Blog Entry

The UNC family squabbles go public

Posted on: February 5, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 3:13 pm
Posted by MATT JONES

No college basketball program in the country is prouder of its basketball alumni base than North Carolina. During the Dean Smith era, the image of a "UNC family" was cultivated and has become as large a part of UNC lore as its baby blue uniforms. The family concept plays a large part in recruiting, as the Tar Heels make use of their notable NBA alumni as well as any program in America, usually in the form of having the players coincidentally show up on campus when top flight recruits make their visits. It even affects decisions about the program, most famously showcased when the UNC leadership chose an inexperienced Matt Doherty to take over for Bill Guthridge, rather than trust the ship to someone outside the family. The image and reality of a UNC basketball cosa nostra is a large part of what makes North Carolina basketball unique and the family concept is to be cultivated and encouraged at all times.

That is partially why the story of Larry Drew quitting the team mid-season took many by surprise. It isn't uncommon for UNC to have transfers, as unworthy McDonald's All Americans ranging from Neil Fingleton to the Wear brothers have left the program over the years due to a lack of playing time or unharnessed ability. And, as Matt Norlander pointed out here yesterday, from a production standpoint, losing Larry Drew will be of little significance to Roy Williams's team this season or in the future. But for a player who has been a significant part of the rotation to just up and leave in the middle of the year with virtually no notice, well that suggests a rift in the family atmosphere that has previously been uncommon, or at least unspoken, in Chapel Hill.

Enter the wonderful world of Facebook. Yesterday, former UNC player Damion Grant posted well wishes for Larry Drew on his Facebook status saying, "always hate to see a player leave the fam, but no one can judge unless you walked in his shoes. Best wishes lil homie. Nothing but love Drew II." That set off a firestorm of comments on Grant's Facebook wall and led to this response by former UNC player Rashad McCants' father, James (the screen shot is linked here and contains some blatant salty language):


The topic then led to more back and forth conversation between McCants' father and other UNC fans in the comment section. Those comments included more criticism by McCants towards Williams, but have all since been removed, leaving us only with the screen shot above courtesy of The Devils' Den Duke Twitter feed (shocking that a Duke fan site would record it for posterity and future conversation, I know). It has always been rumored that Rashad McCants did not enjoy his time in Chapel Hill and had a decidedly rocky relationship with Coach Roy Williams. On at least one occasion, McCants has denied those rumors, but his father's comments suggest that the relationship was, at best, far from perfect. 

In the end, North Carolina will survive Larry Drew's departure on the court and his replacement at the point, Kendall Marshall is a better longterm solution for the Heels anyway. But his departure does poke some holes into the "one big happy UNC family" picture that is such an important part of the Carolina program and mystique. The notion that things are simply different at Carolina because the UNC family has a special strong lifetime bond that can't be severed looks to be, at least in some cases, a complete myth. Don't believe me? Just ask James McCants.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Mar 30, 2008
Posted on: February 22, 2011 5:51 pm

The UNC family squabbles go public

Let's get a few quotes to see who is telling the truth, or throwing someone under the bus:

"He's a pure talent with a high basketball IQ," former Wolves GM McHale says of his former shooting guard. "Beautiful stroke, great body, everything. His problem was giving himself up to the team." That view is seconded by many who shared his locker room, whether McCants' under-his-breath mumbles were directed at them or not. "In any line of work you have to know how to talk to people and when to bite your tongue," says Kevin Love, who played with McCants two years ago. "Rashad has a me-against-the-world attitude. You have to get past that if you want to help yourself."    - So I guess Kevin Love confided with Roy Williams too.

McCants had long been perceived as sullen, moody and aloof, and he did nothing to change perceptions in his new town. He barely smiled when introduced to season ticket-holders, while an admonishment from coaches to be on time elicited an exaggerated eye roll. He wanted you to hear that sigh from across the locker room, a reminder that he didn't think he was getting the touches he deserved. - I guess Roy Williams is responsible for this as well.

By training camp in September 2008, the mood had shifted. McCants and Wittman were now on very different pages, and with the coach looking to put his stamp on the team, McCants' star quickly faded. He couldn't move without Wittman getting annoyed. It didn't help that McCants dribbled through his legs excessively during shootarounds. And it was hard to miss Wittman peering over his glasses with disapproval at the card games McCants organized on team flights.  - So, three years removed from Carolina, You mean to tell me that Wittman called Roy Williams, or vice versa, to declare Rashad was "poison"?

On Dec. 30, after a game in Dallas, McCants flew to Vegas to spend New Year's Eve with his then-girlfriend, Khloe Kardashian. The team was off the next day, so he had time to recover, fly back and make a shootaround on Jan. 2. But McHale caught wind of his revelry and, by McCants' lights, the coach was none too pleased. "He didn't like the fact I was dating a celebrity," McCants says. "He thought I wasn't putting basketball first." (McHale insists McCants' personal life was irrelevant: "I'm old. I didn't even know who Khloe Kardashian was.") - So, Roy Williams caused McHale to be at odds with McCants for this too???  I guess Roy told McCants to fly to see his then girlfriend??

 "He had the tendency to disengage," says McHale. "Unless you're incredibly, ridiculously talented, you can't get away with that." Teammates who couldn't break through the facade would go to McHale to ask if they had done something wrong. "I'd tell them, 'That's Rashad, and you just have to deal with it,'" he says. It remains a touchy subject for many involved. "He's a talented guy who played hard," says former teammate Love. "But he seemed to have his own agenda. I'm a fan of his as a player, but maybe not so much as a person." Love turns to his locker neighbor, Brian Cardinal. "Why do you think Rashad is out of the league?" he asks.  -  Again, I see that Ol Roy got to Kevin Love and Brian Cardinal

On their old teammate's right biceps is written BORN TO BE HATED, on the left DYING TO BE LOVED. "On the floor he was ****y and arrogant a lot of the time," says Foye. "Other times he just kept to himself. His motivations were maybe different than everybody else's." McHale pauses when asked if McCants was interested in making friends. "You know, I don't know."   -  Maybe, during the '05 Champions run, Ol Roy talked to Randy Foye when UNC played Nova in Elite 8 and told him about McCants.

Roy Williams: “He has an ability to score and make shots with people guarding him about as good as anybody I’ve ever had. But the other thing that’s important with this team is his moodiness, his indifference, whatever you want to call it.

Kelvin Sampson: “He’s a good kid who’s going to be a lottery pick. But the area of the game where he’ll make his biggest improvements is on teammate issues.”

Sean May: “Rashad is one of the coolest, most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met, but you have to know how to approach him. Some days he’ll be upbeat, talkative, making fun of people–just how a teammate should be. Then other days he’ll come into the locker room and not say anything. I’ve told him, ‘We can’t not know what to expect from you.’”

When three different coaches and teammates are seeing something it’s pretty hard to discredit them. Seems like the issue is McCants and not Williams, or anyone else.  - I guess Roy Williams influenced Sean May and Kelvin Sampson to say these things.

From SI Article: 

McCants's response was evidence of the maturity he's gained under , the result of the bond forged after McCants's miserable four-point, five-turnover performance in that 61-56 loss at . In a closed-door meeting, dropped the hammer--demanding that McCants issue a cease-and-desist warning to his father, who'd complained publicly about Rashad's benching in the second half against the Wildcats--and professed his faith, saying he believed in his fellow native.  - Hmm, so it started way back then too.

"I was always tough-skinned and hardworking, and I didn't really care what people said about me, because I knew my ability," said McCants, who was drafted 14th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves after his junior year, was traded to Sacramento last season and is now a free agent. He will work out for the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday. "After five years, [that reputation] is still around, and it's still haunting me from getting a job and being successful."  - So here, he's actually admitting whose responsible for his pro downturn.

Q: What are your feelings today about Roy Williams?

Roy Williams, to me, is a person who really helped me change [my] perception when he got there; he gave me a fresh start. He actually gave me a lot of confidence my sophomore year; I averaged 20 points per game that season. ... Coach just told me to be aggressive, and he had confidence in my ability to take over games, and to help my teammates. He put my scoring ability out as strength, and a powerful strength, for me. I'll always honor Coach Williams for that, and the fact that he told me to my face, "I'm here this year, and we're going to make the tournament. We're probably not going to go all the way, but next year, we're going to win it all." And that's what we did.

Q: Does it bother you that there's a perception out there that you had a difficult relationship with him at Carolina?

That's totally been taken the wrong way. Any player that's supposed to be a leader and is not doing his job, there's going to be a conflict, and that was my conflict. I didn't know if I was supposed to be a leader. And Coach told me that "you've got to lead by example -- you've got to do this, you've got to do that." And I wasn't doing that. But once we had that conversation, it was pretty much easy from there.   Read more:   --Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  "From the abundance of the heart does the mouth speaks"  So here, and this was just in '09, he praises Roy Williams, now, it's Roy Williams fault for everything.  I remember an article where he was asked if he still speaks to Roy Williams, and he said yes, and how Roy Williams helps him and such.

There are other players that said "Coach never failed me, if anything, he prepared me for the NBA".  Paul Pierce stated that Roy Williams was frantic to get a status on him to see if he was ok when he was stabbed.

Other quotes:

"The amazing thing about Coach Williams is the person everyone sees on TV all the time is really the same guy we see every day," says fifth-year senior Marcus Ginyard. "There's nothing fake about him. He's the embodiment of hard work, a guy who never quits, is humble yet confident, is willing to give back to the game, and who teaches us every day the values of education and his players growing as people and players. He's the best there is."

"He always tells you the straight up truth about what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear," says Hansbrough. "That helped me not only as a player but also as a person."

Senior forward Deon Thompson says Coach Williams is like a second father to him. "I love honesty and Coach Williams is going to give you that every time you talk to him about any subject," says Thompson, a starter on the 2009 national championship team. "He is absolutely what he was when he came in my house to recruit me. I got lucky for someone to come into my house who is a great person, a great man and is still the same person today."

"Coach Williams helped me become a man," said Marvin Williams, who was the second player selected in the 2005 NBA Draft. "He always held me accountable for my actions on the court. He's a father figure and he's my coach. He'll always be my coach."

"His willingness to understand the athlete and get the best out of the athlete is what makes Roy a Hall of Famer," said Michael Jordan. "His patience, his knowledge for the game, his effort and diligence to understand the game and understand the player and how they can co-exist. To me, that's a Hall of Fame-type guy, someone who makes adjustments according to the personnel rather than forcing his way of thinking on a team or a player."

"Roy Williams is one of the select few of the greatest coaches in the entire game of basketball," says Hall of Famer Bill Walton. "His impact on young people's lives throughout this great land will change the course of history."

"I was just coming (to Kansas) to play basketball for a man I knew I could trust and a man I hoped would make my dreams a reality," said LaFrentz, a two-time Big 12 Player of the Year.



Wow, sounds like a bad guy to me, that Roy Williams.  And like someone said, if Roy Williams was so bad, WHY DID HE SHE, AND THE OTHERS HE SAID THAT DIDN'T LIKE ROY WILLIAMS, SHOW UP AT THE REUNION GAME? 

Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2011 12:26 am

The UNC family squabbles go public

@ts213: Thank you for offering us all perhaps the dumbest post in a thread full of stupidity.

For what it's worth, Doherty didn't recruit anyone on the 2009 championship team. But, then again, your post reeks of uninformed opinion. A program that won 2 titles since 2005 is going downhill? LOL, ok. They had one bad season. They are currently tied in the loss column in the ACC and are playing the best basketball in the conference.

But you're clearly not interested in offering unbiased commentary. Please, hate on....even if you make yourself sound foolish in the process.

Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2011 12:16 am

The UNC family squabbles go public

@dk13beso: Are you seriously suggesting it's time for Roy Williams to retire? The man has his team currently playing as well as anyone in the country. In the past 6 years he's taken teams to 3 Final Fours en route to winning 2 NCAA titles.

How do these at all qualify as 'annual squads of underacheivers?' Roy has one bad season at North Carolina and suddenly he's lost control of his players, he cannot command the attention and respect of those players, and he is incapable of coaching winning teams?

The nonsense that some people spew when the going gets tough is really unbelievable, especially when evidence exits that stands in clear contradiction to those opinions.

Since: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: February 6, 2011 11:39 pm

The UNC family squabbles go public

Well it was clear that this article could not have been further than the truth.  Walking into the Smith Center today you saw a who's who of Carolina Basketball. Former, current and future Tar Heel all united in Tar Heel pride. 

The players and coach showed the the team is more important than one player especially Larry Drew and his parents. In case you didn't notice if Marshal had one more point 3 Tar Heels would have had double doubles, still two players is pretty good.

Parting remarks for Mr. McCants,  where were you during your sons high school career? Are you the the one who convinced Rashad to leave school?  Are you the one who convinced your son that his 10 points and 4 rebounds should be worth 4 million?  Maybe is he would have stayed in school he would have learned some manners, accounting, the law of supply and demand, and most of all; a few more skills to help him succeed in the NBA.

Since: Feb 5, 2011
Posted on: February 6, 2011 11:25 pm

The UNC family squabbles go public

Boy, don't you look stupid now.

Since: Feb 6, 2011
Posted on: February 6, 2011 6:27 pm

The UNC family squabbles go public

If you went to journalism school or had any journalistic training, are you proud of that piece?   Quoting a tweet from a Duke chat room?  Did you get paid for that?  To take a comment from a parent of one difficult personality and try to use it as support for the premise that there are problems in the "UNC Family" was frankly absurd.  Even if you were trying to mimic the current media trend of creating false sensationalism or crises (although that fails to quaiify as journalism) you failed.  A quote from James Mccants doesn't do it.  Had Michael Jordan or Sam Perkins, James Worthy or even Pete Chilcutt even been quoted in support of your premise, perhaps you'd have something. In any event, the team's performance against Florida State, its hustle, the joy on their faces answered any "question" about the cohesiveness of this family that may have been there.  I don't condone divorce, but sometimes a separation can be good for the family and I wish LDII the best.  While I don't think he was treated unfairly for failing to deiiver at a big time program, he was treated unecessarily harshly.  Life can be unfair.

Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: February 6, 2011 2:04 pm

The UNC family squabbles go public

You're right Braveheart; people are just jealous and the Tar Heel family will go on. However there are some families that are dysfunctional. I'm not saying; I'm just saying. It really is time for "ole Roy" to break out the golf clubs and head to Myrtle Beach on a permanent basis. His annual squads of underacheivers will flame out again in March and the "hound dog" will be left with some explaining to do. His teams simply tune out this fool when he attempts miserably @ playing the tough cop.

Since: Apr 6, 2010
Posted on: February 6, 2011 1:13 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: February 6, 2011 1:07 pm

Sorry but that's piss poor coverage of this.

No mention of the craziness levels of James McCants or the fact that Rashad himself has noted how helpful Roy Williams and other UNC alums have been for Rashad?

No mention of the specifics that have kept him off of multiple rosters in the NBA - like not showing up for practices, freaking out to the media, talking smack to the NBA coaches, etc.?

The problem is clearly that Rashad and his father are looking for someone to blame rather than being willing to engage in even the slightest introspection.  Very strange victim mentality when the problem is so obvious.  The problem lies within, not without Rashad (and James).

Since: Oct 12, 2006
Posted on: February 6, 2011 11:28 am

The UNC family squabbles go public

All I'd like to know is why do teams wear these long shorts. Does it not make sense to have the shorts stop at the knee? They don't do this crap in the NBA. I guess they are trendy like Michigan was with the fab 4.

Still gimme a break, it looks ridiculous & it's got to impead your running the court. I'd like to hear coach's response.

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