ST. LOUIS – North Carolina coach Roy Williams comes from a place in his life where he has a certain level of perspective regarding a championship. He wanted one, but he wasn't going to let it be the end-all, be-all. If it becomes that, when you do get it, you can find out that it's not all that it's cracked up to be.

Anybody who follows the game has to be extremely happy for Williams, because he stands for all the right things. He has been a terrific coach for a long time; this was his fifth Final Four appearance. Monday night had to be extremely satisfying not only for Williams and his family but also his colleagues and friends.

He has had tremendously talented players through the years, and certainly this North Carolina squad was no exception. Sometimes coaches who have really talented teams don't get their just due. You'd much rather have the abundance of talent than not, but it's not that simple to bring them together into a championship team.

This season's Tar Heels showed that they're a cohesive group. They came to rely on one another and trust one another and matured defensively. They understood they had to play through Sean May to be most effective.

Coach Williams got key members of his talented ensemble to accept the fact that the lights weren't going to be as bright on them individually as they might have been were they on a team with less talent. Marvin Williams certainly is capable of starting, but he emerged as a star coming off the bench and didn't complain. Jawad Williams as a senior understood that juniors Rashad McCants and May were going to get the bulk of the publicity.

And it's to coach Williams' credit that the Tar Heels came out so poised and relaxed Monday and took it to Illinois early. UNC's zone defense disrupted Illinois' rhythm. They got up into them and wouldn't let the Illini pass the ball freely like they normally do. Then Illinois ended up settling for too many threes, and the Heels built a lead that ultimately the Illini couldn't quite overcome.

We can debate forever where this Carolina team falls in comparison with other title teams. But I'll say this: The Heels should be really proud of the expectations they faced all season long and ultimately fulfilled.

These championships aren't given away.

Just ask Roy Williams.