Inside Carolina/Jim Hawkins

Roy Williams’s Timeout Rant Signals Arrival of March Madness

UNC's head coach was in prime media form during his press conference on Tuesday.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Every so often, Roy Williams turns a monotonous press conference into a highlight reel with a glorious stream of consciousness that rambles along tangents with colorful language and comical anecdotes.

Tuesday’s pre-NCAA Tournament presser was one of those occasions, as a question about his timeout philosophy turned into a six-minute rant comprised of nearly 900 words. The monologue hit on all relevant topics of Williams’s coaching vernacular, starting with a daggum and a blankety-blank and shifting into mild profanity. He cracked about singing Kumbaya, quoted his high school coach Buddy Baldwin, took shots at the Internet crowd and finished with a golf reference.

In short, his rant was as illuminating about his stance on timeouts as it was defining about his personality. The comments, which were in response to his calling just one timeout during Duke's second-half run in Friday's ACC Tournament semifinal, are posted in full below:

“What my philosophy is is the same daggum philosophy I’ve had for 29 years. I call them when I want to, and I don’t care what the blankety-blank-blank anybody says. I’ll give you an example. Before half of you were born in 1991, we’re playing in Madison Square Garden against Vegas and I jumped up to call a timeout and Kevin Stallings says, ‘Coach, we get one in 40 seconds.’ I said, ‘I don’t care, we could be down eight more.’ We had like a 20-point lead and all of a sudden Vegas had cut it to 12 and they were scary and my guys looked like they were panicking. What I base it on is is it more important to call it then or more important to save it. You know, my high school coach says, ‘Yeah, dang, if you weren’t so stupid and called a few more timeouts, you’d have won a few games.’ I’m going to call it the way that I always have.

“There were two timeouts during the course of their run, anyway. I mean, timeouts are overrated, I believe. God almighty, we take a timeout every time a referee gets a heartbeat. Twelve, 16, eight, four. I talk to them. Watch me, I keep my guys in the huddle less than any coach in basketball. I send them out. I’m tired of talking to them. There’s only so much I can say. So my policy, my philosophy, thought process, I’m going to call a timeout when I think it’s the right thing to call. Seriously, one of the coaches said, ‘You want to call a timeout.’ Justin Jackson got the ball on the wing and Isaiah Hicks is posted low with a little guy behind him. I like that, so I’m not going to take that away.

“But I did in 1991. Go look at it. Called one with 12 minutes to go in a half… I called a timeout [with 10:56 to play] and there were two timeouts in there. I’m not going to change because we’ve been pretty damn good. I had a player, and this is more important than any of you guys or any fans or all that Internet crap, I had a player one time tell me, ‘Coach, if you call a timeout, I’m going to panic.’ I don’t want my players panicking. Every day we practice, I put them down six with three minutes to go or up six with three minutes to go, almost every day. So am I wasting all of my time to call them over there to put our hands together and sing Kumbaya? So I’m going to call it when the hell I want to call it. I don’t care what you guys say or what anybody else says. It makes no difference. You haven’t been on the bench for 1,000 games and I have. So that’s my philosophy. Talk all the hell you want; it makes no difference to me. We’ve won some games by not calling timeouts. One player said if you call a timeout, I’m going to panic, and that’s a hell of a lot more important to me than anything you guys say or any plumber that’s putting something on Facebook. How’s that?”

“Think about it, guys. I’ve coached 1,000 games. We’ve been in some tight situations. We’ve won some games… We had talked already twice. I called one with 11 [minutes left] because I didn’t like the look on our guys’ faces. That’s your answer. If I don’t like the look on my guys’ faces, I’ll probably call a timeout. But we’ve been there before. Really. Every day. 86-80. Before we play Virginia… I’ll make it 66-60. I swear to God, that’s the truth. You can go back and look. When we get ready to play Virginia, in a late-game scenario, it’s 66-60 with us ahead or 60-66 us behind. For everybody else it’s 86-80. One year we played Billy Tubbs when he was maybe at TCU, so I made it 96-90. We beat the dog crap out of them. They were the leading scoring team in the country. So if my guys look nervous or if they look confused or panicky, then I’ll call it at that point…

“I want to get the play stopped to get a guy out sometimes. I’ve asked players, I asked the ’05 team and the ’09 team in the championship game, do you guys need a timeout. I’ve asked players when they’re going to the free throw line before, do you need a timeout to rest? I do that all of the time. But let me get to something that’s beneficial to me. You know the two easiest jobs in the world? Seriously. College basketball coach or a golf course superintendent, because everybody knows how to do your job better than you do. The last time I said that I got five invitations from golf course superintendents to come play golf. The president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America sent me a little note that said any time you want to go play any of our places, let me know. So I’m doing this for me, guys.”

Williams is 810-216 all-time and 70-24 in the NCAA Tournament with two national championships and eight Final Fours.

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