Players & Coaches React

CHAPEL HILL -- Tar Heel basketball players and coaches spoke to reporters on Wednesday afternoon about Roy Williams surgery to remove a kidney tumor.


Dexter Strickland:

“It was surprising when I got the news. I just look at it as life. Everything happens for a reason, and you can’t look at this and use it as an excuse for (not) building a great team. Things happen. We said a prayer for him last night, and I heard that surgery went well. We just build up from here.”

On when (Williams) told the team:

“It was (Tuesday) night, he told us what was going on and stuff like that. It was heartbreaking for me. I look at him as a father figure. I’ve been here for four years, so me and him have a great relationship together, and it was just heartbreaking to hear that he has those problems.

“It was a team meeting. In the locker room.”

“I haven’t talked to him since. I know he had it earlier this morning, so I haven’t talked to him since.”

Assistant Coach Steve Robinson:

“I don’t think there will be any disruptions. I think we all fill in nicely. This is my 18th year with him, so I’ve been through as many timeouts and practices and everything else, and personally I feel very confident and comfortable helping to run the program and administer things that need to be administered. And C.B. and Joe and Hubert and Eric Hoots, I think we’re all very confident in our abilities to keep things moving forward and keep it right at the normal pace.”


“I think all of us are in charge. We’ve all got our duties and responsibilities, and I don’t think we just have one simple person to say, ‘All right, this guy, you’re in charge of everything.’ You know who’s in charge? Roy Williams.”

“He’ll find out today after coming out of surgery and getting out of the other situations that he’ll have to slow down a little bit, but for the most part I think he expects to go at a full tilt and at a fast pace, but coach is coach and he’s going to be anxious, he can’t sit still very long, and we just want him to take it slow and make sure that he has full health.”

On Williams’ mindset going into surgery:

“I think he was just concerned. I think he was concerned just because it was surgery itself. I think that the situation was where he certainly would like for it not to happen, but I don’t know of anybody that’s pretty excited about having surgery and having somebody cut you open. But I think he can handle it, I think we have a great support staff with the doctors and everybody that’s involved, so I think he’s very confident and comfortable with the people that are around him and supporting him and performing the procedures that are going to be performed.”

On how Williams felt the last couple weeks:

“I think he’s felt a little uncomfortable over the last couple weeks and felt like something wasn’t quite right. But he still has been who he is, as far as he’s going to laugh, he’s going to be fiery, and he’s done a great job in some of the situations from a recruiting standpoint to be involved with them, so he’s kind of moving through his normal day until he had to have surgery.”

Reggie Bullock:

“It’s just like hearing that my father was having surgery or anything like that. He’s a father figure in my life. It shocked me when he told me he was having surgery, because I thought he was just a special person, nothing would ever happen to him. But when he told us about it, my heart dropped a little bit, but I just know that he’s going to pull through and he wouldn’t want us to stop playing basketball, he’d want us to go out and still give our hardest at practice and anything we do, even if he’s missing.”


“I just know that it’s just surgery, basically. I don’t really know exactly what type of surgery he’s having or anything.”

“I had surgery on my knee, players on my team had surgery before, so as far as I knew it was just surgery.”

Leslie McDonald:

“I don’t care if coach comes back with a long list of things to fix. As long as he comes back, I’m grateful.”

“It was hard. I couldn’t believe it at first when he brought it to the team. And then once he started to explain what was going on and what happened, then I started coming back to reality, and this is serious. But it was sad for me in the beginning, and it was sad for the team. You saw the whole mood of the team change. But toward the end of the meeting, you could see our spirits were lifted with his words of encouragement to keep him in his prayers, and we’re going to fight this together. And after the meeting, I felt very good about the success of the procedure.”

“I didn’t (think it was possible for that to happen). I was totally surprised.”

“Of course (we’re going to reach out to him.). We’ve — coach told us today or tomorrow wouldn’t be the bright thing to do, but later on this week go visit coach or send him out letters or send him a video. I think we’re supposed to send him a video to show him that we’re behind him.”

“I’ve dealt with a procedure before, as far as surgery, not like this, but I can definitely tell him that it seems hard in the beginning, but once you know who your family is and who’s with you in the end, it brings a smile to your face. And I just want to tell coach that I’m behind him 100 percent, and we love him.”

“If he can be here, then he’ll try to be here. But I know this is a serious procedure, so I want coach to get as much rest as he can. I think we have a great coaching staff, I think they’re going to do an excellent job of humbling us and keeping us ready for this season, and I think as soon as coach comes back we’re going to be ready for him to take us into his hands.”

“Last night’s meeting was definitely unexpected. Usually we know what type of meeting is occurring, but last night was totally out of the blue. And it surprised me and it surprised others.”

“We handled it pretty good. Of course we were sad in the beginning, but the mood of the team changed toward the end. We were encouraged by his words and we were motivated to keep strength with him, and I knew we were going to get through this.”

“He told us that we battled so much adversity as a team, you know, of course for me we had a losing season, we had people leave the team, and now with his procedure, we’ve faced so much adversity, but we got through it. He said this is another step that we’ve got to get through, so he said just keep your heads up high, keep us in prayers, let’s get together, close together, and let’s get through it.”

Assistant Coach C.B. McGrath

“Definitely the assumption is that he’s going to be ready, that he’s going to coach this team. He might miss some practices, which is unusual for him to do, but he is set on coaching this team, and the doctors are set on that he’ll be healthy enough to coach this team, and that’s what we’re going on. If anything happens other than that, we’ll be surprised, too. But we’ll do what we have to do, and the players understand that, and we have a lot of time to prepare for anything that could come up.”

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