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Fourth and Long

When Maryland announced last week that Gary Williams was stepping down as their Head Men’s Basketball Coach after 22 years, I did what I imagine most college basketball fans did. I reflected back for a few minutes on what a tremendous tenure Williams had in Maryland and then began speculating as to who Maryland would choose to replace him.

By now you may have heard that Maryland did in fact choose the man they wanted to lead the Terrapin program into the future, however he was unwilling to leave the University of Arizona. The next logical choice was Jamie Dixon at Pitt but it seems he had no interest in coaching against the likes of Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski every year either.

In the end, University of Maryland Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson lured Mark Turgeon away from Texas A&M. While this may seem disappointing to many Maryland fans, I think it may wind up being a blessing in disguise.

We’ll go more into that in a minute, but before I begin rambling on about what I like and don’t like about the recent hire I want to spend a few moments like I did in the beginning -reflecting on the career of Gary Williams.

At the point of retirement, Gary Williams was the fifth winningest active coach in the country and the third winningest coach all-time in the ACC. In a conference so rich in basketball history, to trail only a legend like Dean Smith and the above-mentioned Krzyzewski is quite an accomplishment.

While Williams will remain at Maryland in the capacity of Special Assistant to the Athletics Director, he leaves their basketball program as its winningest coach of all time.

His teams’ unexpected run through the 2002 NCAA Tournament en route to a National Championship will continue to be the crown jewel in his coaching career and should ensure his lore around College Park will remain grandiose and impressive.

The task of taking over the Terrapins basketball program falls squarely on the shoulders of two-time and reigning Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year Mark Turgeon.

Turgeon leaves College Station (leaves College Station for College Park…weird) after four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a 97-40 record.

Turgeon’s success with the Aggies was not a fluke and while Jamie Dixon from Pitt may have been the ideal choice for the job at Maryland it would not surprise me if Turgeon winds up having more success in College Park than Dixon would have. This of course is all speculation and we will never know but trust me, in the words of Ron Burgandy, “sixty percent of the time I am right every time.”

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publishing. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at dave@gate811.net.