Maryland Terrapins Need to Send Williams Down the Road with Friedgen

Alan Zlotorzynski@@zlotsportsCorrespondent IIIMarch 14, 2011

I wanted to  write this article so badly following the Terps final three regular-season games but figured I would wait until the end of the season. Little did I or anyone else know that the Terps loss to Duke on Saturday in the ACC Tournament would be the end.

I knew the NCAA tournament, which, by the way, is now 68 teams would be out of the question but the NIT? The Terps snubbed, rubbed or whatever right out of not being invited to the NIT tournament this season.Thus, head coach Gary Williams and his MD Terrapins will not play in the postseason for the first time in 17 years.

Failing to qualify for the NCAA is one disappointment, but not to make the NIT, which always stood for, Not In (real) tournament, is downright embarrassing.

The Florida Atlantic Owls, McNeese St Cowboys, Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, Coastal-Carolina Chanticleers (I have no idea what that is) and many like them are in the big secondary dance, while the 2002 NCAA National Champions sit at home as their coach wonders what went wrong.

Now is the time and while many say be careful what you wish for, I say go for it, fire Gary Williams now. What is the worst that could happen, the Terps miss the NIT?

Williams is arrogant and old school to a severe fault, this is his fault and there is no excuse for something like this to happen. There are those that say what about last year, MD owned a share of the regular season ACC crown with Duke.

I say what about it, Duke won the National Championship and MD lost in the second round again. Please don't tell me it was by Michigan State and just by two points. It was a loss, and it wasn't in the Sweet 16 or beyond. 

Since winning the National Championship, Coach Williams has refused to keep up with the Joneses (Duke and North Carolina). His constant on the hunt for the "four-year player" has in essence, killed the programs chances of becoming what it rightfully should have following their championship season, a national powerhouse.

Since the championship season of 2002, Maryland has been to five NCAA tournaments and three NITs. In five tournament appearances since 2002, the Terps made it to the Sweet 16 just once. That occurred the year after winning the championship. In every other appearance, the Terps never made it past the second round.

Since 2002, the Terps have finished the season ranked in the top 20 just four times but never higher than No. 17. The issue is and always been recruiting when it comes to Gary Williams. He simply and for lack of a better term, sucks.

I do not want to hear about Coach William’s integrity either, good for him. I hope every Terp fan can sleep knowing Gary Williams has never been accused of one recruiting violation in his career. Of course, you do realize that you must first actually recruit.

I do not want to hear about his success against Duke. That one always killed me. He has beaten Coach K 12 times in 50 tries. It's limited success at best, Terp fans.

The list of names is long when it comes to prized Baltimore-Washington and Northern VA-area recruits, Gary either lost or never bothered to recruit. Names like Carmelo Anthony, Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay and Ty Lawson.

Year after year, I get sick to my stomach watching players like DC native Delonte West lead St. Joseph's to an Elite Eight in 2004, and I would love to hear the real excuses and reasons on how Gary missed out on Dante Cunningham.

The 6'8" 220-pound power forward hailed from Silver Spring, MD and played, get this—four years in college—at Villanova.

At Villanova, Cunningham led the team in scoring in his senior year and carried them to the Final Four in 2008.

When the Memphis Grizzlies selected Greivis Vasquez at the end of the first round last summer, it was the first time since Juan Dixon in 2002 that a Terp was picked in the first round of the NBA draft. Not since the mid '60s has the program had an eight-year drought without a first-round NBA pick.

From 1995-2003, the Terps had 10 total players selected in the NBA draft. Since 2003, another span of eight years there have been just three and that includes Vasquez.

In 2010, Vasquez became the first Terp since 2003 to make first team All-ACC. From 1999-2003, the Terps had at least one make the team and two made the team in 2000 and then again in '01.

Sounds like Williams may be losing his knack for recognizing Division I talent when he sees it.

Last year, highly touted recruit Kendall Marshall had major thoughts about becoming a Terp. He had already visited Villanova and NC. At Villanova, Marshall toured the campus on a golf cart driven by Jay Wright. In Chapel Hill, he ate dinner with head coach with Roy Williams.

At Maryland, his mother was asked to wait outside the men’s locker room, where inside the assistant coach asked Kendall and his father to have a seat on bench that had to be cleared of clutter. Then on a dry erase board, he gave them both a short presentation about how Kendall would fit into Maryland’s program. 

"That was it,” Dennis Marshall said. “The whole visit was over in 20 minutes. No, tour of the campus, no tour of the facilities … nothing. We just walked back to our car and went home.”

A few months later, Marshall, the fifth-best point guard in the class of 2010, according to committed to North Carolina. Mr. Marshall would now have to drive form VA to NC, instead of the 40 minutes to College Park to watch his son play basketball.

Mr. Marshall was also there the night his son set a North Carolina freshman record with 16 assists. Have you ever gone through and looked at who has been a freshman in Chapel Hill.

“Kendall would’ve considered Maryland—definitely, without a doubt,” Dennis Marshall said. “But to never speak to the head coach, not one time, not through a phone conversation or in person … I just don’t get it. “I’m not sure Gary Williams would know who we were if we sat next to him on a bus.”

I will give you one more example, Terps fans. Roscoe Smith was a top 15 national player, and he lived in Baltimore. His father was a Terps fan. Schools from all over the country wanted this kid, but his dad wanted Maryland.

Schools like Kansas, Florida, LSU and Georgetown went out of their way to be at Smith’s games, but Smith’s father said he never saw Williams during the recruiting process.

“I’ve seen some of the assistants, but they haven’t been around as much as some of the ones from other schools,” said Brian Thompson, Roscoe’s dad. “I like the Maryland coaches, but I can’t say they’ve been around as much as the others.”

Thompson said he’s been a lifelong Maryland fan, but when asked during the recruiting process if the Terps were in the hunt, “Yeah,” he said, “I guess they’re still in it.”

Smith took off for Connecticut where he scored 12 points in the Big East Championship game on Saturday, starting as a freshman. 

So there it is, Terps fans, right from the mouth of two dads who have no reason to lie or deceive you, like Huskies coach Jim Calhoun, or those evil-evil AAU coaches that Gary Williams so often accuses both of doing.

The problem with Gary Williams is Gary Williams. He always blames the system, the rule changes, the AD. It is never the fact that Gary chooses to remain Gary, never changing with the times.

Back in 2005, the NBA invoked the rule that players must have one year of college to be draft eligible. While a legend like Mike Krzyzewski could care less because he gets the four-year guys every year. Coach K is a legend and legends are not affected by silly little things like rule changes.

Others like Roy Williams, who is well on his way to legendary status, adapted and changed their way of coaching. His Williams counterpart up in Maryland never blinked an eye.

Roy Williams has won two National Championships at North Carolina with two very different rosters. Last year when the Tar Heels failed to make the NCAA, Roy Williams said the NIT would be a good place for his young squad to learn how to win tournament games at this level.

Looks like his boys got the lesson, as they are a No. 2 seed in the East Region in this year’s NCAA tournament. Gary's boys made the NIT in 2005 and liked it so much, they returned again in '06. Gary must not have gotten his fill quite yet because he went back in '08.

Many say firing Williams is ridiculous. Who else is out there? I do not have that answer, but what I do know is another coach is needed, one who will walk into North Baltimore and Southeast DC and recruit.

A young coach perhaps, one who understands that AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball and its coaches have changed the way recruiting is done. Definitely a coach who can't have anyone say the following about him:

“There’s so much talent around here that you could build a Top 25 or a top 15 team using nothing but kids from this area, but Williams lets them get away.” Curtis Malone, who runs one of the DC Assault, said last year.

Having boasted such talented players as Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant at one time, the Assault is one of the most successful AAU programs in the nation. 

Neither Beasley or Durant considered signing with Maryland. Malone finished up by saying, “It’s frustrating especially when you can look and see that Maryland doesn’t have the kind of talent you need for that level, for the ACC.”

It sure would be nice to hear Gary upset about his seed and region placement today. Instead we actually have to read about why Coach Williams feels his team got snubbed out of the NIT. The fact that is an issue today is further proof his time may be up.

I know, I know. Gary has a great class for next year—the next coming of Juan Dixon is on the way, Nick Faust—Willliams and the Terps are Final Four-bound, whatever! Does anyone really think Faust won't end up frustrated, like more than a few of coach's underachieving players in the last eight years.

Go ahead die-hards make your case and defend him, you always do. Tell me why I should watch Williams patrol the sidelines for one more year with sweaty arm pits and underachieving players—go ahead and defend him, I'm listening.


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