There's No Changing Gary
A commentary by Paul Baker
When a guy is at one school for 20 years fans get to know a lot about him. With Gary Williams, you know what you're going to get. His practices are intense and on the money. A teacher first, having learned from Bud Millikin, who learned from Hank Iba -- ‘nuf said.
The players obviously respect Williams and on his terms. He has won impressively in three major leagues, the Big Ten, the Big East and the ACC. He has sacrificed family life to put his career and school on the front burner. Culminating with winning the national title in 2002, Williams has outdistanced the large majority of ego driven coaches, many of whom were supposedly superior to him and are now riding the coaches’ roller coaster.
He preaches tough love, and his players respect him.
He has won big for 29 years. Yet, his critics question his ability to think clearly while delivering his fiery tirades. Just ask Bobby Knight, Jim Calhoun and Coach K. to name a few. Winning coaches scream a lot; it comes with the territory. The more you win, the more you are allowed to scream with impunity.
Williams' flex offense seems to be always second guessed, criticized by a collective media that is more baseball and football oriented. The flex, like most set offenses, is ugly by nature -- with 10 big people in a tight confine it always promotes confusion. To judge a coach by his set offense is unfair.
Williams’ teams are disciplined on both ends of the floor and usually get better as the season goes on.
As for the refs, all you have to do is look at his No. 1 rival, Mike Krzyzewski who pushes the envelope every game and borders on apoplexy; Krzyzewski always attempts to intimidate while Williams just hollers. There is a great difference.
Williams has turned down lucrative offers and has shown a strong loyalty to his alma mater. He is his own man and is respected by his fellow coaches and would you believe, most officials.
This year’s Terrapins are athletic, physical, deep and big. The team has the potential to become championship caliber. They will buy into their coach and come after teams in unrelenting waves.
The school pays him a lot and owes him a lot. National title, a state of the art building and a bright future and still people complain. As they say, “be careful what you wish for.”
Issue 2.45: November 8, 2007