Last April, the day after North Carolina won the national championship in college basketball, I got an e-mail in South Africa from SI senior writer
Layden, who wrote a terrific story on Carolina's title run, passed along a message from Tar Heels coach
Williams was joking, of course. But he is a superstitious guy, and he's well aware that in this decade I've covered three of his five teams to reach the Final Four, and all three have lost. His other two? Those were Carolina's 2005 and '09 national champions.
Williams and I shared a good laugh over that when we caught up recently to talk about his new book,
It's an inspiring tale, one that provides new details of his hardscrabble beginnings in the Blue Ridge Mountains (with an alcoholic father who abused his mother), his rise from unknown UNC assistant to coaching superstar at Kansas, his agonizing decisions in 2000 and '03 over whether to leave KU for Chapel Hill, his long-awaited triumphs in '05 and '09, and his relationships over the years with dozens of players, including
As I told Williams, it's good to be back on the college hoops beat, so if you get a chance please submit your thoughtful questions for the return of my college basketball mailbag. Here's an edited version of my recent conversation with Williams: