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Great Coaches Gather in Kansas City

It's Eric again. One of the reasons I am so excited about this Kansas City sub-regional is because of all the great coaches that will be there. Gary Williams vs. Mike Montgomery in a first-round game? That’s pretty good. John Beilein? John Calipari’s reputation as a strong recruiter overshadows his coaching. And the final two minutes of last year’s national title game didn’t help either. But I think he is an underrated coach.

Anyway, when we ask who is the best coach in KC, I assume everyone here will pick Gary. And that’s a fine choice. So let me take Gary out of the equation. Who else do you really like from a coaching perspective? Some good choices. Have at it.

By Eric Prisbell  |  March 16, 2009; 9:05 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Terps Quickly Turn Attention Toward Cal


Wow, who would have thought a month ago Eric and Steve would be mentioning Gary as a great coach... hope that 10,000 word expose about Georgetown's collapse and loss of two recruits last week (because of the coach) is coming soon-

Glad Gary shoved it right up all the doubters a$$ this week. Go Terps!

Posted by: S2DU | March 16, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I believe we wrote in the series that he is a great coach. That is beyond dispute. The series was on his recruiting struggles. He has not recruited well, and we explained why in about 11,000 words or so. A lot of fans wanted a different coach in here next season. Frank Haith. Jay Wright. Jeff Capel. Mike Brey. Fans would tell me all their favorites. As I have said for several months, you might be able to get a better recruiter in here, I do not believe you can get a better coach in here.

Posted by: Eric Prisbell | March 16, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

The series of "articles" could have been written in 99% of all college towns in America. Hindsight is always 20/20. Then to try an out MD again over the UA/Lance relationship and not focus on the true dirt in college athletics was another debacle. No university is bullet proof, all you did was cause fake controversies to sell papers and alienate yourself from the program. You can hide behind journalistic integrity all you want, but the stories were both hyperbolic and unjust.

Posted by: skinsfan1977 | March 16, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Frank Haith. Jay Wright. Jeff Capel. Mike Brey.

These coaches are all laughable compared to Gary. That is right....LAUGHABLE. Even recruiting they don't stack up.

And please, someone bring up Jay Wright and Scottie Reynolds again. Fact is, Vasquez was ranked 30 spots ahead of Reynolds in 06 and Hayes was ranked 6 spots ahead. So frankly, in 06, Gary out recruited Wright.

Posted by: fushezzi | March 16, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse


Fair point, I guess... as a Terps fan, perhaps I saw the article differently. I thought the timing was completely unfair as his job for 2009 was only half done. I appreciate YOU responding to me however.

To my point about fairness, how is the announcement last week that DeShonte Riley is backing out of his G'Town commitment ("because of the lack of relationship with the coach") not even mentioned in the paper?

Once again, full disclosure as a MD fan, but the bias seems ridiculous. MD had no expectations for this season, yet got a team with little talent to the big dance, whereas the G'Town team with final four aspirations ends up 2 games over .500 and with one mediocre recruit for 2009 after losing their prize prospect.

I am curious as to your response-

Posted by: S2DU | March 16, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Good points. But at the time, no national title team in recent history had fallen so fast. That's why we wrote it. I liked how the stories turned out. And I would do stories like those about any college team I was covering. I have no agenda against Maryland. I plan to do a lot of coverage about AAU and other top college programs this summer.

Posted by: Eric Prisbell | March 16, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Interesting. I think there were lots of quiet supporters of our stories because I received many, many positive emails about the stories from fans. Criticism as well, and I welcome it. I have said before, if we are going to shine a light on the program, then it is only fair for readers to shine a light on our reporting methods and story ideas, etc. I believe strongly in what we did and why we did it.

As for other teams, I do plan to do extensive coverage of AAU and other top programs this spring and summer. I have a specific plan for that in my mind.

Posted by: Eric Prisbell | March 16, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse


I hope the rest of your readers are going to hold you to that: I expect the same "hard hitting" story about the state of the Georgetown program as well(including their lackluster recruiting class). I look forward to that piece. I wish you had the same respect for Maryland that you have for the other local teams: waiting until the season is over before making judgments on the program. (Seems like Gary must have some talent, he's in the NCAAs and the Hoyas are NIT bound, just saying....)

But you failed to answer my question: why was there NO mention whatsoever about Georgetown's recruit DaShonte Riley de-committing because of the coach? Every move, positive and negative, is mentioned about L. Stevenson and his recruitment.

Posted by: S2DU | March 16, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Eric, the "no national champion in the last 17 years has fallen so fast" line that you have used repeatedly is quite misleading.

For starters, we're only talking about a handful of teams here--lot of repeat winners in the last 17 years (Md was almost one of them, considering the Terps had a 22 pt lead on Duke in the final four the year before we won the national championship).

Secondly, it's not fair to include teams that won after MD did in 02, since not enough time has passed to know whether they will "fall" as fast as MD. For instance, Florida has now missed the tournament 2 consecutive years....if they miss again next year that's 3 consecutive years...and MD has not missed 3 consecutive since winning the title.

Thirdly, Connecticut did not even make the NIT a few years ago...MD has never been in any danger of missing the NIT since winning the title.

Forth, one could easily argue that Arkansas fell faster than MD. They have had multiple losing seasons since winning the title. How many losing seasons has MD ever had under Gary? Zero.

Last but not least, North Carolina went 8-20 in 2002, and 15-17 a year later. 20 losses and 15 losses in back to back years? That's falling a hell of a lot further than MD ever "fell." MD has had at least 19 wins in 14 consecutive years. So let's keep things in perspective here.

By continuing to reference the 17 year line, you are misleading your readers.

Posted by: Barno1 | March 16, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I attempted to find holes in Barno's post but don't seem to see any. All points seem valid and substantiated.

Posted by: fushezzi | March 16, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

First, I am a long time Terps basketball fan, since I was a kid rooting for the Al King / Buck Williams teams circa 1979, through to going to school there and celebrating the 02 championship as an alumnus.

I thought the three-part series on Gary Williams and recruiting was one of the best pieces of sports journalism I came across this winter.

The article brought to light for me why Maryland has had such difficulty in recruiting quality players in the past five years, something I just did not understand given their success in 02, and which I was really frustrated over. I felt the article also exposed the whole AAU world, of which I previously knew nothing. As a result of the article, my perception of Gary Williams changed dramatically. I had been a big nay sayer in early January - but after reading the article, I saw part of the difficulty was due to his toeing the line on the whole AAU thing. I have a huge respect for that.

THEN, the Terps started to play well together as a team. And I realized how good a coach Williams is, succeeding against programs with significantly superior talent game in game out. Don't you *love* college hoops??

In sum, I thought the article was balanced and fair, and it actually changed my perception of Williams positively.

Re the upcoming game against Cal: Ironically, this a battle between my two alma maters: Mike Montgomery is a good coach, but I think Gary will have something in store for him. I remember the 02 regional final against Stanford. You could argue Stanford should have won. But they didn't... I'll be rooting for the Terps on Thursday and I think they'll get to the second round.

Posted by: mwr68 | March 16, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

This will probably be my only post. Although I live in DC I must go to the Baltimore Sun for my Terp inside info. It seems that the two gentleman that wrote the 3 part series about Gary Williams take pride in stirring up descent among the fans and the athletic department. Here is what they really did, if only by accident.

They put on display Gary's ability to coach and motivate his players beyond any reasonable expectation.

They brought to light Gary's ability to turn his kids into young men with strong character and resolve. We never read of, or heard these young men ever complain that the team had a lack of an established post player, because Gary never complained. You never heard or read of any complaints about the Post's writers continued rants about their lack of talent. These players just went out and worked extremely hard, and proved these writers to be frauds. Most of this current team will not make their living playing basketball, but the lessons of this season they learned from Gary, will give them a great send off for the rest of their lives.

As Terp fans we have to decide what is really important. Do we want to root for a team that our university has built by paying off street agents and AAU coaches, or can we be proud of a body of work achieved by a team built with integrity.

Ultimately, in part due to this season, high school stars and their parents may recognize, that a great coach who plays by the rules, is what's best for their future.

Posted by: mikef2 | March 16, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

To mwr68:
My sentiments exactly. I believe there are more of us out there who actually have more respect for Gary after reading the Prisbell/Yanda articles.

To Barno1:
Keep up the posts. You are usually funny and, on occasion, you make a point of which I was unaware. Your recent rebuttal about "no team has fallen faster" for example was a very good counterpoint.

To Petecard:
Keep up the posts. I do not think your point of view is unreasonable and you provide a good counterpoint to Barno1. Your criticisms of Gary are valid. I would like to here your solutions to replace Gary. We certainly don't want someone like Bob Huggins. Jay Wright? A good coach who doesn't recruit or coach big men. Jeff Capel? Maybe. After Kay Worthington stabbed Gary in the back and Debbie Yow didn't do anything about it, do you really think that a Jay Wright or Jeff Capel is going to jump right into a job that gets questionable support from its own athletic department?

While Gary's recruiting could be improved and is worthy of criticism, I think firing Gary would cause more problems than this course of action would solve.

Also, I think recruiting is on the upswing since his assisitant coaching staff has been stable for a few years. I beleive the chief cause of the recruiting problems was the turnover in staff that Gary experienced after the NC year of 2002.

Petecard, I look forward to your comments.

Posted by: larry31 | March 16, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Let me say that there were plenty of MD fans concerned, but the difference between a writer and a fan is that fans react emotionally, especially after years of following the program. the one thing about Eric's writing is that it's done sometimes in haste to make a point, and that is where he fails as a BEAT WRITER.

I recall during the football season when after a terps victory, Eric declared how wrong the terp fans were over the QB issue and some of the early season struggles. This was perhaps 4 games into the season. Well, needless to say that the terps continued on with their inconsistency and the concerns proved to be valid, also proving how wrong Eric was.

the same holds true for writing a "12-part" piece as Kornhesier joked in the middle of the season on the state of the program. Your lack of experience with Gary's resiliency and the program was exposed in your haste to jump on what you thought was a hot topic. your job is to provide insight on the program's season, not make final analysis on Gary and the program mid-season. you're a beat writer, start writing like one.

the difference between a fan and a writer is immeasurable, including the fact that the writer puts it out there for everyone to read. think twice about what you're writing and stop comparing your intentions and poor judgements to the emotions of the high majority of the fans. the recruiting concern was well in place LONG before Gary won the titles...the fans react but they no better than you.

You've been defending your work for about 4 weeks now, perhaps you need to re-evaluate what the purpose of your writing is? You're a beat writer, not an investigator.

Posted by: minhle1 | March 16, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

larry31, thanks for your comments.

My issues with Gary are totally related to the talent (lack of) that he recruits. He is a great coach in most other respects, perhaps with the exception of his antics with his bench players during the game.

The problem is, when people raise these issues they get attacked. And it gets personal.

There are great coaches coming to the fore every year and Maryland should be a destination school for most of them (unlike football).

I am not going to pick out specific people now, but if you look at the mid-majors there are often up and coming coaches, building their resumes and looking for their chance to build a career at a place like Maryland. Only as an example, this year one hot coach is the VCU coach. I don't know enough about him, but there are probably 20 coaches we should be watching now to identify the right person at the right time. Bill Self was that guy just a few years ago.

The elite programs have very good coaches who are great recruiters and driven to succeed year in and year out. Older coaches often don't have the drive to recruit on a personal level, but they still get the players because of their reputations and their assistants. That isn't and hasn't been happening at Maryland.

So, if we want an elite program, and our's is not, then we have to have a coach that delivers it.

Gary has delivered it in the past. But right now and for some time we have been mediocre.

Now I will get blasted for this...but I am NOT saying we should fire Gary. I am saying we should hold him accountable and not give him tenure. That may well be too late.

Just watch the garbage comments that this post brings....

Posted by: petecard | March 16, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

To Minhle1. No, I am not the Maryland basketball beat writer. And I have done investigative work for nine years. The recruiting series was the right story to do at the right time. And we did it right. Many fans liked the series, and many said it actually painted Gary in a good light because it should that he would not bend or break the rules to get players. That is one of the things I wanted to point out in the series. I appreciate your comments. But I respectfully disagree.

Posted by: Eric Prisbell | March 16, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

WOW! Everyone's a a journalism expert these days. Here are some facts to chew on:

Bias - It is not bias if a reporter chooses to write about one topic over the topic that you preferred that they write about; similarly, just because a good story was written about the Maryland program does not mean that each beat reporter must go out to every local university and write the same story - FACT: Maryland basketball is more popular than any of the other local programs, so the story addressed the most popular program in the area.

FACT: Barno makes a good point about statistics, but if we throw out the "fallen so far, so fast" meme, you still MUST look at the inconsistency within each season that the Maryland program has encountered; they lose games they shouldn't, play well against top teams, and often don't have the ability to finish in important games.

The article was informative, interesting, well researched and timely. Many fans were clamoring for Gary's head, and if I, with limited basketball knowledge, was puzzled by Gary's recruting, many others must have been as well. The article was informative, and well balanced, WITHOUT bias.

Why can't folks accept good journalism for what it is? The Post ran a good story, an in-depth story, which is rare itself these days, and covered information that many wanted to know about it. Why would you have a problem with that?

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | March 16, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Eric, perhaps your job description is a little cloudy because you HAVE been writing Terp stories for a period of time and you DO cover the terps in both articles, blogs and whatever other coverage there is to provide. Yanda might have the title, but you've covered the terps as a beat writer.

If you're an investigative reporter, what are your other pieces to date?

the piece was not at the right time because it's an assessment piece to reflect on what went wrong. Clearly you overstepped the timing because the season is long and it doesn't always goes in one direction. if the program and team had failed at the end of year and personnel was an issue, then yes, it's understandable...but as I have stated, recruiting has been an issue in some people's minds long before you came along, and Gary's programs have traditionally overcome those concerns.

Posted by: minhle1 | March 16, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

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