Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thanks Gary Williams - 22 Years as Basketball Coach of UMD

University of Maryland basketball has been my favorite college basketball team since I first saw Brad Davis as a point guard back for the Terps in the early 1970s do a look-away, fake behind the back pass, turn into a shovel pass on a fastbreak.

It was cemented when Albert King went to Maryland.  This was after I read my favorite sports book of all time:  Heaven Is A Playground

Mike Wise of the Washington Post wrote a great article on Gary Williams.  Below is the story that everyone in basketball knows about Gary Williams as told by Mike Wise:

When I asked Gary a year ago whether Greivis Vasquez and the grit and resilience of his 2008-09 team helped saved his job by improbably getting to the NCAA tournament after being all but counted out in early February, he laughed and said, “The guy who first saved my job was Walt Williams. He didn’t have to stay at Maryland after everything that happened before I got there. But he did. And I’ll never be able to thank him enough.”

Recounted often is how Gary Williams took his alma mater, reeling from tragedy and NCAA probation, to the national title in 2002. What people forget is, he left a very good job at Ohio State to do it, gambling on his future in what many perceived as not a lateral move but an actual step down the coaching ladder.

Lefty Driesell’s storied program of John Lucas, Buck Williams, Tom McMillen, Len Elmore and Adrian Branch was reduced to rubble after Len Bias, one of the greatest players in the history of college basketball, died in a cocaine overdose on campus less than two days after he was drafted into the NBA. Maryland was floundering after Lefty resigned, and Bob Wade tried to cheat his way back.

 No basketball coach was more intense than Gary Williams.   Gary was intense, but a good guy.  He was not an intense a$$hole like some coaches.   He never cheated and he inherited a mess from the previous coach Bob Wade.  The highlight was UMD winning the NCAA Championship in 2002.

Fear The Turtle! :-)

Thanks Gary