Birdland is "Garyland"

This is totally off topic with regard to the Orioles, yet it’s an important topic to me and to many Oriole fans so I feel that it’s something that should be mentioned. I attended last night’s Maryland/Duke game at Comcast Center. For the record, Duke won 74-61, although the Terps and new head coach Mark Turgeon had a good showing. However even though there’s always buzz surrounding the Duke game in College Park, the real buzz of the evening came prior to the game when the University of Maryland officially dedicated the Comcast Center floor as “Gary Williams Court.” 

I’ve liked and respected a lot of sports figures in my life, but there are really only three that I would put in the category of “beloved.” Gary Williams is one of them (if you’re asking, Joe Gibbs and Cal Ripken Jr. are the others). I have very fond memories of sitting at Cole Field House watching Maryland games with my Dad; I thought a lot about that last night as him and I sat in Comcast Center watching the floor being dedicated in Williams’ honor.

It was a surreal moment in which the past, present, and future of Maryland basketball appeared to be juxtaposed together. When Maryland hired Mark Turgeon I felt that he was a very good selection as Gary Williams’ successor. Having said that, Williams himself was a very good selection as the successor to Lefty Drisell. (Yes, I recognize that Bob Wade was the head coach for three years in between…but let’s not kid ourselves based on technicalities!) Whether or not Turgeon is able to have the success of Williams or Drisell remains to be seen. I like what I’ve seen thus far, even in a losing effort last night. (One word of advice for Turgeon though…put them in a press every now and then. It helps cause turnovers which can lead to points!) However as I said, the past, present, and future of Maryland basketball were juxtaposed together in that one moment.

As tired as I am from being up late last night I suppose I should wrap this up so I can hit a Starbucks and get myself a blonde roast! But Gary Williams will always be a hero to the people of this region, much in the same manner as Earl Weaver. Ironically both Weaver and Williams were iconic coaches of their era, they were both “type A’s,” and they both caused controversy here and there. They’re both also championship caliber coaches, which makes them both beloved. As iconic as Orioles’ baseball is in Maryland and in this region, the same can also be said of Maryland basketball. For my money, Gary Williams may well have invented basketball (with all due respect to Dr. Naismith). However one way or the other, I maintain what I said on twitter several times yesterday: Greatest. Coach. Ever. While I like Mark Turgeon and I’m excited about him leading the Terps for the foreseeable future, Garyland will always have a special place in my heart.

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala

Tags: Gary Williams

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