Next season’s Wisconsin-North Carolina showdown provides the marquee finish to the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, featuring what’ll likely be the nation’s No. 1 team against a perennial power with perhaps the nation’s top player in Jordan Taylor.
Not that former Wisconsin athletic director Pat Richter is happy about it. He’s mad at the game’s location (Chapel Hill), the timing (the Heels return every starter) and the coach.
Richter is not a Roy Williams fan. Not even close.
“I think Roy Williams squeals. He’s never really had to pay his dues, so to speak, like a Bo Ryan and Dick Bennett,” Richter said during his weekly radio show on WLTX-FM/100.5.
Yes, there’s a backstory to that.
When Bennett took the Badgers to the 2000 Final Four, he utilized a deliberate, defensive-based style that frustrated the like of Arizona, LSU and Purdue before falling short to Michigan State in the Final Four. (It’s usually likened to Bo Ryan’s current system, but that’s mostly a function of pace, not offensive and defensive styles.)
But that game wasn’t pretty. It was 19-17 at halftime and a 53-41 final. And it didn’t earn many fans outside of Wisconsin. Williams was one of them. The following season, while still Kansas’ coach, Williams said this after a 99-98 win over UCLA in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament:
“Are you going to tell me you don’t like this more than 19-17 at halftime? I’m not a nuclear physicist, but you make the choice. We’re trying to make it a game of basketball skills, not a weight room contest.”
Williams was booed in 2002 when Kansas played in the Kohl Center during the NCAA tournament. It was more of the same in 2005. They haven’t played since, which is why Richter’s so miffed. From the Wisconsin State-Journal.
“They should have been at our place a long time ago and it never happened,” said Richter, who was UW’s athletic director when the Challenge originated in 1999 and remained in that role until his retirement in 2004.
“And here we go again — we’ve got to go down there when they’re supposed to have all these horses back, and it’s going to be a tough road for us. Who’s going to benefit but Roy Williams?”
Richter thinks Williams influences ESPN and generally gets whatever he wants when it comes to North Carolina. He may be right. The Heels are one of college hoops’ golden cows, popular among casual fans and TV viewers.
But I do remember that 2000 Wisconsin-Michigan State game. It wasn’t fun to watch. Williams probably didn’t need to reference it six months later, seemingly out of the blue, but he had a point. Made for bad basketball.
(Thanks Tar Heel Wire)
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