Williams proves he'll do more than pay lip service to city

The Inside Stuff

August 13, 1992|By Bill Tanton

Gary Williams is a man who backs up his words with action.

That was made clear this week when it was announced that Williams' Maryland basketball team will play Oklahoma at the Baltimore Arena on Jan. 19.

The Terps coach said in June when he spoke at J. Patrick's in Locust Point that he wants to get this city more involved in the Maryland program. Gary said he wants to play games here.

Yesterday Williams was back in Baltimore, selling Maryland basketball to some local business types, something he does with regularity.

"In June," Gary said, "I didn't know we'd get this opportunity so soon to bring a team like Oklahoma here, but this is exactly what we want -- to play nationally prominent teams in Baltimore. We wouldn't want to come in here unless we felt we had an outstanding attraction.

"Billy Tubbs [the Oklahoma coach] wasn't anxious to come to Cole Field House, so he agreed to play at the Arena. Believe me, this is big for us, playing in Baltimore."

Maryland hasn't played basketball here since 1987. Oklahoma is one of 10 teams on this year's Maryland schedule that played in last season's NCAA Tournament. The Terps will play at Oklahoma next season.

Unlike some Terps athletic officials in the past who only paid lip service to Baltimore as the university demonstrated a greater affinity for the District of Columbia, Williams genuinely enjoys this city and spends a lot of time here. He's often seen at Orioles games and dining with Maryland supporters in Little Italy and Fells Point.

Of course, there's another reason Williams wants closer ties with Baltimore -- recruiting.

"I think we have to get the players from our own state," Gary says, "and I can look at a map and see where the people are in Maryland."

With Walt Williams graduated and in the pros, Maryland basketball will have a completely different look this year. The team opens at home Dec. 1 with UMBC.

* Baltimore-born Gene Corrigan has been named chairman of the College Football Hall of Fame Honors Court, the group responsible for electing new members.

Corrigan, who is commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, is an excellent choice. He succeeds Delaware's Dave Nelson, who died last November.

Bill Pearce, chairman of the National Football Foundation, says the Honors Court chairman should have "a love of the game and its tradition." Corrigan, once the athletic director at Notre Dame, qualifies.

* The infant Baltimore Spirit of the National Professional Soccer League held a press conference today to show off its logo and announce signing of a couple players.

You have to hand it to the Spirit: only four weeks out of the nursery, the team has already sold 650 season tickets. The pace will pick up next week with the kickoff of a new ad campaign.

"We're already ahead of where we were after one month with the old Blast," says Spirit vice president Drew Forrester. "The league schedule is not ready yet, but we know we'll play our home opener on Saturday, Nov. 7. We'll open on the road the night before. When the season starts, we expect to have three or four players from this area."

* In its long athletic history, Loyola College has had only one player named first team Academic All-America in the University Division: lacrosse player Colleen Anderson, who was awarded that honor this summer. Anderson is a McDonogh School graduate.

Loyola's Tara Vinje (women's volleyball) received third team honors last fall. In 1989 soccer and basketball standout Jeff Nattans earned second team at-large honors.

* The late sports editor of this newspaper, Paul Menton, titled his column "It's All in the Viewpoint." I was reminded of that by the words of St. Louis Cardinals fringe player Craig Wilson, who is ecstatic over the opportunity being provided by National League expansion next year.

Wilson says: "A lot of guys should feel comfortable about having a job next year. There's going to be some jobs available for guys who could have ended up in the minor leagues."

Or, looking at it from another viewpoint, there will be 50 players in the major leagues who perhaps belong in the minors.

As Menton used to say, it's all in the viewpoint.

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