Monday, February 23, 2009

Gary Williams as Bush--Updated--Again

Paul Mirengoff has a pretty interesting discussion on the Washington Post's campaign against U. Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams. The assault seems to be done in concert with the UMD athletic department.

I've got no dog in this fight and I understand the nature of conflicts between AD's and coaches. But it seems at least a little strange that a coach who has won a national championship in the last 10 years and is still playing .500 ball is being attacked, at least in part, because he doesn't do ethically questionable recruiting. Whatever else his faults, Williams seems to be one of the cleaner guys in a very dirty profession.

Update: Galley Friend P.G. writes in to throw some cold water on my romanticized vision of Williams:

I've got to disagree with you on Gary. As anyone knows, nobody is above being fired at the college ranks, regardless of history. Gary has presided over the fastest decline of a national title winner over the past 2 decades. No team, upon winning a national title, has failed to make the tournament 3 of the next 6 years. Teams win a national title and then turn that into building a formidable program that contends every year. Gary has done the opposite. Furthermore, Gary's program was so perfectly situated in the heart of the best high school basketball metro area in the nation, right when some of the best talent ever to emerge from this area were ready to sign. The list of players Gary missed is insanely long, including some guys who are going to be NBA HoFers. And almost all of them cite Gary as the reason they didn't go to UMD. He doesn't play freshmen enough and he doesn't recruit players he thinks will be one-and-done. Gary also isn't as clean as he likes to claim, he has long-standing ties to the controversial Pump Brothers. Furthermore, the practice Gary claims is dubious, hosting AAU games, he's done himself (Nic Caner-Medley).

Look, Gary's title was a fluke. He won a national title with a hard-working over-achieving group because the best HS players for that stretch of time were not entering the college ranks. They were going straight to the pros. This gave Gary a window to win a title with juco transfers and hard working players, and he took advantage of it. Gary is a fantastic game coach, perhaps the best at the college ranks. But he's a TERRIBLE recruiter, and a disinterested one at that. His claim that his job is not to recruit is simply crap. It is his job. And not everyone is dirty, while Gary is clean. There are plenty of clean programs that are more successful than the Terps. Gary is just a lousy recruiter, and he should be fired.

Then, the Czabecast talks a little bit about the Sickest Recruit of the Year, the decline of Duke, and Gary Williams' moral vanity:

Update 2: Galley Reader writes in to offer a qualified defense of Williams:

The truly accurate point that Paul makes is that the coverage is out of whack. So much of this has to do with the Post focusing so intently on Maryland's basketball program - both in how many reporters they assign to cover the team, and which reporters they are - and it's true of local radio as well. Hell, they act like any program on the other side of the Potomac is basically nonexistent (one of the reasons they had no clue who any of the Mason players were during the Final Four run - it was comical to watch Comcast and see paid reporters weigh in on players they hadn't ever seen in a single game before the tournament).

It's true that Williams is a subpar recruiter. But he gets incredible production out of the players he does recruit, and he's always on the bubble in the second-toughest basketball conference in the country. Without him, I think Maryland would quickly drop to the level of UVA.

Further, look at this. So when Gary does try to land a five star prospect, it "reeks of desperation"?

I'm not even a Maryland fan, and this stinks.


Anonymous said...

We're talking about the ACC, though. Just look at Hansbrough's cross-eyed, dumb head and tell me that kid did well on the SATs.

My buddy works as a coach on U of M basketball staff and he's expressed quite a bit of frustration with the ability of the conference. He loves his squad, but it's just hard to compete in the same conference as Duke and UNC.

Anonymous said...

The Commodores signed possibly the most underrated kid in America...John Jenkins straight out of Gallatin (TN) HS...Kevin Stallings's team this year is young and taking their lumps but very talented...with the addition of Jenkins watch out next year.

And you know Green walked in '07, Georgetown.