BATTLE OF THE TITANS
North Carolina and Kansas are two of the most tradition-rich teams in college basketball history. The Tar Heels are the second winningest program (1,950 victories), while Kansas ranks No. 3 with 1,941 wins.
North Carolina is tied with UCLA for most Final Four appearances with 17; KU is tied for fourth with Kentucky with 13 Final Four berths. The Tar Heels have won four national titles, while the Jayhawks own two national championships, the last one coming exactly 20 years ago, yesterday.
UNC ranks No. 2 in all-time NCAA tournament appearances with 40, while Kansas is fourth with 37. The Tar Heels are first in consecutive appearances in the Big Dance with 27 (1975-2001); KU is third with 19 (1990-present).
Interestingly, UNC and KU have met just eight times, with ‘Carolina holding a 6-2 edge in the series. The Tar Heels are 2-1 in Final Four games against Kansas, beating KU for the national title in 1957, losing to Kansas in the 1991 Final Four, and beating the ‘Hawks in the ‘93 Final Four.
North Carolina Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough was asked on Friday if he would have attended Kansas if Roy Williams had remained at KU. Williams began recruiting Hansbrough when he was still head coach at Kansas.
“That’s a tough question to answer, first of all because we’re playing Kansas tomorrow, and second of all, coach Williams was at ‘Carolina and he sold the University of North Carolina to me when he recruited me,” Hansbrough said. “I felt like I had a really good relationship with coach Williams, and I did come to play for (him), but it was at the University of North Carolina. I really liked the university.”
KU senior Jeremy Case was recruited by Williams. He remembers Williams’ phone call to him when the former KU coach bolted for ‘Carolina.
“He kind of gave me the reasons why he was leaving and then apologized that he had put me in the situation,” Case said. “(He) just wished me the best, and I wished him the best. There were no hard feelings at all. I think it was hard for him to tell anyone (he was leaving) because it was one of the biggest decisions he’s made in his life, and it was one of the toughest ones. I could tell in his voice that it was hard for him.”
“I was pretty disappointed,” Case added about Williams leaving. “I was anticipating playing for coach Williams, a great coach. I was excited about that. I had to realize he had to do what was best for him. I talked to my father and mother. Kansas was the place I wanted to be, it wasn’t just because of the coach. It was the tradition and the fans and the whole atmosphere that Kansas has.”
Case’s dad, Win, played with KU coach Bill Self at Oklahoma State. Win attended KU’s practice on Friday. He and Self embraced.
“He’s waited a long time for that possession,” Self told Win about Jeremy’s clutch three-pointer with eight seconds remaining before halftime in KU’s Sweet 16 game with Villanova.
Self was asked about attorney Stewart Campbell’s quote in the Tulsa World on Friday about the Oklahoma State head coaching vacancy. The paper reported that Campbell represented Self. “I am completely in a wait-and-see mode. I never say never. They would have to be eye-popping numbers (for Self to consider OSU),” Campbell said.
“He’ s not my agent,” Self replied. “Stewart Campbell is an attorney that looks over my contracts. So he does not speak for me. I have not spoken to Stewart Campbell about this. I haven’t spoken to Stewart Campbell in a month. So anybody speaking on behalf of me doesn’t know what they’re talking about because I will speak for me. So if that was said that way, I’m very disappointed. That’s not an indication of how I feel. I’m not looking for anything except our team to play well this weekend. That’s all I care about.”
And about KU Athletics Director Lew Perkins and Self meeting after this season is over?
“I hope Lew is talking about something in that regard (contract extension) as opposed to where we’re going to play golf when he said he wanted to meet with me after the season,” Self said. “I don’t know. You’d have to ask Lew about that. But I’m hopeful that’s the case.”
KANSAS-NORTH CAROLINA REVISITED
Williams recalled his matchups with North Carolina in the 1991 and 1993 Final Fours as KU head coach.
“(In) ‘91, I didn’t think coach (Dean Smith) was dealt with fairly at the end of the game (when he was ejected after picking up two technicals). I was so disappointed because I thought it was to get more attention than how well my team played. I didn’t think it was fair for my kids.
“(In) ‘93, Adonis Jordan and Rex Walters walking off the court, knowing that was going to be the last time I was going to get to coach those two kids and how much they meant to our program. Adonis, my first recruit at Kansas, starting at the point for us three years, two Final Fours. You know, I’m corny. You just got to live with that. So both thoughts (in ‘91 and ‘93) were about the kids that I had playing for me.”