D.C. Coaches Keep Things Real
At least three D.C. coaches addressed a large assemblage of local media yesterday. All were exceptionally quotable. From Gary Williams to Bruce Boudreau to Jim Zorn, we've clearly been blessed with a surplus of speak-first coaches in this town. A certain local sports PR person is always asking me for my Top 5 or Top 10 most bloggable personalities in town; I think the three men listed above might all qualify.
First Boudreau. He was asked after yesterday's game about mistakes from individuals, and his punches were not pulled.
"It just so happens that there's a lot of individuals making a lot of mistakes," Boudreau said. "And short of sitting them out--and I don't know if we're at that stage yet--it's bringing them in, showing them, maybe talking to them in front of the players. Because in the end, your best players have to be your best players."
So is he implying that he's going to chew out Alex Ovechkin in front of his teammates? Well, it wouldn't be the first time. As you might recall, he headed to his first practice intent on chewing out Alex Ovechkin in front of his teammates. From USA Today:
"I was like a referee looking to make a call," Boudreau says. "I thought, 'I've got to get the respect of these guys right off the bat or they're going to think I'm just a minor-league, interim guy.' It would have been really easy for me to yell at David Steckel because I coached him (before). That wouldn't have garnered anything. But to do it to Alex?
"I waited for him to make a mistake and about 20 minutes into practice he did and I said, 'Alex, you can't do that. You have to do this.' And he stayed behind me and said, 'Well, show me on the board.' I was in trouble if he balked. But Alex is very coachable. He always wants to learn."
Next Gary Williams. After yesterday's loss, he seemed to be in a particularly festive mood. One reporter asked something about how the Terps "had a kind of similar situation last year, 18 wins going into the...."
"No, this is different," Williams interrupted. "You're wrong. You're really wrong. This is a different team than last year."
"You're wrong" has become something of a staple at Gary Williams press conferences this year. Another reporter soon asked a lengthy question about whether this do-or-die thing could get mentally and emotionally draining.
"Come to the game Saturday," Williams said. "You'll see."
Oh snap! The final question was a set-up, an easy chance for Gary Williams to talk about the joy of March. "Gary," the reporter asked, "with so much pressure for coaches to get into the NCAA Tournament now, is this still at this point in your career as enjoyable as it was being in this kind of situation, as it might have been?"
If you saw this as an opening to argue the ACC is the best league in the nation, that mid-majors aren't as helpless and innocent as they seem, and that it's harder to make the dance than it's ever been, you've been watching too many Gary Williams press conferences.
"It's always enjoyable," he started, trying to be an optimist. "I remember the first time we were trying to get to the NCAA tournament. I think we finished the regular season 16-12, or something like that, with Joe Smith and Keith Booth as freshmen. And it was great to make it after what we had been through the four previous years in terms of the sanctions and everything. So it's always great.
"I mean, it's funny, they've established this tournament that's become the second-biggest sporting event in the country, and because it's so big now and so important, a lot more teams have really gone after it, to try to put budgets together that can generate the income necessary to play at the top level in the country. That so-called Mid-Major term, and all those things--check the budgets of some of those schools, what they're spending on men's basketball.
"There's more teams now. I don't think there's any doubt that in the last 10 years it's become much more difficult to make the NCAA tournament. You look at Syracuse not making it the last two years for example. Pretty good basketball they had. We played 'em in the NIT. They were good, they were big, but they didn't make it. And when you play in a tough league like ours, the no. 1 league in the country RPI-wise, there is nobody that's backing up in this league. They're all going after the same thing that we're going after here at Maryland."
Right. Then there was Zorn, who, as noted, introduced DeAngelo Hall with a lengthy discussion about NASCAR and players "ramming" each other. Kelli Johnson later asked Hall about the metaphor.
"It was, uh, classic, classic Zorn," Hall said. "So we look forward to those pep talks just like that on Saturday nights before the game. You know, it was classic, classic Coach Zorn. He's so sincere when he's speaking to the players, to the media. You've just got to take everything he says in full stride."
March 4, 2009; 11:14 AM ET
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