By Bret Strelow
The UNC notebook …
SAN ANTONIO ó Roy Williams started with an Adonis and ended up with a “Menace.”
Now, with speedy sophomore Ty Lawson at point guard, a second national championship is within Williams’ reach.
North Carolina averages 89.2 points per game heading into tonight’s Final Four matchup with Kansas. Williams coached the Jayhawks for 15 seasons, and his up-tempo style has evolved even though the 1990 team set the gold standard by averaging 92.1 points per outing.
“When I recruited Adonis Jordan, my first recruit, it wasn’t me saying, ‘Boy, he’s going to be great at running up somebody’s back,’ ” Williams said. “When we recruited Ty Lawson, that’s what I said. This guy’s going to be miserable for some defense because he’s going to run right up their back. They’re saying, ‘Hey, ma, did you see that basket I just scored?’ and he’s laying it up.”
Lawson, who missed almost seven full games with an ankle injury, has looked healthy throughout the NCAA tournament.
He still tests his coach’s sense of humor at practice just like he did as a freshman, when Williams dubbed him “Dennis the Menace.”
“We get together at the circle, he’s always reaching his hands in my pocket to see if I have any cash he can steal,” Williams said with a laugh. “He’s just ‘Dennis the Menace.’
“Understand that he was never bad (last year). Some people act like he was. I got mad at him one time, threw him out of practice one time, which happens to be the same number of practices I threw Paul Pierce out of.”
Once, after practice had started, Williams threw Lawson a curveball by retrieving some money during a water break.
“He had tried to stick his hand in my pocket that day,” Williams said. “I showed him I had a $20 bill in there, and it made him awfully mad.”
PRO PROSPECTS: Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough addressed their futures when questioned about them this week.
Lawson revealed one interesting fact when he talked about the decision ó one that’s not necessarily his to make ó of when to turn pro.
“I haven’t thought about it yet,” Lawson said, “but my dad probably knows the best decision for me. My dad will make all the decisions for me so far. Coach Williams knows what’s good for me too, so I’ll talk to them.”
Hansbrough, a junior, strayed from the notion that UNC’s performance at the Final Four will dictate his decision.
“It will affect it a little bit, but I wouldn’t say it has a huge role,” Hansbrough said. “I love being here, and I’m not going to base my decision off of that. I’m just going to have to look at my situation, talk to some of my family and see what they think. Ultimately, it will come down to what I feel like I want to do, and we’ll just have to wait and see.”
TOURNEY TWO-STEP: Williams went against his mentor, former UNC coach Dean Smith, when Kansas played North Carolina at the Final Four in 1991 and 1993.
Smith was ejected from a 1991 semifinal loss to the Jayhawks, and the Tar Heels prevailed 78-68 in a 1993 semifinal. Kansas also faced UNC in the 2002 Preseason NIT.
“I hated it, but if I was ever going to play North Carolina and Coach Smith, I wanted it to be at the Final Four,” Williams said. “I will never play the University of Kansas in a regular-season game. It will have to be a tournament, whether it’s NCAA tournament or a holiday tournament.”
SPOILED ROTTEN: North Carolina participated in the last open practice Friday afternoon at the Alamodome, and Williams wasn’t sure what type of reception he’d get given the presence of Kansas fans.
“If I go out there and 37 people throw tomatoes at me, that will bother me a little bit, but I’ve been hit by a rotten grapefruit at Duke before, and I knew they weren’t throwing it at me,” Williams said. “They were throwing it at Coach Smith, and they were just bad throwers.”
There were no audible or visible jeers directed toward Williams when the Tar Heels took the floor to cheers from UNC fans.
BAD START: The open practices are low-intensity, high-flying workouts geared to entertain the crowd, but Kansas senior reserve Rodrick Stewart suffered a fractured kneecap when he slipped on a wet spot while going up for a dunk attempt.
“Guys practice their whole life to get to participate in a Final Four,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “That’s been taken away from him.
“I don’t know how it will affect the guys other than the fact it was a subdued locker room when I told them what the injury was.”
The injury didn’t stop UNC from ending its practice with a short dunk session.
NEW CELEBRITY: North Carolina walk-on Jack Wooten has gained notoriety for the mustache he’s sported throughout the postseason.
Aaron Perlut, executive director of the American Mustache Institute, sent an e-mail to the Post pledging his approval of Wooten’s facial hair.
“We would like to support Jack’s mustache in any way we can and are greatly concerned that there have been others ó including his family ó who are less than supportive of his cookie duster,” Perlut wrote.
The organization’s Web site features pictures of celebrities such as Tom Selleck, Hulk Hogan, Dale Earnhardt and Adam Morrison underneath the mission statement, “Protecting the rights of, and fighting discrimination against, mustached Americans by promoting the growth, care, and culture of the mustache.”
Wooten appreciated Perlut’s gesture and lobbied to have his picture posted on the site.
“It’s always good to have some support,” Wooten said. “Those people seem to be in the minority.”
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or email@example.com.
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