ACC Basketball: UNC's end of game oops adds salt to wound

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

By Andrew Carter
Raleigh News & Observer
CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina coach Roy Williams did not intend to leave five of his players on the court for the final 14 seconds of the Tar Heels’ 90-57 loss at Florida State on Saturday after the rest of the team had left for the locker room, he said.
“There’s no way in Hades I would leave five of my guys out there (intentionally),” Williams said during his radio show Monday night.
With 14 seconds to play Saturday and his team trailing by 33 points, Williams approached Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton during a timeout. Williams said later he was concerned about his players’ safety during what he expected would be a wild postgame celebration by Seminoles fans rushing the court of the Donald L. Tucker Center.
He said he asked Hamilton if he would be offended if the game could be declared over with 14 seconds to play.
“Roy’s intention was to just stop it there, bring the whole team off the court and bring Florida State on to celebrate,” said Steve Kirschner, a North Carolina basketball team spokesman who spoke with media members before Williams’ radio show.
Williams said he believed Hamilton had agreed to end the game early.
So, with 14 seconds to play, Williams gestured for his players, assistant coaches and student managers to follow him off the court. But the five players who had already entered the game — a group that included walk-ons Patrick Crouch, Stewart Cooper and David Dupont, and scholarship players Jackson Simmons and Stilman White — remained on the floor.
After Williams and most of his team left, the game resumed. The final 14 seconds ticked away, and a jubilant crowd rushed the court, leaving the remaining five North Carolina players to navigate their way to the Tar Heels’ locker room.
Williams, meanwhile, said he was standing outside the locker room, waiting for his players to file inside. He said he was wondering why some players took so long to get to the locker room.
He said it was a “mistake” for five of his players to be left behind, adding that the incident was a result of “confusion” and “miscommunication.” It wasn’t until Williams watched film of the game later Saturday that he realized that the final 14 seconds had been played, he said.
“I am watching the tape of the game and it’s the first time I realized that the five guys … stayed on the court,” Williams said.
He said he apologized to those five players during the Tar Heels’ practice Monday — their first practice since the worst loss in Williams’ nine seasons at North Carolina.
Other than that apology, Williams said, “I was not very nice to my guys.”
North Carolina returns to action Thursday at Virginia Tech.