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From national championship to a terrible coach

February 15, 2010
By MIKE MATHISON, sports editor

I find it rather humorous that people suddenly think Roy Williams is a terrible coach for the University of North Carolina men's basketball team.

The guy obviously can coach, although some Kansas fans might have issue with that.

He is getting blitzed because the defending national champion Tar Heels have 11 losses already and are just not good.

He was also recently ripped for his comments on Haiti.

Williams said, "Our massage therapist told me, she said, 'You know, coach, what happened in Haiti is a catastrophe. What you're having is a disappointment.' And I told her that depends on what chair she was sitting in. Because it does feel like a catastrophe to me, because it is my life."

In a statement released by the school, Williams said he understood the relative gravity of the problems.

"In no way am I equating the tragedy in Haiti with basketball," he said. "I'm sorry that my statement at the press conference made it seem like I was comparing the two. The people of Haiti are suffering through unimaginably difficult times. I know very well that we are just playing a game."

I understand the uproar because of what he said.

I also understand what he was trying to say, although he missed his mark by a lot.

I want to talk for a bit, though, on one of his statements - " ... that all depends on what chair she was sitting in."

I have heard coaches for years say sliding up one chair means going from suggesting ideas to making decisions.

Of course, those decisions mean people now get to question those decisions.

The fans (coaches) in the stands wonder why the coach is still playing a zone, or why that play was called, or why the hit-and-run was used and not the straight steal.

Those questions are easy from that side of the stands because you don't get criticized for asking the questions.

You wonder out loud why the team went 5-for-20 from the free throw line and it appears rather obvious to you that the coach never makes the team work on them in practice.

You wonder out loud that it's pretty obvious the other team has a terrible secondary and want to know why the coach isn't throwing on every down.

You wonder out loud that it's really obvious the team never works on boxing out because your team just got outrebounded by 25 in a 30-point loss.

Once again, it's easy for you to wonder out loud because you can with no ramifications.

You're not the one making the decisions.

But, then again, you're also not in the gym when the coach goes over and over and over boxing out and keeps drilling into the kids' head how important it is.

Of course, you're not in the gym to see what players have chosen to be half-hearted in that drill.

But, of course, it is all the fault of the coaches.

It didn't take long for controversy to hit the Olympics, whether it was the changes made to the luge track after the terrible incident where a 21-year-old lost his life, or the 18-0 victory by the Canadian women's hockey team over Slovakia.

I will leave the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili alone.

But, I will talk about the 18-0 hockey win by Canada.

Some people are saying the Canadians ran up the score.

I say, too bad.

This is the same Slovakia team that beat Bulgaria 82-0 in 2008. Yep, 82-0.

First of all, I am not sure how you score 82 goals in a game, but it happened.

Slovakian coach Miroslav Karafiat said Bulgaria is a new nation to hockey and that game should probably never have happened.

"It was caused by the organization of Bulgaria," Karafiat said. "The Bulgarian team came to play only two weeks after being given their uniform and skates."

Canada and the United States are the two best women's hockey teams in the world with Sweden at No. 3.

U.S. women's head coach Mark Johnson said everyone needs to show patience as women's hockey grows throughout the world.

"Unfortunately, in the world we live in with all the technology, patience is a word people don't use very often," he said. "You look back at when women's basketball started in the NCAA in the early days and the struggles they had to go through, and where they are today, it's much different. Women's hockey is still young in my eyes."

This is nothing like some eighth-grade basketball team winning 76-9.

This is big girl hockey and sometimes the scores get out of hand.

I guess Slovakia just has to get better.

The 1960 United States Olympics men's basketball team is up for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It won the gold medal in Rome after going 8-0 and winning by an average of 42.4 points a game.

Ten players played in the NBA and four players - Walt Bellamy, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas - have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, along with coaches Pete Newell and Dutch Lonborg.

Anybody whine back then about piling on?

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, in addition to Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen being eligible, so is Dennis Johnson and that guy should be enshrined, although posthumously.

He was a stud defensive player, something more and more high school players need to become.

The game is not all about offense, regardless of what some people think.

If your team has a five-point lead with 90 seconds left in the game, it's all about defense because if the other team doesn't score, you win.

Johnson was a member of the NBA's all-defensive team nine years in a row during his 14-year career.

He won three rings, one with Seattle in 1979 and twice with Boston in 1984 and 1986. He still scored more than 15,000 points and had more than 5,000 assists, but he is one guy you wanted on your team even if he never scored.

Anybody watch Paul Goydos implode on Sunday at Pebble Beach?

That was a huge meltdown, making a 9 on the par-5 14th hole. He backed that up with a bogey and finished four shots out of first place.

Walking down the 15th fairway he told CBS's David Feherty that he made a 9 earlier in the season at the Hope.

He then made a crack that his new nickname should be Gretzky, referring to the Great One's number, 99.

Brilliant outlook.

If this happens on Thursday, no one cares because he's not in the position to win the tournament on Sunday. But, the fact he had a meltdown on Sunday in the hunt and on national television shows it's all about what decisions are made and the execution of those decisions in the heat of the battle.

Goydos took 14 more strokes to tour 18 holes at Pebble Beach on Sunday (78) than he did on Saturday (64).

That, in a nutshell, is sports.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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