around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning after the Syracuse game he said I'll call you tomorrow night and he did. And I didn't talk to him again – turned him over to Dick – maybe one more time before he called this morning. I was happy when he said ‘I'm sure this is good for me.'

How did you feel tonight listening to Roy Williams talking about being the new head coach at Carolina?

I'm excited and I know he must be. We thought it was done three years ago and it didn't work out and Matt came in and did a great job. That first year was remarkable and then the second year was a shock. We really played good defense this year and we'll get better with Roy's leadership.

What were your feelings on the removal of Matt Doherty?

I talked to Matt several times since he was no longer [the coach]. In fact, he probably has the chance to do some TV work, but he also wants to coach again and I think he'll be an excellent coach. He felt he learned a lot this time around. He had one year of experience [before coming to UNC].

There was a lot made about the coaching staff that Matt brought with him to Chapel Hill – what are your feelings of this staff?

This is much more experienced coaching staff. I'd be disappointed if one Carolina player wasn't on there, but that's still up to Coach Williams. I'm pleased he's bringing Phil Ford into the group …

In an undefined role?

Yeah, but … Phil is important to this program. If a player would say something about this staff all last year, Phil would jump all over them. He was extremely loyal to Matt. Phil Ford's loyal to all his friends.

Have you talked to Phil about all this?

Well, Phil would have been here. He's at Elkin raising money for the University – an Educational Foundation meeting. He called me tonight and I'm sure he and Phil will get to catch up tomorrow. In fact, this messes up Wednesday – Roy called me two months ago to play Pine Valley on Wednesday. I can hardly wait to ask if it's still on.

Were there any differences in your approach to Roy this time?

No. None whatsoever.

What did you say to encourage him to come?

Same thing I probably said last time. I really don't know. We talked maybe 40 minutes to initiate it on Tuesday. He said he'd call me and we talked … I waited for him to call. When he says he'll call at 10, one minute before 10 the phone rang.

Was there a need factor in your approach this time? Saying ‘We need you.'

Of course at that time we'd just come off a Final Four. I think that's a poor reason. I don't think I used that really because that means you're going to use somebody and we needed him maybe three years ago in my mind, but I didn't say those words. And we have a great group out there, Larry Brown's been national coach of the year, Roy Williams I think four times, Bill Guthridge, Matt Doherty was national coach of the year. They were national coach of the year. I don't know whether I made it. Only time I was worried about that was my first year I finished second or third in the voting and I was so excited. Then I realized that didn't mean anything, really.

Did you agree with the decision to remove Coach Doherty? Do you think that was the right move by Dick Baddour?

That's for Dick … I was pushing to give him more time, very much so, and then some people shared some of the problems and then you could see where they were coming from – you can put it that way.

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