College Basketball

Kansas could beat UNC to 2,000 wins

Tar Heels need two more victories for milestone

Staff WriterFebruary 23, 2010 

Roy Williams soon will go into the history books as having coached a 2,000-win college basketball program.

The question is, which one will get there first: North Carolina or Kansas?

The Tar Heels began the season with 1,984 victories, four behind Kentucky - which became the first program to reach the 2,000-win milestone on Dec. 21 - and 14 wins ahead of the Jayhawks, who Williams coached from 1988 to 2003.

However, UNC's multitude of injuries, bad shooting, inconsistent defense, questionable stretches of effort and 13 losses have helped the Jayhawks catch up. As a result, North Carolina (14-13, 3-9 ACC) sits at 1,998 victories hoping that there are two wins left on this season's schedule; No. 1 Kansas had 1,996 wins all-time heading into Monday night's game against Oklahoma.

With the NCAA Tournament all but a pipe dream at this point, Williams said reaching 2,000 wins this season "would mean a great deal" to the Tar Heels.

"Hopefully, we're going to get there at some point in our lives, I guess," he said. "But I would love to get it done here, down the stretch. There's no question that the easiest way to have that happen is work as hard as we can in practice, try to be more effective, and then try to take it from the practice floor to the court on game night. And then, hopefully, some good things will happen for us."

If neither team reaches the mark over its final four regular-season games, Kansas might have an extra advantage in terms of postseason opportunities to rack up some more wins. The Jayhawks are a Final Four favorite, while the Tar Heels probably need to win a couple of more games just to reach the NIT.

"There's no question that I have the satisfaction of what we did for 15 years at Kansas, and I feel a very small, small part of it," Williams said. "... I do love that place, and love what happened there - but I'd just like to get one more [victory] right now before I feel like I'm going to croak or something."

Favors a factor: One of the reasons Georgia Tech freshman Derrick Favors posted his highest scoring (21 points) and rebounding (18) totals of the season in Saturday's loss to Maryland was his ability to finish the game with only one foul, a rarity this season.

If the Yellow Jackets forward can stay on the court by avoiding the whistle, he could be a serious factor in the postseason. Although Favors has yet to foul out of a game, he has finished with four personal fouls on six occasions and with three fouls on 11 occasions. Favors is averaging 26 minutes a game.

"The foul issue has been a real concern of mine," Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said. "I've talked to people, I've even talked to John Clougherty [the ACC's coordinator of men's basketball officials], about what we can do. And obviously, Derrick has got to - as he gets more experience, he understands how to avoid ticky-tack fouls. Quite honestly, I wish they would allow him to play a little bit more, but when Derrick stays out of foul trouble, he's a game-changing player.

Singler a (future) pro: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called it "ridiculous" to speculate yet on whether junior forward Kyle Singler will leave school after this season for the NBA Draft.

But he said there's no question that the junior - who has averaged 23.5 points and 10.5 rebounds over his past two games - will play at the next level.

"Kyle Singler will be a pro player," Krzyzewski said Monday. "Whether he does it after this year or after next year I think is a matter of development. Kyle is going to be a pro, and you want him to be the best he can after he does that."

Icy policy: After having record snowfalls force postponement of one ACC game this season and affect several others, associate commissioner for basketball operations Karl Hicks fully expects the league's athletics directors to examine the conference's inclement weather policies.

"It will definitely come up in the spring meetings - and it should," he said.

The biggest issue wasn't the Feb. 10 Virginia-at-Maryland game, which was postponed, but the Feb. 7 UNC-at-Maryland game, which was played as scheduled even after a blizzard dumped more than two feet of snow on the Washington area.

Under ACC policies, teams must be in town the night before games, and games will be played as long as the teams, referees and personnel needed to run the game and arena are on hand.

At the directive of the ACC, the Tar Heels traveled to Maryland two days early for the game, but the weather was so bad that the electricity flickered in the team hotel and the UNC team bus was snowed in. The only reason the team didn't run out of food was because a wedding at their hotel was canceled.

"Looking at it now, if you knew then what I know now, maybe you don't play the game," Hicks said. "But circumstances the same, all the information that we had? I don't know that we wouldn't have done what we did. It's difficult to know that all the stores were going to be closed around the hotel. Difficult to know that food was going to be an issue in the hotel.

"Typically, 99.9 percent of the time, you don't have those issues. But in the rare extreme case, you do. And how do you get out in front of those cases? That's certainly something we should talk about as athletics directors and administrators of the conference office, and we will."

Staff writer Ken Tysiac contributed to this report.

robbi.pickeral@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8944

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