North Carolina

UNC's Williams says college basketball is 'hand-to-hand combat'

Posted January 11, 2010

Just watch a college basketball game now and you’ll see all the pushing and banging and physical play you need.

And that concerns North Carolina coach Roy Williams.

“There’s no question the game has gotten way too physical,” said Williams Monday. Williams spent six years on the Rules Committee arguing that point. He said “the easiest way” to reduce some of the physical play “is to call more fouls.”

“The game of basketball is supposed to be a finesse game,” Williams said.

Williams prefers that style, with an up and down tempo, to the current style and said today’s game is much different than 20 years ago.

“It’s hand-to-hand combat now,” he said. “It wasn’t anything like that at that point.”

Williams said the changes have happened over time, with no one time when it all changed.

“It’s been a gradual thing. It’s like palming the ball,” he said. “Twenty, 25 years ago people didn’t do it and people got more lax and more lax and more lax. You can’t get it back now.”

Maryland coach Gary Williams, a former guard for the Terps, said the game is “180 degrees” different from when he played.

“We thought we were really physical and I’ve seen some old film when I played,” he said. “We weren’t very physical and we were all skinny.”

But how do you change that? The Terps’ Williams isn’t sure.

“Players are bigger, quicker,” he said. “It’s a very difficult sport to referee now because of that. I don’t know what you do, to tell you the truth. If you called every foul it wouldn’t be a good game, either.

“In basketball, there are some rewards for teams that are physical, there’s no doubt about it. But I don’t know what you do about it, unless you make the court bigger.”


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  • Riddickfield Jan 16, 9:18 a.m.

    So... last year when the traveller was on his team hacking everyone it was OK. This year its somehow different?

  • Chili Jan 16, 8:22 a.m.

    Guess which team, by far, took shot free throws than any other team in the conference? UNC took 983 FTs last season, Virginia finished last, taking just 543. That's quite the discrepancy. Things aren't going Roy's way this season so he's got to whine.

  • fbguru Jan 12, 3:50 p.m.

    All the other dogs see is Roy's rear-end....Yeah, right. That's why "Dook" and Coach K have won more games this past decade than ANY other NCAA Div I program, and 7 out of 10 ACC Titles. And as far as Hansbrough, he flopped and did the windmill, backward academy award-winning act so much his first 2 years, that by his last year, other "bigs" figured the refs were going to bail him out, so they were going to "get their money's worth" and make sure he didn't get the basket AND go to the line.

  • throwmeoutroy Jan 12, 12:29 p.m.

    ROy and hand and to hand combat???? how about get off your azz and unfold your arms and do sum coaching during the game before any kind of combat is attempted....."coach of the decade" hehehe

  • badcompany1023 Jan 11, 10:10 p.m.

    love the BIG EAST for the reasons this article talks about, they let them play. I can deal with the more physical game maybe the refs should focus more on all the extra steps these players take

    And by the way when he gets 2 back to back then he is officially a BIG DOG

  • barry333 Jan 11, 9:16 p.m.

    Are you kidding me!!! Tyler was the one getting knocked around down low. He threw up those... View More

    — Posted by RRtarheel

    Thank you. If I had a nickel for every time Hansbrough got fouled and it wasn't called I could... View More

    — Posted by icarrese


  • heelman73 Jan 11, 8:38 p.m.

    If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the dadgum porch Roy!

    — Posted by fbguru

    Roy doesn't run with the big dogs, he runs ahead of them, as evidenced by two titles in five years. All the other dogs see is Roy's rear-end.

  • heelman73 Jan 11, 8:36 p.m.

    Ole Roy did not seem to have a problem with the game being physcial when he had Tyler H. and... View More

    — Posted by DUKE4EVER

    Yes, he did have a problem with it. Hansbrough attracted more physical abuse than any player since Shaq, and Williams frequently complained about it. The fact that Hansbrough survived, even thrived, was a testament to his strength and resolve. The fact that he was a great foul shooter made the "foul-a-'brough" strategy a stupid one, but teams persisted in doing it, and Hansbrough became the ACC's leading scorer as a result of it.

  • wufpak7483 Jan 11, 8:01 p.m.

    It is the rare occasion when I like to join the ranks of Roy or anyone representing UNC-CH, but with this I must concur. I have loved sports since I was a kid growing up in eastern North Carolina, and above all, loved college basketball, specifically ACC basketball. The game is totally different now. TOTALLY! From palming, to traveling, to all the physical contact allowed, is a different game; and in my opinion, a game that is worse for all the changes. Basketball by design is a non-contact sport, built around speed, finesse, and a skill set designed to favor the athlete that can both out quick and out think his defender. This is hard to do while being hand-checked, jabbed, held, or having your jersey or shorts tugged on by the opposition. And for all those that read this and wonder about my age, I do not consider myself an old timer yet, only in my 40's. There is NO way, playing under the rules of the game, interpreted 1970's or 80's style, that a top 10 team today could compete and not look completely outclassed by the upper echelon teams of the ACC circa mid-60's to mid-80's. I watch the NCAA tournament every year of course, it is still one of the best events in sports each year, but I long to see players like John Lucas, Phil Ford, Walter Davis, Tommy Burleson, Gene Banks, etc., on the court once again. And I know, David Thompson must think how easy it would have been for ole Coach Sloan and his early 70's teams to mop up the floor with these teams. It is, at best, like intramural basketball when we were all in school, and the refs, our friends, either did not want to or did not know how to call fouls and infractions. Oh well, enough ranting, time to go check the listings on ESPN Classic for a good game

  • icarrese Jan 11, 7:33 p.m.

    Are you kidding me!!! Tyler was the one getting knocked around down low. He threw up those... View More

    — Posted by RRtarheel

    Thank you. If I had a nickel for every time Hansbrough got fouled and it wasn't called I could retire.




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