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Joe Smith on Gary Williams


Terps beat top-10 UNC. (By Ted Mathias - AP Photo)

As I do every Tuesday morning, I'm chatting at 11. Submit your too-hot-for-the-comments questions right here. Suggested topics: Frozen Four recommendations, Rob Dibble reviews, Cavs-Wizards anticipation, first-round Caps playoff ideas, existential angst.

Having been accused of having a Gary Williams obsession, I decided I'd ignore his appearance on Washington Post Live yesterday. But, as has been oft-noted, you can't ignore that the Terps were the only team in the country to defeat both national championship game participants this season, and were one of only two teams to knock off UNC in three months. The season looks better and better in retrospect.

So, needing some sort of morning-after Terps content, especially after being peppered with questions about Eric Prisbell while speaking to a Maryland seminar last night, I present a few thoughts from Joe Smith. When he was here last week with the Cavs, I asked him whether he thought this year's barrage of criticism about you-know-who was unfair.

"I think it was," Smith said. "All colleges go through that. It was just a tough situation for [Gary] this year, but I don't think that's a reason for him to get fired or anything like that."

The one thing he kept repeating throughout our brief chat was that virtually every big-time program has its valleys, and its moments of intense scrutiny.

"I mean, every college goes through periods like this," he said at one point. "And unfortunately, it was this year for Gary. The thing about it is, he kept the team together and kept them fighting, so you can only appreciate it. I mean, talent-wise, I don't know if we really had a lot of talent to compete with the top echelon teams, but he was able to get them motivated and have them playing hard throughout the year."

Smith said he hasn't been in touch with Gary for a few years, but that he still keeps "a good eye" on the Terps and follows their results. He said that part of what makes Gary a good coach is that he knows how to motivate different players with different tactics, and that it's not all about yelling. I asked whether the national championship should buy Gary a lifetime pass, but Smith said he looked at it somewhat differently.

"I think he's earned the right to stay because he's a good coach," he said. "He's a good coach. All year long, he had these guys playing hard and playing probably a little bit over their heads at times. That's more of a reason to stay than winning a championship a few years ago."

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 7, 2009; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  College Basketball , Terps  
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