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February 20, 2008

UNC's Williams, Duke's Coach K trade barbs

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - North Carolina coach Roy Williams apparently doesn't think too highly of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's views on injury reports.

In a small tiff that has added the latest spice to college basketball's most intense rivalry, Williams took exception to a comment made by Krzyzewski on Sunday that the Blue Devils don't discuss injuries "unlike other schools."

While Krzyzewski never mentioned the third-ranked Tar Heels specifically, Williams felt the statement was a subtle jab at his team, which has had a much-publicized run of injuries and ailments in the past two weeks.

It was enough to have Williams, in a comment on his weekly radio show Monday, telling an unspecified person to "coach their own damn team, I'll coach my team."

On Tuesday, Williams found himself discussing the comments again instead of focusing on the Tar Heels' game at N.C. State on Wednesday.

"It's not like I'm getting a dadgum plane and flying it around to say, 'Roy fell against a wall and banged his nose' or anything," Williams said in a news conference. "We have to do those things (talk about injuries) and everybody's hurt. But there's different stages of being hurt.

"If you're hurt and missing games, that's not exactly like having a hangnail. And so we do have some people that are getting hurt and missing games. I don't think that somebody should say we're putting it in front of the public."

When a reporter attempted to ask a follow-up question, Williams said he didn't want to discuss the comments further and have "battles through the media." But when the news conference ended, Williams came back to the topic once more.

"I said before we played Duke it's impossible to have any more respect than I do for Mike," Williams said, "but I felt like that comment was aimed towards us."

Duke team spokesman Jon Jackson declined to comment Tuesday, one day before the fifth-ranked Blue Devils travel to Miami.

Krzyzewski's comment came in a radio interview after Duke's loss at Wake Forest. While noting that freshman Nolan Smith had been playing through a knee injury for a few weeks, Krzyzewski added, "unlike other schools we don't release our injuries," according to the Web site for radio station WRBZ-AM in Raleigh.

The next day, Williams said on his weekly radio show: "Regardless of what somebody else says about they have injuries too, which is a bunch of bunk, so I don't give a crap what somebody else says, but coach their own damn team, I'll coach my team - in case anybody has heard some statements about that."

The comments between the Hall of Fame coaches adds to a brief history that includes a heated exchange during a 2000 NCAA tournament game between Duke and Williams' Kansas squad in which the coaches had to be separated by officials. Last year, things got a little chilly between them after a flagrant foul by Duke's Gerald Henderson broke the nose of North Carolina All-American Tyler Hansbrough late in a game.

In the days leading up to the latest matchup earlier this month, the coaches described a relationship that was respectful and cordial but not especially close.

The injuries have piled up quickly for the Tar Heels (24-2, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). Point guard Ty Lawson is expected to miss his fifth straight game Wednesday due to a sprained left ankle, while Deon Thompson played just nine minutes in Saturday's win against Virginia Tech due to a hyperextended left knee and could be limited again. Backup point guard Quentin Thomas (flu-like symptoms), forward Danny Green (flu) and swingman Marcus Ginyard (sprained right ankle, injured left big toe) are also playing through ailments.

The Tar Heels also lost reserve guard Bobby Frasor to a season-ending knee injury in December.

For more coverage of the North Carolina Tar Heels, check out CarolinaBlue.com; for more on the Duke Blue Devils, visit DevilsIllustrated.com.

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