It was a bad week to be a D.C. sports fan. First, the Capitals were swept out of the postseason, adding another chapter to their history of postseason disappointments. Then, the unexpected happened at College Park, as Gary Williams retired. Now, the search is on for the guy who will replace the legend.
Give Gary his Due
Gary Williams pulled his alma mater out of the abyss of college basketball and led them to a NCAA Championship. Someday soon, the coach who loved to play the role of underdog should get his due in Springfield, Mass in the Basketball Hall of Fame. It was not always a fairy tale for Williams at Maryland, and I'm not just talking about the Debbie Yow stuff.
For several years, a small but LOUD faction of Maryland Fans have thought the program could and should be doing better in recruiting. Williams was not a McDonald's All-America guy and did not do well in recruiting the best of the best in the D.C. and Baltimore Area. Some would even suggest the program would be in a better place when the greatest coach in the history of the University was no longer there. To them, I say: be careful what you wish for.
The mourning period did not last long at Maryland. It didn't take long after Williams' farewell press conference for athletic director Kevin Anderson to jump on a plane and look for a new coach. So far, he's had plenty of conversations with coaches, but none have accepted the job. Arizona's Sean Miller said no. So did Notre Dame's Mike Brey, as well as Brad Stevens at Butler, Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon and Villanova's Jay Wright. So now what for the Terps search? Anderson shared this with the Washington Post
"We’re just not going to panic and pick somebody who might not be the best fit for Maryland. We’re going to look at the whole person. Here’s what I’m looking for: Someone with most, if not all, of the qualities Gary Williams possessed."
Anderson's next move may define the program for years to come.
Important Hire For ACC Too
Not only is this an important hire for Maryland Basketball, but also for the ACC. There have been three coaches brought into the conference already this offseason at Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and Miami. The respective schools found their coaches in the Atlantic 10, ESPN (via the SEC), and CAA. Not exactly what you would expect from a conference with the history of the ACC. This has not gone unnoticed by those in the heart of the conference, like longtime ACC reporter Brett Friedlander.
And that’s what makes this the most important hire for the ACC since Roy Williams was lured back to North Carolina in 2003.League officials can talk all they like about history, tradition and all the national championships their teams (or at least two of them) have won in recent years. But the cold, hard fact of the matter is that after decades of being the undisputed king of college basketball, several other conferences have now caught up with and – in the case of the Big East – surpassed ACC in national prominence.
So good luck Kevin Anderson. The ENTIRE ACC is counting on you.
Extreme Franchise Makeover: Capitals Edition? (Not likely)
The Capitals got a big assist from Williams' surprise retirement this week in deflecting the attention away from another tragic chapter in their history of postseason disappointment. However, now that the Terps have moved onto the coaching search, and Capitals players are several days into tee times or the World Championships, it is time to look at what's next for the Captials.
First and question is will Bruce Boudreau be brought back? The coach is always the first guy to take the blame because it is easier to replace him than the entire roster. Boudreau oversaw a major style change and it worked for a round. You know the argument: they need a new voice in the room, etc. The argument for staying the course coaching-wise is never sexy, but it can work. At least it has for the Boston Bruins, who fought off the temptation of firing coach Claude Julian the past several seasons and are finally in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The other feeling after disappointing playoff performances is to blow up the team. It is not a great year for free agents, and since the Jaromir Jagr years, that is not the Capitals' way. General Manager George McPhee sounds like he is happy with his roster's makeup.
"Well, unfortunately, the playoffs don't go well for 15 of the 16 teams that get there. We've won four consecutive division titles, we've won the conference twice, we've won the Presidents' Trophy," McPhee said. "We'll just keep putting good teams on the ice and hope that one of these years we kick the door down in the playoffs."
McPhee will take his time in assessing the situation and try to make the tactical decision, not the emotional one, as the franchise moves forward.
Hollis Thompson comes to his Senses
Great news for the Hoyas' program: Hollis Thompson is taking his talents back to the hilltop and returning for his junior season. Thompson averaged 8 points and 4 rebonds per game as a sophomore coming off the bench. Next year, he, along with Jason Clark, will need to step up his game as the Hoyas try overcome the losses the Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Julian Vaughn.