Pneumonia sends Terps' Williams to hospital

March 02, 1995|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

DURHAM, N.C. -- If Gary Williams has had a constant worry this season, it's the fear of one of his key players missing a game because of injury.

"We've been lucky," the University of Maryland coach said recently. "But you always worry about it happening."

Maryland's first significant missing person didn't turn out to be any of the players, but Williams himself. Williams missed last night's game at Duke after being hospitalized Tuesday night with pneumonia.

Williams was taken to the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park after being checked out at the campus health center. He is expected to remain hospitalized for the rest of the week. It is not known whether Williams will be back for Sunday's game at Virginia, but it seems unlikely.

Assistant coach Billy Hahn, who was a head coach for three years at Ohio University, took over the head coaching duties.

"Obviously, our players knew what the situation was. Gary always talks about playing hard for 40 minutes and that's what we did," said Hahn after the last-second win over the Blue Devils. "I'm going to pray tonight that he gets better because he's a lot better coach than I am."

It is believed to be the first time Williams, 49, has missed a game in his 17-year career as a Division I head coach.

"Obviously the most important thing is that he recuperate," athletic director Debbie Yow said yesterday from College Park. "To do that, he's going to have to rest."

Yow said she spoke to Williams for 10 minutes yesterday morning. "He sounded totally in control, but just very tired," Yow said.

An athletic department spokesman said Williams was unavailable for comment.

Team trainer J. J. Bush said that Williams had been fighting the flu the past couple of weeks. Bush said that he went to the coach's house in Mitchellville late Tuesday afternoon, and found Williams "not doing well." Bush said that Williams was dehydrated and was running a fever.

Bush took Williams to the campus health center, where a further examination showed he had pneumonia. Williams is being treated by Drs. Mark Parkhurst and Michael Berard, internists in College Park.

"He's being treated with antibiotics," said Bush. "It's sort of day-to-day as the symptoms improve. When he gets well enough to come back, that's when he'll come back. He's not making any predictions."

The Maryland players learned of Williams' illness at practice Tuesday. As they were about to travel here for last night's game, they were informed that Williams had been hospitalized.

"It was a shock to everybody," said junior guard Johnny Rhodes. "But we're just going to do the same things without him that we did when he was here. We just might have to concentrate harder. But the assistant coaches know what to do."

Hahn, 45, is a 1975 Maryland graduate who had a 42-45 record in three years at Ohio University. With Duke associate coach Pete xTC Gaudet having replaced Mike Krzyzewski nearly two months ago, last night marked the first time in ACC history that two assistants coached against each other in a game.

Hahn is the second Maryland assistant in five years to take over for the head coach for at least one game. When former head coach Bob Wade collapsed after the last-place Terps upset top-seeded North Carolina State in the opening round of the 1989 ACC Tournament, assistant Ron Bradley took over for the team's semifinal against North Carolina. The Terps lost, 88-58.

Williams becomes the latest high-profile coach to leave the bench because of illness. Nevada-Las Vegas coach Tim Grgurich had to be hospitalized with exhaustion. Another coach, Jerry Welch of Iona, quit recently because of exhaustion.

"It's become an epidemic," said Bradley, the head coach at Radford. "The job has become so draining at all levels."

Don McCartney, Williams' Baltimore-based attorney, said: "Every year at this time, he gets very, very tired. I hope he learns from this and takes better care of himself in the future. It's a shame."

Asked if he thought the outcome of last night's game would affect the status of Williams' return, McCartney said, "If they win by 50 or lose by 50, he's going to want to be back. But he's smart enough to do whatever he needs to come back healthy."

Yow had a question.

"Does he watch the game [last night] or not?" said Yow, a former women's basketball coach.

The game was scheduled to be televised by ESPN. According to Eileen Starr, who works at the Washington Adventist Hospital's information desk, the hospital is not wired for cable.

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