- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

ANAHEIM, Calif. Either way, win or lose, this game was about Gary Williams.
It was about what he wants to be the rest of his career. It was about how he wants to be remembered. It was about his legacy.
Williams is a very good coach. He wins twentysomething games a season. He takes his team into the NCAA tournament. He wins a game or two there. No one argues this. These are the facts. They are all there, in the Maryland media guide.
Williams is sometimes a little bit nuts. He is sometimes a lot nuts. He sees conspiracies on the basketball floor. The referees are against him. Members of the media are against him. Sometimes his assistants and players seem to be against him. At least he turns on them as if they are against him; he berates them in view of everyone.
Or maybe they don't see what he sees. He sees how simple it all can be, and it is simple when you are on the sidelines and you don't have all these big bodies with long arms coming at you.
Williams is wrapped so tight, his face so red, he is a threat to burst, to have it all end right there, on the floor.
He could feel this game. He wanted it in a desperate way, with every fiber in his body. He did not put it this way. He tried to put it into context.
But deep down, he knew the rap against him. He could take you to the Sweet 16. He could not take you beyond the Sweet 16. That, too, was in the media guide. He was 0-for-6 in the Sweet 16 going into the game against Georgetown last night.
The Sweet 16 is not a bad place to be, as Williams likes to point out. You are where 309 other Division I programs would like to be. You start the season with 325 Division I teams. You get down to 16. His math is good, although the context is somewhat shaky.
About 250 of those Division I programs do not live the way Maryland does. They do not play on television. They do not play in a big arena. They do not have Maryland's resources or tradition or conference affiliation. They barely count if you are Williams and the Maryland basketball team.
Your barometer is Duke and North Carolina, or even Georgetown, which is a cab ride from College Park. The two teams probably won't play again until Kevin Braswell's grandson is leading the blue and gray.
The way Williams sees it, these two teams played at US Scare Arena the last time, Georgetown's alleged homecourt then, and, well, it is now up to the Hoyas to drive over to Route 1.
Or, by NCAA decree, go 3,000 miles across the country to play.
The Terps did not make it easy on Williams. They did not pull away until the end, and even then, Williams could not relax. That is not his style. He sees a mistake on the floor. He takes it out on someone on the bench. He is the hunched-over figure with the sweaty brow, almost Richard Nixon-like from the back.
Williams did not flash the "V" for victory sign after the game. It might have been justified. It was tough.
"We knew we had to play a style that isn't our best style, and maybe that's to Georgetown's credit," Williams said.
Williams took the scenic route to reach the Elite Eight, finally making it in his 23rd season as a head coach. He spent four seasons at American, four at Boston College and three at Ohio State before returning to his alma mater at the start of the 1989-90 season.
Williams no longer has to explain the Sweet 16 to anyone. He cut back on his venting after the team lost to Florida State at home. Not surprisingly, his team responded. But it has killed Williams to be somewhat restrained. You can see that. It has been a constant battle, with Williams fighting himself instead of with the players who commit errors on the court.
Near the end, when Juan Dixon was on the free throw line, the players doused Williams in water to celebrate the occasion.
Williams undoubtedly found the cool liquid to be refreshing. He is always overheated.


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