Roy Williams nearing end to search for assistant coach

acarter@newsobserver.comApril 27, 2012 

— North Carolina coach Roy Williams said during a Rams Club Tar Heel Tour stop in Charlotte Wednesday night that he will spend next week focusing on hiring a new assistant coach. Williams will be filling a void on his staff left by the departed Jerod Haase, who left UNC to become the head coach at UAB.

Williams recently has been devoting his attention to recruiting, and he said he’d be doing the same this weekend. After this weekend, though, he will come closer to naming a new assistant.

“Really the meat of the work is going to be done after this weekend’s recruiting period,” Williams said. “I feel pretty good about it.”

The opening on the Tar Heels’ staff has created plenty of interest. Williams said 14 former North Carolina players have contacted him about the job. He also said three players that he coached at Kansas showed an interest in joining the Tar Heels’ staff.

“I love them,” Williams said of the former Kansas players who had contacted him. “(I) told them I love them, but this next hire is going to be somebody from the University of North Carolina.”

OFFICIATING GAFFE STILL FRUSTRATES WILLIAMS: During the question-and-answer portion of the booster club event, a fan expressed his frustration to Williams over the state of officiating during the past season. Williams said he empathized, adding that for the first time in three years he called John Clougherty, the ACC’s director of men’s basketball officiating, to complain about a call.

The play that drew Williams’ ire was when Tyler Zeller, the Tar Heels’ senior forward, was pushed in the back late in UNC’s 85-84 loss against Duke at the Smith Center in February. After being pushed, Zeller inadvertently tipped in Ryan Kelly’s errant shot.

“He got shoved like crazy in the back,” Williams said of Zeller. “And the TV cameras didn’t show it as much as one of the cameras that we use for coaching purposes. And I mean, it was just a huge play, four feet in front of the official. So I called about it.”

Addressing the fans again, Williams said, “I share with you some of that frustration.”

Head-to-head recruiting against Duke: At point on Wednesday night, a spectator asked Williams why he failed to successfully recruit Mason Plumlee to UNC. Plumlee, a rising senior, was a third-team All-ACC performer last season.

“Did you stop with going head-to-head with Coach K or did you just give up all together?” the man asked, referring to Williams’ recruiting battle with Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Naturally, the question drew an animated response from Williams.

“I went to freakin’ Ames, Iowa [to recruit Harrison Barnes] 11 times and his [butt] went twice,” Williams said of Krzyzewski. “… Don’t tell me I ain’t going to go head-to-head.”

Williams said UNC’s recruitment of Plumlee stalled after the Tar Heels received commitments from twins David and Travis Wear.

“It was pretty simple,” Williams said of the failure to land Plumlee. “And if you want to put it this way, which I do, it was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done.”

Duke names Kelly, Plumlee captains: Rising seniors Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee have been named team captains for the 2012-13 season, head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Thursday. Kelly was a captain a year ago, while Plumlee is a first-time team captain.

“Ryan and Mason have done a terrific job on and off the court at Duke,” Krzyzewski said in a university statement. “Both men have grown steadily within our program and have put themselves in position to lead our team next season. We look forward to watching their continued development as leaders on the court, in the locker room and in the Duke community.”

Kelly, a 2011 Academic All-ACC selection, averaged 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game while playing in 31 contests (19 starts). He missed the final three games of the season due to a foot injury. The Raleigh native

underwent successful surgery to repair damage in his right foot on March 20, enters his senior campaign with 653 points and has raised his scoring average by at least five points per game in each of the last two seasons. “Last year was an incredible learning experience as a basketball player, but even more so as a leader,” Kelly said. “I grew as a leader, but it wasn’t to the point I felt like it should be. With this being my senior year and my last opportunity to step up for the Duke program, I want it to be a special year. For it to be a special year, Mason and I have to be great leaders.”

Plumlee, a 2012 CoSIDA Academic All-America selection, averaged 11.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game en route to earning third team All-ACC accolades last season. He ranked second on the team in field goal percentage (.572, 143-of-250), while registering a Duke single-season record 60 dunks in 2011-12. Plumlee was one of four players in the NCAA to average at least 10.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game a year ago and also finished third in the ACC in rebounding, double-doubles (12) and double-figure rebounding games (16).

Material from a Duke university release was used in this report.

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