He can still coach.
I was talking to Baltimore Sun columnist and Comcast Morning Show regular David Steele; and he and I both agreed that Gary Williams really won this game as a coach.
Maryland’s 73-68 victory over Miami came during a rough week for the program; with infighting between the head coach and the athletic department and mounting losses dominating headlines and sports talk radio stations throughout the region. The Terps had blown a lead against Miami earlier in the season; and another loss could have moved the Terps to the NIT bubble; let alone any chances of making the field of 65.
But with his back against the wall; Gary reminded us that he can still do a thing or two as a head coach.
Gary pushed all the right buttons tonight. He got key minutes from Sean Mosley and Eric Hayes after swapping the two in the starting lineup.
He went to Jin Soo Kim early and often after Kim was reinstated academically; and the move paid off with a pair of big buckets from the Korean freshman.
He stuck with Dino Gregory despite 3 fouls, and went back to Dave Neal despite early struggles.
He mixed a box and one with a traditional zone and a few different press looks to help neutralize Miami’s superstar Jack McClinton.
He called timeouts before the Hurricanes could develop too much momentum; and called effective plays during Maryland’s halfcourt offense sets in the 2nd half.
He did it all with fans, alumni, and others calling for his head. And with one of the nation’s most sought after recruits sitting in the front row.
It was a good night for Gary Williams. It was a good night for the Terps. It might not make much of a difference at the end of the season for either; but it might make a world of difference.
And for one night at least; it will force a lot of people who don’t want to admit it that Gary Williams is still amongst the best game coaches in all of college basketball.
Boy did he need this one.
That’s it for me. Talk to you tomorrow with a 15-7-0 after the Super Bowl.
10:33-In his post-game press conference; Gary tried to explain the differences between tonight’s game and recent games where the team blew 2nd half leads. He said he “was really pleased with the way (the Terps) ran (their) offense in the 2nd half”, adding that the team “used more of the clock” and “patience was key”. He said the game “wasn’t a one man deal”, and “that’s how (the team has) to be this year.” With the Terps having the lead; Gary thought they did a “pretty good job” of running the halfcourt offense. He thought the team learned tonight that they “can win games” when they have 2nd half leads.
Gary said the team “did some things defensively to mix it up” and thought Adrian Bowie “was really tough” defensively. He said that the now starting Sean Mosley brought “urgency” defensively. Gary said the team made the switch to get Hayes going offensively; noting that Hayes is usually a better shooter in practice. He thought Hayes just “needed a different look”; and “he might be really relaxed” coming off the bench. Gary thought Hayes “never backed off” and “really handled things well”; adding that he was “proud” of the way Hayes handled the benching. Gary said he tried to use free throw attempts and timeouts to get Eric in offensively and Mosley in defensively; but creditted Sean for hitting two big free throws after being sent to the floor; a feat he thought might be difficult for a number of freshman.
When addressing everything that has been swirling around this program this week; Gary said the team “knew what (they were) in for” tonight. He added that he told his team he “was gonna coach”; and he made the team “promise that they were gonna practice the same way.” As always, it was nothing but business.
I noticed Gary and his close friend Governor Ehrlich sharing a personal moment after the game; I can only imagine Governor Ehrlich might have been telling him something along the lines of “no matter what you do, there will always be detractors.”
In talking to Sean Mosley after the game; Mosley said that they “want to win for coach; but also want to win for (them)selves”, as the players have to hear a lot of negative things after each loss. He said he was so focused after the loss to Boston College that he didn’t even take time to celebrate St. Frances’ big triple overtime win over teammate Braxton Dupree’s alma mater Calvert Hall. He also added that he gains offensive confidence from the successful defense he plays.
10:31-In other ACC play tonight; Georgia Tech gets the stunner of the weekend; knocking off #4 Wake Forest 76-74. North Carolina blew out NC State 93-76; and BC nipped Virginia Tech 67-66.
10:20-For the 2nd time in his career: Greivis Vasquez finished just one digit shy in a statistical category of posting the school’s first triple-double since Derrick Lewis in 1987. Vasquez finished with 11 points, 10 boards (game high), and 9 assists (game high). Vasquez would have finished it had Adrian Bowie connected on a late layup (Bowie was fouled on the play). Landon Milbourne lead the Terps with 17 points, he had 6 rebounds. Dave Neal had 11 points, Adrian Bowie had 9 points and 6 boards, Sean Mosley and Eric Hayes each added 8 points. The Terps were out-rebounded 41-38; and had a 17:7 assist-to-turnover ratio. They had 8 steals; but did not block a shot. They were 27-65 from the field (41.5%); but shot 15-30 (50%) in the 2nd half. They were 5-19 from beyond the arc (26.3%); and 14-17 from the free throw line (82.4%).
Miami was lead by Baltimore’s Jack McClinton; who had a game-high 18 points and added 8 rebounds and a team-high 6 assists. James Dews chipped in 13 points; Lance Hurdle 8; DeQuan Jones 7; and Brian Asbury 7 with a team-high 9 rebounds. The Canes had 11 assists to 16 turnovers; with 3 boards and 3 steals. The shot 24-59 from the floor (40.7%); 10-31 from beyond the arc (32.3%); and 10-14 from the free throw line (71.4%).
9:55-”We just had to make them practice” Gary says in his postgame interview with Johnny Holliday and Chris Knoche. Gary says the box and 1 they used on Jack McClinton almost hurt them because the Canes have other good shooters. Gary says the team “didn’t stop” and “ran hard every play” to finish this one off.
9:53-Two at the line for Neal; he’ll finish with 11 on the game. The final will be 73-68 as Dews’ 3 at the buzzer goes in. Dews finishes with 13. Terps improve to 14-7 (3-4); Canes fall to 14-7 (3-5). “GA-RY” chants are more vocal postgame.
9:51-Bowie fouled, he hits both free throws. 71-63 Terps. McClinton hits a layup with 8.9 seconds to play. 71-65 Terps as Haith calls his final timeout. Chants of “Ga-ry” and “We love Gary” heard in the crowd, as the Terps probably can’t let this one slip away. “We want Lance” chants again from the student section.
9:48-Bowie penetrates; and the Terps get the ball back out of bounds after he loses it off a Miami defender. It appeared as though the Miami player had possession for a second, but the refs decided he didn’t and did not award a new shot clock to the Terps. Vasquez’s desperation 3 went off the backboard for a shot clock violation. Hurdle drills a 3 on the other end; cuttting Maryland’s lead to 5 with under a minute to play. Vasquez is fouled by Dews with 36.8 seconds to play; he hits 1 of 2. 11 for Vasquez. Terps do a VERY nice job of not allowing Miami space to attempt a 3; and Hurdle misses a poor attempt.
9:47-Miami stretches their half-court defense; and Gary decides to call his 4th timeout (final :30 timeout) with 14 seconds on the shot clock and 1:28 to play. They really need a hoop here; and could use a cutter if Miami stays in the same defense.
9:45-HUGE hoop from Adrian Bowie. With 2:02 to play; he drives to the hoop at the end of the shot clock; and connects on a hoop at the rim. He’s fouled by Asbury (2nd personal for him); and knocks down the PLUS ONE attempt. 68-57 Maryland, 7 for Bowie. Canes answer back with a 3 from Hurdle. 1:50 to play; Miami takes their 3rd timeout. 68-60 Terps.
9:41-Milbourne makes both free throws; he has 17 for the game. Asbury knocks down another 3; but Neal gets a hoop on the other end. Thomas misses a 3; and then fouls Mosley (hard) after Mosley grabbed a rebound. That’s Thomas’ 5th personal foul; he finishes the game with just 3 points.
Mosley knocks down both free throws; he has 8. Terps by 9 at 65-56. Defensively, the Terps appear willing to let other Miami players have outside looks, just not Jack McClinton. DeQuan Jones fouled by Neal after a rebound; he hits one of 2. 7 for Jones, Terps by 8.
9:39-Terps CANNOT afford to let Miami keep having outside looks here; and have to continue to score down the stretch. Miami has fouls to give; so Maryland really can’t rest on a 6-8 point lead in the final two minutes. They need to keep pressuring.
Final halftime note:
-A few extra media members in the house tonight with the Gary story swirling everywhere. I was told by the school that AD Debbie Yow did not leave for her sister’s funeral until Thursday of the past week; and attended Kay Yow’s burial today. No one knows if she intends to make a statement when she returns to College Park; but no one expects her to hold court with the media.
9:36-Miami called for a travel; then the flex works perfectly for Neal to get a layup off a feed from Milbourne. 7 for Neal. Asbury rebounds a missed 3 and draws a foul from Vasquez. Canes in the double bonus with Vasquez’s 2nd personal. Asbury knocks down both free throws, he has 7. Terps by 6.
Milbourne draws a foul fighting for a rebound on a missed attempt by Vasquez. That’s the 7th team foul on Miami. 3:58 to play and Maryland maintains their 6 point lead as we hit the final official timeout of regulation.
9:34-Vasquez misses a look at 3 from the wing; and the possession ultimately ends with him missing a curl attempt by leaving it short. Gary calls his 3rd timeout with Maryland’s 12 point lead having been cut in half and Miami having the ball.
9:32-Milbourne keeps the Terps from throwing the ball away; and he draws a foul. Vasquez is then fouled driving the lane; that’s Miami’s 6th team foul. Vasquez hits one of two at the line; he has 10. Maryland by 8. Miami breaks Maryland’s press, and Dews is fouled by Neal going to the hoop. Neal’s 3rd personal, Maryland’s 9th team foul. Dews knows down both free throws, he has 10. Maryland by 6 with under 6 minutes to play.
9:29-McClinton with two free throw makes; then Milbourne knocks down a baseline jumper. McClinton drills a 3 from the top of the key; and Frank Haith calls timeout with his team cutting the lead to 8.
Milbourne drives the lane and is fouled by Adrian Thomas (his 3rd, team’s 4th). Milbourne makes both free throws to extend the lead to 10. He has 15, McClinton has 16. Terps force a turnover off the press, but Bowie misses a shot from the lane. Dews drills a 3; Maryland’s lead is 56-49. Miami erased a double-digit lead against the Terps already this season…….
9:27-More from halftime…….
-Another RAUCOUS ovation tonight; this one for Sasho Cirovski and the Maryland Soccer team; who were honored for winning their 2nd national championship in 4 seasons. The place erupted during their introduction to the crowd. Cirovski was stopped by security trying to get to the floor; and the Maryland Media Relations again had to escort him down. That’s the 2nd time this year I’ve seen Cirovski stopped by security; you’d think a guy with 2 National titles would be a little more respected.
-Alumni Byron Mouton and Exree Hipp ARE in the house; as well as Steve Sheppard; who was the honorary captain tonight.
9:24-Bowie draws a foul driving the next time down; but Mosley threw the ball away after going up under the hoop and needing a man. Hayes knocks down a 3 next time down for the Terps; he has 8. Landon Milbourne called for his 2nd personal foul (team’s next time down. The foul was originally given to Gregory; which would have been his 4th-but then correctly assessed to Milbourne. Miami will be at the line after the 3rd official timeout; 52-41 Maryland with 7:47 to play.
9:22-Julian Gamble hits one of 2 at the line for Miami; then Milbourne knocks down a jumper at the other end; he has 11. Jimmy Graham with a hoop inside for the Canes; he misses the PLUS ONE attempt after being fouled by Dino Gregory (Gregory’s 3rd personal; team’s 7th). Gregory is fouled on the other end, but the foul was called on the floor (he made the shot that didn’t count). Hayes missed a layup; and Hurdle connected on the other end. 49-41 as Gary takes his 3rd timeout. 7 team fouls for Maryland to Miami’s 2 in the 2nd half.
9:19-MORE halftime notes:
-Football recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo has a group of 10 or so football recruits with him here tonight; and offensive coordinator James Franklin is also in the house. Maryland got good news this week when 5 of their incoming freshman for ’09 enrolled a semester early and will be able to participate in spring practice.
9:16-McClinton knocks down a 3; but Vasquez answers with a long 2. Vasquez then feeds Neal for a hoop in transition; and Maryland has their biggest lead of the game at 47-36. Kim is called for a foul inside after Vasquez is blocked and lost the ball. 10:19 to play; Maryland by 11 at our 2nd official timeout of the 2nd half. Maryland with 6 team fouls; Miami with just 1. Miami has just 3 timeouts remaining as well.
9:15-More notes from halftime…..
-Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti declined the opportunity to make a public comment regarding Gary Williams. He was very pleasant in doing so when I talked to him; he just chose to not publicly throw his hat into the circus. I think we all know how Mr. Bisciotti feels about Gary; so I do not have a problem with choosing to withhold a statement.
9:13-HUGE stretch for Maryland.
-Collins makes just one of two at the free throw line.
-Jin Soo Kim knocks down a 3 pointer; causing the crowd to ERUPT.
-Sean Mosley makes a jumper AND throws home a dunk
-Dave Neal draws his 2nd foul (team’s 5th compared to just 1 for Miami); but comes up with a big steal.
-Timeout with 12:05 to play; Maryland has a 43-33 advantage.
9:08-So many halftime notes……
-Lance Stephenson is here on an official visit; he’s sitting in front of the student section with his family. A recruiting source I spoke to didn’t take the visit too seriously; saying “he’ll play professionally in Europe before he comes to Maryland”
-Governor Bob Ehrlich is in the house; and made his support for Gary Williams very clear. I spoke to the Governor, who believes Gary “deserves a break”, and compared him to Penn State coach Joe Paterno. He said the the taxpayers of the state of Maryland deserve to see their coach run a “clean program”, which he believes Williams does. He also believes Williams is one of the most “beloved” people in the entire state of Maryland. He doesn’t think that a mediator would work to repair the relationship between Gary and athletic director Debbie Yow; that they will have to do that on their own.
9:07-Some wacky missed shots and loose ball rebounds ultimately lead to Gregory picking up a foul with 14:11 to play and the Terps ahead by 4. We’ll hit the 1st official timeout of the 2nd half.
9:05-Jin Soo Kim is set to re-enter after Miami cuts the lead to 2 on a 3 ball from Asbury. We’ve yet to see Braxton Dupree or Cliff Tucker tongiht; and Gary is clearly looking to shake things up after the team’s recent struggles. Milbourne with the baseline jumper; he has 9; Terps by 4.
9:03-Milbourne with the pull-up jumper to take a 31-29 lead; then Hurdle his hit with his 2nd foul as he knocks down Mosley in the open floor. Vasquez nails a 3 and pumps his arm to the crowd. He has 7, Terps lead 34-29. Milbourne hits the deck after getting a rebound; and he is called for the travel.
9:00-Collins opens the 2nd half with a hoop for the Canes; then Neal is long again on a 3 point attempt; he’s just 1-5 for the night. Vasquez with a big block inside to protect the Terps’ 1 point advantate. Dave Neal draws the foul inside fighting for a rebound; and Gregory enters for him as the Terps desperately need help inside. The move pays off, as Gregory stuffs home a pass from Mosley to make things 29-26. The Terps had another transition look; but Mosley’s pass went off of Bowie; and the Canes get a hoop from McClinton the other way down; with a foul from Mosley to boot. McClinton ties the game at 29 by drilling the plus one attempt; he has 8 points.
8:41-Terps and Canes trade misses before Dews gets a floater in the lane to cut Maryland’s lead to 1. Bowie comes with a big rebound off a Neal miss from outside; he hits a VERY tough scoop layup to make things 27-24. 1 minute to play in the half with Maryland getting the ball back. Miami is allowing them a number of outside looks; which they to continue to struggle to make. Terps get two big offensive rebounds this time down; but Hayes again misses from outisde. McClinton misses a shot from the lane and the Canes can’t get the putback; and Maryland will again take a lead to the locker room; 27-24. I’ll be back very shortly.
8:37-He was reportedly an asset as a shooter; but Maryland has used Jin Soo Kim more inside this season with his 6-8 frame. He’s obviously missing the necessary bulk to play as a regular big man; but if he can defend and rebound; he will continue to get minutes playing under the basket.
Alumni Byron Mouton and Exree Hipp are also rumored to be here tonight; with a lot of alumni invited to support Gary Williams.
8:35-Hayes connects on a 3 that he DESPERATELY needed to make this time down; and Maryland takes a 23-22 lead. Dews misses a 3 for Miami on their end. Comcast ERUPTS as Kim takes the ball to the basket inside for a dunk. 25-22 Maryland as Kim picks up a foul on the other end; and we hit the final official timeout with Maryland leading 25-22.
8:33-Vasquez with another missed 3 from the corner; but a transition opportunity for the Canes becomes a turnover; and Vasquez gets his own transition hoop the other way. Jones blows past every Maryland defender next time down for a thunderous dunk; and Milbourne misses another shot inside before Jones hits over top of Vasquez. Bowie is flat on a layup attempt next time down; and Jin Soo Kim will enter for Milbourne. 22-20 Miami.
8:29-Graham with the big block on Milbourne inside; and we’ll hit the third official timeout with 6:25 to play and the game still tied at 18.
Students were chanting “We want Lance” during the official timeout; obviously referencing Lance Stephenson. Stephenson will likely be a “one and done” player wherever he goes; and is teammates with Terp commit James Padgett at Lincoln High School in New York. He’s considered a long shot for the Terps; with teams like Georgetown, Duke, and North Carolina all also interested.
8:28-Vasquez misses an unnecessary long 3. Mosley with the block inside; but Asbury gets the 2nd chance bucket. Vasquez misses another 3 from the corner before Jimmy Graham ties things up with a hoop inside. 18-18.
8:25-Three point misses aplenty for the Terps. Neal with 2 misses; and a miss for Hayes as well. In between; McClinton hit a jumper inside but then airballed a 3; and Asbury was hit with an offensive foul. All of the three point misses were “one and dones” for Maryland; but they got two offensive rebounds on their last possession; and following an Adrian Thomas foul; Dino Gregory hit an inside hook to make things 16-11. Landon Milbourne called for the offensive foul next time down; but Maryland steals the ball back and Milbourne gets a hoop on his 2nd try. Dews answers with a 3; 18-14 Terps.
8:22-I’ve noticed Montrose Christian junior Terrence Ross here tonight; and I heard a strong rumor that Lance Stephenson-one of the top prospects in the entire country; may be here tonight as well. If I get confirmation; I will pass it along.
8:20-Mosley with his first basket of the game; a jumper from the top of the key. Bowie comes up with a steal at midcourt; but can’t finish a very tough look at a layup. 14-9 with 11:20 to play as we hit the 2nd official timeout.
8:18-An open Gregory is too strong on what should have been an easy inside look. Miami is the beneficiary of a non-call on what could have been a travel; and Jones hits a jumper to make things 12-9. Bowie is again flat on a look from outside; but draws a foul from Hurdle trying to drive the lane next time down. Fast paced game thus far.
8:17-Dino Gregory into the game; Hayes pops a jumper off a screen to make things 12-7. James Dews tries to drive the lane for Miami and is met by 3 defenders. Hayes is hit with his first foul.
8:15-Milbourne with the jumper to make things 10-7; Miami gets another offensive rebound; but a travel ends their next possession. Neal misses a 3 and Terps are one and done. Jimmy Graham called for the offensive foul as he knocks down Milbourne; each team has two team fouls thus far.
8:11-Milbourne makes the first, misses the 2nd. Greivis with the rebound, but turns the ball over out of bounds trying to penetrate. DeQuan Jones into the game for Miami; McGowan with a hoop on the other end; then Hayes airballs a terrible layup attempt. Terps will get the ball back after the first official timeout leading 8-7 with 15:26 to play.
8:07-A big offensive rebound and a loose ball out of bounds off the Terps extend the Canes’ next possession; but they’re forced to call a timeout trying to inbound the ball. Vasquez then picks up his first foul. Terps with tough defense and the possession finally ends when Bowie gathers a sloppy pass. Bowie passes on an open 3 but coasts to the hoop for a layup; 4-2 Terps. defensive pressure creates another Miami turnover; and Greivis goes to the student section to try to pump them up.
James Dews, Cyrus McGowan, and Jimmy Graham enter for Miami before Neal hits a 3; McClinton answers with a step-back 3. Milbourne fouled inside; he’ll shoot 2, Hayes will enter.
8:05-Important to note: University President C.D. Mote publicly embraced Gary Williams as he entered the floor. The frostiness between the athletic department and the school apparently doesn’t extend to the top of the University.
Miami wins the tip; and Collins with a hoop inside. Vasquez drives the lane for a floater to tie things at 2.
8:00-Miami’s lineup is Adrian Thomas and Dwayne Collins up front; Brian Asbury, Lance Hurdle, and Calvert Hall’s Jack McClinton-who had 18 big points in Miami’s 62-60 win over Maryland in Coral Gables a few weeks ago.
HUGE ovation for Sean Mosley as he is introduced. A group of fans organized “Show Some Love for Coach Williams” night tonight; and I’ve seen a few fans wearing suits in support of the coach.
If you missed yesterday’s news; Jin Soo Kim won his appeal with the NCAA, and is again eligible to play. He is dressed tonight.
7:53-The Terps bring a 13-7 (2-4 ACC) record into tonight’s game; Miami is 14-6 (3-4). The Terps are losers of two in a row (Duke and Boston College); Miami has lost consecutive overtime games to Virginia Tech and NC State. Tonight’s game can be seen on Raycom Sports (WNUV Channel 54; Channel 14 on Comcast in Baltimore County) with Tim Brant and Dan Bonner on the call.
This is Coaches vs. Cancer “Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend”; so Gary Williams and Frank Haith (as well as Keith Booth, Chuck Driesell, Rob Ehsan, and the Miami assistants) are wearing sneakers tonight.
The embattled coach of the Terps entered the Comcast Center floor to a RAUCOUS ovation from the crowd; and offered a particularly emphatic fist pump in return. I have to admit that it seemed a bit dramatic.
7:43-Live from the Comcast Center in College Park tonight; where the Maryland Terrapins host the Miami Hurricanes.
Two news items quickly. Sean Mosley will start tonight with Adrian Bowie, Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne, and Dave Neal. Eric Hayes will come off the bench. Also, the Terps are wearing their alternate gold uniforms. They switched from the black alternates to the gold alternates a couple years back; and have always celebrated that the team’s official colors represent all of the colors of the state flag. Gold was a popular color some 20 years ago; but had disappeared until more recently.