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Williams fulfills expectations of return to Carolina

ST. LOUIS -- Roy Williams has always been about his team, the program and the loyalty to the schools he has coached.

First it was North Carolina as an assistant and then Kansas as a head coach. And now it's back to being a Tar Heel.

So, after he finally won a national championship Monday night after losing in two previous title games, no one could blame him if he pulled a bit of a tennis Grand Slam move.

Once he had received the trophy and celebrated with his team, hugging his assistants and players, and everyone else in sight, he made his way to the crowd. He was searching for his wife, Wanda, one of the more private coach's wives in the game. His adult children, Scott and Kimberly, were sitting in the stands, too.

Wanda Williams made her way down to the bottom of the stands a few rows from her seat. She was wearing black, but this time, it was not to mourn a loss. Their embrace was so genuine. You could tell there had been years of emotional trauma to help get her husband to this point. When Scott and Kimberly came down behind their mother, they too embraced their father, wiping away tears.

"I sent someone to go get her to come down to the court," Williams said. "She always threatens the SID to never let the cameras know where she's sitting. But I wanted her to be out there. I wanted to be with her and Scott and Kimberly, because coaching is very difficult in some ways, because we make so many sacrifices away from the family and I just wanted them to be with me."

Williams has always been a champion winner and a gracious loser. That's why it was just as genuine that Williams chased down Bruce Weber to congratulate him on his season after missing him in the postgame handshake line. That's why he told Illinois assistant Wayne McClain, "I feel for you. I've been in that spot," as he walked by him at the end of the game.

That's why coaches from the across the country, even the one on the opposing bench Monday night, wanted him to win a title, albeit not at Weber's expense.

"He's great for the business and he's a tremendous coach," Weber said. "He's somebody you cheer for and you feel good for him. He's been here a lot and I've always wanted him to win.

"I got to know him through Kevin Stallings [a former Purdue assistant like Weber] who was one of his former assistants and I've gotten to know him so I feel good about people like him," Weber said. "But we didn't want him to win tonight."

Yet he finally did.

Williams found Mike Krzyzewski in 1991 after losing to Duke and told him that he was happy for him. He did the same thing for Jim Boeheim of Syracuse after the Orange beat him in 2003. Twice one of Williams' Kansas teams lost to another elite coach for that man's first national title.

"The third championship was the charm," Williams said. "The other times you feel such a loss that you feel like someone reaches in and grabs your heart."

Williams has changed. He doesn't know it yet, but he has forever. Maryland's Gary Williams said a national title is something that you can't take away, something that will always be with you. It doesn't make you a better coach -- and Roy Williams was quick to point that out Monday night. He's not a better coach three hours after beating Illinois, even if he might be perceived that way.

Williams came home two seasons ago to do what he was supposed to -- take a collection of talent and mold it into a champion. It wasn't easy. He had his battles with Rashad McCants. He needed Sean May and Raymond Felton to work on their games over the summer to become elite players. He added a lottery-potential high school senior in Marvin Williams while losing another first-round pick (J.R. Smith) to the NBA out of high school.

Matt Doherty recruited everyone but freshmen Marvin Williams and Quentin Thomas. After the game, Williams said Doherty had the same Carolina philosophy and recruited the same kind of people.

"I didn't know them as well as I wanted to know them," Williams said. "You can ask for more, and the better you know people they'll play for you. It was difficult at times but those kids bought into it."

Williams always had a tie to Carolina, even though he was at Kansas. That's why it's no surprise that the players took to him over a two-year period. That's why it shouldn't come as a surprise that Williams was able to maximize this talent.

So, who's next?

Eddie Sutton?

Not going to happen with the talent returning to Oklahoma State.

John Chaney?

Yikes. Not quite. Not with the suspension for the "goon" incident and his tenure likely over within a year.

Bob Huggins?

Not really. He's not viewed in that same class.

Bo Ryan?

Not yet, either.

Roy Williams was it. He was the lone member of the coaching elite that had to win a title. No one else is going to feel that pressure anytime soon.

We're entering a new era, one where the media can't ask Williams about whether he can win a title or what kind of void he feels without one.

So, what will Williams be asked next season?

"I hope you ask if I had any holes-in-one over the summer," Williams said. "Like I said, I'm not a much better coach after winning the title."

True. But he definitely will be more content.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.