Maryland basketball's winningest head coach, Gary Williams, was honored along with 12 others this afternoon in Greensboro, NC as the newest members of the Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Basketball Legends Class.
Making his first trip back to the ACC tournament since retiring two years ago, Williams was appreciative of the honor.
"The ACC has always done a great job of remembering the people that were part of the league," Williams remarked.
Williams first returned to College Park to coach his alma mater in 1989 and proceeded to build the program into a powerhouse. He brought Maryland a National Championship in 2002, winning National Coach of the Year honors that season. He led the Terps to 14 NCAA appearances, including two Final Fours. He also led Maryland to the 2004 ACC Tournament Championship, and was twice named ACC Coach of the Year (2002, 2010).
As Williams was honored along with the rest of his class at halftime of the Miami-NC State ACC semifinal game, he said the experience of walking on the court was very different than in his past.
"When you coach, when you walk out there could be 20,000 people. You never even thought about it because you were so focused on the team," said Williams. "So today it's different, because you're watching just like everybody else."
Once a coach, always a coach. Even as he was being honored, his Terps weren't far from his mind.
"It was special last night to watch that game, because Duke didn't give them the game. Maryland worked hard. They took the game away."
As part of the event, Williams also took part in a Q&A period during Saturday's Legends Luncheon. Although Williams won a school record 461 games in 22 seasons at his alma mater, the main topic of discussion was coaching his old school to a National title.
"It was really unique to come back to a place where you went to school," said Williams. "Where you went to school stays with you for the rest of your life.
"We had great depth on that team. That's the thing I remember. Our bench was really good which allowed us to have great practices. We got better as the year went on."
Making up the rest of the class of honorees was: Former ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan; Boston College's Gerry Ward; Clemson's Terrell McIntyre, Duke's Trajan Langdon; Georgia Tech point guard Mark Price, Florida State's Tharon Mayes; Miami's Mike Wittman; North Carolina's Mike O'Koren; NC State's Dereck Whittenburg; Virginia's Travis Watson; Virginia Tech's Ace Custis and former Wake Forest coach Carl Tracy.
"I saw a lot of people I haven't seen in awhile which is always good," Williams said of the entire weekend. "It was great to be here and watch the ACC tournament as a fan rather than worried about your team and how you're gonna play, how you're gonna play three games in three days hopefully. All those things you start thinking about them when you show up here, and then you go 'Oh, that's right, I don't have to worry about that.'"
The only thing he has to worry about nowadays is working alongside yours truly on the TV side of Comcast SportsNet for our March Madness coverage. He will be very busy, and he loves it.