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Sports Terps

When Williams almost smiled

There is nothing in sports more entertaining than watching Gary Williams work the sideline at a big game.

This one fit the bill: Maryland against Duke on a cold March evening, first place in the ACC on the line, a full house at Comcast Center ready to explode in anticipation.

The long-time Terps coach stalked out of the tunnel for the pre-game introductions like a middleweight fighter, shoulders hunched forward, arms dangling stiffly at his sides, familiar scowl firmly in place.

Then he pumped his fist -- his trademark move -- at the howling student section and went to work.

The next two hours were vintage Gary. Which is to say he was in full whacko mode, putting his heart and soul into every dribble and dunk and loose ball, practically willing his team to beat the hated Dukies and their calm, iconic coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

Oh, what a performance this was.

Williams screamed at his players and cajoled them with curse words. He raged at the referees and held his head in disbelief when calls went against him. He squatted in front of the Maryland bench, shot to his feet, stomped the floor, pirouetted and jabbed his hands in the air until he was a sweaty mess, like a man who'd just been thrown into a pool wearing an expensive suit.

Final score: Maryland 79, Duke 72. At the buzzer, the jubilant students mobbed the floor, engulfing Williams and his players in a sea of red Terrapin T-shirts.

And that's when I thought I saw it.

In the joyful chaos that surrounded him, something seemed to come over Gary. It was almost imperceptible at first, a twitch of a facial muscle, a seam in the jaw-line, an unfamiliar movement of his lips.

I thought he almost smiled.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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