I have been quiet on the Gary Williams situation, not because I don’t care, but because I really can’t make up my mind either way until now. Here are the facts.
The program is in a down cycle–no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Three NIT appearances in four years for Maryland is a down cycle. The program is down because there are not enough quality players at College Park. Want further proof? In the last four years, name a recent Terrapin graduate that is playing in the NBA. James Gist, DJ Strawberry, Mike Jones? The answer is none of the above. There are zero Terps from the last four years playing in the NBA. From Maryland’s championship team: Steve Blake, starting point guard Portland Trailblazers; Juan Dixon still in the NBA at DC; and Chris Wilcox, Oklahoma City Thunder. In other words Gary Williams didn’t forget how to coach; he simply doesn’t have the players he once had. Here is the problem with that statement. As a head college basketball or football coach, you are the one responsible for recruiting talent. There is no Ozzie Newsome or Theo Epstein acquiring talent. You’re it as the coach. The buck stops with you.
Williams isn’t getting the players for two reasons. One he doesn’t want to play the modern recruiting game dominated by street agents and unsavory AAU coaches, and second in my opinion after the championship, he got a little complacent on the trail. No doubt he still wants to win, but instead of making the extra call or visit, he lets assistant coaches handle recruitment.
Meanwhile a young aggressive group of coaches led by John Thompson III, John Calipari, Jamie Dixon, and Bruce Pearl are out beating the bushes attempting to get where Williams was–standing on a ladder cutting down the nets on a special Monday in late March or early April.
So now what? Some would say that an infusion of a new coach like a Dixon or Anthony Grant of VCU would energize the program and bring it back to the Final Four level. Others feel that Williams should be given every chance to bring the program back and should leave Maryland on his own terms.
Williams has two quality big men scheduled to arrive on campus next year, and this Terps team is still young with only one senior (David Neal). After all, how many really had the Terps going far this year? They better produce and immediately; the downward spiral must change.
So my feeling is to give Williams one more year and to force him to make changes to his assistant coaches and scheme. His golf clubs shouldn’t get out of the bag and his frequent flier miles should be sky high by the end of this upcoming recruiting season. Gary, change or be changed!