After heated season, everything is cool with Williams, Yow

March 26, 2009|By DAVID STEELE | DAVID STEELE,david.steele@baltsun.com

There seemed to be some loose ends left to tie up after the Maryland men's basketball season ended in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday in that loss to Memphis in the second round of the NCAA tournament. A little matter of Gary Williams and Debbie Yow sitting down and hashing out (or thrashing out) any lingering bad feelings about the midseason square-off between the coach and athletic department officials, the one that took the long-rumored in-house feuding out into public.

As it turns out, though, there are no loose ends. "I think everything that needed to be said was said back on Feb. 2," Yow said at Comcast Center on Tuesday night, while the Maryland women were playing in the NCAA tournament.

What was said Feb. 2, at her cameo appearance at Williams' news briefing - one of the signature moments of a surprisingly turbulent (and, eventually, even more surprisingly successful) season - was: "I really want to lay to rest these crazy rumors that are floating around related to the job security of Coach Williams. He has my full support, as he does from the department and from the university."

Not only is there nothing to add now, but there is also no reason to push up the date of her regular meeting with Williams later this spring. No need for either to drop everything and make sure each will keep his and her word that the airing of grievances would not happen again. Williams went ahead and coached, and Yow went ahead and backed him, including courtside at the NCAA tournament last weekend.

Now, both wait to see how the next chapter develops. The root of this all, of course, was recruiting, with all the drama surrounding Tyree Evans and Gus Gilchrist and the signs of being overmatched at midseason. When Yow gave her impromptu vote of confidence, it included confidence in his recruiting, believing his statements in his own defense that, with the potential of the incoming class, things were about to get much better.

The next month now bears watching in ways even greater than before the big blow-up.

Next Wednesday, the much-ballyhooed Lance Stephenson will make his college choice known. The following Saturday, the two big men who have signed, Connecticut's Jordan Williams and Brooklyn's James Padgett, play in the Charm City Challenge all-star game in Towson; on April 9, Williams also plays in the Capital Classic in Washington. And Greivis Vasquez's deadline to notify the NBA he's testing the pro waters is April 26.

The window to put the recruiting issue to bed for the foreseeable future - after the past five seasons that raised legitimate questions about it - is wide open. The best-case scenario of Vasquez's staying and Stephenson's signing on, joining Williams and Padgett, plants the Terps squarely in the top half of the Atlantic Coast Conference and, probably, in the national rankings.

The worst-case scenario revives memories of recent underachieving classes and would raise the same questions all over again.

Then, Williams and Yow would have reason to go toe-to-toe - er, meet about the direction of the program. But that's a long way off. No need to rush anything now.

Listen to David Steele on Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m. and on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. on Fox Sports 1370 AM.

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