Williams misses news conference to receive five stitches
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Top-ranked North Carolina Tarheels hasn't encountered much danger on the court this season. But the Tar Heels' Hall of Fame coach is apparently having trouble navigating around his cluttered office these days.
Roy Williams cut his scalp and needed five stitches Friday when he tripped over a cord in his office and hit his head on a door, giving the Tar Heels a bumpy start to their final day of practice for Saturday's game against rival North Carolina State.
Williams was on his feet unaided immediately after the accident, though he was unable to attend an afternoon news conference or appear on ESPN Radio for a scheduled interview. He showed for practice later in the afternoon sporting a USA Basketball cap.
Williams was in good spirits and chuckled at his fall, jokingly claiming that he needed 36 stitches. He said he was stepping over a table when his foot got tangled in a cord for a VCR remote control in an office containing about two dozen basketballs for him to autograph.
"The office is too small for all that dadgum memorabilia," he said.
In an odd twist, it marks the second straight time a coach's health became an issue as the rivals met in the Smith Center. Last year, Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe -- sick from flu-like symptoms leading up to the game -- was taken to a hospital because of dehydration and missed the second half of an 83-64 loss.
Because it was quickly apparent that Williams was OK, his fall had taken on a humorous tone by the time All-American Tyler Hansbrough spoke with reporters before practice. When asked whether he had ever seen a remote control that still required a cord, Hansbrough said, "I wouldn't mess with Coach like that."
North Carolina (16-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) is off to its best start since the 1997-98 team won its first 17 games. The Tar Heels have been atop The Associated Press Top 25 poll for 10 weeks, their longest stretch since the 1985-86 team spent 13 weeks there and started 21-0.
N.C. State (11-3) has won seven straight games since a stunning loss to East Carolina on Dec. 8, though the Wolfpack could be without starting guard Courtney Fells and reserve forward Dennis Horner, who each have sprained ankles. N.C. State already lost starting point guard Farnold Degand (knee) for the rest of the season, leaving the Wolfpack shorthanded against a North Carolina team that likes to run from start to finish.
In addition, N.C. State hasn't looked sharp in recent wins against Western Carolina and a pair of teams -- Presbyterian and North Carolina Central -- that each had just one victory when they met.
"As a coach, I can't look at that and say, 'We struggled against these guys so we're going to struggle (against UNC)," Lowe said. "I have to think that, 'You know what? We did what we had to do to win the game.' And now we're in a situation where we're going to have to do whatever we can to win the game."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press