Williams, Krzyzewski lament lack of N.C. games at tournament time

This weekends first and second round tournament games were originally scheduled to be played at Greensboro Coliseum. But that changed last summer when the NCAA decided to take a stand on North Carolinas controversial HB2

Jeremy Brevard—USA Today Sports
Mar 16

GREENVILLE, S.C. — The rivalry between the two Carolinas has been going strong since the colonies were split into North and South back in 1712. So Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t feel the need to fan the flames any higher Thursday when asked to comment on the currently touchy subject of geography.”I don’t want to take away from the great people of South Carolina and the people of Greenville,” he said on the eve of his team’s NCAA tournament opener against Troy at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. “They deserve to host a tournament whether our state is smart enough or stupid enough not to have it. It shouldn’t be a contest of one of the other.”That’s a nice thought and a diplomatic answer, but there’s no getting around the reality that circumstances have pitted North and South Carolina against each other when it comes to hosting NCAA championships — as well as other sports and entertainment events.It’s a direct result of the controversial HB2, North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom law,” that has prompted numerous sports organizations, businesses and performers to boycott the state.This weekend’s first and second round tournament games were originally scheduled to be played at Greensboro Coliseum. But that changed last summer when the NCAA decided to take a stand on the hot button issue.The fact that the games were moved to South Carolina only added to the intrigue of the situation, since that state only recently had its own ban lifted. The NCAA pulled its events out of South Carolina in 2009 because of a controversy surrounding the flying of the Confederate flag on its state house grounds.Because future NCAA tournaments are currently up for bid, there’s a chance North Carolina could go just as long, if not longer before hosting championship events again.”I’m afraid of what’s going to happen in the next few years,” said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, whose Tar Heels will also begin their postseason run in Greenville on Friday with a game against Texas Southern.”I hope this is not my last hoorah kind of thing. I’m very sad, very disappointed about the whole thing, what apparently is something that really, really hard to change.”A vote to repeal HB2 in the NC General Assembly on Tuesday was defeated, with the vote split down party lines.When asked about the situation, Krzyzewski first declined comment, saying that he didn’t “want to get political right now.”But the Hall of Fame coach simply couldn’t help himself.Before the next question could be asked, he chimed in with a political statement that left no doubt as to where he stands on the issue.”Look, it’s a stupid thing,” Krzyzewski said. “If I was President or Governor, I’d get rid of (HB2). And I’d back up my promises, as unusual as that might be. …”It would be nice if our state got smart and would also host not just basketball tournaments, but concerts and other NCAA events. Maybe we’ll get there in the next century. I don’t know. We’ll see.”As much as Krzyzewski and Williams would prefer to be playing their NCAA openers closer to home, both agreed that the change in venue would have little effect on their teams’ play. And even with home state favorite South Carolina in the same arena, they should still have plenty of support among the sellout crowd.”I feel like our fans travel very well,” UNC senior Nate Britt said. “Even in Maui we had great fan support. It felt like a home game. I hope it’s not a bad expectation, but I expect to see a lot of baby blue when we hit the court.”