Friday, October 07, 2005

McDonalds isn't Gary's kind of place

Head Coach Gary Williams gave the second part of his interview with the Diamondback and there are some doozies in it. Gary is his normal self, feisty and unapologetic. He does have a rather large chip on his shoulder that really hasn't been eroded even after two Final Fours and a national championship. You can tell he is excited about the coming season and Gary loves nothing better than proving people wrong. He pointed out that some "experts" had picked Maryland as low as sixth in the ACC or as high as 12th in the country. He's got more than enough bulletin board material for this group to do his motivating.

On new recruit David Neal:

David Neal currently weighs 257 [pounds]. He is a big strong guy. I thought we got pushed around a lot inside last year. Our height is fine, but besides Will Bowers, we aren’t that wide. David certainly helps. It helps that James Gist is a lot bigger this year. Travis Garrison is bigger. Those guys have done a lot of work in the weight room and I like the more physical look we’ll have to our team this year and David is a part of that.

I'm liking Neal better all the time. I have seen him in person and he is a load, especially for a freshman. He proved he can score at O'Connell and do it against the top prep players in the area. He will play a larger roll in 2006 than people think.

On Coach K's Amex ads:

Yeah, it was an unfair advantage. But all of those coaches that complained about that, if American Express came to them and asked them to do the commercial, they probably would have done it. I just objected to it being shown during the NCAA tournament. That’s a dead period in recruiting and his face is out there on the screen the whole time. That was the only objection. The NCAA wasn’t real smart about them allowing to use the commercial then.

Some fans from other schools raised similar concerns about the Under Armor ads with Ralph Friedgen. In those adds he's never identified and Maryland's logo is never shown which is a huge distinction to K's TV spot. I don't think it is a huge deal but Gary has a point about the appearance of those adds during the NCAA tournament.

On recruiting McDonalds All Americans:

We get our share of McDonald’s All-Americans. But if it comes down to two players, one being a McDonald’s All-American and one wasn’t, and I thought the one that wasn’t would be a better college player, I’d take him in a second. I could care less. Coaches have gotten fired trying to recruit just McDonald’s All-Americans.

Because Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Steve Blake and Chris Wilcox weren’t McDonald’s All-Americans, that doesn’t mean they weren’t good high school players. Anyone can sit here and pick the top 25 high school players in the country — I don’t think so. There’s too many good players out there.

Williams has never been concerned with recruiting "names" and usually shies away from going after players who become overhyped. He's commented before about telling a recruit he's the greatest thing since Jordan and then getting him on campus where he is told his defense stinks and he needs to improve dramatically to be a great player. His recent experiences with highly rated recruiting classes, that included two McDonalds all stars, have I think only further reinforced his opinion.

On his new assistants:

Rob Moxley was ranked in the top five as one of the best recruiting young coaches. He’s a local guy, grew up in Baltimore, so he knew the people you have to know nowadays in recruiting, so I went after him. Michael Adams played for me at Boston College and had a great NBA career and was an NBA assistant. I’m very comfortable with both of those guys. ... I always want to hire coaches who can put their attitude into players.

On internet fans and the Terps program:

I look for guys who can play the way we want to play. Just because someone on the Internet says some guy is good, doesn’t mean a whole lot. A lot of that is who calls those Internet guys the most. I don’t have time for that. They can write whatever they want. Those guys would rather follow recruiting than root for Maryland.

I worked very hard to make this program respected after [Len Bias’ death and NCAA sanctions]. Whenever I leave here, I’ll remember that as much as the national championships. ... People really used to think the basketball program hurt this university and the hardest thing to do was change people’s thinking.

Gary Williams is Maryland basketball. It is well past the time that his detractors should have accepted that. His sometimes abrasive nature has made him a few enemies and ruffled the feathers of a few deep pocket boosters. The essential truth about Gary is that he doesn't care what other people think, he's going to do it his way. When he arrived at Maryland many people considered the basketball program a source of embarrassment, not a source of pride. He changed that. When applications surged after the first Final Four appearance in school history who could take credit? Where did the money come to build Comcast Center? To pay a big salary for Ralph Friedgen? To expand Bryd Stadium? The only reason Maryland is on the college basketball map is because of Gary Williams. Lefty Driesell was like the Pharaohs by the time Gary Williams came to town. His accomplishments at Maryland had all the contemporaneousness of the pyramids. By the time Juan Dixon came to campus it was becoming the majority view that Gary was incapable of getting past the Sweet 16. Adding in his drunk driving arrest there was a strong undercurrent of boosters who wanted him removed. Can you blame him for having a chip on his shoulder? The ingratitude is staggering. He could have jumped ship after the NCAA death penalty came down, but he didn't. He has a measure of loyalty to the University that few, if any, boosters can match. Sink or swim, thick and thin, he is devoted to Maryland. He has given countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to Maryland. He's devoted his soul to the University and basketball program yet there are still anonymous internet jackals that cravenly accuse him of being too lazy since winning a national title. My only hope is that someday, in the distant future, they get their wish and Gary moves on to a quiet retirement. Whoever Debbie Yow brings to Maryland will in all probability fail to live up to those delusions of basketball utopia. The losses won't taste nearly as bitter to me as they will to someone who didn't realize how great a coach Williams really was. In the famous words of Teddy Roosevelt, "It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.".


Anonymous said...

great point, gary got the terps to a much larger stage. he never has recruited with duke and unc, but still has a chance to win every time, great coach. GO TERPS!!!!

bga-7EE6DE said...

Great blog you have. I have a site about banjo bolt chevrolet. You can check it out at banjo bolt chevrolet