So we’ve finally had time to collect our thoughts and really comprehend Gary Williams’ retirement. It came as a shock to just about everybody, me included, and the timing of it seems a little off. Regardless, it’s happened, and Maryland will now go through another major coaching search.
I think what’s most important in all this is to remember what Gary Williams has done for this program. He has coached the Terps for literally all my life – it’s going to be really, really weird to see someone else manning the floor for them. Williams made this program into what it is today, and has become a national icon and almost definite Hall of Famer in the process. It’s obviously unfortunate that his last season ended up in the way it did, missing the postseason and generally disappointing the fans, but fans need to remember his career as a whole.
In terms of recruiting, there has been mixed news. Originally, it looked like Nick Faust and Sterling Gibbs would ask out of their LOI’s, but it now seems those reports were premature. It seems Faust, Gibbs and Justin Anderson are all still committed to the Terps, but will reevaluate that choice once a new coach is hired – a sensible choice for the three.
Gary will now be an associate athletic director with the program, so it will be good to see him still around with the program. For now, Rob Ehsan will be the Terps’ interim head coach. This is somewhat of a surprise (I would have expected it to be Keith Booth), but not a poor choice by any means. Maryland now begins their search for a new head coach, and that’s where the real good news starts.
Over the past day, a lot of national basketball writers have said that Maryland is among the top 10-15 jobs in the country, due to their location, tradition, and fanbase, among other qualities. That came as a surprise to me, but after hearing their reasoning, it’s hard to disagree with them. At the original announcement of Gary’s retirement, I was thinking the Terps would hire an up-and-coming mid-major coach, with a ceiling of Shaka Smart. The names being thrown around now are much, much bigger.
More after the jump.
The names being tossed around the most are Jamie Dixon of Pitt, Jay Wright of Villanova, Sean Miller of Arizona, and Mike Brey of Notre Dame. All are excellent coaches who have a lot of success at their current schools. My personal favorite is Miller, although honestly any of these guys would just be a fantastic hire. People have been saying if Brey was offered the job, he would take it, but I imagine they’ll be talking to all four of these guys to see who the best hire would be.
A native of Bethesda, Brey was an assistant coach at DeMatha from 1982-87 before moving on to Duke as an assistant. In 1995 he was hired as the head coach of Delaware, where he spent six years before heading over to Notre Dame. In his career at both schools as a head coach, he has a 337-172 record and has made the NCAA Tournament four of the past five years. He has only advanced past the second round once in his career, however, a Sweet Sixteen trip in 2003.
Here are some quotes from people around college basketball.
"“I love Gary,” Krzyzewski said, according to the Associated Press. “What he has done for Maryland and for college basketball is remarkable. He is one of the great coaches of all time. He is a coaches’ coach and an ultimate competitor. His retirement is a big loss for the ACC and for college basketball.”"
"It is difficult to quarrel with the Naismith Hall of Fame on its incredible collection of basketball icons. It has, however, made one glaring omission: Maryland’s Gary Williams.By any reasonable measure, Williams is a Hall of Famer, and most knowledgeable basketball observers agree it is just a matter of time before he is inducted. The truth is, he should already be in there."
"Surprised by the news Gary Williams is stepping down – He brought such passion to every possession – Will be missed big time – HOF BABY!"
From the bottom of our hearts at Terrapin Station, Gary, thank you. You’ve brought so much to this university and you will be sorely missed on the sidelines. We’ll always have 2002.