No practice tomorrow.
With a host of Tar Heel alumni seated behind the Tar Heels’ bench, Roy Williams took the most recognizable college basketball program to the pinnacle of success and sealed the deal, with arguably the finest team that has ever donned the Carolina jersey.
It was finally time for the 17-year coaching veteran to cry, but Williams held back the tears.
“This doesn't mean that he's a better coach than he was yesterday,” May said. “This just means when you talk about great coaches who have won championships, you have to say Coach Williams.”
Like father, like son, May’s 26 points earned him MVP honors, just as his dad had done 29 years earlier.
“It means a lot because I tried to live up to my father’s expectations, even though he hasn’t wanted me to,” May said. “I’ve tried to do some of the things he’s done, especially the way I carry myself and the type of person I am.”
However, the offspring’s 10 rebounds eclipsed the elder Scott May’s performance, permanently etching his place in history.
“He was just killing,” Raymond Felton said. “Everybody was screaming, ‘Get the ball inside to Sean.’”
The Tar Heels (33-4) finished the season by living up to incredible expectations, and in doing so, answered the demands put on them by seemingly every critic on a national stage and in front of a virtual road crowd.
“North Carolina just has talent, but is not a smart team. North Carolina plays suspect defense. North Carolina coach Roy Williams can’t win the big one.”
Those were just some of the many comments put forth by the media in the days leading up to the championship that challenged the Tar Heels and seemingly kept them focused throughout the game.
“The 2005 team was a team out there tonight,” Williams said. “We were criticized a little bit. It was a bias towards talent. But our group was a team.”
UNC took the best shot from the Illini, which erased a 13-point halftime deficit and tied the score at 70-70 with just 2:40 remaining. But a tip-in of a Rashad McCants miss and three free throws by Felton eliminated any chance of a Carolina meltdown, touching off a wild celebration extending from just west of the Mississippi River to Franklin Street, USA.
“When I grabbed the ball, I just ran with it; I had no clue. I ran over to coach and I let it go. Where it went, I have no idea,” said May, who just turned 21 and said he planned to celebrate with a bottle of Dom Perignon.
Along with May’s double-double, Felton added 17 points and McCants 14, as the nation’s leading assist “team” put on a clutch performance for the ages.
Behind May’s near perfect 10-of-11 shooting performance, there were times it appeared the Tar Heels might not complete their fourth NCAA championship and fifth national title with ease.
Illinois (37-2) didn’t maintain the nation’s top ranking nearly all season by collapsing under adversity.
“We were a tough team, a team that fought their heart out each and every game,” said the Illini’s Luther Head. “We never quit.”
Trailing by as many as 15 points in the second half, the Illini tied the game twice in the final five minutes and just missed a chance to force overtime when Head’s three-point attempt went awry with 17 seconds remaining. When the carom went to May, all Deron Williams could do was foul, setting up Felton’s game-clinching free throws and effectively lancing the proverbial “can’t win the big one” monkey off Roy Williams’ back.
The salt and pepper-haired coach kept his composure in the post-game press conference, as he thanked Felton and May as they left the podium – his mind now openly thinking of the first tee at Finley.
However, Williams will have to re-schedule his opening golf outing of the season in order to greet thousands of fans which will meet the Tar Heels when they arrive back in Chapel Hill on Tuesday.
Maybe he’ll be joined by Scott May, who can now finally stop pacing the floor.
Hit ‘em well Roy.