North Carolina’s Williams named AP coach of year


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Roy Williams, who followed a national championship season at North Carolina by leading an inexperienced team to a Top 10 finish, was selected coach of the year by The Associated Press on Friday.

Williams, who won the award in 1992 at Kansas, is the second coach to win it at two schools, joining Eddie Sutton, who won at Arkansas in 1978 and Kentucky in 1986. He is the seventh coach to win it more than once, with UCLA’s John Wooden the record holder at five times from 1967 to 1973.

“Fourteen years ago I thought it was neat to win this award, and now I’m so much more appreciative of it,” Williams said Friday. “From the first day of practice this team was fun to coach yet they were focused on what they had to do.”

The Tar Heels won the national title last season, Williams’ second at his alma mater. The top seven scorers from that team either graduated or left early for the NBA and North Carolina wasn’t even ranked in the preseason poll.

Led by freshman Tyler Hansbrough, the Tar Heels went 23-8 and were ranked 10th in the final poll, finishing second in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Williams received 29 votes from the 72-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Jay Wright of Villanova had 15 votes to finish second in the balloting that was conducted before the NCAA tournament. Bruce Pearl of Tennessee was third with 11 votes. Williams is the second North Carolina coach to win the award, which was first given in 1967. Matt Doherty, whom Williams succeeded at Chapel Hill, won in 2001.

Bruce Weber of Illinois won the award last season.

AP-ES-03-31-06 1555EST