Things looked much better in Garyland on Tuesday, after Debbie Yow's statement of support filled the void left dangerously open in the war of words between her head basketball coach and her athletic department.
Then came yesterday. We're right back where we started.
Not with another internal feud gone external, thank goodness - but with another scorching on Tobacco Road, this time by North Carolina, the other program against which Maryland had yearned to measure itself, then succeeded in doing so, during the glory days of Gary Williams' tenure.
This season, Maryland can't see Duke or North Carolina with the Hubble telescope. That was the problem long before the testiness between Williams and Kathy Worthington, and it's still the problem. That, and the fruits of the recruiting. The spanking at Duke two Saturdays ago laid that bare, and it is what triggered the whole soap opera, which in turn triggered what Yow termed the "crazy rumors" about Williams' future.
Those, in turn, triggered Yow's sitdown in front of the cameras and reporters Monday, next to Williams, wearing their it's-all-good masks and shaking hands with great sincerity and warmth.
Upon returning from the grim duties of helping bury her sister, Yow clearly put the spat on the top of her agenda, and it was as much on time as anyone could ask. Even timing it from her arrival back in College Park, the campus couldn't have stayed encased in a cone of silence any longer. Williams had already vowed to limit his comments to the games themselves. The walls had gone up around the rest of the department.
You might not be sold on Yow's words of support. You might not be convinced about how they "communicate regularly," specifically whether their interactions go anything like the ones with Worthington last week. Doesn't matter. She said what had to be said. The incident won't be forgotten or ignored the rest of the season, but every game won't be saturated in speculation connected to it.
Still ... there is the rest of the season. The gloomy prospects for the rest of the season.
Halfway through the conference season, the Terps are 3-5, with no road wins (they play at Georgia Tech on Sunday night), with one more game each against the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, with the kind of run that would get them into the NCAA tournament discussion not seeming remotely in their reach. Two years ago, one could see that version of the Terps making such a run. It's a lot harder to see this one doing it.
The first post-brouhaha game, the home win over Miami, had offered encouragement. It was quintessential post-championship Williams, the way he got the players prepared, motivated and focused, then coached his brains out from the moment he entered Comcast Center that night until the final buzzer. The lineup change, starting Sean Mosley, worked perfectly. The tweaked defensive scheme messed with the Hurricanes just enough. The Terps did what they nearly always do when their backs are against the wall. Afterward, Williams took no credit for any of it.
If only a shred of that had carried over to the North Carolina game.
Then again, it sort of did. As against Duke, the Terps did their best. Their best has no chance against Duke's and North Carolina's best, and that is what started the ball rolling originally.
They don't have enough good players. Why?
We saw what happened last time Williams was asked that question. So, this time, let's not go there.
Listen to David Steele on Fridays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).
MARYLAND (14-8, 3-5)
@GA. TECH (10-10, 1-6)
Sunday, 7:30 p.m.
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