In this piece, which is basically excerpts from Seth Greenberg’s podcast (which he does with Dan Dakich), Gary Williams talks about his time in the ACC, how hard it was to get Maryland turned around, and his rivalries with Duke and UNC.
What’s amazing is how his resentment still shines through. Here’s an excerpt: “So that was my goal, you know, just get to where we could be competitive against Carolina and Duke. We finally got to the Final Four in 2001 and we’re really good going into 2002 — that’s the year we won the national championship — and I remember getting the preseason rankings and we were still below Carolina and Duke. And that’s the way it was in the ACC. You had to fight everything in terms of how the media perceived your program, how the referees perceived your program, your fans. A lot of fans figured, ‘Well, you could never be as good as Duke or North Carolina.’ All of that went into coaching ... Certainly, Duke and Carolina have been two of the top five programs in the past, you know, 40 years of college basketball.”
What he doesn’t recognize or admit is that when when Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski took over at UNC and Duke respectively, both programs were either way down (in UNC’s case, due to scandal), or in Duke’s case, about to be.
Smith had to overcome Vic Bubas at Duke and later Frank McGuire at South Carolina, not to mention the severe limitations placed on UNC basketball after the McGuire era scandals.
And at Duke, Coach K had Gene Banks, Kenny Dennard and Vince Taylor his first year. After that it was a total rebuild with no guarantee of success.
Both coaches, in other words, started off more or less roughly where Williams did at Maryland. Duke and UNC didn’t improve because the ACC or the ACC media or the referees helped them. No one helped Duke when Virginia laid a 43 point beating on the in the ACC Tournament.
The ACC didn’t tell UNC, NC State or Maryland to make room at the top for Duke. Duke pushed its way to the top against severe competition and odds.
It’s so typically Maryland to complain about how the Terps were treated in the preseason in a year when they won the national championship. Most programs would revel in the victory; Williamson remembers the slights. In that he’s so typically Maryland.
He also complains about being (at the time) the northern most team in the ACC; now the Terrapins are even more alien as an East Coast team in a Midwest conference.