The first time Roy Williams made it to a Final Four as a coach -- as a North Carolina assistant in 1982 -- he almost didn't make it to the game. Williams, then on Dean Smith's staff, had already required many of the superstitious traits that characterize him today.
After he had eaten a candy bar before what was a Tar Heels victory earlier that season, Williams decided that the sweet treat must have been good luck. So the championship game against Georgetown at the Superdome was not time to change his fortune.
"We get here, we're playing Georgetown," he remembered today. "I'd not gotten a candy bar at the hotel. I come here [to the Superdome], get in . . . They didn't sell candy at the Superdome. There's not a candy bar for sale in this building. I was about to panic. So, I go to the gate, talk to the person at that gate to let me go out. I go across the street, buy a candy bar, I come back.
"The person at that gate had moved to another gate. I've got no credential, no ticket, I've got nothing. I turned on the southern charm and talked my rear end off. I got back in the building. I was frightened. I thought, 'This is going to be a heck of a note. I'm going to have to sit with the street people [and] watch the game.'
"That's a memory of '82 . . . Worked out real well."
No Burden to Shoulder
Kansas forward Wayne Simien had been the Jayhawks' top interior player before a shoulder injury, averaging 14.8 points and 8.2 rebounds. He first was hurt on Jan. 4 against Missouri-Kansas City. After sitting out 11 games, he returned Feb. 16 against Iowa State but aggravated the injury three games later.
Making the decision to have season-ending surgery "might have lifted a burden off the guys," Simien said. "They don't have to wonder how we are going to be when I come back."
Young and Worldly
With a pair of freshmen accounting for 45 percent of Syracuse's scoring this season, Williams was asked if freshmen today were the same as the freshman basketball players of 20 or 30 years ago.
Williams replied: "Twenty-five years ago when I started [recruiting] at North Carolina, we used to talk about, 'During your four years we're going to the West Coast, we're going to New York, we're going to take you to Hawaii!' Now, half the dadgum kids in the country, top-50 kids, have already been to Hawaii. They've been all over the country. You say that, and they say, 'Long plane ride.' That's the way they look at it. . . . They're more worldly. They've had more experiences.
"The day before I saw Kirk Hinrich play for the first time, he had just returned from Moscow . . . not the one in Idaho, I mean Moscow. I haven't been there."
Stroke for Stroke
Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim and Williams became good friends on the golf course. When at the top of their games, Williams has a 3 handicap and Boeheim a 1. And despite their demanding schedules, they still manage to compete with each other -- even when they can't get together.
Both coaches play periodically at Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey. When Williams finishes a round, he asks the caddies to leave his scorecard for Boeheim. Boeheim does the same for him. "We're sort of a little unethical," Williams confesses, "because I don't leave any of the bad scorecards. I'm sure he doesn't leave any of the bad scorecards for me."
Crean's Mom in Hospital
The mother of Marquette Coach Tom Crean will stay in the hospital until Monday for further tests and evaluation. Marjorie Crean was hospitalized Saturday night after complaining of numbness and tingling in her arms during the Golden Eagles' 94-61 semifinal loss to Kansas.
She was listed in good condition today at the Medical Center of Louisiana-Charity Hospital.