CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina coach Roy Williams can't wait to start practice this weekend — and for years to come — after his recent cancer scare.
"You always have people say when you hear that word that it knocks you for a loop," Williams said Thursday. "And it does. You're off the charts in every different direction. But I told my team that I was going to coach this team. And I felt that way."
Speaking at the team's preseason media day, the Hall of Famer described a "whirlwind 24 days" between the time doctors discovered tumors on both his kidneys and when they determined the growths were benign.
The 62-year-old said that while he plans to "smell the roses a heck of a lot more," his recent health issues haven't changed his plan to coach another six to 10 years at UNC.
"It does change you," Williams said. "Anybody that says it doesn't, they're a lot stronger or more wacko than I am. I really want to coach this team. And you know what's going to happen next year? I'm really going to want to coach that team again, too."
When Williams had surgery to remove the tumor on his right kidney on Sept. 19, doctors had told him it was likely cancerous. But tests soon determined it was an oncocytoma, a benign growth often indistinguishable from kidney cancer on X-rays that doesn't spread like a cancerous tumor would.
Doctors later performed a biopsy on the left-kidney tumor and determined last week that it was also benign. They didn't surgically remove it. Williams said doctors will monitor that growth every six months for the immediate future.
UNC opens preseason practice Saturday with the challenge of replacing NBA first-round draft picks Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller from last year's team that reached an NCAA regional final for the second straight year.