Roy Williams: 'I'll be fine' after vertigo-related exit from game

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

BOSTON --North Carolinacoach Roy Williams said he was feeling thankful to be alive and proud of how his team responded in the aftermath of a vertigo attack that forced him to watch most of the second half of the Tar Heels' 68-65 ACC win overBoston Collegeon Tuesday night from the locker room.

In a huddle on the sideline with about 14 minutes left in the half and his team in danger of suffering its third straight conference loss, Williams said he jerked his head suddenly while discussing a foul call with the referee.

Williams, 65, got dizzy and collapsed momentarily before having to be helped to the locker room.

"I'm alive. I'm kicking," Williams said afterward. "I've had some vertigo attacks over the last 17 or 18 years. This is the first time I really had one during a game. I said something to the referee. I didn't respond correctly to his response. I kind of whirled around, and that's when it hit."

Williams said his condition, known as benign positional vertigo, is triggered by sudden head movements. He had previous bouts with vertigo in the past and felt dizzy when standing up quickly.

"Every attack that I've had is when I've jerked my head quickly," he said.

Assistant coach Steve Robinson assumed coaching duties for the remainder of the game. Williams received medication in the locker room and remained there until after the game, when he went out to shake Eagles coach Jim Christian's hand.

Williams said he wanted to let Christian know he never intended to be a distraction.

"I was very concerned because I didn't want to be a distraction," he said. "I'll be fine. I'm not dead yet."

Christian said he was thankful that Williams' incident wasn't serious.

"For him to come back out and congratulate our kids on their effort speaks volumes as to why he's a Hall of Fame coach," Christian said. "He really wanted to congratulate them, and deservedly so. Anybody who saw this game today saw a lot of heart, a lot of character."

In a deadpan manner, Williams said, "I've been diagnosed in Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Kansas, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and Chapel Hill Hospital. All three. I don't know that the doctors really care that much about me. I just think they don't want me to die on their watch."

Though the incident stunned many in Conte Forum on Tuesday, Robinson said there wasn't panic in the UNC huddle after Williams collapsed.

"I think we really rallied around the fact that Coach was down," Robinson said. "Our team really tried to pick things up with Coach out."

Sophomore swingman Justin Jackson, who led the Tar Heels with 20 points, said part of the reason the team was able to stay focused was that it had seen Williams go through similar attacks.

"We know he'll be back out there for us," Jackson said. "He's our leader. We'll rely on him and know he'll be back out there. We've seen it before, not in a game, but we've seen it before, and he's been fine after a little bit.

"It definitely stinks in the middle of a game to see your coach go down like that. But Coach never quits, so we know he'll be back."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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