Gary Williams Discusses Greivis's Predictions
"I'm going to go with that we're going to win the ACC regular-season title and the league tournament," Greivis Vasquez told Fox Sports's Jeff Goodman last week, when
baited into asked for a 2010 prediction. "The league is so open and I have a good feeling about it."
That's another A+ quote from the Terps guard, who without a doubt ranks in the Top 5 of go-to quote athletes in this area. Goodman's conclusion was that Greivis "embodies what college basketball is all about," and I agree with every key on my keyboard.
But you can see where some coaches might not want their star players predicting ACC regular season and tourney titles in early July, so when I saw Gary Williams during his Comcast SportsNet work at the Tiger Tourney, I asked him if he heard Greivis's latest.
"I'm afraid," he said. "Go ahead."
I told him. He didn't blink.
"I like that," Williams said. "So what that he said it? if you don't believe you can do that, you'll never do it. In other words, when we got to the Final Four in 2001, we had most of those guys back, and so we believed we could win the national championship the following year. And we had credibility to that, we did. But we weren't the only team, I'm sure, that felt that way, or were good enough to win the national championship.
"And unless you believe you're good enough, you can't win it. I'm sure the Duke players feel that way, the North Carolina players feel that way this year. Maybe they didn't say it to a [reporter], and it seems like around here, whenever something's said, boom, it explodes."
Well, we do like to write about things that are said around here, that's for sure. I mentioned some of this last week, but the Terps coach said again how much different coach-player relations are now than when he was a player.
"I had a very disciplined coach, Coach [Bud] Millikan, who played for Hank Iba, and it was 'Coach Millikan, Yes sir!' That's about all you said to your coach. I think it's better today. I think you have a better back-and-forth with your players, you feel closer to your players than my coach felt to his players. It's just a different time....
"We had media, but it just wasn't as many. Back then, you had the Washington Star, The Post, the Baltimore Sun, but just a little article about the game, that was it. Today it's really tough on players like Greivis. He's a very emotional person, a very emotional player, and he wears his heart on his sleeve. And a lot of time he says the truth, and everybody says, 'You're wrong for saying it.' Well, wait a minute, that was the truth. A lot of times today you can't say the truth. I know myself at press conferences, I don't always say what I feel after a game because you can't. You'd get criticized if you said what you thought."
And so, double ACC title predictions in July?
"I don't mind that at all," Williams said. "By the end of the year we were playing at a good enough level, beating North Carolina, Wake Forest, California. We have most of those guys back. We lose one player--a good player, Dave Neal--off the team, but we only lose one player. So why not believe that?"
(I also asked Williams whether he ever communicates with his star guard in other languages; "No, but he yells at me in Spanish once in a while," the coach said. He was joking. He actually doesn't speak too much Spanish, although his daughter is an eighth-grade Spanish teacher.)
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