Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams is expected to be released from the hospital within the next two days -- possibly by today -- but assistant Billy Hahn will continue to coach the Terrapins through this week's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Williams has been at the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park since last Tuesday, when he was admitted with pneumonia. Williams' condition was upgraded from fair to good Sunday. Those who have seen Williams, who turned 50 Saturday, say that he is progressing.
"I think he's turned the corner," said Hahn, who visited Williams after the team's return Sunday night from Charlottesville, Va., where Maryland closed the regular season with a 92-67 defeat to Virginia.
The loss dropped the Terps into a four-way tie for first place in the ACC, the first in league history. Maryland will be seeded third in the ACC tournament, which begins Thursday at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum. Maryland plays sixth-seeded Florida State on Friday night.
Team trainer J. J. Bush said yesterday that Williams has been taken off intravenous liquids and has begun eating solid foods. Assistant coaches Art Perry and Jimmy Patsos brought Williams one of his favorite foods for lunch yesterday -- a Philadelphia cheesesteak sandwich.
"I saw him Saturday, Sunday and today, and the difference is night and day," said Bush. "He's got his sense of humor back, and his appetite is coming back. The doctors will be letting him go tomorrow [today] or Wednesday. He won't be back for the ACC tournament. He's setting his sights on the NCAAs."
Hahn said that his visit with Williams after the trip back from Charlottesville was "very uplifting . . . to see him without the IVs. He was strong. He was talking without having to catch his breath."
Williams advised Hahn and the other assistants to give the players the day off after such a potentially devastating defeat, the most one-sided in two years for the Terps. The defeat dropped Maryland from sixth to 10th in the Associated Press Top 25.
"We were supposed to have a 4 p.m. meeting with the players, and Gary told us to tell them not to come back to Cole until 3:30 Tuesday," Hahn said.
Asked if Williams will participate in putting together the game plan for the Seminoles, Hahn said: "I don't know if he'll watch some tape, but knowing Gary, if he can't be in it all the way, he'll want to stay away until he can. He doesn't want to be a distraction, and he has enough confidence in his coaching staff that we can do the job."
That's not to say Hahn wouldn't like to see Williams back today, if that were possible.
"That's an understatement," Hahn said.