Originally created 11/17/99

Williams seeks 400th win as Terrapins open new season



COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It's already been a memorable week for Gary Williams, who became a grandfather Monday when his daughter delivered her first child in Columbus, Ohio.

Maryland's fiery coach can reach another significant milestone Wednesday. If the Terrapins beat San Francisco in the opening round of the Preseason NIT, Williams will join an elite group of coaches with 400 career victories.

"It means I've been around for a while," Williams said Tuesday.

The comment was a reference to his 22 seasons, not the fact he's a grandfather for the first time. Although he is intent upon getting the young Terrapins ready for a new season, the 54-year-old Williams was in Ohio for the birth of David Geoffrey Scott.

"The players said they hoped it would mellow me. The fact that they said that, I'm going to have just get tougher to show them that I'm not mellowing at all," Williams said with a grin.

Williams started his coaching career at American University in 1978 with losses to St. John's and Alabama. His first victory came against Catholic, but he spent the night in the hospital after his center was injured in the closing seconds.

Now, after successful stints at AU, Boston College, Ohio State and Maryland, Williams is on the brink of win No. 400.

"I think it will be more significant when I'm done coaching," he said. "Right now I really don't know what the significance is. I know it will be good to get it out of the way, because we should be talking about the team."

The Terrapins are without four starters from the team that won a school-record 28 games last season, but they've still got plenty of firepower. Terence Morris was the landslide choice as preseason Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, and guards Juan Dixon and Steve Blake spearhead Williams' trademark full-court press.

"You come into every game thinking you have a chance to win," San Francisco coach Phil Mathews said. "For that to happen, we can't turn the ball over against their press and we have to limit them to one shot."

The Dons were 12-18 last year, but they have four starters back and impressed the Terrapins last season with a victory over highly-regarded Xavier in the San Juan Shootout.

"We know they can play," forward Danny Miller said.

The Dons have six freshmen on their roster, and Mathews figures they might have a tough time playing in front of some 14,000 fans in Cole Field House.

"I'm going to make sure the freshmen go to the bathroom first," he said with a wry smile. "We can't have them stinking up the joint."