FRIENDLY FIRE Part 2
Branch: How has the game changed since 2002, when you won your national championship?
Williams: There is a bigger dominance of guards in college basketball now. You see teams using four guards, and you know some of the guys are 6’5’’ or whatever but they’re not afraid to play. Villanova is a good example; they’ll use four or five guards. The officiating has [changed too]; the hand-checking rule is called very closely. There’s still a lot of bumping in the post so it’s a lot easier to dribble-penetrate then maybe score out of the post now. So the game keeps changing and you have to stay with it and adjust.
Branch: As the third winningest active ACC coach, have you and the Terps gotten your fair due or praise?
Williams: Probably not, but that’s going to be anyone else in the league. If you ask the average basketball fan to name two of the top five programs in the last 50 years they’re probably going to say North Carolina and Duke. We’ve been able to compete with Carolina and Duke on the court for the last four or five years, and we’ve had some success there. Hopefully we can continue to do that.
Branch: You are 62 years old now. How much longer do you plan to coach?
Williams: For as long as I’m healthy … I care too much about this place. This is where I went to school. I care too much about the players not to give them everything I have. If I ever see myself [not giving 100 percent], I will have to cut back and it would be time to go. But as long as the health stays there, I’ll coach.
Branch: Your 2008-2009 team is led by Greivis Vasquez. How’s this year’s team going to be?
Williams: I think we’re strong in the backcourt. Greivis was Second Team All ACC as a sophomore and you know how tough that is. I think he can have an outstanding year; he should be one of the best guards in ACC. Junior Eric Hayes started on and off for two years. Greivis and Eric are roommates together. Landon Milbourne started at the 3 spot for us; he really has experience now going into his junior year. We have one senior in Dave Neal and the big thing for us will be if our big guys can come through. That’s going to really determine how successful we can be.
Branch: The Old Spice Classic has got some powerhouse teams—Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Gonzaga, Georgetown. What do you expect from this tournament?
Williams: Well, you find out in November how good you are. We open with Michigan State. Our bracket [includes] Gonzaga and Oklahoma State. The Gonzaga game will be against a very good team and on the other side you have Georgetown and Tennessee so it’s going to be tough. At the same time, you have to play games along the way to prepare yourself for the ACC regular season league games.