NEW ORLEANS -- The questions and speculation about whether Monday's NCAA championship game would be Roy Williams' last at Kansas, no matter the result, had been coming all week. Williams' alma mater, North Carolina, has an open position and he is the No. 1 target.
All week he said he was concentrating on winning an NCAA title and not thinking about Chapel Hill. But he would never say no. So the questions kept coming. Including just after the Jayhawks lost 81-78 to Syracuse in the championship game.
Williams wasn't pleased when initially asked.
"I don't give a (expletive) about North Carolina," he told CBS' Bonnie Bernstein. "I care about those 13 kids in the locker room."
Later he was more at ease with the question, but no easier to pin down about his future.
"You know, I said some things on the air, I don't know if they used it, don't know if it was live or whatever," Williams said. "You know, the journalistic part of you has to ask that question, and I understand that.
"I said (Sunday), I told the truth. I haven't spent one second thinking about that. I made the statement on the air because I thought the question was pursued deeper than it should have been. I said I don't give blankety-blank about North Carolina.
"Coach (Dean) Smith will be disappointed in my blankety-blank. But he understands."
Williams, who is 418-101 in 15 seasons at Kansas and has led the Jayhawks to four Final Fours, said he would return to Lawrence with the team as scheduled. That rules out a trip to Chapel Hill or other points Tuesday to hash out a deal at UNC.
How the loss to Syracuse affects his decision remains to be seen. It could rededicate his efforts to winning a title at KU. It may also make him believe a change of scenery to be a good idea at this stage of his career.
One thing with Williams is he is difficult to predict. No one, perhaps including himself, thought he would turn down North Carolina and ex-coach Smith three years ago. But he did. Now Kansas officials remain quietly confident he isn't going anywhere. But can he turn down Smith again?
He holds his former boss in such esteem he never says his first name. He still cares that Smith will be disappointed he swore. Williams is a 53-year-old man.
Until he is standing behind a podium, be it in Carolina or Kansas, making a final definitive statement, everything else is speculation.
Et tu Carmelo?
Syracuse freshman Carmelo Anthony was likewise uninterested in discussing his future plans. A sure-bet top-3 pick in the NBA Draft when he decides to turn pro, the 6-foot-8 forward was too busy celebrating a national championship to care about the business of basketball.
After being named most outstanding player of the Final Four and delivering 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, he said he'll make a decision at a later date.
"(We're) the national champs," said Anthony. "I don't regret coming to college. I had a fun year. I had a great year on the court and off the court at school. Just being around my teammates, being with my coaching staff, they just made me so proud."
Said coach Jim Boeheim, "As far as Carmelo, that's his decision. I'm not going to make it for him. I'll talk to him. As I've said many, many times, he's got a simple decision: What do I want to do? Then make his choice."
Boeheim was asked if the performance this season of Anthony would change the mind of any coach that was against recruiting a player who may only stay for one season.
"I think any coach that can get a Carmelo Anthony will take him. We wouldn't take a guy that just came out and said, 'I'm going to go to the NBA.' We don't recruit those guys.
"We thought Carmelo would be at least a couple years in college, minimum. I even thought it would be longer. I mean, he was skinny. If he still weighed 190 pounds he wouldn't be going anywhere. Of course, I wouldn't be talking to you right now either."
Breaking the break
Much was made of the Kansas transition game coming in and the need for Syracuse to stop the Jayhawks from getting easy baskets. The inability to stop KU's break crushed Marquette in the national semifinal.
The Orangemen did two things to minimize the break. First, they made shots, which slows the start of the break as Kansas had to get the ball out of the net and inbound it before making an outlet pass. Syracuse shot a blistering 55.6 percent from the floor in the critical first half when it built an 18-point lead it would never relinquish.
"You've got to score," said SU assistant Troy Weaver. "You've got to score to slow them down."
SU also bought some time by sending two players back on all shots, whether made or missed. And rather than head under the basket or to defend the paint, the Orange guards spread out on the wings and denied easy outlet passes.
Once on the wing, Kansas is famously dangerous as it gets a head of steam up and is open for 3-pointers. The Jayhawks didn't have those kind of free lanes to work with Monday.
"We didn't run to the paint, we flexed out and stopped them," said Weaver.
It worked, as Kansas scored 78 points. Had the Jayhawks gotten to their season average of 82.8, they would have won.
"That was our biggest concern, getting back on defense," said SU center Craig Forth. "We knew that we could stop them on defense, but just didn't know if we could get back on defense and do it. We proved we could tonight."
Bride and bridesman
By winning the championship, Boeheim is no longer the active coach with the most NCAA Tournament victories, but no title. That distinction now falls to Williams with 34 victories.
Not surprising, the two veteran coaches shared a longer than normal handshake following the game.
"I said what Coach Knight told me 16 years ago (after IU beat SU in the title game)," said Boeheim. "That I would be back. He didn't tell me it would be that long, but he told me I'd be back here. I told Roy I firmly believe he will win a national championship. He's got a lot of coaching left in him.
"If (Wayne) Simien doesn't get hurt, he probably wins the national championship this year. I just told him that."
Williams was appreciative.
"You know, I told him and I meant it, I don't make a habit of lying, that I was really happy for him," said Williams. "I hurt. I hurt for my team, but I was really happy for him."
News and notes
- Hakim Warrick on his great late-game block of a Michael Lee potential game-tying 3: "I saw someone wide open in the corner, and I just tried to go out and make a play." Said teammate Josh Pace, "It was the greatest block I have ever seen."
- After promising Boeheim he would be there, former SU great and current Philadelphia 76er Derrick Coleman failed to show. Boeheim laughed Sunday that Coleman was going to have to fake an injury to get the time off and that may not have been a joke. "He tried to come down," said Boeheim. "Larry Brown said, '(We'll) fine him. He didn't get here. Derrick was the first (to call). He called me on the floor. I couldn't hear him. There was static."
- The All Tournament team featured Kansas' Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich and Keith Langford and Syracuse's Gerry McNamara and Anthony.
- SU became the first No. 3 seed to win a national championship since 1989, when Michigan won it. Indiana in 1979 is the only other third-seeded team to win it all.
- Syracuse's 53 first-half points were the most ever scored in the first 20 minutes of a championship game.
- Syracuse also became the first team since Villanova in 1985 to be unranked in the preseason Associated Press poll and win the national title.
- The attendance of 54,524 was the fourth-largest championship game crowd.