Gary Williams' retirement is a big story in large part because he affected the lives of so many college basketball players in his 22 years there. Now, in the wake of his retirement, many of those players are recalling some of their favorite Gary Williams stories.
Duane Simpkins has one that seems so quintessential Gary. During a segment on CSN's Washington Post Live with Ivan Carter, Simpkins remembered a time when Williams' intensity was more jarring that he could have possibly imagined.
"I was a freshman, and our very first game on the road was against West Virginia, which was a very hostile place to play. We lost the game, and we're on the plane ride coming home. It's not a long plane ride. I'm half asleep, and Johnny Rhodes is next to me. Johnny's just nudging me and nudging me."
"And I finally look up, and I was like, 'What, man?' And he was like: 'Coach Williams is sitting up on the plane, just looking at us, staring at us. 'That's right, you guys. Just go into your own little world. You're upset. Just keep your little headphones on and stay in your own little world.'"
"I went home and called my dad, and I was like, 'Man, I don't know if I can do this. This guy's crazy!'"
Simpkins, of course, played for Williams for four years, and he turned out OK. Laron Profit, meanwhile, remembers how he used to hear Williams' complaints about Simpkins while on the bench.
"My freshman year, when I wasn't playing a lot, he would always scream and yell [to the bench]. 'Duane, you got to get back!' But he'd be talking to us. They would come off the court, and he'd be like 'Alright, good job guys!' I was always like, 'But you were just cussing him out!' I guess he didn't want to hurt their confidence. We'd hear it, then they'd come off the court and turn into Mr. Nice Guy."