Vitale: Incredible Final Four journey

Vitale: Izzo in fourth Final Four

Vitale: Bravo to Louisville and WVU

Dick Vitale Archive

 Four Fit
Mike and Mike: Dickie V on watching the Final Four qualifying games from home: "We were going absolutely bananas"

  Vitale Home     College Basketball     ESPN.com  

Roy Williams carries torch of Carolina tradition


March 29, 2005 | NCAA Tournament coverage on ESPN.com

More from Vitale — Selflessness key to UNC's ride to St. Louis

In college basketball, it's all about the name on the front of the jersey.

Dean Smith
Dean Smith
Roy Williams
Roy Williams
In Chapel Hill, N.C., there is pride and tradition to uphold – a North Carolina program built for years and years, with great coaches like Dean Smith, and great players like Michael Jordan, Charlie Scott, James Worthy and on and on.

Yes, the Tar Heels are back in the Final Four (the last time they made it was in 2000).

In his second season at the helm, coach Roy Williams has done a great job steering the Carolina ship back on course. The 8-20 record from 2001-02 is just about forgotten.

North Carolina's Big Three – juniors Sean May, Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants – came in as high school All-Americans, recruited by former coach Matt Doherty. He worked the trenches with great success.

Doherty got these talented players to wear that Carolina blue uniform. People should not forget the work done by Doherty to help assemble this club.

Williams has taken it a step further. He got his Tar Heels to understand that it's all about that team name – North Carolina. It is all about the tradition and the pride of Carolina basketball.

The simple formula at UNC has been: coaching + talent = wins.

Remember, Williams was an assistant on Dean Smith's staff before becoming the head coach at Kansas in 1988. He took over the season after Kansas won the '88 national championship under coach Larry Brown, another member of the Carolina family.

In his 15 years in Lawrence, Williams averaged nearly 28 wins per season, leading the Jayhawks four times to the Final Four (twice reaching the title game, in 1991 and 2003).

Now Williams has North Carolina in its 16th Final Four. The Carolina program won national championships in 1957, '82 and '93 (the last two under Smith).

At last year's Final Four, during our final show, I picked the Tar Heels to win it all this year. Nothing has changed my prediction.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories