Brendan Haywood never played for Roy Williams. He played for Bill Guthridge and Matt Doherty, helping the Tar heels to two Final Fours.
Although Haywood, 37, never played for Williams, he knows why the 66-year-old continues to have success in Chapel Hill.
“Roy kind of adapted what Dean Smith had in place, and that was a family atmosphere,” Haywood, a CBS college hoops analyst, said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “A lot of those kids look up to Roy almost like a father figure, and because he comes off like that, he doesn’t have a problem communicating with them and getting his points across. I think they take it, and it works for the team.”
No. 1 North Carolina (31-7) beat No. 2 Kentucky (32-6), 75-73, in the Elite Eight on Sunday to advance to the Final Four for the second time in as many seasons. The Tar Heels once again dominated on the boards, out-rebounding Kentucky 44-34, including 13-11 on the offensive glass.
“They consistently get offensive rebounds,” Haywood said. “They’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams in all of college basketball. They hang their hat on that. They take pride in that. Even on a night when Carolina is not shooting the ball well, they’ll get extra possessions and that will keep them in ball games until they find a way to get out of whatever funk they’re in. So I love Carolina’s inside players. I love (Kennedy) Meeks, (Tony) Bradley, (Isaiah) Hicks and big Maye (Luke Maye). I love the fact that they all go out there and attack the glass and they fight for extra possessions for this ball club.”
North Carolina will face No. 3 Oregon (33-5) in the Final Four in Glendale this Saturday at 8:49 p.m. ET, with the winner to take on either No. 1 Gonzaga (36-1) or No. 7 South Carolina (26-10) in the national championship Monday. Both Gonzaga and South Carolina reached the Final Four for the first time in school history.
“Listen, Gonzaga had to make me a believer, and now I am,” Haywood said. “At first, I was still a little bit hesitant. (In the past, some) of these Gonzaga teams run through their conference and then get to the tournament and lose early. So this year, they had to prove to me that they weren’t that type of team – and they more than proved that. They beat a very good West Virginia team, they beat a very good Xavier team, and now they’re here. I like what they have as far as their guard play with (Nigel) Williams-Goss. I think he presents a different type of dynamic, along with (Przemek) Karnowski inside. So this team is well-balanced. Mark Few has done an excellent job. He’s taken Gonzaga from a mid-major to a team that competes every year.”