Williams honored as ACC's top coach

League award a first in 24 years at 4 schools

March 12, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Gary Williams has said he cherishes victories and championships more than personal awards. Now, Williams will have to deal with the whole package.

On the heels of guiding the Maryland Terrapins to their first regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 22 years and their first No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, Williams has been named the ACC Coach of the Year for the first time.

It also marks the first time during his 24-year coaching career that Williams has won a conference coach of the year award. "When you have the kind of players and assistant coaches like I do, you have a chance to be a good team," said Williams, who has spent 13 seasons at Maryland after coaching at American, Boston College and Ohio State.

"When you get an individual award, there's a lot of people responsible for whatever success you have. Everybody in our program should feel a part of the award."

Williams, who received 44 of a possible 84 votes cast by members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association to edge North Carolina State's Herb Sendek (35 votes), is only the second Maryland coach to win the award in the 49-year history of the ACC. Former Terps coach Lefty Driesell won it in 1975 and 1980.

Fittingly, Williams won the award after taking Maryland where it had not been since 1980. The Terps won their first regular-season crown in 22 years by finishing the regular season with a 25-3 record and a 15-1 mark against the ACC, both representing the best records in school history.

"He's a great leader and a great motivator. I love his style. I'm going to miss playing for him," said Terps senior guard Juan Dixon, referring to Williams' emotional sideline demeanor.

Williams, who led Maryland (26-4) to its first men's Final Four in school history last year, has amassed a 475-271 career record. As the head coach at Maryland, he is 268-143 and has led the Terps to four consecutive 25-victory seasons, another first in school history. Williams has 115 victories in ACC games, ranking sixth. He needs seven victories to take over fifth place from Driesell.

As the top seed in the East, the Terps will begin pursuit of their first national title on Friday night at MCI Center, where they will face the winner of tonight's NCAA tournament play-in game between Siena and Alcorn State.

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