Williams, Adams are a team again

Boston College memories unite Terps head coach, assistant


College Park -- It's a story Gary Williams has told so many times that some members of his staff could repeat it.

Only one of them, though, was with Williams on the Boston College sideline 20 years ago when the incident happened. And Michael Adams' version is a little different.

Boston College had just lost to Syracuse, 70-69, in the 1985 Big East tournament on Pearl Washington's half-court buzzer-beater. Williams was fuming. Adams, who was the Eagles' captain and starting senior point guard, smiled at the memory last week in his new office at Comcast Center.

"I don't know if I want to say this," the first-year Terps assistant said, "but I don't know if Gary paid the bill for the way he was tearing the locker room up after the game. It was a tough moment. He was very upset."

Williams had thick, dark hair that seemed to sit on his head like a helmet, and Adams, a scrappy guard out of the Hartford, Conn., public school system, wore a goatee, a slim chain around his neck and a chip on his shoulder. They both wanted desperately to win.

They still do.

Adams is now 42 and Williams 60. Their offices are within shouting distance of each other, but Adams is no longer on the receiving end. They have been reunited, yet while their relationship has evolved to friends and colleagues, they continue to benefit from their former coach-player connection.

Adams said he is still learning from the veteran coach and, in exchange, Williams has added an assistant with NBA experience at the position the team currently needs help at the most - point guard.

"What better coach to learn from than Gary Williams? The guy I played for, the guy I'm still trying to learn and hone my craft to become a good coach," said Adams, who was a month away from starting his second season as coach of the Washington Mystics when Williams offered him the job in April.

"He knew the way we played," said Williams. "That was important. Plus, personality-wise, Michael is different than me. He's more laid-back, but he's very good talking with the players. On your staff, you want different personalities."

Adams, who was heading into his sophomore season at Boston College when Williams was hired from American University, spent the past few days scouting his alma mater. It was only coincidence, he said, that he was assigned to the No. 6 Eagles, who will visit Comcast Center tomorrow for their first game as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"I want them to win all of their games," Adams said, "except when they're playing us."

`Hard-nosed player'

He was too short, the critics said, and his shot was too wild. Boston College was the only Division I school to offer the 5-foot-10 Adams a scholarship, even though he was Connecticut's leading scorer his senior year at Hartford Public High School.

Robert Morris coach Mark Schmidt, Adams' college roommate their final two seasons, said that had Patrick Ewing gone to BC instead of Georgetown, Adams would have wound up at Division II Bridgeport in his home state. Adams received the last Eagles scholarship.

"He shot it like a shot put, but the thing went in," Schmidt said.

He did play wild, Williams said, which was why the two of them sometimes tangled.

"I remember getting mad at Michael," Williams said with a smile. "He was this 5-10 guy. He'd come down, throw the ball off the glass, go up, put it back in - three-on-one fast break. We had our battles that first year at BC."

"I knew he was a hard-nosed coach and I was a hard-nosed player who wanted to be successful," Adams said. "We both had the fire. That's how our relationship started."

One of the first things Williams did when he was hired at Boston College was make Adams his starting point guard, and a co-captain as a sophomore.

"Michael was as good as I'd ever seen late in games," Williams said. "He just wanted the ball. He had no fear and he could make big plays."

Adams still ranks eighth on BC's all-time scoring list with 1,650 points. He also finished his collegiate career with 475 assists, good for fourth all time, and his 275 career steals still lead all BC defenders. In 1999, the school retired his No. 23 jersey.

With Adams and Williams leading the Eagles for the three seasons they were there together, Boston College was 63-30, with two appearances in the NCAA tournament - including the Sweet 16 in 1985 - and one in the National Invitation Tournament.

Schmidt remembered a particular play during their freshman year when the Eagles were playing a Houston team that featured Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. Schmidt said Adams dribbled the ball right through Drexler's legs.

"That's something that will be remembered," Schmidt said.

Drexler went on to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Adams spent 11 seasons in the league, and was one of its most proficient three-point shooters. Most of his players, though, are too young to have seen him play.

"I tell them to look at the ESPN Classic channel," Adams said. "You might catch me on that."

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