This has been the hardest post I’ve ever had to write. For anyone who has read my thoughts over the past years, I have always been a Gary Williams apologist. I trusted in the coach that brought Maryland basketball back from the brink and gave us our National Championship. I loved the guy who was so good to my friends and I in the mid 90’s during the hoops resurgence. I never would have thought I would EVER say these words, but….
I think it might be time that the Terps move on with a new head basketball coach.
Now I don’t say this because I think Gary is a bad guy. He’s the best coach the school has ever had. And I do not blame Gary totally for the troubles of the past few years. He is still a great basketball coach and can teach kids to play the game and play it tough. The problem I see is that one of the most important parts of being a college coach today has passed him by.
Gary was never a great recruiter. As stated before, he has not really been one to ‘play the game’, get personally involved and kiss up to young kids, but times have changed and a shortcoming of the past has become a major Achilles heal today. Gary’s lack of recruiting has cost this program big time in the last few years. His reluctance to put the time into recruiting is a major reason for our struggles.
You can blame Jennings, Maze, Evans, Mosley, and Gilchrist for their own personal shortcomings, but it’s the fault of the program for being in the position of having to count on kids who have legal issues or grades concerns. This is Maryland. This is one of the best programs in one of the best areas of the country. This is a hotbed of basketball talent and when you can’t keep your own stars in state, you are forced to take chances on questionable kids or try and turn a mid-major caliber kid into a superstar. Gary has done that in the past, but you shouldn’t need to. There is no excuse for the amount of local talent that has gone elsewhere. Nobody wants a program with a ton of one-and-done kids, but you need to keep the talent in state. And Gary needed to ‘play the game’.
The biggest issue is that there is no end in sight to these struggles. Gary is 63. He is not going to change. He will not go out there and recruit a junior high kid, and that’s what it takes these days. You can’t expect to come in the last minute and grab a local kid just because this is Maryland. You need to put in years building a relationship with a player. If Gary refuses to do this, it’s time to find someone who will. That’s just the way it is in today’s game. It would be nice if AAU issues or a kid’s ‘handlers’ or ‘advisors’ didn’t have to be brown-nosed (or offered jobs) in order to get the kid to sign a LOI, but that’s not the way it is. If the rumors about Gilchrist are true, this kid is just listening to his ‘handler’ and not making any decisions on his own.
I never wanted to think Gary was to blame, but after one conversation with a source connected with the athletic program, I was convinced. While I cannot share the details of the stories I was told, I can tell you that it paints a very VERY bad picture of our basketball program and led me to believe that there is no coming back from this in the long run. The end is near and the question will be whether it will hit rock bottom before it’s over.
The good news is that nothing will ever be as bad as the late 80’s with the Len Bias tragedy and the NCAA sanctions. If the Terp basketball program can rise from those ashes to be National Champions, then they can easily rebound from this down swing.
Unfortunately, it will likely take a change at the top to do that.