CHAPEL HILL — It won’t be long now. We’re only about four-and-a-half hours away from tip-off at the Smith Center between North Carolina and N.C. State. This will be the 220th meeting between the Tar Heels and Wolfpack, yet some younger fans might not fully grasp the history the two schools share.
UNC coach Roy Williams, though, doesn’t need any reminders. During Williams’ meeting with media members on Wednesday, I asked him why the rivalry with N.C. State continues to mean as much as it does to him.
Here’s what he said:
“Well it’s always meant a great deal to me. I mean, I’ve gone on record saying it. I struggled with them. I was a freshman in college, some of my old high school buddies that I’d played baseball and basketball with were over at State and they gave me enough [grief] for the rest of my life.
“And I didn’t appreciate it and didn’t like it. So I’ve always had that feeling about this – this is an important game. It’s North Carolina against North Carolina State.
“You know, every kid grows up and sometimes mom and dad plant seeds about who they’re going to cheer for. You know, and they have an influence. I didn’t have that influence. I had my high school coach, [who] thought North Carolina was great. And then some other people put us down any way they could to me and I took offense at that.
“And it’s a childish way to react but it stuck with me and I’ve always thought that it was a fantastic rivalry. I was in school here finishing up my time when they won nine in a row … when David Thompson was here. Or not here, but when he was over there, I think they beat us nine times in a row. That bothered me.
“And so again, during my formative years they were beating us up too much to make me happy.”