Before getting into this, let me say once again that I love Gary Williams. He is the best coach in the history of our program and is a Hall of Famer. He is who he is and will always be more comfortable coaching character guys than guys who are using the school as a stepping stool to the NBA and end up being there for a cup of coffee. He likes ‘his type of player’. Until Wednesday’s horrendous loss, this year’s team looked like a ‘Gary’ team. They had major flaws which we all know about, but they worked hard on defense and were going to give it one hell of a shot to return to the NCAA tournament. Whether that happens now remains to be seen. This loss was the first time this season the team regressed. We will find out pretty quick on Saturday whether they are going to let it consume them like last year or will they get back to what works.
Now that I’ve said that, I have a major problem with what Gary Williams has become in the past few years. College Basketball has changed. With the mid-majors become more of a threat, the days of the big conference’s dominating has ended. The days when all you needed to do was finish 8-8 in the ACC to make the tourney are over. You need a solid resume with big wins and very few bad losses.
The problem with Gary these days is the fact that he cannot accept that. Gary seems to think he has to complain to the media week after week to try and convince them or those in the selection committee that Maryland should be an NCAA tournment team just because they are in the ACC. Well, we might have been better than some of the teams that have made the tournament in our NIT years, but you can’t say we deserved to be in and got robbed. Other schools can say that, we can’t.
In earlier years, Gary would complain that the ACC regular season champ should be the focus and not the ACC tournament champ. Obviously he said that because Maryland would routinely choke in the tourney. Since we won the ACC tournament back in 2004, I don’t recall much complaining about that anymore.
Now it’s been replaced by the ‘we deserve to be in the Top 25″ and “we play one of the toughest schedules in the country” and “we beat UNC on their floor last year”. Well, that is getting old quick. These days, Gary seems to be in desperation mode and the powers that be are picking up on it. All the pandering got us 25 votes in the AP Poll last week and that only equated to 3 journalists putting Maryland on their ballots.
In my opinion, this attitude has made Gary and our school look bad. If we want to return to prominence, we should shut our mouths and win games. Winning is what will get us where we want to be. I know none of us want to be a team that barely gets into the NCAA tournament every year. We want to be a team that has a chance to go to the Final 4.
As for Gary’s future, I believe he deserves the right to try and get the program back on top. His rededication to recruiting has been a nice surprise, but we’ll see where this gets us. We need to win this year to get those all important 2010 guys. If we go into the tank, you can kiss those big time recruits goodbye and I would not blame them. I would hope those guys would see the potential of the program and coming here would help in its resurgence, but we’ll see.
In my opinon, all this Gary talk will likely be over in no more than 5 years. Gary is getting older and he seems like a guy who will eventually be content in being a TV analyst or amateur golfer before long. This is his swan song. I don’t see him coaching that much longer no matter how the team does.
My hope is that by the time he leaves, we can look right to Notre Dame and bring in Mike Brey. I think he’s the guy to take over at that point. Perhaps Chuck Driesell will be a good head coach eventually, but I think he needs more seasoning. This will be a discussion in the future, but unless the team has a monumental collapse, I can’t imagine it will be soon. So Gary will be here and I have no problem with that. I want to see him rebound and end his coaching career on top because he deserves it. Starting in 1989, has been everything we wanted in a coach and more. He did what Lefty never could. We have banners flying high in a state-of-the-art arena (that should be filled with screaming fans and students, no matter who the opponent!) and that’s thanks in part to Gary Williams.