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Roy Williams offers apology, explanation for end of FSU game


Mike Miller

Roy Williams caught ample amounts of grief for how he handled the end of North Carolina’s blowout loss to Florida State on Saturday. In order to avoid the onrushing crowd eager to celebrate a 33-point win, five Tar Heels (all walk-ons) were left on the court while Williams and his regular players were away from the scene, safe from harm.

It was a smart move – why risk injury in something that can’t be controlled? – and but Williams muddied matters more on Monday when he said he didn’t even realize those five guys were still on the floor until he watched the game tape.

That invited more criticism among various writers, most of whom couldn’t believe Williams would be at a loss for something like that. It does strain credulity, though when there’s an impending mass of people ready to rush the floor, it’s easy to see how things get lost in the shuffle.

So, Williams tried clearing everything up during his radio show. Here’s an extended quote, via Robbi Pickeral:

“If you watch the tape, Joe Holladay and [director of media relations Steve Kirschner] and I are talking and Coach said, ‘We’re going to have problems getting off of this court. Because they’re already in the aisles, we’re going to have problems.’ … And I think -- and I say think -- [official] Jamie Luckie was in front of our bench. And I’m whispering and talking into his ear, and saying, ‘Jamie, we’re going to have problems getting off this court, do you have any suggestions?’ He says ‘I don’t know what to tell you.’

“And then all of a sudden there’s a loose ball, and a dead ball timeout, and I start walking and motioning to [FSU coach] Leonard Hamilton, and Leonard comes up there, and I say, ‘Leonard, I’m worried about getting our guys off the court; would it offend you we were to leave?’ And he said, ‘No, I think that’s what you should do.’ Which I thought was great … he’s always sensible on things like that. And I said, ‘Leonard, I appreciate it. Please understand this is not intended to be an indictment on your security. … He said, ‘No, go ahead.’

“So I turned to Joe Holladay, and I motioned and said, ‘Come on’. And I took about three steps -- and you can see it on TV… Leonard says something, he says, ‘Roy, your players.’ And I turned around and said, ‘Come on.’ You can see me motion my arm again. And I take off, but I stop and I try to congratulate as many players as I can. … I said to every player, ‘Congratulations on the win.’ I said to the assistant coaches, ‘Please don’t be offended by this.’ And everybody said, ‘Coach, we understand.’”

OK then. Williams admitted they didn’t want to leave those guys on the floor, apologized to his guys, and reiterated that Hamilton was OK with the move.

Shall we all move on now?

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