In response to my recent article calling for the firing of Gary Williams as Maryland's men's basketball coach, Matthew McNab published a good article but one that simply provides excuse after excuse for a mediocre recruiting process from a once-great coach.
Watching teams like VCU and Richmond dance their way to the Sweet 16, Terps fans have to be asking themselves, how could this be possible without Maryland being at least a bubble team this season?
Not that CAA teams George Mason and Old Dominion University will conjure up thoughts of memorable tournament runs, but they were there. Certainly all four universities are well within reach of Gary Williams, and all four teams have players that should have been worthy of a look from the great Maryland coach.
All four have players that I am sure Williams never bothered to recruit, players that fit the Gary Williams mold of the "four-year" guy.
I asked in my original article how recruits like Carmelo Anthony, Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay and Ty Lawson could escape without Gary Williams having met them. The answer was threefold: failed academics (I wonder if spelling and punctuation counted), Williams not wanting them and the recruits' desire to simply want to play elsewhere.
While not one team from the state of Maryland made the tournament this year, two teams in the Sweet 16 hail from one city—Richmond, Virginia, a two-hour drive south of College Park. George Mason, who made it to Round 2, is located in Fairfax, Virginia, 40 miles from Williams’ office.
Now, I am certain that comments and replies to this article will state the competition in the ACC is much harder than that of the CAA or A-10 conferences. While this may be true, the committee considered both George Mason and VCU good teams and handed both at-large bids despite their losing conference tournaments.
Please do not tell me that Maryland can beat these teams. Maryland could not beat Morgan State the last time the two teams played. I can hear the excuses from the Terps fans now, the ones that think winning 24 percent of your games against one team (Duke) is "good.”
VCU lost in the CAA tournament finals to Old Dominion, which is located in Norfolk, Virginia. Old Dominion was bounced in the first round of this year’s tournament by last year’s tournament runner-up, Butler.
For arguments sake, Gary Williams could, in one day, drive a circle around these four Universities and make it back to College Park in time for bed. Obviously, Jim Larranaga (George Mason), Chris Mooney (Richmond) and Shaka Smart (VCU) know the route.
You will probably see Mooney at an ACC school some time in the very near future. He is already rumored as a possible replacement for the recently vacated NC State or Georgia Tech jobs.
Jim Larranaga has taken George Mason to the tournament as many times as Gary Williams has MD in the last five years. I will not mention that one of those trips also included a Final Four appearance.
Another excuse that will rain down from many blind Terps fans is how great next year’s class looks.
If history tell us anything when it comes to a class that Gary Williams recruits it is to expect the unexpected. It is beginning to look like Jordan Williams will not be a part of the highly touted group that Coach Williams is bringing in next year.
Many NBA draft experts are beginning to tout Jordan Williams as a mid-first round draft choice and with the way the NBA has expanded developmental leagues in recent years, Williams is no bet to return to College Park.
Many of Gary Williams’ supposed highly touted recruiting classes have turned out to be major busts. Remember the group that won the ACC tournament back in 2004?
That group that was supposed to bring MD back to the Promised Land and failed miserably. John Gilchrist, Nik-Caner Medley, Chris McCray, DJ Strawberry, Ekene Ibekwe, Mike Jones and Jamar Smith all failed to make the NCAA tournament in 2005 and 2006.
So all of the hype surrounding next year’s team is simply that, hype. It is another excuse by the Gary Williams’ faithful to justify his piss-poor performance in four of the last five years.
There is a risk you take when you recruit the "four year" player and watching Richmond, VCU, ODU and George Mason this weekend tells any smart MD fan that Gary Williams no longer seems to be taking the right risks.
Has Gary Williams lost his touch from a decade ago or simply become lazy? It's probably a combination of both.
Let us discuss the recent loss of Oakland Mills High (Columbia Maryland) School standout Greg Whittington. Whittington recently committed to Georgetown, despite the efforts of MD assistant coach Bino Ranson.
Whittington was a late bloomer with a high ceiling, but he defiantly sounds like a four-year player and one that was obviously worth having. According to Joe Browne, his high school coach, Bino Ranson recruited him harder than anyone did but it was the appearance of John Thompson III that made the difference for Whittington.
Browne said Georgetown started recruiting Whittington later in the process, but Hoyas coach John Thompson III put the “full-court press” on him immediately, checking out several Oakland Mills games.
“It was a good feeling to know that there was a top-notch coach in the stands coming to watch me play,” Whittington said. “Bringing the whole coaching staff to the basketball game, that really got them over the top,” The Baltimore Sun quoted him saying.
Whittington was not being pimped by any AAU coaches and joins Mikael Hopkins as another local player that considered MD but chose Georgetown. For those of you (and there are many) that say once a recruit commits to Duke or UNC, the process is over, I present Mississippi big man Tyler Adams.
Adams had Duke in his sights but chose the Hoyas. I certainly do not think Maryland ever had a chance at Adams, but my point is in response to this comment below from the educated author.
“It’s not to say that Maryland can’t get any guys who say UNC and Duke are their top choices—I’m sure some local players would choose to stay at home and play for Maryland. It’s more of a tactical decision for Williams—do you waste time and resources on a player who publicly states he wants to go to UNC or Duke for months, or even years before he will actually play college basketball? Or do you go after solid players who have no idea where they are headed?"
At last check Whittington was one of those players who had no idea where he was headed. Please do not try to say the Terps did not want him, they most certainly did, just not enough for Gary Williams to impress him as much John Thompson III did.
As late as February 23, Whittington had not yet received a phone call from Gary Williams. It is important to point out that Coach Williams did eventually attend one of Whittington's practices.
"We talk to coach Bino Ranson more than any coach," Browne said, according to SB Nation. "He’s been more proactive in the recruitment than anybody. He’s been to a lot of games, talked to us a lot of times and been with us. I haven’t had any conversations with Gary Williams, though. I’ve been told that’s not what he does, that it’s his style. I just don’t understand it. We’ve talked to every other head coach."
Maryland is also heavily recruiting Desmond Hubert. Hubert is a three-star post player from New Jersey who will be deciding soon. He visited MD back in late October and many feel if he was going to be a Terp he would have committed already.
He has not committed to UNC yet because they did not have a spot for him. Power forward Angelo Chol from San Diego committed to Arizona over UNC and in doing so, many now believe opened up a spot for Hubert in the process.
His choices are basically down to Maryland and North Carolina. Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, in the middle of battling for an ACC championship, took a trip to watch Hubert play in early March, just as John Thompson III did with Whittington.
The trip for Roy Williams was about 900 miles. I wonder when the last time Gary Williams traveled that far to see one recruit? I was not able to pluck any in depth stories that had Gary Williams interacting with either kid, other than a recruiting report story that said coach Gary Williams attended one of Whittington's practices.
My point to all of this is that while many Terps fans sit around with visions of a Final Four in their heads for next year are any of them considering this question? How is MD going to go from not making both post season tournaments this season to playing in the Sweet 16 next year if the teams that are already there continue to steal quality local players?
Williams missed out on local players like, Byron Allen, Jonathan Arledge, Isiah Tate and Cedrick Lindsay. All are young players with good upsides that are attending George Mason and Richmond. I can go on with a few more names, but you get the point.
I am sure I will get comments like, Williams did not want them, and they could not qualify at MD. There was a very long list of excuses in the Pulitzer Prize winning "Homer" article defending Williams and I am sure there will be another. Whatever the reason, and considering the talent in College Park over the last five seasons, any comment or excuse would take a lot of guts.
This is all coming from educated fans that see 16 points as a close average margin of loss.That is the average number of points in MD's last nine losses to Duke. That is in response to this comment from the same educated B/R writer. "Aside from the 80-49 beat down a few seasons ago, every Duke vs. Maryland game is close.”
I know that firing Gary Williams may seem extreme, but it is not. What does seem extreme is a statement like this, “...firing Williams is extreme and unnecessary; it is a call by uninformed, uneducated fans who expect Maryland to be on the same recruiting level as Duke.”
REALLY? Why can’t we uneducated fans expect our coach to recruit hard from one of the top, if not the top, areas in the country.
The line of thinking from “educated” fans that MD will never be able to recruit like Duke and North Carolina is simply accepting mediocrity and an average performance from a coach that does not make a mediocre or average salary for a college basketball coach.
Williams has gotten away without having to answer his critics in the last few season by sidestepping questions, arrogance and excuses. Enough is enough.
I must apologize because I missed, and for that matter so did the educated writer in response to my previous piece, the fact that Williams has done some things that show he may be conforming to the new way of recruiting. It is still not enough but hopefully coach Williams can use it someplace else, building his next program.
Williams hired Bino Ranson from Xavier as proof he is starting to see the light. Ranson has strong ties to Baltimore, as he founded Team Baltimore, one of the top AAU programs in the Northeast. Ranson was an integral part in the steering of Juan Dixon to College Park.
Ranson also coached at St. Frances Academy for two seasons, as he handled St. Frances' junior varsity program, directing the 2003-04 team to a 24-5 record earning titles in the MIAA and the Baltimore Catholic League.
Coach Williams also met with slime ball AAU coach Curtis Malone of the DC Assault for an hour about a year ago.
Many say the Assault coach has been very instrumental in pointing talent such as Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley away from Maryland. Although the educated B/R writer says, Gary Williams had no interest in them.
Plucking from the educated article, “The reason why Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant didn’t consider Maryland is because Gary Williams didn’t consider them. Williams isn’t looking for players that are going to be one-and-done.”
Why would any reasonable University want those guys? Gary has never used a sure fire one and done to help his program. Please see Steve Francis. Yes, I know there are circumstances surrounding the arrival and playing of Francis (he was a JR.), but please, do not try to convince me that Williams would never recruit a one-and-done for any reason.
Williams knew, as did everyone, that Francis was one and done at College Park.The Terps could not make it past the Sweet 16 in those days, Williams was beginning to hear his critics, and saw Francis as a way to get the Terps past the round of 16.
If ever coach Williams needed a solid one-and-done player to help boost the program, it is now.
I also want to point out that it was written that Baltimore was a “black hole for most of Williams’ career.” Another excuse for mediocrity, just as blaming the death of Len Bias 35-plus years later is a bigger excuse.
As head coach of Maryland, Gary Williams has now missed the NCAA tournament as many times following the death of Bias as he has since he won the National Championship in 2002.
Of course, Coach Williams has those New York and New Jersey want-to-be New Yorkers that are a large part of the student body at College Park making excuses for him. While many of you may be fooled by "homer" articles filled with excuses and promises for a new tomorrow, coaching in any sport at any level regardless of tenure is a "what have you done for me lately business."
The answer is nothing from Gary Williams, as we get to sit back and watch teams like ODU, George Mason, Richmond, and VCU build their programs from talent that should be at Maryland.
Here is another assurance the "homer" article gives us for MD's future, "Maryland will get better, and Gary Williams will be there to lead them. If, by some chance it doesn’t happen, let him get to 700 wins, hold a nice ceremony, and let him walk."
Sure, why not, let him waste more of MD's valuable "time and resources" (you have to read his article to understand that point) not recruiting local talent. That would also mean that everyone could criticize my grammar for two more years as I continue to call for Williams to be fired. Get rid of him now and start getting this program headed in the right direction.
Let me apologize in advance for disrupting the next “ranking Maryland players" article, as I am sure this one will surely bring out the Williams fan club. However, I stand firm and there are many others that agree with my assessment. While I cannot pluck all of the quotes necessary to prove my points, simply typing “Gary Williams recruiting” into your search engine will provide you with enough evidence to convince a college basketball jury that Williams must go.