Assistant coaching hire and next season’s outlook. Via Robbi Pickeral at ESPN UNC Blog who caught Roy Williams appearance on a Tar Heel Tour stop.
At the top of the list is who will replace Jerod Haase as UNC’s third assistant coach. Roy says upfront it will be someone with UNC ties.
“I’ve had three guys from Kansas call me and apply, and I told them, ‘I love you, but I can’t do that. I came here, I brought two Kansas players with me, so the next guy has got to be a North Carolina guy,’” Williams said Tuesday night during the Rams Club’s Tar Heel Tour event in the Triangle. “We’ve had some pretty impressive people that I’ve talked to.”
Williams said 14 former Tar Heels players have shown interest in the job, which was vacated when Jerod Haase (one of those former Jayhawks who came to Chapel Hill with Williams from Kansas in 2003) left to become head coach at UAB earlier this month.
Before speaking to roughly 400 fans at the event, Williams said he couldn’t remember the last time he had interviewed anybody, because his assistant coaching staff had remained intact through all nine of his seasons as head coach at UNC.
“This weekend is a recruiting period, and then next weekend is a recruiting period. And then after that, I’m really going to focus on replacing Jerod,” he said. “Right now, I’m thinking about it, I’m talking to some people, and needless to say, we’ve had some very good North Carolina people that have contacted me about it, but it’s just not a priority right now.”
Give Roy credit for understanding the dynamics at play with the fan base. Had he brought in another former Kansas players it would not have been received very well so he is going to go with a someone who has UNC ties. Roy also said he wants to hire someone he knows personally stating Steve Robinson was the only person he’s ever hired without having a preexisting relationship. There is a lot of sentiment for Phil Ford returning but I remained convinced this will be a younger individual.
Looking towards next season, Roy says he thinks the roster is set and does not anticipate any other changes.
Williams told fans Tuesday night that sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo (who will slide into one of those starting positions) “has a chance to be a big-time, big-time player; he’s got to step his game up.”
Wing Reggie Bullock, he added, “will have to take his game to another level.”
Meanwhile, “Dexter [Strickland] and Leslie [McDonald] have to come back in and be healthy, and then the freshman group we have coming in, they’ve got to show us that they’re strong players, as well.”
With so many veteran players on the perimeter and so many younger ones in the post, it will be key to see whether Williams opts to go with a smaller, guard-heavy line-up compared years past. Even he doesn’t know — yet.
“It will be interesting to see how my thought process goes over the summer,’’ he said.
Looking at the personnel, especially Reggie Bullock, there is a case that can be made for him playing some at the four spot. Bullock is a very good rebounder and is certainly big enough to handle certain opposing personnel(Duke’s Ryan Kelly comes to mind.) I am not sold on the idea of Bullock starting at PF but running a lineup which would put Leslie McDonald, P.J. Hairston and Bullock on the court at the same time could be effective at times. Roy also raises a point that is lost in the shuffle. Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald are coming off major knee surgery which lends a degree of uncertainty to both players’ situation. McDonald less so that Strickland since he will have had over a year to recover. In fact, there the uncertainty factor may make the upcoming season more enjoyable in some ways. As much as we like seeing UNC picked to win the title, these seasons where the team grows up as the games go by are often times more fun to watch.