Flawed Terps are Williams' main concern

January, 28, 2009

Gary Williams isn't going to talk about his job status.

He's not worrying about anything but his team, which surrendered a 16-point lead Tuesday night to Boston College before losing 76-67 and falling to 13-7 overall, 2-4 in the ACC.

So far, there is no concrete evidence that Williams is in trouble. The harsh truth in these tough economic times is that Williams has three years and $6 million remaining on his contract. Not sure where that money would come from even if someone wanted to buy him out.

Williams is quick to point out the stellar record in his Hall of Fame-like career. He won a national title, has been to multiple Final Fours, is one of the top active coaches in wins overall and in the ACC, and he's certainly caused fits in most years for North Carolina and Duke.

The BC loss certainly compounds things for Williams, who is trying to get the Terps righted since a humbling 41-point loss at Duke on Jan. 24. Save a six-point win over Virginia, Maryland has lost four of its last five games.

Maryland is limited. The Terps beat Michigan State in Orlando, only to get hammered by Gonzaga and Georgetown in consecutive days at Disney. But then, just a few days later, it beat Michigan, right before the Wolverines upset Duke. "I really like this team,'' Williams said Wednesday. "I like our players. I'm going to coach the guys we have.''

Translation: There are no trades to be made. The flawed team is his, and he is enjoying the challenge, even if it hurts. The limitations occur when the Terps get caught in one-on-one situations, either in the post or on the perimeter. Williams said the Terps can defend a set offense, which was what BC was doing in the first half. In the second, the Eagles went more one-on-one, and the Terps suffered. Maryland isn't tall, or terribly talented inside, so the Terps rely heavily on the guard play.

Williams wasn't going to comment on The Baltimore Sun story Wednesday that details a dispute between him and the athletic department administration as to why recruits Gus Gilchrist ( South Florida) and Tyree Evans (Kent State) aren't at Maryland.

Instead, Williams points out to how well signees Jordan Williams (6-foot-10) of Torrington High (Conn.) and James Padgett (6-foot-8) out of Lincoln High (N.Y.) are playing.

"The good news is that Jordan Williams scored 50 points [Tuesday night]; the bad news is that he's not playing for us yet,'' Williams said of Williams' point total in Torrington's 73-70 loss. "I have no complaints with my team,'' Williams said. "We're going to continue to work as hard as we can. We've got Miami on Saturday.''

• The Chicago Tribune reported that DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto has said Jerry Wainwright would be back next season, and he has a contract that runs through 2012. That's fine with Wainwright. He said Wednesday morning that wants to see the rebuilding process through. "There's no middle in the Big East,'' said Wainwright, whose Blue Demons are 0-7 in conference and 8-12 overall.

He's right about the lack of a middle class. There's a clear division between the top 11 and the bottom five.

Wainwright said the key for DePaul is to hold onto sophomore Dar Tucker (18.6 ppg). Schools at the bottom of the Big East can't afford to lose their best talents to the NBA early. DePaul already did two seasons ago when Wilson Chandler left early for the NBA.

Wainwright said his players aren't disrespectful, he's had no issues and that the one main issue right now is winning.

Wainwright is also savvy to the cost of buying him out, even if someone wanted to do that. But he realizes that there is an economic factor in trying to sell tickets. However, to sell tickets, DePaul has to win. So the cycle continues.

"I'm not afraid of losing my job,'' Wainwright said. "We're inconsistent right now. We tend to wear down.''

He said the difference between DePaul and other elite schools in the Big East is players six through 10.

Wainwright also had an interesting observation about the pressure on the bottom teams when they play each other. He said there is more pressure on the players when they play South Florida, Seton Hall, Rutgers or St. John's. Why? Because there is a sense those games are the ones the team can -- and should -- win.

DePaul was picked 15th and right now the Blue Demons are tied for 15th/16th with Rutgers (0-7) in the Big East. So nobody should be surprised as to where the Blue Demons are in the standings.

If there is a team or program that Wainwright wants to model, it's Pitt. He said the Panthers have the right approach: hold onto players for four years, and if lucky, get a local talent that shines. Pitt did that when DeJuan Blair stayed home in Pittsburgh. "We just need that one Chicago guy,'' Wainwright said. "We're doing everything right in order to win.''

• Northeastern coach Bill Coen now has to hold serve at home and hold onto the Colonial Athletic Association lead after the Huskies' impressive three-game sweep of George Mason at home and road wins at Old Dominion and Tuesday night at VCU.

Coen said the Huskies will continue to lean on their difference makers -- seniors Eugene Spates, Matt Smith and Chris Alvarez -- to be the spark. The schedule is advantageous with NU's toughest game remaining at George Mason on Feb. 14. NU (14-6, 9-1) holds a one-game lead and the tiebreaker over VCU (8-2) and Mason (8-2). NU is done playing VCU. NU has only three more road games -- at William & Mary, at Mason and at Drexel -- and plays five more home games.

• An interesting side note to the most recent SEC coaching search. The SEC hasn't gone after high-major coaches as of late. Of the 12 schools, only three hired a coach from a BCS (for lack of a better term) conference: LSU (Trent Johnson from Stanford), Kentucky (Billy Gillispie from Texas A&M) and Ole Miss (Andy Kennedy, the interim coach at Cincinnati).

• Monster performance from Luke Nevill in Utah's win over BYU. Nevill scored 32 points to lead the hometown Utes. BYU's at-large chances are shrinking with every game. It dropped to 3-3 in the Mountain West and 15-5 overall. The MWC is very competitive, but it's not looking like a multiple-bid league right now unless UNLV can go on a run. The first-place Runnin' Rebels (16-4, 4-2) have the Louisville win on their side.

• Wisconsin better check NIT, CBI or Collegeinsider.com postseason dates after dropping its fifth-straight game (a 64-63 loss to Purdue at the Kohl Center) to fall to 12-8 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten.

• Miami may be haunted by its OT loss at the buzzer to NC State on Tuesday night. The Canes fell to 3-4 in the ACC, 14-6 overall.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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