UNC basketball updates iPhone to ‘a newer version’ of Roy Williams

Sights and sounds from Tuesday's ACC Basketball Tipoff media event in Charlotte

New UNC coach Hubert Davis speaks with his players during a recent practice at Smith Center (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

CHARLOTTE — A lot has been said and written about the transition from Hall of Famer Roy Williams to rookie head coach Hubert Davis at North Carolina.

But junior center Armando Bacot may have provided the best description of how the change might impact the Tar Heels’ storied program.

“It’s kind of like an iPhone update, how your software updates,” Bacot said Tuesday at the ACC’s Basketball Tipoff. “It’s just like a newer version.”

While there have been some changes, most notably the lack of adult language at practice, Bacot and teammate Caleb Love — UNC’s other representative at the preseason media event — said most of them have been subtle.

Williams’ influence can still be seen at the top of every practice plan, which includes an inspirational “thought of the day,” the amount of running the team does and in the intensity of its workouts.

One reason for all the similarities is that Williams hasn’t strayed far from the program. In fact, some days he hasn’t strayed at all.

“He’s at practice sometimes and he likes to mess with me,” Bacot said. “Coach Davis, it’s kind of funny because you can hear him say some of the same exact quotes as Coach Williams. It’s funny to hear him say it now in the head coaching role. They all carry on the same type of lingo and the way they say stuff.”

Going for the gold

Every coach in attendance Tuesday was asked about the expected shift in the hierarchy of the ACC with the absence of Williams at UNC and the soon-to-be-retired Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. NC State’s Kevin Keatts, however, wasn’t exactly thrilled with the way the question was asked of him.

It started with the media member making the statement that “NC State has been the perennial bronze medalist in the Triangle” among ACC teams.

“I don’t like the bronze medal thing,” Keatts replied. “I can tell you that now because we’re not bronze medal to anybody.

“As far as the opportunity, we look for opportunity from the day that I got here. We’re NC State. We don’t try to be Duke. We don’t try to be Carolina. They have their own programs and we fight for us. I like the brand that we’re building. We’re getting there. We’re putting some pieces on the floor that can be effective every night. I like the direction our program is going in.”

Suits him fine

No one in the ACC was happier than Wake Forest’s Steve Forbes last season when the conference decided to have its coaches trade in their traditional gameday suits for more casual sideline attire.

It’s a change that will remain in effect for 2021-22, thanks to a strong lobbying effort by the Deacons coach.

“We had a coaches Zoom back in August and I had to bring up the subject.” said Forbes, who was once ironically voted by fans as one of the 10 sexiest coaches in mid-major basketball. “We didn’t really come to any consensus and now I’m really sweating bullets, so we get to the end and I said, ‘Guys, we’ve got to vote on this.’

“(Florida State coach Leonard) Hamilton finally stepped up and said, ‘We’ve got to help Steve out here, so we’ve got to vote.’ And the vote was that we get to stay with polos. I could have gone either way, but for comfort I’m pretty happy with polos minus the mask.”  

Still sharp at 74

Speaking of Coach K, he’s already come up with a stock answer for the inevitable questions about his upcoming final season with the Blue Devils.

“You all don’t need to keep reminding me,” he said. “I’m 74 and I still have a memory, all right? I’m good.”

The Hall of Fame coach had an even better line ready when he was asked for a suggestion on how the media should cover his swansong. 

“Just be the effervescent people that you’ve been for over four decades where it’s been so exciting to be with you, hearing your questions and reading what you actually think I said,” he joked. “Nah, just go for it and let’s see what the hell happens.”

Boeheim on Boeheim

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim did a double take when he heard a familiar voice ask him a question during a breakout session.

It was his son and star player, Buddy.

“What do you love so much about Buddy Boeheim and why is he your favorite player?” Buddy asked.

“He used to be my favorite player until he became a reporter,” the elder Boeheim quipped back, adding that “when he makes shots, he’s really fun to be around.”

Buddy is a returning All-ACC player and one of the top perimeter shooters in the league. His dad is a notorious curmudgeon with a reputation for being snippy with officials and members of the Fourth Estate.

That, however, isn’t his true personality according to his son — whose older brother, Jimmy, is also on the team this season.

“He’s really funny,” Buddy said. “He’s one of the most loving, caring guys I’ve ever met. A lot of people know him as grumpy, but trust me. You don’t know him. He’s really like a kid at heart. He’s an unbelievable coach, but he’s an even better dad.”

‘Berry’ good analysts 

Former North Carolina men’s basketball players Joel Berry II and K.J. Smith have signed deals to join ACC Network as college basketball studio analysts. Berry II, the Most Outstanding Player of the Tar Heels’ 2017 national championship run, will appear weekly on network’s “Nothing But Net” show, while Smith will contribute on All ACC along with serving as a social media correspondent on the network’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Both are making their network debuts at this week’s ACC Basketball Tipoff event.