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2002 NCAA Tournament

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 Hats Off
ESPN's Dick Vitale, Digger Phelps and Chris Fowler recap Maryland's victory over Indiana.

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Long coaching journey leads Williams to title


April 1
ATLANTA -- When Maryland coach Gary Williams saw his Terps cut down the nets in Atlanta as national champions, Dr. Tom Davis had to be smiling.

Gary Williams
Gary Williams and the Terps aim to defend their ACC title.
That's right, Davis deserves some credit for giving Williams a chance as an assistant coach at Lafayette in 1972. The Davis-Williams connection goes even further back and has Maryland ties -- Davis coached the freshman team at College Park in 1969 with Williams as his assistant.

I remember when Williams was coaching high school in New Jersey and won a state championship. I won a state title that season as well (in a different classification). I knew back then that he was a coach with passion and talent.

The road to the national championship has not been an easy one for Williams. His first head-coaching job came in 1978 at American University in Washington, D.C. He was 27-27 over his first two seasons -- sounds a little like Mike Krzyzewski's early struggles at Duke, doesn't it?

Williams spent four years at American before taking over at Boston College. After leading the Eagles to two NCAA bids in four years, it was off to Ohio State for three seasons. He led the Buckeyes to one NCAA Tournament and two trips to the NIT.

He finally landed at his alma mater, Maryland, in 1989. It has been a strong run in College Park -- the Terps have had 20 or more wins in seven of the last eight years. Last year, his team fell just short of the national-title game. Just as Michigan State fell short in 1999 and won it all the next season, the Terps learned from disappointment and came back focused. Winning experience did make a difference.

Williams got his 481st career win Monday night. It was clearly his biggest. Here's a salute to Gary Williams, a passionate coach who led his alma mater to the national championship.

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