Roy's Heels Hungry For Success

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Due to the turmoil that surrounded the Tar Heels last season, new head coach Roy Williams said he didn't watch a single game tape from the 2002-03 season until last Saturday.

Roy Williams Q&A - Player Quotes - Photos I - Photos II

He didn't want to let hearsay inhibit his ability to take each player one-by-one and make his assessments without bias.

"I wanted to give everyone clean slate," Williams said. "I wanted to be able to form my own opinion."

After a summer full of in-home recruiting visits and a 26-day road trip with the U.S. Olympic Team, Williams fully checked into his office suite at the Dean E. Smith Center just this week. Both he and his team met with the media Thursday afternoon.

Though his spirit has been present since officially taking over on April 14, to the delight of Tar Heel fans, the nation's winningest active coach has finally arrived in the flesh. But ‘Ol Roy,' as he frequently refers to himself, admits he has a lot to learn about the team he has inherited.

The Tar Heels will participate in a ceremonious Late Night with Roy celebration Friday, but then practice will begin in earnest the following day. As a result of his hectic schedule of late, it will be one of the first real opportunities Williams has had to get to know his team.

"I do not know them as well as I would have liked," Williams said. "That's the problem I have with the early-signing period and the recruiting season. I've been around them some. I've got a great staff and I've been very pleased about how [the players] have done during the conditioning period. I'm anxious to get on the court and see what else."

While former UNC coach Matt Doherty wanted to ignite a philosophy similar to Williams,' it is this year that the players believe the pieces are all in place for the program's return to elite status. Up tempo offense and in-your-face defense is the tonic that ‘Ol Roy' will peddle when practice begins Saturday afternoon, in the hopes of curing the ails of two seasons with a combined 27-36 record.

"And I'm handing the keys to Raymond Felton," Williams said of his sophomore point guard.

Felton is the only true point guard on the Tar Heels' roster. To demonstrate just how important Felton's durability means to the potential fortunes of his team, Williams said although he rarely uses his timeouts except in late game situations, he might use some early in games if necessary to rest him.

To a man, the key Carolina players agree that their new coach's style is a perfect fuel for the athletic models UNC will unveil this season.

"It's going to be very exciting," Jawad Williams said. "We have to play fast, but not out of control. A lot of my teammates, we are all great athletes that can get out and run."

The Tar Heels are projected to be a Top 10 team when preseason rankings start being released in a few weeks. Considering no current player has ever played in an NCAA Tournament game, Williams finds the expectations absolutely astounding.

"It's strange to me," Williams said. "Thirty-six losses were not Matt Doherty's losses, just like if we win 36 games this year's, they won't be Roy Williams.'"

However, Carolina's depth and a level of maturity that it has not possessed in two years are cause for excitement.

"We've got everybody back, everybody healthy and everybody is strong," added Melvin Scott. "The fans stuck with us 100 percent – that motivates us."

For that reason, Williams said he doesn't expect to have to bring any extra fire to motivate this squad.

"I'm really hungry, but I can't be as hungry as the kids are," Williams said. "They're going to do anything that I ask them to do to see if it will work. I want these guys to play so hard they could pull nails out of the floor."

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