Williams not upset Lawson gambled

DETROIT -- North Carolina coach Roy Williams on Friday defended point guard Ty Lawson, who has been criticized by some here for gambling at a Detroit casino earlier this week.

Lawson told reporters he won $250 playing craps for about an hour in one of Detroit's three downtown casinos early Thursday morning.

On Thursday, NCAA president Myles Brand told reporters he'd prefer that athletes not gamble in the casinos. The NCAA strictly prohibits gambling on college and pro sports.

Williams said he didn't talk to his team about staying out of the casinos before the Tar Heels came to Detroit for this weekend's Final Four. Williams set a 1:30 a.m. curfew for his players Thursday morning.

Williams said Lawson and junior walk-on Marc Campbell were the only UNC players who gambled.

"I talked to them before they left," Williams said Friday. "They're both old enough. It is legal. I find it humorous that somebody would want to ask. It's strange. If we don't want these kids doing it, don't put the Final Four in a city where the casino is 500 yards from our front door."

Williams admitted he gambled in one of the casinos earlier this week, too.

"I have zero problem with Ty doing it," Williams said.

Williams said he gambled in one of the Detroit casinos before the Tar Heels played Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Ford Field on Dec. 3. Williams lost money at the craps table, but the Tar Heels won the game, 98-63. Williams said he gambled in a casino in Reno, Nev., too, when UNC played at Nevada on New Year's Eve Day. Williams lost money again throwing the dice, but UNC beat the Wolf Pack, 84-61.

"You got to be a halfway idiot if you think I'm not going to go gamble and lose money before this game," Williams said. "I have gambled and I have lost. I'm doing every dadgum thing I can do to win the game, including giving Detroit money."

Connectict coach Jim Calhoun said he banned his players from going into the casinos this week. Michigan State senior Travis Walton said Spartans coach Tom Izzo told his players the same thing, and Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds said none of the Wildcats' players have gambled this week.

Even though Calhoun said he told his players not to gamble, he said he didn't have a problem with Lawson going to the casino.

"He's of age," Calhoun said. "I just don't really find it that problematic. A person of age is allowed to do really what he wants to do as long as it's legal. That certainly was very legal in his particular case."