UAB seniors Rod Rucker, Fahro Alihodzic and Rob Williams seen here celebrating the big win.
Dec. 1, 2013
By Steve Irvine, UABSports.com
Jerod Haase called his most impressive victory as UAB’s head basketball coach the “definition of bittersweet.” The reason for that, following a 63-59 victory over No. 16 ranked North Carolina at Bartow Arena, didn’t need any further explanation.
On the opposite bench was Roy Williams, Haase’s college coach at Kansas, coaching mentor and father figure. It was the second time the two coached against each other but this was perhaps more special because Williams brought his team to Bartow Arena.
“For Coach Williams to be here and bring North Carolina, I hated having to got shake his hand (afterwards),” Haase said. “It was a special deal.”
The pair shared a long, tearful embrace and conversation after the game. Williams declined to share what was said after the game but didn’t hesitate talking about his relationship with Haase.
“Jerod Haase is one of the nicest young men I have ever known in my life and one of the best competitors I have known in my life.”
Williams told Haase before the game that “right now, I love my team more than I do him.” Afterwards, though, Williams talked with pride about the job his former pupil is doing in his first shot at being a Division I head coach.
“Today, I knew his team would be fired up because Jerod is one of the top five players I have ever coached,” Williams said. “He is doing great things here and he is going to do even better. At the end of the game, you have to feel some pride in what he is doing and you have to feel some sadness for what we’re doing and what we did today.”
*Considering the circumstances and the opponent, 6-foot-10 senior Fahro Alihodzic had one of the better games in his UAB career. Alihodzic, who was playing against a large and physical North Carolina frontcourt, had eight points, 13 rebounds, an assist and a huge blocked shot in the final seconds. It was a career high in rebounds.
*Robert Williams was the only current UAB player on the roster the last time that the Blazers beat a ranked team. However, Williams was a redshirt when UAB knocked off Butler, 67-57, on Dec. 22, 2009.
“This one, is No. 1,” Williams said. “Actually getting a chance to play in the game and contributing, actually helping the team to win, it’s got to be No. 1 on my list.”
*Freshman Tosin Mehinti played just seven minutes in the game but made an impact with four points and four rebounds. He made both of his shots from the field.
*UAB made just three shots from the field in the final 11 minutes but free throw shooting was a key to the win. UAB made 22-of-28 shots from the free throw line with Chad Frazier hitting 12-of-14. North Carolina was just 4-of-11 from the free throw line.