Fans of KU felt betrayed. They felt like somebody owed them something for the awful way they’d been wronged. How dare he, they thought. How dare he take us all the way to two national title games, four Final Fours and nine regular season conference titles and then bolt after 15 years?
“There’s going to be a lot of hype around (this game) with Roy Willams coming back,” said KU center Jeff Withey. “But, I didn’t play for him, none of us played for him and we don’t really know him.”
So why aren’t the fans past Williams leaving? Because as Self said when he sat on his seat at his introductory press conference, “It feels hot.” Coaching Kansas is not an easy job and Williams found that out and went back home to North Carolina, where it’s just as difficult to coach basketball.
But it’s been 10 years and for many, the bitterness is still there. Kansas has defeated North Carolina twice in the big dance, but the bitterness looms. Many of the current KU players were 11, 12 or 13-years-old when Williams left.
“Time heals all wounds,” said Williams in his Saturday press conference. “I had some people who were very disappointed when I left. I knew about that.”
He said people have been hollering out of their car windows in Kansas City, some with nice things, others with mean words. At the end of the day, it doesn’t bother him. But Jayhawk Nation is an anomaly.
“Ten years is a long time,” said Self. “I could go back to Champaign (Ill.) and they wouldn’t even know if I was in town for a month if I was there.”
If Kansas wins Sunday, it will be the third-straight time the Jayhawks beat the Tar Heels, all in the NCAA Tournament. Hopefully that will help KU fans heal.