By Don Markus
1:59 PM EST, January 26, 2012
Longtime coach Gary Williams spoke with the media after Wednesday's court-naming ceremony at Comcast Center.
Here's what he had to say.
Williams' opening remarks:
"It's been a great ride. A lot of great people, as I said out there. Assistant coaches, players. It's always about the players. That determines your success. Not just their ability, but the character that they show. I've been proud to coach some really great people here at the University of Maryland, and people I'll be friends with the rest of my life."
How did it feel to give the fist pump one last time?
"It felt good. I had my coat button. I don't usually do that before the game. I got through it. Nah, it was great, it was great to do it one more time. That's the last time."
How did the court look to you?
"It looked great. It's something that I hope everyone feels a part of that's ever been connected with basketball at the University of Maryland."
What it's like to be back in Comcast Center on game night?
"It's different. The things you miss are the practices, that's the main thing."
Did it take anything away that Lefty Driesell said that the court should not have been named for anyone?
"That's not my concern. My concern is this university, this basketball program, Mark Turgeon being able to carry out what he's here to do. That's my work now. That's my goal to have that happen."
Have you had any conversations with the team?
"I've stayed away pretty much. I've talked to Mark a couple of times, especially when he got here, just about the school, the area, stay off the Beltway."
The fact that's it's Duke here tonight, does that make it special for you?
"The Duke game is always special. It's been special probably after about five years, say about '94, where we could compete against them. It wasn't special getting hammered by 25 all the time. Once we got good enough to play them, that's when it became special. A special relationship with Coach Krzyzewski. We probably played close to 50 times over the years. We played four times in 2001. Obviously, I have the utmost respect for the way his teams play. At the same time, you get two good teams trying to beat each other, that's when they beome great basketball games."
Have you heard from any of the other coaches?
"Monday night, I heard from Tom Izzo, Rick Barnes, Fran Dunphy, Mike Krzyzewski, at the dinner we had."
Did you talk with Juan Dixon?
"He's got his little boy here. I already told him [Dixon's 3-year-old] that the reason he [Dixon] scored all those points was because of me. The kid looked at me like I was nuts, like Juan used to."
Does he usually wear his championship ring?
"I only bring it out for big events. It doesn't get any bigger than this."
Did you hear from Steve Blake or Greivis Vasquez?
"He [Vasquez] did a video, and Steve Blake did a video, too. Nobody thought Blake would ever play in the NBA, and there were a lot of people who didn't feel Vasquez was good enough to play. I never coached a player that took more criticism than Greivis did, so it was great to see the way his career ended up, graduating in four years, things like that."
How big a role has Steve Bisciotti played in your career?
"Steve's my friend. He was here for the dinner Monday. He's given the university support. We were friends before I even knew that he was going to buy the Ravens. We got to know each because he came to the games. That's never been about me in terms of what Steve does for the university. That was in place before I got here. He's been tremendous for me in terms of a good place to bounce ideas off of. You need that as you go through the season."
Has watching the team been difficult?
"I haven't watched a whole lot, probably on purpose. After this year, I think it will be fine. But I won't come to the games."
Does tonight bring back memories of past games?
"I remember Greivis' game against North Carolina when he scored the first 16 points of the game for us and they were No. 1 in the country. Beating Duke here to tie for the ACC regular-season championship two years certainly was a big deal. I thought of different players. It always comes back to the players. No matter what you do as a coach or after you're done coaching, your memory is the players."
What are your memories of Cole Field House?
"Cole was just one of those special places. I'm glad you brought up that question. Cole should have a Maryland Basketball Hall of Fame for a lot of different people who can be involved in that. Hopefully, that will happen in the future. It's one of the ideas I have in the back of my mind that it can happen because there's room up top to do that. Cole was as good a place to play as you could ever have because it was right in the middle of the campus, it was a natural bowl. You walk in there at street level and it was incredible looking down. But it was old. There was asbestos, I saw a lot of animals running in there. Coming in here, it gave every coach a great office, a great place place to recruit with, this place was important. The school uses this quite a bit for graduation. Cole Field House allowed for us to do that. We had the people involved that financially could step up and do that when it came time to build Comcast Center."
What is your attachment to Maryland now?
"I'm still connected to the school working with Kevin Anderson. I watch whenever I come. This is Mark Turgeon's program. This isn't my program anymore. You have to step away. I've been in situations where a coach hung around after he left, and that's not any good. That's not any good at all. I've gone out of my way not be around."
How would you grade your fist pump?
"It was good. I'd give it a B+. That's pretty good. I didn't practice."
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