The Washington Times - October 16, 2008, 08:03PM

An omnipresent reality of covering Maryland basketball is you’re not really around on a day-to-day basis.

Access is relatively tight, certainly tighter than the school’s football program. It also isn’t quite as restricted, as coach Gary Williams argued when I brought up the subject with him last winter, as (in his words) “some other schools around here.” It was not a point I enjoyed conceding, since it didn’t help in attempt to infuse some glasnost into things. But he was technically correct.

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The tough part is virtually no practice access. You get Midnight, er, Maryland Madness. You get two or three intrasquad scrimmages before the exhibition game. And that’s it.

Now, it’s not like Williams invites everyone but the media, so reporters aren’t singled out. And Maryland isn’t the only school that runs a very tight ship, though at least one school in the ACC (Wake Forest) has run open practices for several years now.

Now, just watching practice all the time isn’t always fun. But when fans asked last year, for instance, why Jerome Burney wasn’t playing, it was tough to get much more than Williams’ standard refrain of earning playing time in practice. It’s tough for me to say much more than that, since I can’t offer much visual insight.

But Williams needed less than two minutes today to mention the possibility of an open practice or two for media during the season. It didn’t sound like he would offer up such access during conference play, and he’s within his bounds to do as he pleases.

But even a glimpse of how guys look in a couple practices during the nonconference season – and, just as importantly, a chance to see Williams in his element as a coach – would provide a layer of nuance and transparency that would help reporters (and, in turn, fans) immensely.

Patrick Stevens